21 May 2013
CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar pays a visit to the children of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, India. The children and Carmelite Sisters who run St. Anne receive support from CNEWA.
In the current issue of ONE, Msgr. John E. Kozar reflects on the importance of religious sisters:
Sometimes, they are the first evangelizers who share the Good News of Jesus; sometimes they are the mother figure a child has never known; sometimes they are a nurse at a clinic, not only dispensing medicine and bandages, but healthy measures of tender loving care; sometimes they offer a cup of rice to a starving mother and child; sometimes they welcome a refugee. And always, they are present. In the midst of war, famine, insurrection, terrorism, ignorance, abandonment or any form of persecution or oppression, the sisters offer their heroic witness. Make no mistake: They are heroes.
If you want to know how you can help those heroes, visit this page. Your gift today will be doubled with a dollar-for-dollar match, ensuring that the good work of these good women continues!
21 May 2013
Tags: India CNEWA
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrates an Orthodox liturgy for the feast of the Dormition of Mary at the Panagia Soumela Monastery near Trabzon, Turkey, August 15, 2010. Thousands of Orthodox pilgrims from Greece, Russia and Georgia attended the liturgy at the monastery for the first time since 1923. (CNS photo/Umit Bektas, Reuters)
Waiting for Godot, In Turkey (Archons) The memorable play of Irish author and playwright Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot,” has become a metaphor for situations in which people wait for someone unlikely to come, or do not even know what they are expecting. They just keep waiting and waiting.
African Children: Invisible and Deprived of Their Rights (Fides) Half of the African children are “invisible” because they do not appear in any population register. This is what emerged in a statement released on the occasion of the XXI Meeting of the African Union (AU) which has just begun in Addis Ababa.
Ethnic Identity Damages Church’s Catholicity (Fides) The attachment to one’s “Chaldean” ethnic and cultural roots should not become fanatical cult of one’s national identity, if one does not want to obscure the church’s catholicity. This is the key message that the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Sako Raphael I wanted to express in a letter addressed to the clergy of his Church, to share with bishops, priests and religious concerns and hopes on the present moment lived by the church led by him.
Military Chaplains: Serving God and Mother Russia (RBTH) Recruitment of military chaplains is stepping up a gear, as Vladimir Putin’s government builds on traditional Orthodox values to bolster patriotic feelings in society.
One Syrian Village Breathes Easier (France 24) The advance of regime troops on the rebel stronghold of Qusayr in central Syria has come as a relief for at least one village, mostly-Christian, nestled on the shores of Lake Quttina.
Indian Church Helps Syria (Persecuted Church) Extending a helping hand to their war-hit brethren in Syria, the Jacobite Church in Kerala collect 20 million rupees for the rehabilitation of the affected in that country.
20 May 2013
CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, is the subject of a comprehensive interview by Basilian Father Thomas Rosica of Canada’s Catholic television network, Salt+Light.
Taped soon after Msgr. Kozar participated in Pope Benedict’s historic pastoral visit to Lebanon last September — and first aired this weekend — the interview includes vignettes from Msgr. Kozar’s travels, CNEWA’s concerns for the plight of the ancient churches of the East, and an invitation to join CNEWA’s mission to build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue and inspire hope.
20 May 2013
A woman prays in Al Qaa’s Greek Catholic church. Flooded with Syrian Christian refugees, the church is often filled to capacity. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
In the Spring 2013 issue of ONE, journalist Don Duncan writes about Syrian refugees settling in Lebanon. Below, he offers some further reflections.
One of the frustrations for me while living in Lebanon was the reputation the country has in the West. The word “Lebanon” conjures up dark images of war, sectarian tensions, political crises and humanitarian displacement. These are, of course, salient features of Lebanon’s past and present; it is on this image, and the preoccupation with it in the West, that my livelihood as a journalist depended to a large degree.
But the more time I spent as a resident of Lebanon, the more I saw things in the country that are rarely reflected in Western media. I also met with strange disinterest from editors when I pitched ideas that didn’t involve some form of conflict or misery.
