1 August 2013
A sister with her young friend at the John Paul II Peace Center in India. The center, which is dedicated to the care of people of every age facing severe physical and mental challenges, is part of the Paul VI Mercy Home, a complex of social service modules owned and operated by the Archeparchy of Trichur. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Last year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited India. One memorable stop along his way was the Paul VI Mercy Home:
This Mercy Center offers superb educational programs to mentally challenged children. It is directed by the Nirmala Dasi Sisters, who do a marvelous job in serving the needs of these special loved ones. We were welcomed by a marching band and many smiling faces, including very small children, children up to their teens, many sisters serving there and a large contingent of trainees who study there to receive a diploma in working with special needs children. This institution is licensed to offer this diploma, as it has such a good name in its care for the specially challenged.
Read more about the Nirmala Dasi Sisters in House of Blessings, from the March 2007 issue of the magazine.
31 July 2013
Tags: India Children Sisters Msgr. John E. Kozar Nirmala Dasi Sisters
Ethan Jacob Ramirez awaits his baptism in the arms of his mother at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Amman. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
Two years ago, we visited Jordan and profiled the migrant workers there, many of them Filipino Catholic women:
On Fridays, Mass is standing room only at the English-speaking Sacred Heart Latin Catholic Church in Amman, Jordan. Friday is the Islamic day of rest and it attracts the largest number of parishioners, most of whom work the rest of the week in and around the capital.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem established Sacred Heart parish in 1996 to serve Amman’s swelling Catholic migrant community.
Among the families are a scattering of Europeans and North Americans, most of whom work in the foreign embassies of the posh Jabal Al Weibdeh neighborhood that surrounds the church. A few wear bright salwar kameez, the traditional pajama-like trousers worn by men and women from the Indian subcontinent. The vast majority, however, are Filipino women.
“It was a little strange for me in church at first,” says Father Kevin O’Connell, who has led the parish since its inception 15 years ago. “You’d look out to an entire congregation of women.”
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.”
Though some have jobs at the Philippine Embassy or in international organizations, most are domestic workers. They live in their employers’ homes and work long hours. Many experience intense feelings of loneliness and homesickness. They often have families back home whom they miss desperately.
With few job opportunities in the Philippines and families to support, these women come to the Middle East, where jobs in the “care-giving industry” are plentiful. Motivated by the promise of comparatively high earnings, most of which they intend on sending home to their families, they often accept without complaint long hours, little personal time or freedom and substandard living accommodations.
When the Filipino women attend Mass at Sacred Heart, they make the most of it. Friday’s celebration is usually their only free time all week. They embrace it as a chance to connect with others, speak their native language and openly practice their faith.
The Friday mass in the Catholic church in Amman’s Jabal Al Weibdeh is celebrated by the Sacred Heart English-Language Catholic parish, and the attendees are almost all migrant workers—the vast majority are Filipino women. They come on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, because for many of them that is the only day they are allowed time off.
Read more about Filipinos who are Far From Home in the November 2011 issue of ONE.
30 July 2013
Tags: Jordan Catholic Migrants Women
In this image from 2011, women clean coffee beans at Abdirasid Ogsadey’s coffee mill in Ethiopia. The process requires manually sorting through the coffee beans to remove pebbles and imperfect beans — beans that are too young, too old, too moist, too dry, cracked or broken. To learn more about this fascinating facet of Ethiopian culture, read Brewed to Perfection in the November 2011 issue of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
29 July 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Cultural Identity Farming/Agriculture
In this image from 2011, Petro Moysiak is ordained a priest in the Church of the Transfiguration in the city of Kolomyja in Ukraine. For more on the life of priests in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, read Answering the Call from our November 2011 issue. (photo: Petro Didula)
26 July 2013
Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
During a World Youth Day Mass this week, Pope Francis gestures and shows his chotki,
or prayer rope. (photo: AP via News.va.)
Some Roman Catholics may have wondered what Pope Francis was wearing around his wrist during his visit to Rio de Janeiro this week. But the faithful in the Eastern churches — Catholic and Orthodox — no doubt recognized it: it’s a chotki, or prayer rope. It’s not uncommon to see patriarchs wearing one. It’s almost unheard of, though, to see one in the hands of the bishop of Rome.
The rope is usually used with the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Historically it typically had 100 knots, although prayer ropes with 300, 50, or 33 knots or, less commonly, 250 or 12 can also be found in use today. There is typically a knotted cross at one end, and a few beads at certain intervals between the knots. “The purpose is to help us concentrate, not necessarily to count.”
Its invention is attributed to St. Pachomius in the fourth century as an aid for illiterate monks to accomplish a consistent number of prayers and prostrations. Monks were often expected to carry a prayer rope with them, to remind them to pray constantly in accordance with St. Paul’s injunction in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
Pope Francis, of course, has a close connection to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Shortly after the pope’s election, Patriarch Sviatoslav wrote:
The newly elected Pope Francis was mentored by one of our priests, Stepan Chmil who is now buried in the basilica of St. Sophia in Rome. Today’s Pope, during his time as a student of the Salesian school, awoke many hours before his classmates to concelebrate at our Divine Liturgy with Fr. Stepan. He knows our Tradition very well, as well as our Liturgy.
