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Volume 44, Number 4
2 July 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro

Msgr. John E. Kozar, president of CNEWA; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches; and Pope Benedict XVI meet at the end of the ROACO general assembly in Rome. (photo: L'Osservatore Romano)

“Rome has a way of bringing it all into focus,” Monsignor John Kozar observes. It is the “universality” of the city that the CNEWA president credits with providing a unique sense of perspective on the matters at hand.

Two weeks ago, he visited Rome to meet with religious and civil leaders at several important events, including the 85th annual ROACO (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Eastern Churches) and the meeting of the Bethlehem University board of regents. Now, back in his New York office, he recounts the details of his trip.

Convoked by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and hosted by the pope, ROACO gathers representatives from Catholic donor agencies serving the Eastern churches and church leaders to plan and coordinate aid.

“It’s exciting to know firsthand how many other agencies there are committed to reaching out to our brothers and sisters in the Eastern tradition,” Msgr. Kozar says enthusiastically. He adds that engaging with Eastern churches has been a source of growth for him. “It’s like learning to use my other lung.”

The proceedings gave Msgr. Kozar the opportunity to confer with members of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches — Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect; Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, secretary; and Msgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, undersecretary — as well as church leaders, such as Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. Joining them were other important leaders, such as Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria; Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to the Holy Land; and Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., custos of the Holy Land (the leader of the Friars Minor in the Holy Land) and a “dear friend and great collaborator.”

With world-class translators working in four languages, they discussed the pressing issues facing the churches and regions they serve. “We all want to improve: to do good works better,” Msgr. Kozar says.

One of the most important subjects discussed was Christian emigration: Iraqi Christians migrating to Switzerland, Ukrainian Christians moving to Canada, and other such trends in the wake of political upheaval and strife. These trends, Msgr. Kozar notes, require not only attention, but also the ability to change some operations to accommodate geographically shifting needs.

At the event’s conclusion, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address to the assembly, discussing the challenges facing the churches of the East, insisting that “every effort should be made” to achieve peace in Syria. “May you always be eloquent signs of the charity that flows from the heart of Christ and presents the church to the world in her true mission and identity by placing her at the service of God who is love.” Following tradition, the pope then warmly received each participant.

“I had the opportunity to thank the Holy Father for the honor and privilege of doing this great work on his behalf,” reports Msgr. Kozar.

The work of sharing the light of charity and cooperation with the churches of the East is great, with much to be done the world over. However, those who attended the assembly left ready and eager to continue this work — armed with clear focus and two strong lungs.

Tags: Unity Eastern Churches Msgr. John E. Kozar Rome Eastern Catholics

14 June 2012
Erin Edwards

Olha Tomkiv, Daryna Palykh and Iryna Tomkiv come together for a family reunion.
(photo: Petro Didula)

In the March 2011 issue of ONE Mariya Tytarenko reported on the disappearance of Ukraine’s villages and the efforts to preserve Ukrainian culture and history. She met with many elderly residents, such as the Tomkiv sisters, who shared a desire to keep tradition alive:

Though a widow living on her own, Mrs. Palykh–Tomkiv has three sisters living nearby, 61–year–old Daryna Palykh, 70–year–old Iryna Tomkiv and 80–year–old Olha Tomkiv. The sisters survive their parents as well as two brothers and a sister.

On the feast day of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God, the family gathers at Iryna’s home. “Glory to Jesus Christ,” she says, using the traditional greeting in the village to welcome visitors, who include several relatives from the area and two nieces from Lviv.

Iryna has earned a reputation in the region for her exceptional embroidery skills. Her elaborate needlework adorns almost every item in the house, including napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases, curtains, wall décor and icons.

For more, read What’s Next for Ukraine’s Villages?

Tags: Ukraine Village life Eastern Europe Eastern Catholics

16 May 2012
Antin Sloboda

Children from Zolochiv orphanage in Ukraine thank their generous supporters.
(photo: Sister Martyna Kostak)

Earlier this month, CNEWA Canada received good news from the apostolic congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Mary Immaculate in Zolochiv, Ukraine. Sister Martyna Kostak has happily informed us that renovations to their orphanage were successfully completed and that the funds given by CNEWA Canada’s donors in 2011 were used to equip an in-house gymnasium for their adopted children.

Currently in Ukraine, due to various socioeconomic problems, there are around 100,000 orphans and street children. Only a small percentage of them end up in orphanages because of parents’ deaths; the rest are orphaned mostly because of abandonment, imprisonment or alcoholism of their parents. Most of these kids are cared for by massive, poorly financed and badly managed state orphanages, which inherited their approach to dealing with social problems from the Soviet times.

