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Winter, 2015
Volume 41, Number 4
  
4 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Sister Micheline, center, talks with a refugee about the needs of his camp in Bechouat, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)

In the Winter edition of ONE, readers meet Sister Micheline Lattouff, a Good Shepherd Sister working among the growing population of Syrian refugees settled in the Bekaa Valley. In the interview, she speaks of her vocation and her desire to serve her people.

ONE: What motivates you?

ML: I try to find what message God is sending me. I try to learn what God is trying to have me do. In 2005, I started looking at people in the villages and their suffering. The children used to play in a graveyard. Once, they burned the tail off a cat for fun. They had no normal games or activities. Their parents are illiterate and have no resources to rear their children.

I felt the Bekaa region needed support, like sheep without shepherd. I was frustrated; I thought, “What can I do for children in this area?”

ONE: So what did you do?

ML: I started asking teachers in public school, “If I make a center for children to visit after school, will you help?” And the principal offered benches and desks for free, and teachers volunteered. On Christmas 2005, I began a new experiment: From 3 to 5 p.m. an after-school program for Lebanese children from 9 to 15 years of age.

ONE: What have been some of your more rewarding moments?

ML: The best moment for me is when I see the children happy, successful in their studies and their life, when I see them able to pass through the difficulties and continue to achieve.

ONE: What have been some of your more difficult moments?

ML: The more difficult moments are when I have nothing to give the refugees. It is so difficult for me.

ONE: What thoughts sustain you during difficult times?

ML: I believe in human beings and God. I believe that God is capable of changing a person, when I see people improving from work, when I see success of people and developing.

Read more in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.



4 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian refugees wait at the border on 13 January near Royashed, Jordan. World leaders pledged billions on Thursday to help support refugees. (photo: CNS/EPA)

Leaders pledge billions for Syrian refugees (Voice of America) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged nearly $1 billion in new U.S. aid for Syrian refugees at an international donors conference and is calling for the Syrian government and Russia to halt attacks on rebel-held areas in order to let humanitarian aid through. The donors conference opened Thursday in London with European Union nations pledging more than three billion dollars to support people in Syria as well as in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, neighbor countries that are strained by the exodus of refugees fleeing the fighting...

Syria peace talks suspended (BBC) The third round of Geneva peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition has been suspended three days after a shaky start, underlining the mammoth challenge of putting an end to Syria’s five-year war. Riad Hijab, the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) co-ordinator, arrived in Geneva on Wednesday to give an extra weight to the troubled talks. But comments of Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who said Russian strikes will not cease “until we really defeat terrorist organisations like al-Nusra Front” clearly made it difficult for both the UN and Syrian opposition to press ahead...

Iraq building a wall around Baghdad (BBC) Iraqi security forces have begun building a wall around the capital Baghdad in an effort to prevent attacks by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). The reported 300km (186 miles) barrier will surround the city from all sides, an official said...

Christian associations react to rumors about discovery of weapons in a church in Turkey (Fides) The Federation of Assyrian associations have reacted harshly to the rumors — circulated in recent days on the Turkish media — that a cache of weapons and ammunition belonging to Kurdish armed groups was discovered by the army in Ankara at the Syrian Orthodox church of Santa Maria, in Diyarbakir. “More lies, another disgrace, still an operation aimed to hit a target,” wrote the international network of associations linked to Assyrian Christian communities scattered throughout the world in a statement. “We” says the statement sent to Agenzia Fides, “condemn this hostile attitude, which affects all Syrians and which was intended to indicate a target...”

Coptic patriarch visits dioceses, speaks out against domestic violence (Fides) Domestic violence, whose victims are mainly women and children, represent a devastating social phenomenon that has severe effects on people’s lives and also on civil society. This is what Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II said during his catechesis and prayer meeting on Wednesday, at the church of St. George, in the suburb of Guizeh, attended by thousands of faithful...



3 February 2016
Greg Kandra




This structure marks the location of an ancient church, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. (photo: Greg Kandra)

Yesterday, UNESCO recognized the place of Christ’s baptism in Jordan as a “World Heritage Site.” In 2011, ONE magazine reported on efforts to preserve the site:

In a rustic wooden structure perched on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, Father Gianluigi Corti leads a group of Italian pilgrims in renewing their baptismal vows. The river is now little more than a muddy stream, drained over the years to meet the demands of the growing populations of the Holy Land. The air is still, apart from the singing of Italian hymns and a chorus of chirping insects. The latter is a constant sound in this dry, hot region of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan known as the Valley of Trickling Water, or Wadi el Kharrar in Arabic.

