28 November 2011
Five-year-old Alexi, a member of the mostly Filipino Sacred Heart Latin Catholic parish in Amman, Jordan, loves to dance. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
In the current issue of ONE we feature a story on the Filipino migrant community in Jordan and the work of those who offer its members support and comfort:
A congenial 67-year-old Jesuit priest from Boston, who wears slacks and sandals under his vestments, Father O’Connell, looks and acts the part of a wise, friendly grandfather.
He helps the choir and he holds the lease on a house where the choir rehearses and other church groups gather. Father O’Connell also oversees the Sacred Heart youth basketball team and helped a group of youngsters from the church secure a space in the Jesuit Fathers’ center where they can breakdance.
Most important, Father O’Connell spends much of his energy responding to the spiritual, emotional and material needs of his predominantly Filipino congregation and other Filipino migrants in the country.
“I understood that the first task was to give people a place where they could be at home,” says Father O’Connell. “For these people, just the ongoing, regular liturgy — with Filipino music, with people reading, with them being able to participate in whatever way they want — gives a strand of consistency and continuity. It’s their home. It’s their place. In most cases, there’s no place else they can gather.”
For more from this story, see Far From Home by Nicholas Seeley.
23 November 2011
Tags: Middle East Jordan Cultural Identity Emigration Teresian Association
Earlier this week, our own Father Guido Gockel, Vice President for the Middle East and Europe, appeared on “Catholic Matters,” a program on the Guadalupe Radio Network, to talk about the prospects of peace in the Holy Land — a subject he discussed at length during a recent talk in Washington.
The audio of his interview appears below.
18 November 2011
Tags: CNEWA Holy Land
Each of these three women lost family members in Chechnya’s Second Chechen War in 1999. They came to Georgia along with other refugees. Most of them live in Pankisi Gorge — where Kisti-Georgians settled about 150 years ago after migrating from present day Chechnya.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
Photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz has spent many years documenting the people of the Caucasus and Georgia in particular. Using images like the one above, she’s helped capture the storied history and dynamic culture of this diverse region. In our November 2009 interview with Mielnikiewicz she shared her goal of documenting life in Georgia.
You can read more about the Caucasus region in Where Europe Meets Asia.
16 November 2011
Tags: War Georgia Eastern Europe Caucasus
An altar server stands near a statue of Jesus in a Syriac Catholic church
outside Stockholm, Sweden. (photo: Magnus Aronson)
Yesterday, two U.S. Bishops suggested ways Americans and Catholics can help the people of Iraq during a press conference at the USCCB’s annual fall meeting in Baltimore:
Bishop Murry said that to aid Iraq he envisioned a “modern-day version of the Marshall Plan, which helped to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.”
“When something comes up that our country and other countries consider important we do find the money,” he said. “Iraq is suffering from the results of the war. The United States and the nations that joined with it in the war can help Iraq rebuild their infrastructure and rebuild their country.”
Bishop Murry added, “We have to be open to Iraqi refugees coming to this country, and to countries in Western Europe.”
For more from this Catholic News story, see Bishops Urge Catholics to Help Iraqis.
In the May issue of ONE, we featured a story on Iraqi refugees in Sweden and the challenges they face.
However, it is the mass repatriation of Iraqi asylum seekers that has panicked Sweden’s Iraqi Christian community, especially in light of the recent string of attacks against Iraq’s Christians — including the massacre in a Baghdad Syriac Catholic cathedral that left 52 dead last October. Currently, some 2,600 Iraqi asylum seekers in Sweden await deportation. Many are Christians with well–founded fears of persecution back home in Iraq. Last October, the European Court of Human Rights issued a statement urging Sweden to suspend the deportations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, church leaders and human rights activists have also sharply criticized the policy.
For more from this story, see A Nordic Refuge No More by Anna Jonasson. To learn how you can support Iraqis in need, visit our web site.
9 November 2011
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Chaldean Church Emigration
Students have lunch at St. Charles School in Achrafieh located in east Beirut. 784 students, Muslim and Christian, attend St. Charles. (photo: Sarah Hunter)
In the July 2008 issue of ONE Spencer Osberg explored the role of Catholic Schools in Lebanon during and after the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war:
The war is over, but Lebanon’s Catholic educators continue to provide a well-rounded education to all, regardless of creed. Today, the country’s 365 Catholic schools instruct some 200,000 students — about 22 percent of Lebanon’s school-age population — from all of Lebanon’s 18 officially recognized religious communities. Over 25 percent of the total student body is Muslim and, in many schools, Muslim students are the majority. Likewise, the approximately 12,800 teaching staff and 900 administrators employed by the Catholic school system represent every confession.
At Notre Dame College, a school of the Antonine Sisters in the southern village of Nabatieh, most students are Muslim.
