8 September 2016
Since 1971, the Sisters of Saint Dorothy have been spreading the love of Christ to hearing impaired children at the Pope Paul VI Ephpheta School in Bethlehem. (photo: Steve Sabella)
Some heroes we have known do work that we can only describe as miraculous.
Consider the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, who have been gently but persistently breaking through the sound of silence. For nearly half a century, they have run the Pope Paul VI Ephpheta School for the Hearing Impaired in Bethlehem — a facility that takes its name, Ephpheta, from the miracle Jesus performed on a man who could not hear.
Today, not far from where that famous event occurred, the miracles continue. And the Sisters of Saint Dorothy are helping to make them happen.
Ephpheta was founded at the request of Blessed Pope Paul VI after his visit to the Holy Land in 1964. Supported almost entirely by CNEWA, Ephpheta admits children on the basis of need, not their parents’ ability to pay.
We described it all in our magazine in 1996:
Ephpheta is run by the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, a largely Italian community dedicated to spreading the love of Christ through fostering human and Christian development. Although engaged in many types of educational and social work, the sisters have specialized in educating the deaf.
...The first step began before Ephpheta opened its doors in 1971. The Sisters of Saint Dorothy have more than 100 years of experience educating the deaf. They have developed their own methods for teaching the deaf how to speak. But before Italian sisters could teach Palestinian children how to speak their native Arabic, these sisters had to learn Arabic themselves.
This was no small hurdle: Arabic ranks among the most difficult of languages and it contains guttural sounds not found in Western languages. Europeans and Americans who learn Arabic as adults usually have great difficulty mastering these sounds. Imagine having to master them well enough to teach them to a deaf child! But that is one of the accomplishments of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy.
Other than their hearing disability, the children served by Ephpheta are healthy children. Most are deaf from birth.
Ephpheta begins working with children when they are 18 months old, or as soon as their hearing disability is diagnosed. They come with their parents to Ephpheta once or twice a week for a preadmission program of testing and counseling.
Ephpheta’s formal program begins at age three. There are three kindergarten classes for three-to five-year-olds, followed by six primary grade levels. Each class has a maximum size of 12 to 14 children, so that each child may receive individual attention. Teaching a deaf child to speak and lip-read requires a huge investment of individual attention and care.
...One classroom contained musical instruments, and I wondered whether the deaf could be taught music. “A deaf child can be taught everything,” Sister Francesca told me, “even music.” I listened as one of the older girls played a tune on a small organ, reading from sheet music. “Learning music is important because it teaches a sense of rhythm,” Sister Francesca went on, “and normal speech is rhythmic speech.” Even if this deaf girl could not hear the music she was playing, her mastery of the rhythm of its short notes and long notes would help her perfect the rhythm of short syllables and long syllables in speaking.
The aim of Ephpheta is to prepare a deaf child for integration into normal schools and normal society. Consequently, Ephpheta does not teach sign language. Sign language only allows a person to communicate with others who know sign language. Ephpheta teaches speaking and lipreading so that a deaf child will be able to communicate with everyone and lead as normal a life as possible. The ultimate goal is to help each child develop his or her maximum potential.
CNEWA is proud to support the work of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, and to salute these determined heroes who are making what seemed impossible possible, one child at a time.
8 September 2016
In this image from November 2015, CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar poses for a snapshot with young ladies at Alphonsa Balika Bhavan, a religious institute in Trivandrum in India.
8 September 2016
Children of migrants are cared for at the new Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem, which opened Monday. (photo: Saint James Vicariate)
Saint Rachel Center opens in Jerusalem to serve migrants (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) On Monday 5 September 2016, activities were initiated at the Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem, a new center for babies, children and youth in the Talbieh neighborhood in Jerusalem. The center is run by the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics to respond to one of the most dramatic needs of the migrant population in Israel, which is for safe, healthy and nurturing day care for their small children...
Christians, Muslims discuss hate crimes in India (Vatican Radio) A consultation was organized by National Council of Churches, the umbrella organization of around 30 Protestant and Orthodox Churches in India, in New Delhi, India on 5-6 September, bringing Christians and Muslim leaders together seeking ways to check increasing violence against religious minorities in India...