With the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church reemerged from half a century of underground existence. Now, its religious orders once again engage systematically in establishment of social institutions that not only help people in need, but also teach the Gospel values of compassion, love and solidarity.

In 2011, besides supporting children in Zolochiv, CNEWA Canada has also helped orphans through the Sisters of the Holy Family in Bibrka and through the Social Center Prominnia in Zaporizhzhia, in central Ukraine.

Thank you!

Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Orphans/Orphanages CNEWA Canada

15 May 2012
Erin Edwards

Pictures of the Virgin Mary are ubiquitous in the village of Hodasz, Hungary. Above, an image of Mary adorns the wall of a home. (photo:Balazs Gardi/VII Network)

Earlier this month, we wrote about how during the month of May, Catholics around the world are honoring Mary. The Catholic News Service drew attention to how Catholics in Rome pay tribute to the mother of Jesus this month.

In CNEWA’s world, the Virgin Mary is revered in various ways. Images of the Virgin Mary, like the one above, appear in almost every house in Hodasz, a Hungarian village that is home to a large Romany community. To learn more about this community, check out Our Town in the March 2008 issue of ONE.

Tags: Icons Hungary Greek Catholic Church Gypsy

23 April 2012
Michael J.L. La Civita

CNEWA’s Vice President for Communications Michael La Civita, Father Martin Vavrak, Bishop Milan Šášik and CNEWA’s Vice President for Development Gabriel Delmonaco met at our New York offices on Friday. (photo: CNEWA).

Central Europe’s Carpatho-Rusyns have been engulfed in a violent whirl of ethnic antagonism for centuries. Subjugated as serfs, these Eastern Slavs worked the soil, kept the livestock or cut the timber of their Austrian, Hungarian or Polish masters. Such conditions, coupled with forced assimilation, hardly favored the development of a distinct Rusyn identity. Nevertheless, such an identity did grow, thanks to their distinctive Slavic dialect, their Byzantine Christian faith and their unique plainchant, or prostopinije.

A unified church, gathering them all under one mantle, does not exist. Carpatho-Rusyns — who have also been called Ruthenians — make up four distinct churches that share the same origins, traditions and rites and yet remain independent of each other.

On Friday, the man who shepherds the mother church of this distinct Catholic Eastern church visited CNEWA’s New York offices. Bishop Milan Šášik is a 59-year-old Vincentian who has guided the Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukacevo in southwestern Ukraine since 2002, first as its apostolic administrator and, since 2010, as its eparch.

Though the church was erected as an eparchy in 1771, and is directly dependent on the Holy See, Bishop Milan told us that he has had to rebuild it from scratch with little or no outside resources. In 1946, the Soviets declared his church illegal and drove it underground, shuttering churches, imprisoning clergy, religious and lay leaders and murdering many of its spiritual leaders, including one of Bishop Milan’s predecessors, Blessed Bishop Theodore Romzha.

In nine years, the bishop has renewed 420 parish communities, building 165 new churches. He has opened more than 40 centers for catechesis and ordained 142 priests, 90 percent of whom are married. Most parish priests are self-sufficient, somehow living and rearing their families on a salary of $150 a month or less.

While grateful for the support this eparchy receives from generous Catholics in Europe and North America, the bishop spoke glowingly of the generosity of his own people. Their sacrifices, he said, have enabled him to accomplish much of this work. To learn more about the Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic Church, click here. To read about its sister Orthodox church, which was founded in Pennsylvania in the late 1930’s, click here.

Tags: Catholic Communism/Communist Carpatho-Rusyn Ruthenians

13 April 2012
Erin Edwards

In this image from 2001, Ruthenian Greek Catholics celebrate the paschal mystery in the village of Tichy Potok in Slovakia. (photo: Jacqueline Ruyuak)

Today is Good Friday for some Christians in the East and this Sunday, 15 April, marks Easter. We explored date discrepancy on the blog post earlier in the week. Holy Week celebrations not only occur on different dates, but the rituals may also be different, depending on the particular church and region. Despite these differences for these high holy days, the deep meaning remains universal.

In the March/April 2001 issue of the magazine, journalist Jacqueline Ruayk wrote about her Easter experience in the small village of Tichy Potok in Slovakia:

Despite the early morning chill and fog, the day turns bright and glorious. By late morning, one corner of the churchyard, crowded with baby carriages and parents, has become a nursery al fresco. All, even the babies, are dressed in their finest for the Easter Divine Liturgy.

After the liturgy, the parishioners file through the left arch of the iconostasis, where the priest uses myrrh to make the sign of the Cross on their foreheads. Then an altar boy places tiny cubes of blessed bread into their hands as they exit.