Lebanon is unique in the region for many reasons. It is small yet crucial to the balance of power between the West, its Mid-East allies, and “non-aligned” countries like Syria and Iran. It also has the most diverse demographics of the region, which are both a curse and a blessing. There are 17 officially recognized sects sharing governmental power in a slow, halting political system of compromise. But while this particular system of confessional politics entrenches sectarian mentalities, it also keeps a fragile kind of peace. In addition, it makes Lebanon a place to which many people from around the region feel they can flee in times of danger and crisis. Here is the paradox: While Lebanon is often a zone of conflict, it is also a perpetual refuge — now for Syrians, but in the past also for a diverse group including Iraqis, Palestinians and Armenians, among others.
Lebanon is a refuge for the exact same reason that it is also a weak political entity and prone to conflict: It contains a wide and diverse population that is loosely held together in a national pact. This loose configuration can sometimes lead to conflict, but its looseness also means that there are pockets of liberalism and conservatism that coexist; there are spaces where many kinds of people can be — and feel — safe. So while Lebanon is a place where people may run and emigrate from in times of war, it is also a place where many kinds of people can run to. It can be home to all kinds of people. It can be both a heaven and a hell and, in my experience living there, heavenly and hellish experiences tend to coexist in close proximity.
My frustration has been that Western media tends to focus on the hellish aspects only. This is why it was a pleasure to report this story, looking at Lebanon’s most recent incarnation as a refuge — one for Syrian Christians and Muslims. A bishop I interviewed for the story said, with respect to Christians leaving Iraq and Syria, “The Middle East without Christians is not the Middle East.” By the same token, I would say this: The Middle East without a pluralistic, open, welcoming Lebanon is not the Middle East.
Read more about Syrians Crossing the Border into Lebanon in the Spring 2013 issue of ONE.
20 May 2013
Tags: Lebanon Cultural Identity Unity Interreligious Dialogue
At the Baladna Club in Jericho, a member of the girls’ soccer team practices. (photo: Rich Wiles)
One of the important works of CNEWA is spotlighted in the Spring 2013 issue of ONE, which looks at youth centers in Palestine:
The Baladna Club is one of 20 youth centers supported by CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine. Founded in 1999, the club has 120 members — Christians and Muslims, boys and girls from both public and private schools.
Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, believes support for such programs as Baladna is an innovative effort to make a difference in the lives of Palestinian youths. These programs provide formative opportunities to learn, grow, work together and play together. Life under military occupation can be frustrating and dispiriting for young people; these clubs try to raise spirits, offer a sense of community and purpose, and provide stability and hope. CNEWA also set up the initial training to teach 20 nongovernmental organizations how to write proposals, plan strategically, find resources and, most importantly, think realistically.
Read more about this club and others in the Spring 2013 issue of ONE.
17 May 2013
Tags: CNEWA Palestine
According to reports, the Turkish government is preparing to build camps to house Syrian Christian refugees in the Syriac Christian heartland near Mardin, home to the fifth-century Deyrulzafaran Monastery. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
Why is Turkey Building a Tent City for Syrian Christians? (AINA) Nowhere in the Islamic world has a refugee camp for the Christians of one country been built across the border in a neighbouring country. Now Turkey is building a camp that will hold between 3 and 30 times the number of Syrian Christians currently taking refuge in the country. Why? Why is Turkey creating a small city to handle a flood of Syrian Christians?
Syria’s Christians left in limbo (Haaretz) Christians in Syria find themselves damned if they support the regime of President Bashar Assad, and equally damned if they join the rebellion. With both the regime and Islamists looking to settle scores, the future looks bleak.
Jerusalem family tattoos pilgrims for centuries (Businessweek) Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories. Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith.
Build Your Own Country (Fides) The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Bechara Boutros, addressed a severe reprimand to Lebanese politicians who fail to reach an agreement to prepare a new electoral law and lead the country out of the serious and dangerous political-institutional paralysis in which it has fallen.
Egyptian Christians targeted with blasphemy charges (Dallas News) Blasphemy charges were not uncommon in Egypt under the now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but there has been a surge in such cases in recent months, according to rights activists. The trend is widely seen as a reflection of the growing power and confidence of Islamists, particularly the ultraconservative Salafis.