Young Ethiopian chosen to head Christian movement (Vatican Radio) Berhanu Sinamo, is a 29-year-old teacher in Ethiopia. He is a Catholic. Berhanu has just been elected President of the International Coordinating Young Christian Workers (ICYCW) making him the first African to lead the movement. Berhanu was elected at the 9th ICYCW Congress that was held in Seoul, South Korea between 19 August — 1 September 2016...>
Muslim leader in Egypt seeks to build a new church to honor late Coptic pope (Christian Today) A Muslim MP in Egypt has submitted the first request to build a new church under a controversial law passed last week by the country’s parliament. The law, aimed at liberalizing church building and renovation, was hotly debated and received Church support only at the last minute amid fears it conceded too much to local opposition forces. The independent MP for the Assiut region in Upper Egypt, El-Badri Ahmed Deif, said he wanted to build the church in the village of Salam, which translates as ‘Peace,’ the birthplace of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III...
7 September 2016
Children of the Zabbaleen, or “garbage pickers,” greet visitors in Cairo. To see more images of this remarkable and faith-filled group of Egyptians, check out Msgr. John E. Kozar‘s photo essay from the Spring 2016 edition of ONE. You can also read about how they are Salvaging Dignity
from a 2012 profile. (photo: John E. Kozar)
7 September 2016
A Syrian man suffering from breathing difficulties is treated at a make-shift hospital in Aleppo after regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs on a rebel-held neighboorhod
on 6 September 2016. (photo: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images)
Doctors in Syria tend to victims of suspected gas attack (The New York Times) As rebel negotiators unveiled a new plan on Wednesday for a political transition in Syria, doctors in the city of Aleppo were still treating people in intensive care after an attack believed to involve the use of chlorine gas sickened more than 120 people, including 10 women and 37 children...
Syrian refugees cling to survival in Jordan (The Los Angeles Times) Of the 670,000 Syrians registered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan, the vast majority — around 85 percent — live outside the relative security of refugee camps, where they don’t have to worry about paying for rent or utilities. Instead, they’ve found assorted housing in cities and towns, often in squalid conditions...
Egypt’s Christians say they are at a ‘breaking point’ (The New York Times) Once again, Egyptian Christians are feeling under siege, at least in Minya, a city on the banks of the Nile where about 40 percent of the population is Christian. And once again, Christian leaders are divided over how to respond. At the highest levels of the Coptic Orthodox Church, there is an effort to not make waves and to work with the central government to present an image of unity and calm. After a series of attacks on Copts this summer, the Coptic pope, Tawadros II, pleaded with his followers in the United States not to go ahead with planned demonstrations outside the White House intended to bring international attention to the violence...
At summit of churches in Amman: ‘We struggle against the rulers of darkness’ (Fides) The struggle involving the Christians of the Middle East, in this tragic phase of their history, is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly place,” said Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, who currently heads the Middle East Council of Churches...
India dedicates ‘St. Mother Teresa Road’ (Fides) Eastern India’s Odisha state, that was the theatre of one of the most atrocious anti-Christian violence in the nation’s history, commemorated the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Sunday by naming a new road after her in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar...
6 September 2016
Students at the Al Bishara School in Ain Kawa, Iraq, near Erbil, get ready for class. The school serves children who were displaced by ISIS in 2014. (photo: John E. Kozar)
6 September 2016
In this image from June, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrates Vespers of Pentecost in the Church of St. Titus in Heraklion, Greece. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has branded as “false allegations” reports that the patriarch was involved in Turkey’s failed coup in July. (photo: CNS/Sean Hawkey, handout)
Patriarchate rejects ‘false allegations’ that Bartholomew was involved in attempted coup (Fides) The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople deplores the “false allegations” that have circulated in recent days in the Turkish press regarding the involvement of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the failed coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July...
Russia launches military drills near Ukraine’s borders (Vatican Radio) Moscow has launched large-scale military drills on Ukraine’s eastern border and around Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula, despite international concerns it could lead to a further escalation of tensions between the two neighbors...
India, Pakistan mark Mother Teresa’s sainthood (Vatican Radio) Bells chimed, people cheered and nuns sang hymns at the mother house of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MC) in eastern India’s Kolkata city, formerly Calcutta, as Pope Francis declared her a saint at a canonization Mass in the Vatican. They broke into an applause when they watched on big TV screens the live ceremony of the canonization. Hundreds of local people, including nuns, volunteers at the Missionaries of Charity houses from India and abroad had gathered at the motherhouse of the congregation where St. Teresa died and was buried 19 years ago...
Summit of church leaders to discuss fate of Middle East Christians (Fides) On Tuesday, 6 September, the XI General Assembly of the Council of Churches of the Middle East begins in Amman, with the participation of leaders and representatives from all ecclesial realities in the Middle East...