Our pew is last when Adriana invites us to join her in receiving a blessing from her priest husband. Outside parishioners mill about, exchanging Easter greetings – “Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!” – and bread, a token that all will meet again in heaven. There are Jozef, Lubomira and shy Slavko, Anna and Maria and the mayor’s secretary and other villagers whom we have met during the weekend.

There is more, though. Led by young men and women carrying banners and icons, everyone files through the village to the cemetery. There the priest, handsome in white silks, offers prayers at a central cross. Below, the village lies in sunshine, the river a glittering thread. Pastures, still empty, reach up the mountainsides just turning green with the spring. And just like that it is time to say good-bye to Tichy Potok and its generous people, who have made this a memorable Easter.

For more, read Easter by the Quiet Stream.

Tags: Eastern Christianity Greece Easter Greek Catholic Church Ruthenians

11 April 2012
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud
1930 - 2012
(photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Pope Benedict sent condolences to the people of the Middle East following the death of Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, who died on 7 April in a Rome hospital.

As CNS reports:

The 81-year-old cardinal was the retired prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the former patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, led the Latin-rite funeral Mass April 10 in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Daoud’s body was to be flown to Beirut for a Syriac-rite burial with the other patriarchs of Antioch.

In his homily, Cardinal Sodano said he had visited the ailing patriarch a few days before he died. He said Cardinal Daoud told him he was “offering to the Lord his suffering for the good of the holy church and above all for the unity of all Christians.”

In a condolence message to Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of Antioch, Pope Benedict called the cardinal a “faithful pastor who devoted himself with faith and generosity to the service of the people of God.”

The pope also assured the patriarch that during “these days, when we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord,” he was offering special prayers “for the peoples of the region who are living through difficult times.”

Cardinal Daoud was born Basile Moussa Daoud in Meskene, Syria, Sept. 18, 1930, and had served as archbishop of Homs, one of the cities now being most deeply affected by violence as the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reacts to efforts to oust him.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1954, he earned a degree in canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University. He was elected bishop of Cairo in 1977 and archbishop of Homs in 1994.

The synod of the Syriac Catholic Church, one of the Eastern churches in communion with Rome, elected him patriarch of Antioch in 1998 and, following Syriac tradition, he took the name Ignace in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

You can read more here.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.

To learn more about the Syriac Catholic Church, check out this profile from the March 2009 issue of ONE.

Tags: Syria Patriarchs Syriac Catholic Church

4 April 2012
Erin Edwards

In the current issue of ONE, we explored how Ukrainians are keeping the ancient art of pysanky alive. Pysanky is traditionally decorated chicken and goose eggs. We spoke with well known pysanky artist, Sofika Zielyk and Ukrainian shop owner, Markian Surmach. Below are some extra images from the story.

Photos by Erin Edwards

Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Art Easter

23 December 2011
Erin Edwards

In Ukraine, a boy stands before a tetrapod (icon stand) and a Nativity scene.
(photo: Ihor Tabin’sky)

We’ll be celebrating the holiday this weekend and returning to the office on Wednesday.

In the meantime, from our family to yours: have a safe, blessed and happy Christmas!

Tags: Ukraine Church Christian

15 November 2011
Erin Edwards

Hierodeacon Andrii presents the gifts during the Divine Liturgy at the 17th-century church of St. Michael the Archangel in Lviv, Ukraine. (photo: Ivan Babichuk)

The primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, praised the U.S. Bishops’ annual collection to aid the churches of Eastern Europe yesterday during the USCCB’s annual fall meeting in Baltimore. He noted that the collection “has provided financial support for the development of basic church structures which had been destroyed by the communist regime.” In the September 2003 issue of our magazine, Matthew Matuszak reported on monks also supporting a post-Soviet society in Ukraine:

The newly independent Ukrainian government gave the Studites their church and monastery in 1991 (the mix of structures was built in the 17th century for the Discalced Carmelites, though its most recent occupants had been the K.G.B.).

With a prayer and rest schedule established by the order’s rule, filling eight hours with work was something of an open question in the urban setting of Lviv.

Repair of the neglected church and monastery complex has been a work-in-progress, taking up some of the Studites’ time. But it is the people of Lviv, seeking a good Christian example, who are the monk’s real work. About 1,500 people attend three liturgies at St. Michael’s on Sundays and holy days. Two of the community’s six priests are assigned to parish ministry. The others have special duties in the monastery or the eparchy (diocese). All 26 monks, in varying degrees, are involved in the care of this urban parish in post-Soviet Lviv, a city of 800,000. The parish faithful, in turn, join the monks in prayer and service.

For more from this story see If You Pray, They Will Come .

Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Byzantium

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