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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
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22 September 2015
Greg Kandra




A young Syrian refugee covered with dust arrives with her family in the town of Ruwaished, where they are welcomed by Jordanian authorities. While many refugees are trying to make their way to Europe, the vast majority are remaining in the region.
(photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)


Most refugees remaining in Syria (The New York Times) As the West grapples with a new flood of asylum seekers bursting across Europe’s borders, the vast majority of Syrian refugees remain in the region: 1.9 million in Turkey, 1.2 million in Lebanon and 630,000 registered here in Jordan. Underfunded aid agencies and overburdened host countries have been struggling for years to support them...

Russia expands fleet in Syria (The New York Times) Russia has sharply increased the number of combat aircraft at an air base near Latakia, Syria, giving its forces a new ability to strike targets on the ground in the war-stricken country. Over the weekend, Russia deployed a dozen Su-24 Fencer and a dozen Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack planes, bringing to 28 the number of warplanes at the base, a senior United States official said on Monday. Until the weekend, the only combat planes there had been four Flanker air-to-air fighters...

Compensation announced for the burning of church in Tabgha (Fides) On Monday 21 September, Israel’s Attorney General announced that the State of Israel will offer compensation to the Sanctuary of the Miracle of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, in Tabgha, which on 18 June was burnt by terrorists of the extreme radical right wing. This was reported by official sources of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem...

Report: Egypt demolishing homes in Gaza (The Times of Israel) The Egyptian military’s campaign against Islamic insurgents in northern Sinai is harming thousands of civilians and risks turning more people against the government, Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday. The government has evicted 3,200 families over the past two years, and razed hundreds of acres of farmland and thousands of homes in its bid to destroy illegal smuggling tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, the rights group said....

The “other” refugees, from Eritrea (America) The mounting refugee problem in Europe — often seen as a result of the Syrian war — has attracted the attention of the world’s media. But there is another, often forgotten, dimension to the crisis which has been on going for a number of years: the political instability in North Africa, Eritrea specifically...

Why haven’t Jews responded to Vatican II after 50 years? (The Forward) The arrival of Pope Francis in America and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s landmark declaration, Nostra Aetate, have allowed us, as Jews, to marvel at the revolutionary developments in our relations with the Catholic Church in the past half-century. But while the church has taken great strides in re-examining the way it considers and interacts with Judaism and the Jewish people, Jews have done little in response...



21 September 2015
Greg Kandra




CNEWA paid a visit to Geneseo, IL last weekend. (photo: CNEWA)

We had a whirlwind visit to western Illinois over the weekend, but it was a great opportunity to connect with old friends, meet new ones and speak about the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East. It was also a chance to introduce CNEWA to a new audience and talk about how our papal agency is working to support those most in need today.

My colleague Chris Kennedy and I arrived in Moline, IL Saturday morning, and drove across the Mississippi River to Davenport, Iowa, where we had lunch with a longtime donor, the Rev. Tom Stratman, 89 years young, and a lifelong Iowan. Father Tom purchased a CNEWA annuity some years back and has supported our work ever since. He lives in a residence for retired priests in Davenport. It was great to connect with him, hear stories about his family and his priesthood and get to know a kindred spirit.

CNEWA’s Chris Kennedy, longtime donor Father Tom Stratman, and Deacon Greg Kandra break bread in Davenport, IA. (photo: CNEWA)

After lunch, we headed back across the river to Geneseo, IL, driving past acres of cornfields and small Victorian homes, until we came upon our destination, St. Malachy’s Catholic Church.

St. Malachy’s Catholic Church in Geneso, IL, hosted CNEWA this past weekend. (photo: CNEWA)

There, we were met by the parish’s one priest, the Rev. Michael Pakula, who has served as pastor for 20 years and somehow handles three weekend Masses on his own (with the help, I should add, of five deacons.) Father Mike invited CNEWA to serve as his parish’s “mission outreach” this year.

CNEWA Development Associate Chris Kennedy, ready for action at St. Malachy’s. (photo: CNEWA)

Our information table provided brochures, donor information and reading material, including copies of our award-winning magazine, ONE. (photo: CNEWA)

I preached at all the Masses, while Chris manned our information table in the vestibule. The parish also took up a second collection at all the Masses for CNEWA.

Deacon Greg Kandra preached at all the Masses at St. Malachy’s last weekend. (photo: CNEWA)

During my homily, I spoke about the sisters helping the displaced Christians of Iraq in Erbil — notably Sister Maria Hanna — and spotlighted the remarkable, selfless mission of love they have undertaken. (You can read more about it in our current issue of ONE.) The fervor and faith of the people of Iraq are both humbling and inspiring. And the generous response of the good people in Geneseo was a real blessing. We left uplifted and enriched.