The last time I had an opportunity to see him was as I was preparing to leave Argentina for Ukraine. I asked him to bear witness to the process of beatifying Fr. Stepan Chmil, to which, he gladly agreed. The Holy Father very well knows not only of our Church, but also our liturgy, our rites, and our spirituality.
Apart from this, Pope Francis, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, was assigned as ordinary for Eastern Catholics, specifically those who at the time did not have members of their own hierarchy. Our Eparchy in Argentina is, let’s say, suffragan to the Archbishop’s seat of Buenos Aires. In this way, Cardinal Bergoglio, always took care of our Church in Argentina; and as a young bishop, I took my first steps in episcopal ministry under his watchful eyes and help. Because of this, I am positive that the Holy Father will be a great help to our Church, and I expect that great things await our Church with this Pope.
26 July 2013
In this image from 2012, then-President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt is flanked by high-ranking military personnel as he address soldiers at a checkpoint in El-Arish.
(photo: CNS /Egyptian Presidency handout via Reuters)
Prosecutors charge Egypt’s Morsi with espionage (Los Angeles Times) Egyptian prosecutors have charged deposed President Mohamed Morsi with espionage and colluding with the militant group Hamas in provocative accusations ahead of rival rallies planned Friday by Islamists and largely secular opposition forces. The charges against Morsi, who has been in army custody since his overthrow on 3 July, are certain to infuriate tens of thousands of his Islamist supporters who have been demonstrating in Cairo and other cities. The accusations come the day after the army warned Islamists to disband their sit-ins or face retaliation...
Orthodox leaders demand end to torture, murder of Christians (ByzCath.org) The heads and representatives of all 15 autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches have issued a joint statement lamenting the persecution of Christians around the world. The leaders have gathered to commemorate the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus’, the medieval Slavic state that helped give birth to modern Russia and Ukraine. “Every day thousands of believers in Christ are being tortured and driven out of their native lands; many people meet their death,” they said in a statement published by Interfax, a Russian news agency. “News about tortures and murders are coming from Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India...”
Patriarchs meet, urge unity (Sofia News Agency) New Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit has met with Russian Patriarch Kiril in Moscow, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church informs. The Patriarch is leading the Bulgarian delegation which is taking part in the celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the converting of Russia to Christianity, the so-called “Baptism of Russia.” The delegation will be in Moscow until July 30. The invitation was extended by the Moscow Patriarchy. The two Patriarchs first visited the chapel in the Synod's headquarters in Moscow and then held a talk...
Denver area home to 30,000 from Ethiopia, Eritrea (Denver Post) A bloody, 17-year civil war that began in 1974 drove a mass migration to the United States. Church groups helped at least 2,700 refugees from Ethiopia and Eritrea, the province that split off after the war ended in 1991, resettle in Denver. Others followed to join families, for education, for job opportunities. Today, activists and academics estimate there are more than 30,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans among the seven-county metro area’s nearly 2.9 million people. As a group, Ethiopians have stitched together a vibrant piece of the city’s social and commercial fabric. They own businesses, build ornate churches, send their kids to state colleges and live an American dream...
Pope is most influential, second most-followed world leader on Twitter (CNS) Pope Francis is the most influential world leader on Twitter, with the highest number of retweets worldwide. He also is the second most-followed leader of the world, running behind — albeit by a long stretch — U.S. President Barack Obama. The rankings were released 24 July in a recent study titled “Twiplomacy,” which refers to the use of Twitter by world leaders...
25 July 2013
Young men attend a shoemaking class at vocational training center in Minya, Egypt.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
Several years ago, we visited a vocational school in Upper Egypt that was giving hope and opportunity to the handicapped:
The Jesuit Center for the Handicapped is one of several projects in the region funded by CNEWA. The center is dedicated to youths who would otherwise have few opportunities for an independent life.
The center, originally for boys, was founded in 1983. Since 1992, girls have also been admitted. There are now 40 students at the center and admission is equally divided by gender.
Students are bused from surrounding areas and they room at the center from Monday to Thursday. By having a three-day weekend in their villages, respect is paid to both Muslims, who pray on Fridays, and Christians, who worship on Sundays.
Minya’s population is about 20 percent Christian and 80 percent Muslim. Osama Iseq, the center’s director, said there are tensions between the two religious communities, fueled largely by Islamic fundamentalists.
“At first we had problems with bringing the students to the center,” he said. “There was one village we could not even get to because of anti-Christian feelings, but now there is no problem. Here Muslims and Christians get along. That students are eating, studying, living and working together is better than any discussion...
