22 March 2016
Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M. was a talented and generous part of CNEWA’s family
for many years. (photo: CNEWA)
Many of the heroes we’ll be spotlighting over the next few months are extraordinary women who have given their time and talent to make a difference in CNEWA’s world. One of those women in Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M., who worked for CNEWA for many years and made invaluable contributions to our magazine.
When she died in 2013, Michael J.L. La Civita wrote:
Tens of thousands of friends and benefactors grew to know Mercy Sister Christian Molidor from her weekly emails she wrote until her retirement in 2011. But Christian’s work at Catholic Near East Welfare Association began long before the internet; in her self-deprecating style, she would say she joined CNEWA before the alphabet was invented. According to Christian, she arrived one day in 1984. Msgr. John Nolan, then the head of CNEWA, had no idea what to do with the Libertyville, Illinois, native, so he sent her “packing,” she recalled some years ago.
She went to India, where she visited orphans, catechists, priests, senior citizens, the handicapped and her beloved religious sisters. She helped cook and clean. She did the wash and hung the laundry. And she photographed. She took thousands of pictures of smiling children, sisters laughing and patients praying. She collected their stories, wrote them down, squirreled them away in her head and shared them for decades.
Christian held many positions at CNEWA — everything from communications director to associate secretary general to special assistant to the president — but she loved most documenting the stories and taking the portraits of the people she loved to serve. Christian’s love for and faith in Jesus, and his presence in the lowly, the poor and the marginalized, fueled her being. And she shared this love and faith with everyone she encountered. Everyone!
Read on to discover Sister Christian’s final, heartfelt message. And take a moment to view some of her beautiful photographs, and hear more about her life, in the video below:
22 March 2016
Rahel Zewde, 13, is one of the many students at the St. Michael School in Awo, Ethiopia, who benefit from a daily feeding program, a program necessitated by the country’s worsening drought. Today marks the United Nations’ World Water Day, calling attention to water-related issues around the globe. Learn more about the plight of Ethiopians facing hunger and drought When Rain Fails in the Spring 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
22 March 2016
Women walk through a camp populated by displaced Christians, victims of ISIS, in the Erbil neighborhood of Ain Kawa in Kurdistan. (photo: Raed Rafei)
Ordinary people are not powerless to resist anti-Christian genocide (Crux) Now that the United States officially has joined most of the rest of the world in declaring that the violence unleashed by ISIS on Christians and other minorities constitutes genocide, attention shifts to what to do about it...
Record number of Gaza Christians receive permits to celebrate Easter (ICN) While thousands of foreign pilgrims visit the Holy Land every Easter, this year, 850 indigenous Christians Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are also being allowed to travel to Bethlehem and occupied East Jerusalem, after the Israeli authorities agreed to grant them permits, a Palestinian Authority official said on Saturday. A spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, told Ma’an news agency the permits were the result of “dedicated efforts” by Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh in order to enable hundreds of Christians to celebrate the holidays within a span of 45 days. This is the first time such a large number of Christians from Gaza received permits to travel to the West Bank and Jerusalem, he added...
Indian, Pakistan Muslim religious leaders call for peace (Vatican Radio) A group of Muslim clerics from India and Pakistan said terrorism in South Asia can be combated successfully if the two traditional rival neighbors respect each other and combat religious extremism...
New Syriac bishop wants to make Canada a home for the faithful (Catholic Register) Canada’s first Syriac Catholic bishop says his immediate challenge is to minister to refugees from the Middle East and at the same time move forward with plans for evangelization in his vast new Canadian diocese as he prepares for the demands of the Easter season...
Pope to celebrate Holy Thursday with young refugees (CNS) Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper with young refugees in Castelnuovo di Porto, about 15 miles north of Rome. “Washing the feet of the refugees, Pope Francis is asking for respect for each one of them,” wrote Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the main organizer of the Vatican’s Year of Mercy initiatives...
21 March 2016
Children of the Good Samaritan Home in El Fayum, Egypt, play on a swing.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
Spring has officially arrived — and so has the Spring 2016 edition of ONE, which features a fascinating photo essay by Msgr. John E. Kozar, from his recent trip to Egypt. The image here is just one of the delights to be found in the magazine. Check out more in our digital edition.
And take a moment, too, to watch this video preview of ONE from Msgr. Kozar.