We’re grateful to Father Mike for inviting us to visit — and especially thankful to his parish community for its warmth, hospitality and generous spirit. (A special shout-out has to go to Pat and Kellee Drewlow, active parishioners who made sure we were well fed and well supported during our stay.) St. Malachy’s is a vibrant parish, with a lot of young families, and their commitment to helping others and reaching out to the wider world is an inspiration.

Chris Kennedy, St. Malachy pastor Father Mike Pakula, and Deacon Greg Kandra. (photo: CNEWA)

If you’d like CNEWA to come to your parish, just drop us a line. Our development director, Norma Intriago, will be happy to coordinate a visit.

nintriago@cnewa.org.



21 September 2015
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard his flight from Rome to Havana on 19 September.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope speaks of “emotional” meeting with refugee family (Vatican Radio) During his flight from Rome to Cuba, Pope Francis spoke about his meeting with a refugee family being housed by the Vatican’s Sant’Anna parish. The Holy Father met with the family of Melkite Greek-Catholics from Damascus on Saturday before heading to the airport for his flight to Cuba. He described the encounter as an “emotional” meeting...

Pope sends message to new patriarch (VIS) The Holy Father has sent a message to His Holiness Mar Gewargis, on the occasion of his election as Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, in which he extends his “good wishes and prayerful solidarity” to the Patriarch and his faithful. He adds that it is his prayer that His Holiness may be an inspirational pastor for the flock entrusted to his care and “an untiring builder of peace and harmony, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East...”

Egypt reportedly flooding Gaza tunnels (BBC) The Egyptian military has begun flooding tunnels used by Palestinian militants and smugglers under the border with Gaza, reports say. It is the latest move by Egypt to destroy the tunnels, part of an offensive against insurgents...

Horn of Africa facing worst drought in 60 years (Catholic Register) At the end of June the Famine Early Warning Systems Network of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization issued a warning about dry conditions in Ethiopia, Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. On 5 July the UN called it “the worst drought in 60 years” in the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia and Somalia worst hit. Travelling through the affected Somali province of Ethiopia in August, everywhere I went people spoke of the failure of this year’s rains. “This year we have a big fear because of a shortage of rain,” said Father Teklebirhan Yemataye in Jijiga. “We don’t know what will happen...”

Tomb of Middle East bishop found in Kerala (GulfNews) What could be a significant historic link to Kerala’s connection with the Persian church for centuries has been unearthed at Angamaly, near Kochi. Angamaly was the location of the first archdiocese of the Syrian Christians in Kerala, and authorities have found a tomb that is believed to be of a Persian bishop, Mar Abraham, at a church here.He was the last Middle East bishop of Angamaly, and the tomb is believed to be 418 years old...



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala

18 September 2015
Greg Kandra




Representatives from CNEWA will be visiting a parish in western Illinois this weekend.
(photo: Creative Commons)


This weekend, CNEWA will be visiting Geneseo, Illinois, in the Diocese of Peoria. I’ll be speaking at all the Masses at St. Malachy Parish. Along with my colleague Christopher Kennedy, we’ll be spreading the word about the work CNEWA is doing throughout the Middle East in support of displaced Christians, particularly those who are trying to rebuild their lives in Iraq after being driven into exile by ISIS. CNEWA is making a powerful difference in so many lives today, and we’re eager to share this good news and let others know how they can be a part of it.

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello!

And if you’d like us to visit your parish — to speak at Masses or to prayer groups — just drop us a line at the address below. Our development director, Norma Intriago, will be happy to coordinate a visit.

nintriago@cnewa.org.

We love sharing our message and mission.



18 September 2015
Greg Kandra




Students attend a computer class at the Blessed Gebremichael Catholic School in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Learn more about their lives in “A Letter from Ethiopia” in the
Spring 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)




18 September 2015
Greg Kandra




A volunteer from the German Red Cross plays with a migrant girl from Syria in an emergency shelter in Rottenburg on 16 September. The Apostolic Almoner today announced that a Syrian refugee family has been received by a parish in the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Wolfram Kastli, EPA)

Pope’s almoner assists refugees (VIS) According to a press release issued today by the Apostolic Almoner, the parish community of St. Anna in the Vatican has received a family of refugees, consisting of a father, mother and two children. They are Syrian, Christians of Catholic Greek-Melkite rite, and fled from their war-torn home city of Damascus, arriving in the Vatican on Sunday 6 September, when the Pope launched an appeal to each parish, religious community, monastery and shrine to offer shelter to a family...

European bishops call for “appropriate solution” in Cremisan case (Fides) The European Bishops hope that “the sensitive situation in the Cremisan might find an appropriate solution respectful of the rights of families, their properties and the two religious communities, as well as their educational mission.” The hope around the issue of Palestinian lands expropriated in the area of Beit Jala for the construction of the separation wall, is contained in the final message of the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, which this year was held in the Holy Land from 11 to 16 September...