...The center’s two-year course provides vocational training in the morning and literacy and simple mathematics classes in the afternoon. When students are finished with the course, they read, write, do basic arithmetic and are prepared for an independent life with practical job skills.
But while the vocational school is relatively new, the Jesuits have a long history of being educators in Minya. On the same campus as the Center for the Handicapped is a primary and preparatory school founded in 1889. The Jesuit Fathers school also receives scholarship grants from CNEWA.
The 800-pupil school is run by five Jesuit priests and one brother, two of whom are Egyptians, two are Maltese, one is French and the other is Dutch. Also on staff are a number of Christian and Muslim teachers.
Jesuit Father Joseph Mizi, the school’s director, said the school is one of the best in the district even though it primarily serves the poorer children of the area.
Read more about efforts to take young people From Dusty to Dignity in the November 2002 issue of the magazine.
25 July 2013
Missio President Msgr. Klaus Krämer visits with CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar.
Msgr. Klaus Krämer, president of Missio, the German Catholic mission organization of the Pontifical Mission Societies, visited the New York offices of CNEWA this morning. A longtime collaborator with Msgr. Kozar, Msgr. Krämer was in the United States to meet with other Catholic agencies and help build what he called “Catholic solidarity.” He expressed his appreciation for his work with Msgr. Kozar — “We have a very good partnership,” he said — and spoke of a desire to consolidate efforts and build a worldwide network of charities devoted to serving the poor in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Describing the work of Missio, Msgr. Krämer put it simply: “We invest in people.” Missio supports numerous programs and projects. One annual program, “Three Kings,” involves children caroling throughout Germany during the first week of January to raise money for poor children in the regions Missio serves. This immensely popular project raised €42 million last year. You can learn more about Missio — one of the oldest mission societies in the world, founded in 1822 — by visiting its UK website.
Msgr. Krämer himself has a colorful background. He was a lawyer before becoming a priest and served for several years as secretary to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. (Among other things, Msgr. Krämer is editing the writings of Cardinal Kasper and, while in New York, plans to meet with several publishers.)
When I asked him to sum up his organization’s message, Msgr. Krämer paused and thought for a moment.
“The Gospel is alive,” he said. “The church is not only a question of life in a parish, life in a country, it’s part of an international network. This is like a global village. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest and biggest global players. And this network of churches is something very unique. And it’s a challenge for us, as Catholics, to be in contact and to help. But it’s also a source that can encourage us in our own faith.
“We can see how alive the church is in other parts of the world and how they are dealing with their challenges, their problems. So we are not only giving. We are also receiving a lot from them. This is important for the life of the church. And it’s important for the whole world.”
25 July 2013
A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he runs to take cover in Aleppo’s Salaheddine neighborhood on 23 July. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, papal nuncio to the United Nations, criticized the “persistent refusal” of Syria’s warring factions to negotiate an end to the country’s 28-month-long civil war. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)
Holy See: There can be no military solution to Syria (Fides) No more wasting time, exclude any military option, immediately start a negotiation: that is what Archbishop. Francis A. Chullikatt, papal nuncio to the United Nations, asked yesterday during the open debate of the Security Council on the Middle East. The nuncio criticized the “persistent refusal” of Syria’s warring factions to negotiate an end to the country’s 28-month-long civil war, calling on the international community to act quickly to stop the conflict. “There can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict,” he said in his speech...
UN puts death toll in Syria at 100,000 (AP) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday raised the death toll in Syria’s civil war to more than 100,000, up from nearly 93,000 just over a month ago. Ban called on the Syrian government and opposition to halt the violence in the 2 ½ year civil war, saying it is “imperative to have a peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible...”
UK bishops call for peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Catholic and Anglican bishops in England and Wales have met with the Israeli ambassador to Britain, calling for increased efforts to bring lasting peace to the Holy Land. In their meeting with Ambassador Daniel Taub on Wednesday, Bishop Declan Lang, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ department for International Affairs, and Bishop Michael Langrish, who heads the Church of England’s efforts for Midde East peace, said conflict between Israelis and Palestinians “has for far too long been an open wound,” frustrating the aspirations of both communities to live in dignity, peace and security...”
Metropolitan Hilarion: the West is moving to a kind of dictatorship (Interfax) Modern Western states move to absolute dictatorship, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion believes. “Nowadays state sets a principle of secularity, independency from any outside authority that is authorized to point out to violations of morals or rights,” the metropolitan writes in his article published in the Pravoslavnaya Beseda magazine. People are declared the only source of authority in a democratic state, and people should realize this authority through free will of citizens participating in elections and referendums...
24 July 2013
A mother and child pause for a picture at the Godano Institution, a home for abused girls and women. The women attend classes, learning to sew and work as beauticians. Last year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited and wrote about his experience. Read his moving account of “the Church”s Priority.” (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Tags: Ethiopia Education Women (rights/issues)