12 March 2015
Tannu, blind and confined to a wheelchair, is one of the girls receiving education and care at
San Joe Puram in India (photo: by John Matthew)
Jose Kavi reports on a remarkable village for children in India in the Winter edition of ONE. Here, he offers his impressions of one young resident in particular.
One of the most cheerful persons I have met is Tannu.
The 14-year-old wheelchair-bound girl is a star at San Joe Puram Children’s Village, one of the few institutions in India for inclusive education.
With her withered legs dangling from her chair, Tannu greets everyone with a smiling “Jai Yesu” (“Victory to Jesus”) in Hindi.
There is always a rush around her when she comes out of the chapel or a classroom.
Young and old jostle around her, competing to push her wheelchair to Rani Sadan, one of the seven houses within San Joe Puram. The orphan girl lives there with eight other differently abled and four normal girls under the guidance of four sisters of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.
“One finds Tannu smiling always,” says Sister Jesmy Paul, a physiotherapist nun who had brought the girl as a three-year-old child from Tihar Jail, India’s largest prison, situated in New Delhi. “We have no details about her parents,” she added.
Tannu says she feels great there. “I hope to walk one day, because Sister Jesmy Paul is giving me physiotherapy,” she said optimistically when I met her.
Sister Paul said Tannu was indeed walking to school when she left San Joe Puram on transfer eight years ago. “We had massaged her legs day in and out from the day she came to our house. She responded well and managed to get up and walk.”
After Sister Paul left, there was no one to continue physiotherapy and Tannu’s condition worsened. So, the nun was called back to resume physiotherapy.
But all this does not worry Tannu.
“I want to be a teacher,” she said. She was quite sure of her future.
She said she could be at the top of her class if she could write a little faster. “In school I find it hard to write, so I am a bit behind,” she said.
Tannu came to talk to me from the TV room, where she was watching the live telecast of the canonization of two Indians at the Vatican.
She could speak Hindi, English and “a little bit” of Malayalam, her mentor’s mother tongue. However her favorite subject is English.
She is sings well—mostly Christians hymns that she picks from the church. After a little persuasion, she sang with a quivering voice: “Lord, come softly and take me into your bosom. Stay with me and give me great happiness. Let peace bloom within me.”
Tannu, who is a Hindu, says her only desire is to be baptized. Her reasons are simple. “Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” she told me. “He loves children a lot.”
On Sundays she goes to the main chapel with others for Mass. She also attends Mass on Thursdays, when it is offered in Rani Sadan.
Tannu said she likes to pray. “I talk to God about whatever comes to my mind. I pray mostly for help in studies. I also pray for my companions and those helping them.”
Like others, she also gets up at five in the morning. “I manage everything myself,” she said. “If I find something difficult to do, I get help from others.”
She does feel sad during vacation, when others go home. “I have nowhere to go. I have an uncle who visits me occasionally. But he does not take me home because his wife does not like me. She scolds me a lot.”
She does not remember her parents. “I was told that I had a brother and my mother gave both of us to different people when we were infants.”
Sister Paul says they are trying their best to make Tannu walk again. “If physiotherapy does not work, we will find if she could be helped through surgery.”
With such an optimistic mentor, perhaps it won’t be long before Tannu is able to walk to her future singing, “Lord, come softly and fill me with peace.”
Read more about “A Place of Promise and Providence” in the Winter edition of ONE.
12 March 2015
Tamás Fekete stands in his paprika field in Homokmégy, Hungary. (photo: Jacqueline Ruyak)
A few years back, we took readers on a culinary tour of Hungary and discovered a flavorful part of the country’s national character paprika:
Paprika is synonymous with Hungarian cuisine, yet it is a comparative latecomer to the country’s long, richly flavored food culture. Columbus gets the credit for first bringing Capsicum, and other members of the Solanaceae, to Europe from the New World. Called Indian pepper, it was regarded as an ornamental plant with possible medicinal uses. In the 16th century, it was used as a seasoning, mixed with other spices, on the Iberian Peninsula. Elsewhere it was a prized garden ornamental and naturalized, as such, both across Europe and the Turkish empire. In Hungary, it appeared in aristocratic gardens around 1570 as a rare exotic called red Turkish pepper.