17 May 2013
Sister Eliseea sets aside an unfinished icon of the Holy Trinity to begin another one. (photo: Andreea Câmpeanu)
An old friend dropped by the office today: Sister Eliseea Papacioc, a Romanian Orthodox nun and world-renowned iconographer. She’s visiting the United States for a few weeks, stopping in Washington, New York, Florida and Tennessee for exhibitions and talks about her work, and she came to say hello and show us some of her remarkable work.
Last year, we took readers to her Romanian studio, and she explained the prayerful process by which she creates her icons:
“Once I understood that these icons should only be made with never-ending prayer, I realized I could not write them, because I could not pray. And I was a nun,” she admits.
“Your prayer becomes the icon, and the icon becomes prayer again for the one who has it in his home and prays in front of it. It’s all mystery, a real and continuous link to God,” she explains, as she sits in her workroom’s red armchair and sips a cup of tea.
Now, when Sister Eliseea writes, she prays nonstop. She follows a simple daily routine, which begins and ends in prayer. Each morning, she wakes up at dawn and reads from the Psalms. “That’s where I get all my sap, all my spirit,” she says.
Afterward, she writes icons, which she does until the sunset. She often continues into the night, sometimes until as late as 2 or 3 a.m. However, she only uses colored paints in the daylight.
She spent some time today explaining more of the spirituality that informs her work.
“I’m very connected with God when I do this,” she said, “and God is doing everything through my hand. I can’t paint without prayer. This comes from heaven, from the words of God, and if you can’t pray you can’t call yourself an iconographer. The prayer comes in your heart from God. Through this prayer, God gives me this inspiration. It’s like I’m under his protection all the time when I paint, he’s covering me with his wings. I never know how a painting is going to be. I just start a sketch and it just comes to me.”
Sister Eliseea said she’s written hundreds of icons over the course of her life; some can be done in a matter of months, others take years. A large icon of the “Deposition from the Cross” — Jesus being taken from the cross — took three years. It is all a labor of love.
“I’m not a commercial painter,” she said with a shy smile, explaining that she doesn’t keep any of the icons for herself. “I just paint as much as God inspires me. God gives me this gift to give to people, to give away.”
You can see Sister Eliseea presenting a couple of her icons, below — the aforementioned depiction of the Descent from the Cross on the left, and another portraying the Annunciation on the right. Read more about her in A Romanian Renaissance from the January 2012 issue of ONE.
17 May 2013
Tags: Sisters Prayers/Hymns/Saints Art Icons Romania
Students attend class at St. Jean Baptiste De La Salle Catholic School in Addis Ababa. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
As the school year enters graduation season, people around the world celebrate academic achievement and students prepare to embark on a new chapter of their lives.
In the November 2012 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux reported on educational institutions renowned for their high levels of achievement — Ethiopia’s Catholic schools:
By almost every measure, Ethiopia’s Catholic schools offer a first-rate education. The most obvious of indicators, results on the national university entrance exam, offer clear evidence.
On last year’s exam, more than half of the country’s 15 Catholic high schools boasted a 100 percent passing rate. The lowest passing rate among them was a respectable 92.4 percent.
“That means almost all the students succeed to study in university,” says Argaw Fantu, head of the education unit for the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat.
Ethiopia’s Catholic schools enjoy many advantages, not least of which is the collective expertise inherited from the church’s long history of running first-rate schools around the world.
“Take our Christian Brothers,” says Mr. Aregay. “This is a congregation with 350 years of tradition working in 81 countries. Obviously, we inherit all those traditions from such a sophisticated and worldwide congregation working in the educational arena. And that holds true for other congregations — Don Bosco, Salesians, Daughters of Charity and others. That automatically gives us an advantage.”
Follow the link to read more about Ethiopians Making the Grade!