21 March 2016
In the video above, Pope Francis in his Palm Sunday homily denounces the indifference with which the world treats refugees. (video: Rome Reports)
Aleppo bishop: Most Christians have left Syria (AFP) Two-thirds of Syria’s Christians have left the country, an Aleppo bishop said Wednesday, blaming violence and insecurity spread by extremist groups and insisting most Christians still support the Syrian president. Chaldean Catholic bishop Antoine Audo said there were about 1.5 million Christians in the country before the start of the conflict in March 2011. “I think now there are maybe 500,000. Two-thirds have left mainly due to the insecurity,” he told reporters in Geneva...
Pope Francis issues plea for refugees during Palm Sunday homily (Catholic Herald) Too many countries and individuals want someone else to care for refugees fleeing violence and migrants seeking a better life, Pope Francis has said. Preaching about the story of Jesus’s passion and death on Palm Sunday, 20 March, the Pope said that in addition to betrayal and injustice, Jesus experienced indifference as the crowds who had hailed his entry into Jerusalem, Herod, Pilate and even his own disciples washed their hands of him...
Christians concerned with Israeli restrictions during Holy Week, Easter (CNS) Israeli restrictions on reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Holy Week and Easter are part of the current Israeli government’s policy of making Jerusalem an exclusively Jewish city, said Yusef Daher, secretary-general of the Jerusalem Interchurch Center...
Christians in India call for security during Easter (Fides) Christians in India are asking the government for the protection of churches and safety, in view of the Easter celebrations. As reported, in a statement sent to Fides, the Global Council of Indian Christians, say that “protection is necessary during Holy Week,” given that “violence against individual Christians and churches continues unabated in different parts of India...”
Ethiopia: Israel’s cancelled plan on Ethiopian Jews prompts rally (AllAfrica.com) Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis marched in Jerusalem after the government cancelled plans to allow their relatives to emigrate from the African nation, calling the move discrimination. Police and organisers estimated the crowd at up to 2,000 people for Sunday’s march, which ended outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office...
Gold dome raised atop new Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris (AP) A huge golden dome has been hoisted atop a new Russian Orthodox cathedral in the heart of Paris, in a ceremony to inaugurate a controversial project championed by Vladimir Putin. Dignitaries attended Saturday’s special blessing of The Saint Trinity church built on the site of the former headquarters of France’s national weather forecasting service — near the Seine River and the Eiffel Tower...
16 March 2016
Elsa stands in her home in Mai-Aini refugee camp in Ethiopia. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
In the summer of 2014, Fanuel Abebe, project director for Jesuit Refugee Service (J.R.S.) described his encounter with one of his clients, a refugee from Eritrea named Elsa. CNEWA partners with J.R.S., which works in the Mai-Aini Refugee Camp, assisting in the provision of services to those seeking shelter there. It was an inspirational visit that serves to remind us of the everyday heroism of people who dare to dream of a better life in a troubled world:
As we entered the mud house, we were welcomed with a warm smile by Jerry, whose mother, Elsa, is a client of Jesuit Refugee Service.
Elsa was lying down, exhausted. Her daughter was working on the dough for ambasha, a local variety of Ethiopian bread. The hut contained little — just a few cooking materials and two beds made of mud attached to the mud floor.
Though tired from her rigorous daily routine — which includes collecting firewood every day for cooking in an ongoing struggle to keep her three daughters fed — Elsa warmly welcomed us, insisting on offering us coffee.
As we talked over our coffee, we were surprised at her optimism. We were also delighted at the work J.R.S. had done in keeping Elsa’s spirits high despite her very difficult life as a refugee.
Elsa’s face brightened as she told us about Jerry’s performance at a J.R.S. program for music and the performing arts at the camp. From an early age, Elsa told us, Jerry had proven to be a talented dancer and performer.
Now in her mid-30’s, Elsa explains that she herself had a great passion for music and dance when she was young, and is delighted to see her daughter share that passion. This was one of the reasons behind Elsa’s determination to hang on to life — J.R.S. has helped her keep her hopes alive.
Elsa’s daughter Jerry is one of the many young people living in the Mai-Aini Refugee Camp taking classes at the J.R.S. program for music and the performing arts. Besides music, J.R.S. is also engaged in providing five other types of psychosocial support for children. These programs, which benefit not only the children, but the extended families living in the camp, include counseling, sports and recreational activities, theater and library services.