The first recorded use of paprika, a Bulgarian diminutive of the Latin piper (pepper), was in a 1775 garden book by Josef Csapo who wrote that peasants ground paprika pods into powder and flavored their food with it — so did fishermen and shepherds. In the late 18th century, Ubaldus, a Capuchin from Austria, wrote of the Kalocsa area: “The spice in their food is a red beast called paprika that burns like the devil.” In the 1820’s, recipes using paprika first appeared in Hungarian cookbooks. By the mid-1800’s, the peasant spice, with its characteristic color, aroma and flavor, had taken over Hungarian cuisine and, eventually, the cuisine of Central and Eastern Europe.
In Homokmegy, a village about six miles from Kalocsa, it was almost harvest time for Tamás and Katalin Fekete, Tony’s parents. Retired farmers, they still plant about three-fifths of an acre of paprika each year. Row after row of the low bushy paprika plants was covered with fiery red conical fruit. Compounds called capsantin and capsorubin give Capsicum varieties their red color when ripe; another, called capsaicin, gives them their characteristic hot taste. Paprika is either sweet (mild) or hot. Tony’s parents grow the sweet paprika for which Kalocsa is famous.
Read more and discover some recipes in Red Gold & Spicy from the September 2005 edition of ONE.
12 March 2015
Displaced Assyrians, who had fled their hometowns due to Islamic State attacks against their communities, take part in a prayer at the Ibrahim al Khalil Melkite Greek Catholic Church on the outskirts of Damascus on 1 March. (photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)
15 March 2015: A day of fasting, prayer for war-torn Syria (Catholic News Agency) As the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian civil war approaches, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has called for a world day of prayer and fasting for peace in his country. “Lent is a way of the cross, and we are in the fifth year of the way of the cross of our Arab countries, especially in Syria, Iraq and Palestine, but also in Lebanon, which is influenced in a dramatic way by the wars that have flared up around it,” wrote Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch…
U.N. urges support to pull Syrians out of ‘nightmare of suffering’ (U.N. News Center) As the Syria conflict enters its fifth year, the United Nations is urging for greater support to help the millions of refugees, including millions of children, across the region caught up in alarmingly deteriorating conditions and facing an even bleaker future than initially thought…
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits refugee camp (Serbian Orthodox Church) Last week, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited refugees from Iraq on the northeast Turkish border of Yalova, near the east coast of the Sea of Marmara…
Lebanon struggles to aid Iraqi refugees (AINA) Iraqis have been leaving their country following the expansion of the Islamic State into their areas. Approximately 30,000 Iraqis, of all Christian and Muslim denominations, have arrived in Lebanon since July, according to Chaldean Archbishop in Lebanon Michel Kassarji. Of this number, 7,000 are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)…
11 March 2015
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Iraqi Refugees Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Catechumens greet CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar on his recent pastoral visit to India. To learn more about his trip, and see more photos, read Reaching the Unreached in India in the Winter 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
11 March 2015
Tags: India Indian Christians Indian Catholics
A Sunni woman weeps after fleeing her village near the city of Tikrit, Iraq, on 8 March. (photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqis in Tikrit feel trapped by war (USA Today) Omer al Juburi could have left Tikrit a few weeks ago, but he stayed because he didn’t want to abandon his home and grocery store or force his wife and three children to become refugees. He and many others have been trapped, as Iraqi Shiite militias and government forces wage a pitched battle to wrest back control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the radical Islamic State group…
Iraq: Islamic State ‘destroys historical church’ in Mosul (Anadolu Agency) An Iraqi government representative has accused the Islamic State of destroying a historical church early Monday in Mosul. Dureid Hikmat Tobia, a Nineveh province official, says the militant group blew up St. Markourkas Church — a tenth-century Chaldean Catholic building…
Syrian rebels’ march on Damascus becomes fight for their survival (Christian Science Monitor) With the Syrian crisis entering its fifth year, a months-long campaign by the largest antigovernment militia in the south to march on Damascus and turn the tide of the war has become a bitter fight for its very survival…
Pope to wash feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will visit inmates and staff of a Rome prison on Holy Thursday, 2 April. The Prefecture of the Papal Household reports that the pope will visit the new complex of the Casa Circondariale Rebibbia in the Rome suburbs, where he will wash the feet of a group of male prisoners and female inmates from the nearby women’s penitentiary…
10 March 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Refugees Iraqi Refugees
Cardinal Edward Egan, 1932–2015 (photo: John E. Kozar)
We join our prayers today with so many others being offered for the repose of New York’s retired archbishop, Cardinal Edward Egan. Many will be gathering at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for his funeral this afternoon.