As Father Corti concludes the simple renewal service, he dips a plastic bottle into a heavy stone basin filled with water from the river and slowly pours its contents on the heads of the pilgrims. As a parish priest, he has led many such tours to the Holy Land.

“The Bible was not lived in Europe,” he says. “If you don’t know the land of the Bible directly, you cannot know what the Bible is.”

A short walk from the pilgrims lie the remains of an early Christian church.

Uncovered in the late 1990’s by a team of archaeologists led by Dr. Muhammad Waheeb, the ruins belong to a complex built at the end of the fifth century. They mark the site where early Christians believed Jesus was baptized — the same complex described in pilgrims’ accounts from the fifth to seventh centuries.

Above the brush, not far from the river’s edge, rises the golden dome of a new church built on land donated by the Jordanian royal family. Dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the Orthodox shrine is the most prominent monument in an area long believed to be the biblical Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where John lived, preached and baptized his cousin, Jesus. It also stands as a reminder of the Hashemites — Jordan’s royals who descend from the prophet Muhammad — and their personal commitment to develop the kingdom’s holy places, Christian, Jewish and Muslim.

Jordan is home to a mosaic of biblical places. For example, near the Zerqa River, Jacob wrestled the angel and received the name Israel. At Mount Nebo, Moses looked upon the Promised Land. The Prophet Elijah ascended to heaven on a chariot of fire from the Jordan River’s eastern bank, which also later served as the center of John the Baptist’s ministry.

These holy places, coupled with the country’s arid landscape, drew thousands of early Christians, such as St. Mary of Egypt, who led lives of penitence and prayer. Their monastic cells, caves, chapels and tombs in turn became important venues of pilgrimage for generations of Christians, who traveled along a well–beaten circuit from one site to the next for much of the first millennia of the Christian era.

Today, these sacred areas draw considerable numbers of pilgrims and tourists each year, but less traffic than one might expect. Most of the locations receive scant publicity and are overshadowed by better–known holy sites in Israel and Palestine. And, until recently, some of the most important sites in Jordan have been long lost or neglected.

Read more in “On Jordan’s Bank” in the January 2011 edition of ONE.



3 February 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the plight of a 10-day-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon illustrates the challenges facing many who have been displaced by Syria’s civil war. World leaders are gathering in London this week to try and find solutions for Syria’s refugee crisis. (video: Rome Reports)

World leaders aim to raise billions for Syrian refugees (The Guardian) World leaders are gathering in London for a conference aimed at raising $9bn for Syrian refugees and preventing the creation of a permanent underclass of uneducated, restless and jobless Syrians living in countries’ bordering their homeland. Organizers want the aid to be diverted from food handouts towards work and education opportunities for Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan...

Report: More than 10,000 refugee, migrant children have disappeared in Europe (Al Jazeera) More than 10,000 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children have disappeared in Europe, the EU police agency Europol said on Sunday, fearing many have been whisked into sex trafficking rings or the slave trade. Europol’s press office confirmed to Al Jazeera the figures published in British newspaper The Observer. The number relates to the past 18-24 months...

Pope greets UN peacekeepers at audience (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met with a group of soldiers serving as United Nations peacekeepers from Paraguay and Argentina. The group was attending the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square...

UNESCO recognizes baptism site of Jesus as World Heritage Site (Fides) The site of Jesus’ baptism on the Jordan River has been officially declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, during a ceremony held in Paris on the evening of Tuesday 2 February. The ceremony was also attended by a delegation from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, including the Jordanian Minister for Tourism Nayef H Al-Fayez and Archbishop Maroun Lahham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem...

Chaldean monastery in Tehran reopens (Fides) On the eve of the meeting in the Vatican between Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Pope Francis, it was possible to reopen the Chaldean monastery of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary in Tehran. This was reported by official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate, recalling that the monastery had been closed since 2013...

Why the Middle East’s largest Christian community is fleeing Egypt (International Business Times) Egyptian churches across New York and New Jersey have seen their communities swell in recent years as Egypt has faced political turmoil, a slumping economy and a growing militant insurgency. The exodus has intensified fears for the future for Christianity in the Middle East, as some now worry for the fate of Egypt’s Christians, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities...

Ukraine’s economy minister quits (Bloomberg) Ukraine’s government, splintering over issues from the war in the nation’s east to faltering anti-corruption efforts, suffered a new setback as its reform-minded economy minister stepped down. Aivaras Abromavicius, 40, a Lithuanian-born former fund manager, said Wednesday that he wouldn’t be a “puppet” for officials he accuses of blocking overhauls of the ex-Soviet republic’s economy and institutions...