In spite of the desolation in Mai-Aini, Elsa dreams of a better life for her children.
Read more about Elsa’s Dream in the Summer 2014 edition of ONE.
15 March 2016
Flora Sargsyan, project manager for Caritas Armenia, works to assist Armenia’s elderly.
(photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
CNEWA has long had a concern for the poor and marginalized people throughout Eastern Europe, and works with religious and lay agencies to provide support where it is most needed.
We’ve partnered with Caritas Armenia to serve Armenia’s elderly — “the new orphans” of that part of the world — and one person who has been at the forefront of that effort is Flora Sargsyan, who runs a senior day care center in Gyumri. In the summer of 2015, she wrote about her work in the pages of ONE:
Despite years of work experience, Armenia’s elderly find themselves in hard socioeconomic situations in this post-Soviet period — deprived of jobs and a steady income while trying to live on miserable, inadequate pensions. Unfortunately, their situation has worsened with the massive migration of young people seeking jobs outside the country, leaving their aged parents alone and helpless.
The elderly encounter a lot of hardships; some can’t take care of their health needs, or even handle the routines of daily life. It is a challenge for them just to survive in their late age. They need support — physical, material, psychological and spiritual.
The initiatives we implement are intended to improve their quality of life. We work to help those who are physically and mentally frail to be integrated into society and to be treated with respect and care. We provide an array of supportive services conducted by social workers, medical nurses, caregivers and volunteers.
Each time I visit the people we serve, I feel I need to offer them encouragement. Most are alone and have lost hope. They are anxious for our visits; they long to engage with others, to speak and to be heard. The elderly need proper hygiene, clean homes, hot meals; they also need medical care and attention. This is what our programs help provide. A caregiver or nurse might help bathe the patient or offer to cook or clean — even dress their hair.
Our caregivers are vital to the elderly because they soothe their pain — both physical and emotional. They help ease the sufferings of their souls.
Read more about Flora’s heroic mission here.
15 March 2016
Pharmacist Falah Ahmad distributes medicine to displaced Iraqis from the back of the mobile clinic. The clinic, supported in part by CNEWA, is a lifeline for thousands of refugees. Read more about it in Health on Wheels in the Spring 2016 edition of ONE, now available online.
(photo: Raed Rafei)
15 March 2016
A Russian fighter bomber prepares to leave the Hmeymim air base for its permanent base in Russia. On 14 March 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an order to start the withdrawal of the main part of Russian forces from Syria. (Photo: TASS via Getty Images)
New round of peace talks as Russia withdraws troops from Syria (Vatican Radio) President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to withdraw most of its forces from Syria, timing his move to coincide with the launch of Syria peace talks. But Mr Putin made it clear that Russia will maintain its air base and a naval facility in Syria and keep some troops there...
Holy See: Syria experiencing crimes against humanity (Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday said it is “urgent” to begin immediately the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the population of Syria. Monsignor Richard Gyhra, the Chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, was speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council...
Russian Orthodox center nears completion in Paris (TASS) The construction of a Russian Orthodox cathedral is nearing completion in Paris with its domes to be mounted on Saturday, 19 March. The cathedral will be part of the Cultural and Spiritual Russian Orthodox Center located on Quai Branly near the Eiffel Tower. It will incorporate a French-Russian primary school for 150 school students, a library, exhibition halls, premises of an Orthodox parish and a seminary...
Iraq’s last Christian soldiers (The Daily Beast) Martin Banni is the last of his family in Iraq. The 25-year-old Christian fled his village of Keremles when the so-called Islamic State invaded the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014. Today he lives in a camp in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, while the rest of his family lives in San Diego. The thought of one day working to preserve his ancient community is what keeps him here. “Abroad we might have safety,” he says. “But we will disappear...”
Mother Teresa to be canonized 4 September (Vatican Radio) At a public Consistory held on Tuesday, Pope Francis gave his approval for the canonization of five new saints...
14 March 2016
Parishioners sing Armenian hymns during the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, which they share with the local Roman Catholic community. To learn more about Catholics in Armenia, read A Firm Faith from the Spring 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)