Stressed Ukraine fighters face alcohol threat (AFP) Some Ukrainian troops play hours of football while others take dips in the sea as they try to adjust to a sudden drop in fighting following a fresh ceasefire deal. Kiev’s war commanders are ready to allow almost anything to save soldiers from the gravest danger facing them during the current tentative truce — booze...

Church in India promotes remembrance of martyrs (National Catholic Register) The Church in the state of Odisha in eastern India has committed to make “Kandhamal Martyrs Day” a regular memorial for the dozens of Christians martyred for their faith, in the anti-Christian violence that engulfed the Kandhamal district seven years ago. The annual meeting of the five bishops of Odisha (known as Orissa until 2011) decided 30 August to observe the day beginning next year...

Report: Ethiopia to become world’s fastest-growing economy (Sudan Tribune) A report released by a research project, said that Ethiopia is on course to become world’s fastest growing economy. The new report “One foot on the ground, one foot in the air” released by the UK-based think tank group Overseas Development Institute (ODI) forecasts for Ethiopia said Ethiopia’s economy would significantly accelerate in the coming three years...



17 September 2015
Greg Kandra




A Caritas day care center in Tbilisi, Georgia offers classes in traditional Georgian carpet weaving, teaching new skills to young people. To learn more, read “A Child’s Rights Restored” in the
March 2012 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)




17 September 2015
Greg Kandra




A migrant child wakes up to a more peaceful morning on 17 September after the previous day's friction at the border crossings in Horgos, Serbia. (photo: Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Pope: no one can remain oblivious to atrocities in Syria and Iraq (VIS) “One of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades are the terrible consequences that the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have on civilian populations as well as on cultural heritage. Millions of people are in distressing state of urgent need. They are forced to leave their native lands. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey today carry the weight of millions of refugees, which they have generously received. Faced with such a situation and conflicts that are expanding and disturbing in an alarming way the internal and regional equilibrium, the international community seems unable to find adequate solutions while the arms dealers continue to achieve their interests.” With these words the Pope addressed the participants in the meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq, organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, attended by Catholic charitable bodies and the bishops of the region, among others, and to which more than thirty organisations have lent their support...

Aleppo archbishop: only 50,000 Christians left in the city (Vatican Radio) The Chaldean Archbishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, warned this week that only 50,000 Christians are now left in the city which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Syria’s ongoing civil war. He urged the international community to provide help to enable Christians to remain in Syria and carry on bearing witness to their faith...

Syrian refugees flee to Gaza (International Business Times) In a coffee shop in Gaza City, Syrian refugee Anas Katerji bursts into a well-known Palestinian song: “Palestine my homeland, my victory bath, Palestine stays my heart’s passion.” The 28-year-old fled his home in Aleppo in the face of vicious fighting between rebel forces and Bashar al-Assad’s army and after eventually reaching Egypt, he did not receive the welcome he had expected. He and a group of other Syrians made the dangerous trip across the Sinai and into Gaza through smuggling tunnels...

Refugees facing tear gas, water cannons (The Washington Post) Refugees blazed a new pathway through Europe on Wednesday, with hundreds hiking through cornfields to reach welcoming Croatia even as others faced tear gas and water cannons from Hungarian police determined to turn them away. The contrasting scenes along the Serbian border highlighted both the make-or-break resolve of the asylum seekers and the growing friction facing Europe, which has failed to create a coordinated policy for the unprecedented influx of economic migrants and war refugees from the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We hit a stone and we flow around it,” said Arazak Dubal, 28, a computer programmer from Damascus, who had been on the road for 18 days...



16 September 2015
Greg Kandra




Outside the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, a young Arab Israeli Christian boy holds a banner reading in Arabic: ‘Me too.. my school is not for sale’ during a rally against what they said was state discrimination in funding their schools, which prompted them to declare an
open-ended strike. (photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)


Christian schools in Israel have been on strike since 1 September, as a result of budget cuts imposed on the schools.

This week, the patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem released a statement, saying in part:

It hurts to see 33,000 students from all faiths and denominations out of their classrooms, while hundreds of teachers and employees are watching their schools empty. This situation is a grave inconvenience to the parents as their children remain at home, while education is a basic human right that no child should be denied.

The struggle for justice and equality for our schools started almost two years ago, after serious budget cuts imposed upon our schools caused a financial deficit. Negotiations between the Office of Christian Schools in Israel and the Ministry of Education failed and all solutions presented by the Ministry were unrealistic and would cause further financial burden on parents of our students.

...The struggle of our schools is a just cause, in seeking not only equal rights, but also recognition of the outstanding services that are offered.

You can read the full statement here.



16 September 2015
Greg Kandra




Sawy Abdullah Joda makes shoes at the Jesuit Fathers’ vocational training center in Minya, Egypt. To learn more about projects bringing jobs and education to Egyptians, read “From Dust to Dignity” in the November-December 2002 edition of the magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)







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