15 September 2016
The Rev. David Mickiewicz of Oneonta, New York, has been a generous CNEWA donor for close to 25 years. (photo: courtesy David Mickiewicz)
Many of CNEWA’s most ardent supporters are priests and religious — and a lot of them, we’ve discovered, have been donors for many years. We met one such donor earlier this year, when we made a parish visit to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oneonta, New York to speak about CNEWA’s work on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
The pastor, Rev. David Mickiewicz, mentioned that he had been a longtime donor, and that he had a deep love and affinity for the Eastern churches. I sent him an email recently and asked him to share some of his thoughts with our readers. He wrote back:
The Mohawk and Hudson Rivers were my backyard, north of Albany, where I was raised in Waterford, New York, and where my mother and brother still reside. What attracted me to CNEWA, I expect, has roots that go back to Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and Saint Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, places that I had to pass to arrive at Saint Michael, my Polish Roman Catholic parish. Onion-shaped domes and multiple crosses, Slavic choral music and the spirituality of the icon seduced me into the Eastern Christian experience — broadening and allowing me to more fully breathe in my Roman tradition.
Father Paul Pascavage introduced me to the Byzantine Rite and I started singing Old Slavonic with the choir for Divine Liturgy. Two Christmases and Easters! What a joy. This nascent initiation led to other Eastern Christian experiences throughout my life, which included serving for a few years in the Syriac tradition at Saint Anne Maronite Catholic Church in Troy, New York. Experiencing, participating in and teaching about Easter Christianity have become staples of my life, with the assistance of CNEWA. It must be close to 25 years that I have been receiving the CNEWA publication ONE and financially supporting the association. The magazine and its website reporting on Eastern Christians — so little known or acknowledged in the West — and the ecumenical and interfaith efforts to better the lives of all people really drew me to support them.
What is most challenging and humbling about my support of CNEWA is that, while Eastern Christians are paying a heavy price — as refugees, living in poverty, experiencing discrimination and violence, even to the giving of their lives for believing in Jesus — my following the faith over the last 60 years has cost me nothing. Growing up in a predominantly Catholic area and living in a country that, even as religion is pushed further and further from the public square, still bears a Christian veneer, I am insulated. CNEWA, through its publications and works, regularly reminds me of my responsibility to that part of the Body of Christ that is crucified. I have had to grapple with this question: what part of the experience of the Body of Christ do I embody for my suffering sisters and brothers?
Might you consider your own situation in relationship to our sisters and brothers? This needs to be more than just charity; charity in the long run must also change us.
Father David exemplifies so many of the committed men and women who are unsung heroes in our world — priests, sisters, religious whose generous and prayerful support makes so much possible.
To all of them: Thank you!
15 September 2016
Pope Francis greets Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, during a private meeting at the Vatican on 15 September.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
15 September 2016
A six-year-old Syrian girl who fled from her home due to the Syrian civil war, poses for a photographer at a refugee camp outside Aleppo, Syria on 15 September 2016.
(photo: Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Russia, US accuse each other of violations in Syria ceasefire (CNN) Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday the United States was not fulfilling its obligations under the Syrian ceasefire agreement, as Moscow and Washington pointed fingers at each other for violating what had appeared to be a peaceful lull in fighting...
CNEWA releases report on program to feed hungry in Africa (CNEWA.org) Earlier this summer, CNEWA launched a campaign to help the suffering men, women and children in the Horn of Africa, hundreds of thousands of them enduring the worst drought in decades. “The food needs here are critical,” CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar said in an interview with Catholic News Service during a pastoral visit to the region. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CNEWA has been able to respond to those needs...
Fear and paranoia still stalk Turkey after the failed coup (The Guardian) It’s been two months since a deadly coup attempt stunned Turkey, leaving some 240 dead and the country reeling. The physical scars are still raw — outside the parliament building in Ankara, which was hit by bombs and gunfire where helicopters fired into a crowd of protesters who had gathered to defend their democracy, the tarmac is still pockmarked with bullet holes. Dark, iron-colored stains on paving slabs betray the final moments of the brutally slain. Yet the psychological damage, the paranoia and fear that permeate public life, is still being done...
Vatican hospital to provide help in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio) An agreement was signed on Wednesday between the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital and the Bethlehem-based Holy Family Hospital, which is operated by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Holy Family Hospital is a major maternity hospital serving Palestine, and over 3,500 children are born in the institution every year...
Pope issues guidelines to harmonize canon law of the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another in several different specific areas regarding the discipline of the sacraments, and ecclesial identity of the faithful...