Cardinal Egan was a devoted and passionate friend of Catholic Near East Welfare Association. He was proud to serve as CNEWA’s president during his tenure as archbishop. An enthusiastic supporter of our work around the world, Cardinal Egan gave selflessly of his time, his insight, his attention and his prayers as we worked to further CNEWA’s mission in the Middle East, Africa, India and so many other places in need.
Long after he retired, he remained a loyal reader of our magazine, ONE, and never failed to offer his encouragement, friendship and prayers whenever and wherever it was needed. I’ll always cherish and remember fondly the personal expressions of support he offered to me on so many occasions after I joined CNEWA.
As we pray for him, we hope he will continue to pray for us — and that his love and fervor will accompany us as we continue to accompany so many of our brothers and sisters who are seeking healing, consolation and hope.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
10 March 2015
Tags: CNEWA Priests
An Assyrian woman prays at a church in Damascus on 1 March during a special liturgy for Assyrian Christians abducted by Islamic State fighters. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)
Christian leaders again called for help for Assyrian Christians as Islamic State militants stepped up their attacks against their towns in northern Syria. Catholic News Service reports:
Syria’s northeast Hassake province is emerging as the new battlefield in the fight against the extremist group. Analysts say Hassake province, which extends like a thumb into neighboring Iraq and Turkey, could become the fault line of a new multi-front and lengthy war between Islamic State militants and Christians allied with Kurdish fighters.
“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, warning of the major new offensive
on Christian villages along the Khabur River. “The villages on the south side of the river are in the hands of Islamic State militants,” Ishak told CNS. “They took Tal Nasri, which is very close to Tal Tamar,” Ishak explained. Tal Tamar “is at the crossroads of many highways to Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city; to Qamishli, to Hassake and Ras al Ain.”
The March attacks follow a raid by Islamic State militants on a cluster of villages along the Khabur River on 23 February. More than 220 Assyrian Christians residents and other minorities were abducted then. About 20 Assyrian Christians were later released. Meanwhile, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told the Rome-based missionary news agency AsiaNews that Islamic State militants released 52 abducted Assyrian Christian families without ransom payment on 5 and 6 March.
“The 52 families who were held for days by the jihadists” are now safe, the archbishop told AsiaNews 9 March. “The militia still holds 16 people. Half of them are Christians; the other half is made up of Kurds.”
No Assyrian or other organizations reported similar information to confirm the news.
A statement issued by the Syriac National Council of Syria, the European Syriac Union, and the Christian Coalition for Syria said Islamic State militants seized “all villages on the south bank of the Khabur and several villages on the north bank.”
Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the statement, which warned that the extremist group will “try to cross the Khabur with large numbers of fighters and heavy weapons — vastly stronger than the lightly armed self-defense forces of both Christians and Kurds in the area.
Read the rest of the report.
Please continue to keep the people of Syria in your prayers. To learn how you can support them in this time of urgent need, please visit this giving page.
10 March 2015
Tags: Syria Violence against Christians War
Syrian refugees who fled the war in their country are seen at an urban renewal area where the buildings were demolished in the Sulaimaniyah neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 February. (photo: Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This week marks four year since start of uprising in Syria (Al Jazeera) This week marks four years since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Though it began as an uprising connected to the larger Arab Spring movement, it spiraled into a war that has left more than 200,000 people dead and more than nine million others displaced…
Lenten call to Catholics to support church in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Parishes across the world year after year take up the traditional annual Good Friday collection for the church in the Holy Land. This year is no different and the prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, has written a letter to all pastors of the universal church in which he expresses the gratitude of Pope Francis, of his dicastery and of all the churches “in the land of Christ” for their attention and generous response to the collection…
Middle East peace needed to defeat extremists: Jordan king (Daily Star Lebanon) King Abdullah II of Jordan warned Tuesday that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal was essential for combating Islamic extremists, saying the conflict served as a rallying cry for jihadis. Abdullah told the European Parliament that the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was “first and foremost” a fight for Muslim nations to carry out…
Gaza’s female mediators stand up for women’s rights (Al Monitor) Women in Palestinian society are ashamed to discuss their problems with the male elders in charge of mediation committees. However, today, things have become easier for women, as the first female mediators have pushed forward social reform and now defend women’s rights in tribal councils headed by men. Gazans go to these councils to settle their family problems and avoid going to court, where the resolution process is much longer and complicated…
The isolation of Donetsk: A visit to Europe’s absurd new border (Der Spiegel) The heavy fighting may have stopped for the time being, but Donetsk is more isolated than ever. Those wishing to enter and leave the city need a difficult-to-obtain special ID. Meanwhile, food and other supplies are only trickling into the metropolis…
5 March 2015
Tags: Syria Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan Middle East Peace Process
A baby cries as members of a Palestinian family warm themselves by a fire on 20 February at the remains of their house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer near Gaza City. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)
The situation in Gaza remains critical six months after the war that devastated the region.