Tags: Syria Egypt Refugees Jordan Chaldeans

2 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Sister Liza Mundamattom, of the Deen Bandhu Samaj Sisters, greets a member of the Chamba Mahara caste in Bastar, India. The Vatican’s Year of Consecrated Life officially came to a close today. To read about some of the sisters we have profiled since the year began, visit this link. And to support the formation of more sisters around the world, visit this giving page.
(photo: Jose Jacob)


During Mass he celebrated today, Pope Francis marked the end of the Year of Consecrated Life:

Pope Francis has called on consecrated men and women to make courageous and prophetic choices, to not be afraid of getting their hands dirty and of walking the geographical and existential peripheries of mankind today.

The Pope was speaking to consecrated men and women during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the end of the Year of Consecrated Life.

The Year, which was celebrated throughout the world, began on the First Sunday of Advent in November 2014 and came to a close on the World Day of Consecrated Life on 2 February, 2016.

The initiative, called for by Pope Francis, aimed to be an occasion of renewal for men and women in consecrated life, of thanksgiving among the faithful for the service of sisters, brothers, priests, and nuns, and an invitation to young Catholics to consider a religious vocation.

During his homily the Pope described the just ended Year of Consecrated Life as “a river” saying “it now flows into the sea of mercy, into the immense mystery of love that we are experiencing through the Extraordinary Jubilee.”

He concluded: “May the Lord Jesus, through the maternal intercession of Mary, grow within us, and each increase in each of us the desire of encounter, the custody of wonder and the joy of gratitude. Then others will be attracted by His light, and will be able to meet the Father’s mercy.”

You can read the pope’s homily here.



2 February 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Jordan’s King Abdullah II describes the difficulties his country is facing dealing with the influx of refugees from Syria. (video: BBC)

Jordan’s king says citizens are “at a boiling point” over refugees (International Business Times) Jordan’s King Abdullah II has said that people in his country are at “boiling point” due to the influx of thousands of refugees from Syria, BBC reported Tuesday. Abdullah’s comments came on the heels of the U.N. refugee agency’s statement Sunday that about 20,000 Syrian refugees have been stranded on the war-torn country’s border with Jordan. Jordan has been accepting refugees from Palestine and Iraq for decades and now asylum-seekers from Syria make up nearly 20 percent of the country’s population, BBC reported. “For the first time we can’t do it any more,” Abdullah said...

Russia open to hard-liners attending Syria peace talks (AP) Russia said Tuesday it supports the inclusion of all opposition parties in Syrian peace talks, including representatives of two hard-line Islamic groups, as President Bashar Assad’s troops captured a village north of Syria’s largest city with the aid of Russian airstrikes. Syria’s official SANA news agency reported the capture of Hardatneen, north of Aleppo, as U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura kicked off what he called a second day of peace talks in Geneva by hosting a government delegation for the second time since Friday. He also planned a separate meeting with the main opposition group later in the day...

U.S. weighs options to speed Iraq’s fight to retake Mosul (Reuters) The United States is willing to deploy Apache attack helicopters and advisers to help Iraq retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State as it considers options to speed up the campaign against the militant group, a top U.S. general said on Monday...

Winter plunging Iraqis deeper in debt (Huffington Post) These days, 40 year-old Syrian father of three, Faruq Mohammed Hamo, tells me there are local shops where he dare not go and show his face. Faruq is deep in debt and is ashamed to go to stores where he can’t pay back the food items he’s bought on credit. His family fled conflict in the Kobane, Syria, in September 2014. They now live in Qaladze, north of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, just a few kilometres from the border with Iran. They fled with nothing and have been helped by neighbours as well as getting help from UNHCR. But, Faruq says, he has been unable to find regular work and things are going from bad to worse...

Pope: Consecrated life must be close to the people (VIS) Pope Francis spoke to participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life yesterday, noting: “Men and women are consecrated, not to distance themselves from people and to live in comfort; no, to become closer to and to understand the life of Christians and non-Christians, their suffering, their problems, the many things that can be understood only if a consecrated man or woman is close to them. ... Consecrated life is not a status that allows us to watch others from a distance...”



1 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Villagers climb on top of a crowded Jeep after their weekly shopping in an Indian village in the so-called “Red Valley.” To learn how a group of devoted sisters is helping the poor in this conflict-stricken corner of the country, read “Serving in the Red” in the Summer 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Jose Jacob)




1 February 2016
Greg Kandra




In this picture from 10 January, Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa, center, listens to an Israeli border policeman after he stopped a delegation of bishops near the Palestinian land in the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala, West Bank. An Israeli court has rejected appeals to stop construction of the wall dividing the Cremisan Valley. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Israeli court rejects appeals to stop Cremisan wall (Fides) The Israeli High Court rejected the appeals that had been presented to counter the resumption of the construction of the “wall of division” in the Cremisan Valley. The appeals were presented by the Salesian Sisters of the Convent located in the area affected by the works, by the municipality of Beit Jala and by the Palestinian owners of agricultural land expropriated to build the barrier...