“Our students in Nabatieh are as dear to us as our students in Ghazir,” said Sister Dominique. “Muhammad, Hassan, Ahmed, Tony, Joseph or George, it’s the same thing. We do not distinguish between them. We love them all.”
For more from this story see Pillars of Lebanon.
8 November 2011
Tags: Lebanon Beirut Catholic Schools
In this unpublished 2003 photo from our archive, a woman prays at an Orthodox church in
Kamishly, Syria. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
With all of the news of violence and unrest coming from Syria, we want to remind you all to keep the people of Syria in your prayers and thoughts:
The death toll from Syria’s revolt was reported on Tuesday to have mounted significantly as government troops pursued a bloody assault to retake Homs, the country’s third-largest city, where loyalists are facing armed defectors who have prevented the government’s forces from seizing it as they did other restive locales this summer.
The confrontation may stand as one of the most violent episodes of the eight-month uprising.
For more from this story see Death Toll in Syria Mounts as Government Assault Continues on NYTimes.com. To learn more about Syria’s Christian community, check our our feature from last year’s Special Edition on Christians in the Middle East.
4 November 2011
Tags: Syria Middle East Syriac Orthodox Church
Seminarian Sleiman Hassan, 24, from Fuhais, Jordan, prays after lighting a candle before mass in St. Joseph Parish in Jifna, West Bank. (photo: Debbie Hill)
Today, according to the Latin calendar, is the feast day for Saint Charles Borromeo, a man sometimes called the "Father of the Clergy," and the patron saint of seminarians. In the the March issue of ONE magazine, Michele Chabin reported on the the challenges facing young seminarians in the Holy Land:
“I plan to do pastoral work and I’m preparing myself for the needs of the people,” says Mr. Hassan, a native of Jordan, who attends the Latin Patriarchal Seminary in Beit Jala, a town adjacent to Bethlehem.
“I’ve learned that life isn’t easy here, but the fact that it’s complicated challenges me to find new ways to help people and address their suffering.”
Not until shortly before noon does Mr. Hassan take a break from his duties and rest a little before tackling the three–hour drive back to the seminary.
For more from this story see, To Be a Priest in the Holy Land.
3 November 2011
Tags: Middle East Jordan Holy Land Seminarians Vocations (religious)
An Armenian village in Kessab, Syria, taken in 1997. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
Photographer Armineh Johannes has documented life for Armenians living throughout the Middle East for years. This photo from the Armenian village Kessab is a snapshot of a people who have maintained their traditions and culture outside of their home country. The story Little Armenia profiles Armenians now living in Lebanon:
After the near annihilation of the Armenian community by the Turks between 1895 and 1915 (an estimated 1.5 million Armenians perished), survivors found refuge in French-protected Lebanon and Syria. Most of these refugees settled in Beirut, particularly in the suburb of Bourj Hammoud. Those who settled in rural Lebanon, notably in the village of Anjar in the Bekaa valley, arrived more than two decades later.
Determined to preserve their cultural identity, religion, language and traditions, these Armenian refugees established clubs, schools, churches, hospitals and dispensaries. Today they attend Armenian churches and schools, eat Armenian food, speak Armenian and read Armenian periodicals. Whether members of the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic or Evangelical churches, Lebanon’s Armenians live in harmony. Although tight-knit, they too are affected by the specters of unemployment, emigration and cultural disintegration haunting all Lebanese.
For more from this story, see Little Armenia in the July 2002 issue of the magazine.
31 October 2011
Tags: Syria Middle East Armenia
A nun reads a bible outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
(photo: Paul Souders)
Today Palestine became a full member of UNESCO, the U.N. cultural and educational agency:
Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 UNESCO member delegations present.
“Long Live Palestine!” shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of UNESCO's General Conference.
While the vote has large symbolic meaning, the issue of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.
For more from this story see, UN cultural agency grants full membership to Palestine.
28 October 2011
Tags: Jerusalem Palestine Holy Sepulchre
A boy plays near the construction site of a new facility at New Orthodox School in Madaba. (photo: Joseph Zakarian)
In our July 2010 cover story, journalist Nicholas Seeley reported on the revitalization of Orthodox schools in Jordan. In the story we learned that these schools also acted as a foundation for interfaith collaboration and tolerance:
“I’m in a Christian school, but I wear my Muslim veil, and nobody asks me, ‘Why are you wearing that?’ It’ normal,” says Tyba Hardan, an Iraqi-born sophomore in her first year at Amman’s Patriarch Diodoros I School.
Most teachers and students say that preventing sectarianism is not a concern and that the schools remain places where people of different faiths build trust and respect.
“That respect develops when you work with children from kindergarten through high school. They sit together, Christians and Muslims, and they grow up together. This is our contribution,” Archimandrite Innokentios says, “teaching them, guiding them into this way of accepting one another.”
For more see, Rebuilding a Sure Foundation.
Tags: Children Jordan