17 May 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Education Catholic Schools
In this video, Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh reports on a series of bombings that have killed at least 26 people in Kirkuk and Baghdad, among other Iraqi cities. In televised remarks, Nouri al Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, attributed the attacks to “sectarian hatred.” (video: Al Jazeera)
Sectarianism in Iraq stoked by Syrian war (Washington Post) A recent tide of sectarian tensions that erupted into the worst violence seen in Iraq in five years is testing the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, whose ability to contain the crisis could hinge on a conflict raging beyond his control in Syria. The prospect of a regional power shift driven by the bloody civil war next door, where a mostly Sunni rebel movement is struggling to topple the Shiite-dominated regime, has emboldened Iraq’s Sunni minority to challenge its own Shiite government and amplified fears within Maliki’s administration that Iraq may soon be swept up in a spillover war…
Syria begins to break apart under the pressure of war (New York Times) The black flag of jihad flies over much of northern Syria. In the center of the country, pro-government militias and Hezbollah fighters battle those who threaten their communities. In the northeast, the Kurds have effectively carved out an autonomous zone. After more than two years of conflict, Syria is breaking up. A constellation of armed groups battling to advance their own agendas is effectively creating the outlines of separate armed fiefs. As the war expands in scope and brutality, its biggest casualty appears to be the integrity of the Syrian state…
U.N. chief: Hold Syrian peace talks soon (Daily Star Lebanon) A proposed international conference to try to stop Syria’s civil war should be held as soon as possible, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday, but no date has yet been agreed for a meeting that appears to face growing obstacles. A rising death toll, new reports of atrocities by both sides, suspicion that chemical arms may have been used and the absence of prospects for a military solution have all pushed Washington and Moscow to agree to convene the conference. “We should not lose the momentum,” Ban said of the proposal to bring the Syrian government and opposition representatives to the conference table…
In Serbia, patriarch and president meet and urge unity (b92) Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and President Tomislav Nikolic met on Monday and urged “absolute unity and responsibility … in the search for a solution to the Kosovo and Metohija issue.” Nikolic underscored that the patriarch and himself agreed in everything, adding that it is not easy to decide on behalf of the nation just as it is not easy to decide on behalf of the church. “Still, it is much better when there is unity among those who make decisions on behalf of the people and those who make such decisions on behalf of the church,” the president said…
16 May 2013
Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War United Nations Serbian Orthodox Church Serbia
Parishioners sing a hymn during evening Mass in the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anne in Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Did you know there is a group of Catholics in Israel who regularly attend Mass in Hebrew?
The Spring issue of ONE offers a profile of this unique community:
By any measure, it may be one of the most distinct cultures in all of Israel. With just 500 active members, including children, Israel’s Hebrew-speaking Catholic community is so small that many Catholics around the world, and most Israelis, do not know of its existence. It endures as a vibrant contradistinction: Catholics celebrating their faith in a country that is overwhelmingly Jewish, worshiping in Hebrew, marking Jewish feasts and traditions, and honoring many local customs. Yet they are undeniably, proudly Catholic.
The community was born in 1955. That year, a group of Catholics in Israel founded a pious association called the Work of St. James to help Hebrew-speaking Catholics live their faith in a Jewish society.
“The church began to realize there were thousands of Catholics in Israel who were not Arabs and not expatriates, who belonged to and integrated into Hebrew-speaking, Jewish Israeli society,” says the Rev. David Neuhaus, Latin patriarchal vicar of Hebrew-speaking Catholics.
Some were married to Jews, while others were from Catholic branches of predominantly Jewish families. A smaller number were Jews who, like Father Neuhaus, had converted to Catholicism.
Regardless of their backgrounds, most “strongly saw themselves as Jewish historically, ethnically and culturally, and at the same time Catholic,” he says.
But between the 1950’s and the 1980’s, the community dwindled dramatically, largely due to emigration and assimilation.While members of the community come from a variety of backgrounds, all find unity in the most familiar form of Catholic worship, the Mass in the Latin rite, celebrated in Hebrew in six communities across Israel. As Father Neuhaus explains, it is the same Mass prayed around the world, but “with minor concessions to the particularity of praying in Hebrew.”
On Sundays, for example, the liturgy begins by lighting two candles representing the Old and New Testaments, signifying “their intimate unity.” The music is inspired by both Christian and Jewish traditions rooted in the region. Readings from the Old Testament, including the Psalms, are heard in their entirety, rather than selected verses, and Jewish feasts and days of commemoration are mentioned.
“Needless to say, praying in Hebrew brings out very forcefully the resonances in the liturgy with the biblical texts, particularly of the Old Testament,” Father Neuhaus says, after celebrating a weekday Mass at the Jerusalem chapel.
Read more about this community in Hebrew Spoken Here.
Tags: Middle East Christians Israel Cultural Identity Catholic