Jordan seeks international aid to help with Syrian refugees (Financial Times) Jordan is prepared to allow tens of thousands of Syrians to work in the kingdom, the country’s prime minister said, if the international community agrees to extend billions of dollars worth of aid for its economy, which is buckling under the burden of hosting more than one million refugees...

Iraq faces calamity from dropping oil prices (The New York Times) Iraqis seeking to withdraw money from banks are told there is not enough cash. Hospitals in Baghdad are falling back to the deprivation of the 1990s sanctions era, resterilizing, over and over, needles and other medical products meant for one-time use. In the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, the economic crisis is even worse: government workers — and the pesh merga fighters who are battling the Islamic State — have not been paid in months. Already, there have been strikes and protests that have turned violent. These scenes present a portrait of a country in the midst of an expensive war against the Islamic State that is now facing economic calamity brought on by the collapse in the price of oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the Iraqi government’s revenue...

Coptic professer sentenced to three years in prison for insulting Islam (Fides) The court of Beni Mazar sentenced a Coptic teacher on charges of insulting Islam to three years in prison. The episode happened last spring, at a village school in Nasiriyya, near the town of Beni Mazar, in the Egyptian province of Minya. Four students of the school were arrested for having shown a video, filmed with a mobile phone, where they mimicked the scene of the slaughter of a faithful Muslim in an attitude of prayer, in imitation of the horrific executions committed by jihadists of the Islamic State...

Ukraine authorities demand French TV pull documentary on Maidan uprising (RT.com) Ukraine’s authorities have urged a French broadcaster to take a documentary titled “Masks of Revolution” off the air. They claim the movie misrepresents Maidan events, and have a list of their own suggestions for what needs to be shown. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in their facebook statement went as far as to urge Canal+ TV to overhaul their editorial policy...

Artist depicts life in one of Europe’s largest refugee camps (Mashable.com) The first impression of the “Jungle” — the refugee and migrant camp in northern France that is home to some 6,000 people — is of rubbish. Huge piles of rubbish, everywhere. Food waste, torn sleeping bags, children’s toys, Christmas trees, you name it, it’s probably lying abandoned somewhere in the camp. Amongst it all, people...



29 January 2016
Greg Kandra




Students at the Shashemene School for the Blind in Ethiopia sing and pray together after breakfast. The school is giving blind and partially sighted students lessons in faith, hope and independence. Learn more in “The Future at Their Fingertips,” in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Petterik Wiggers)




29 January 2016
Greg Kandra




Kurds leave their houses with their belongings after new curfews were imposed in the Sur district of Diyarbakir on 27 January 2016. A military strike in the region this week damaged a Syrian Orthodox church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. (photo: Ilyas Akengin/AFP/Getty Images)

Church hit during military offensive in Turkey (Fides) A Syrian Orthodox church in Diyarbakir, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was damaged during the Turkish military offensive against the positions of the Kurdish Workers’ Party. The damage was caused by the bombing carried out by the Turkish army. This was reported by Father Yusuf Akbulut, the pastor of the church, who continues to send alarming messages from his home, where he barricaded himself with the family while fighting continues in the area...

Coca Cola to open factory in Gaza (Times of Israel) Coca Cola is to open a factory in the Gaza Strip within weeks, which will eventually provide more than 1,000 jobs in what is one of the world’s worst-hit unemployment hot spots...

Hidden child labor in refugee camps (The Guardian) There are no figures on the informal Syrian labor force in Turkey but there are almost 2.3 million registered Syrian refugees living in the country, according to the U.N., with about 9 percent of them in refugee camps. The rest have to provide for themselves with no financial support from the state. An expert from the Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies has suggested around 250,000 Syrian refugees are working illegally in the country, with a recent Human Rights Watch report claiming child labor is “rampant.” Many reports of illegal working come from the garment sector, the country’s second largest industry.

Hindu girl wins essay contest for writing about Christian unity (Catholic Register) Sometimes, it takes an outsider to speak the truth about our faith. Sharanya Tiwari is a Grade 11 Catholic high school student of Hindu faith. Out of all the entries, it was her essay on Christians united in “their rich faith in Christ” that set her apart from the others in the annual Friars’ Student Writing Award held in conjunction with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The annual contest is co sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement-Graymoor and The Catholic Register...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Hindu





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