CNS spoke with CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef, after his most recent visit to Gaza. He noted that unemployment has hit 70 percent, and much of the region remains in ruins:
“One of the most difficult parts of our trip was seeing how much people have lost hope,” he told Catholic News Service on 2 March. “They really could not see any bright spot at the end of the tunnel; the tunnel does not even exist for them.”
Mr. El-Yousef said Gazans told him they feel the situation today is even worse than it was during the war, because then, at least, they had a bit of hope the war would end and things would get better with aid and reconstruction.
But promised financial aid from some Arab countries has failed to materialize largely due to an internal conflict between the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party and Hamas, which controls Gaza. Tunnels along the Egyptian border, which were used to smuggle cheap goods and fuel to Gazans, have been destroyed by the Egyptian government, which has labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.
Now all goods reaching Gaza come from Israel, with high Israeli prices, making many basics unaffordable for the local population. People are even resorting to buying basic food necessities on credit, but with no prospects of being able to pay off their debt any time soon, said Mr. El-Yousef.
“The troubles are so widespread, the general atmosphere is one of anger,” he said. “Anger at everyone: at the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for a lack of reconciliation, at Israel for creating the widespread destruction, at the international community for not doing more to support [Gaza] and at other Arab countries for not following through with their financial commitments.”
The level of tension is very high, he said, with the outlook for the future bleak.
Read more at the CNS link. And to find out how you can help the people of Gaza, visit our giving page — and please keep all those who are suffering in your prayers.
5 March 2015
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank War Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Sister Micheline addresses the students gathered at her center in Lebanon before serving them a hot meal. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
Name: Sister Micheline Lattouff
Order: Good Shepherd Sisters
Facility: Dier el Ahmar Social Center
Location: Dier el Ahmar, Lebanon
What’s the biggest challenge a sister can face? An overwhelming humanitarian crisis—one that threatens to turn your entire community upside down.
That’s what happened to Sister Micheline Lattouff. With her fellow Good Shepherd Sisters, she had spent years running a center for the local poor in Dier el Ahmar, Lebanon. There, they provide schooling for the village’s children.
The surrounding farms have always drawn fieldworkers from neighboring Syria. But when civil war engulfed their homeland, that long tradition changed. Suddenly, the workers’ camp was, as Sister Micheline says, “full of children, women and elderly who had escaped from Syria and found refuge in the village.”
Everyone was huddled in “wet tents with rain leaking inside, the floor filled with mud without any heating. The children were around a wood fire in the snow with bare feet.”
The sisters raced to acquire tent material, warm clothes, shoes, food and heaters. Local Christians opened their homes, providing mattresses, blankets and supplies.
Soon, 1,400 families had poured in, overwhelming the village. But then Catholic Near East Welfare Association came through. As Sister Micheline explains, CNEWA’s donors “provided the refugees with food packages, winter kits and water supplies.”
She was troubled by seeing refugee children “trying to kill each other in war games, imitating the fighters in Syria.” So with more CNEWA funding, the sisters expanded their school program, providing focus for hundreds of traumatized girls and boys.
What will happen next? After dealing with the crisis head on, Sister Micheline is ready for whatever lies ahead.
“I feel very proud of the volunteering work provided by the whole community,” she says. “Now, when we visit the camp, we find that all families — Christian and non-Christian — became like one family, where members take care of each other.”
As war and natural disasters put more people at risk, the need for all of us to “take care of each other” is more important than ever. It’s why CNEWA is proud to support sisters like Sister Micheline. And it is why she hopes you can do the same.
Thousands of sisters. Millions of small miracles.
To support the good work of sisters throughout CNEWA’s world, click here. (And you can read the introduction to our series, for more information, too.)
For more about Sister Micheline and her work, check out Syria, Shepherds and Sheep from the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Sisters