Syria tourism video spotlights sunny beaches (NPR) The aerial footage shows bright beach umbrella, palm trees, swimming families, jet skis. The sun is shining. The music is upbeat. The message? “Syria: Always Beautiful.” Over the last few weeks, the Syrian government’s Ministry of Tourism has released more than a dozen videos on Youtube, each promoting the charms of Syria as a travel destination. One video spotlights ancient ruins — with no acknowledgment that many cities in Syria are new ruins, destroyed by the brutal civil war raging there...
2 September 2016
Sister Huda Sheeto kicks a soccer ball at the Al Bishara School, which is run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Ain Kawa, near Erbil, Iraq. Sister Huda is the school’s principal. The school serves displaced children of Iraqis who fled their homes to escape
ISIS in 2014. (photo: Paul Jeffrey/CNS)
2 September 2016
Children are seen in Jarabulus, Syria, on 1 September, after part of the city
was liberated from ISIS terrorists during the ‘Operation Euphrates Shield.‘
(photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Airstrikes kill 25 civilians in Syria (AP) Syria’s government secured a deal to restore its authority over another rebellious Damascus suburb on Thursday while Syrian rebels captured new ground in a lightning advance on the central city of Hama and suspected government airstrikes killed 25 civilians in the surrounding province...
The endless battle for Aleppo (Al Monitor) another battle is taking place that could significantly affect the fight for Aleppo. To the city’s north, in the border town of Jarablus, Turkey is fighting its first direct battle in Syria against the Islamic State — though the objective of this military campaign is not to defeat ISIS as much as it is to prevent Kurdish militias from creating an autonomous area in Syria that could foster Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself...
Palestinian journalist arrested in Gaza (AP) The wife of a prominent Palestinian journalist and critic of the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip says Hamas has arrested him. Mohammed Othman’s wife, Huda, says Hamas officers arrested him at this home on Thursday...
Patriarch Kirill thanks president of Uzebekistan for encouraging dialogue (Fides) While diplomatic sources cited by international agencies announced the death of the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in a message sent to the same Karimov thanked him for the “care” with which he encouraged dialogue between the different religious components of the Uzbek nation, protecting the rights of those who are called “traditional communities...”
More court officials sacked in wake of Turkey coup (BBC) A further 543 judges and prosecutors have been sacked in Turkey, bringing the number of dismissals since July’s failed coup to at least 3,288. The new dismissals were reported as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated the start of the new judicial year in Ankara...
Indian leaders head to Vatican for canonization of Mother Teresa (Time) As Pope Francis prepares to declare Mother Teresa a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on 4 September, a string of top Indian politicians are heading to the Vatican to witness her canonization, underlining her popularity in her adopted home...
1 September 2016
Eileen Fay, seen here in 1985, first joined CNEWA in high school. (photo: courtesy Eileen Fay)
For 55 years, one of the most familiar faces and voices at CNEWA has belonged to a diminutive New Yorker by the name of Eileen Fay.
Eileen joined CNEWA in 1961, when she was still attending St. Anthony’s High School in Greenwich Village. She spent a few hours every week after school — filing, typing and answering the phone. Soon, she became a full time employee, and what started as something to do after school grew into a full-fledged career in our New York office — a career that has spanned, incredibly, six popes.
Today, over half a century later, she is still a fixture in the office, working part time as a Donor Relations Representative — serving others as the friendly voice on the other end of the phone, helping to answer questions, provide information and facilitate giving.
Ask her what she has found so satisfying, and her eyes brim with tears.
“It’s the people here that I met,” she says. “It’s the donors who would call and I’d become friendly with. It’s the work that we were doing to help those in distress.”
But the most rewarding part of the job, to her, has been helping people in need.
“The need is so great.” she explains. “It’s just overwhelming, the help that is going overseas. It’s amazing — especially for the children who are suffering over there.”
“This place is in my heart,” she adds. “I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I feel so strongly about Catholic Near East, about the people who work here, the jobs that they do. It gives me a good feeling at the end of the day to feel like I did a good job with our donors. It’s heartwarming, just knowing that you are in touch, talking to another person who’s donating to CNEWA.”
She’s seen a lot of changes over the years. “It was a different world,” she says. “When I first started, it was typewriters and boxes and boxes of work lined up to be done. No computers. You had to make sure everything lined up on the page when you typed.” She laughs. “And it didn’t always line up.”
But what has lined up is her life with the life of CNEWA. And, it seems, it’s been welcome and rewarding intersection. She has now been with the association for more than half of its 90 years — and has no plans to leave any time soon.
“To me, CNEWA means my home. It’s like my second home. I enjoy the work I’m doing, the people I work with, and I just enjoy coming into this building every day.”
Eileen is still working for CNEWA, after 55 years. (photo: courtesy Eileen Fay)