Franciscan: Indian Church is at the forefront to tackle poverty (Fides) The Church in India is at the forefront to tackle poverty and hunger, according to the Rev. Nithya Sagayam, OFM Cap, speaking at a national seminar on the theme of “answers to hunger and extreme poverty” organized by the NGO “Franciscans International” and by the Centre of Udayani Jesuits in Calcutta, from 11 to 14 September. As Fides learned, the Franciscan recalled that the Indian Church acts “in sync with the Millennium Development Goals,” with particular attention to the objectives of sustainable development and food security...
14 September 2016
At his daily Mass Wednesday, Pope Francis condemned the killing of Father Jacques Hamel.
(video: Rome Reports)
Pope Francis at Mass for Father Jacques Hamel: to kill in the name of God is satanic (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday morning celebrated Mass for the French priest of Rouen, Father Jacques Hamel, whom he described, is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout the history of the Church. Father Hamel was murdered while celebrating Mass in his Parish Church by two men swearing allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in July...
Syrians await aid during ceasefire (CNN) A ceasefire in Syria’s brutal civil war appears to be holding into its second day — but for hundreds of thousands of besieged Syrians, the wait for humanitarian relief may last somewhat longer. Aid convoys are positioned at the Turkish border town of Cilvegozu, poised to enter the country and deliver food and medical aid to rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo, where the United Nations says between 250,000 and 275,000 people have been cut off from assistance since early July...
Aleppo priest: We’re struggling against desperation (Vatican Radio) There was calm across much of Syria Wednesday following a Russian and US brokered ceasefire, although a number of violations were reported since it took hold. With the truce in place the northern city of Aleppo is awaiting much needed aid...
Anti-Wahhabism spreading in Muslim world (Al-monitor) The religious authority in Saudi Arabia responded aggressively to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s annual message 5 September in which Khamenei attacked the Saudi government against the backdrop of the disputes between both states that culminated in forbidding Iranian pilgrims from the hajj this year. Iran also accused Saudi Arabia of negligence in managing the hajj, which led to the deaths of more than 760 people and injuries to around 1,000 in 2015...
Faith combined with firepower (The New York Times) While tanks and artillery have been Russia’s weapons of choice to project its power into neighboring Ukraine and Georgia, Mr. Putin has also mobilized faith to expand the country’s reach and influence. A fervent foe of homosexuality and any attempt to put individual rights above those of family, community or nation, the Russian Orthodox Church helps project Russia as the natural ally of all those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights...
Pope to mark World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will take part in the final meeting of the World Day of Prayer for Peace when he travels to Assisi on Tuesday, 20 September...
13 September 2016
Wadad Nagib rises at dawn, six days a week, to see off her three sons to their work as garbage collectors in an impoverished corner of Egypt near Cairo. (photo: Dana Smilie)
Some of the most heroic and inspiring figures we have met have been people who hold fast to their faith and their dignity, in spite of challenges most of us couldn’t imagine.
One of those is Wadad Nagib, a 46-year-old mother of six who lives in a corner of Egypt known as Garbage City — an impoverished Coptic Christian neighborhood that is home to the Zabbaleen, or “garbage people.”
As Sarah Topol reported for ONE:
To spend time with the Nagib family is to witness in microcosm the struggles of an entire class of people — and to realize that they are struggling not just to salvage what others discard, but also to salvage dignity and a way of life.
Mrs. Nagib’s husband collected trash for a living. Now too old to work, he has passed his route on to his children. And it seems, one by one, the Nagib children are carrying on the tradition.
Six days a week, Mrs. Nagib rises before dawn to see off three of her sons to their work as garbage collectors. At 5, the young men will have climbed into the family truck to head down the slopes to the city — a drive that takes two hours. There, they go from apartment to apartment along their route collecting garbage. By early afternoon, they head home, the truck loaded with trash.
While the young men rest, Mrs. Nagib and her daughters begin picking through the garbage bags with bare hands. They sort the debris into piles: aluminum cans, food waste, glass, etc. Later, the family will sell the recyclables.
Mrs. Nagib’s 3-year-old daughter plays barefoot in the trash heaps. Flies swarm around the mother and daughters. The sickly sweet stench of rotting waste fills the neighborhood’s narrow, unpaved streets.
“It’s not easy, but it’s what we have become accustomed to. All we want is security and God’s blessing,” Mrs. Nagib says. The slender woman wears a bright blue headscarf and small, simple earrings. As she gestures with her hands, she reveals a tiny tattoo of a cross on her right wrist, a common marking among Copts. “Maybe in the future things will get better.”
Read more about the Nagib family and the Zabbaleen here.
Last spring, CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar paid a pastoral visit to Egypt and came away deeply moved:
How can garbage collectors and sorters who live surrounded by mountains of garbage in Cairo’s ghettoes be considered productive? How can they sing “Alleluia” at Mass on Epiphany? It is possible because so many of them look to the cross on their wrist for their cherished identity. They are not outcasts. They are not “second class.” They are brothers and sisters to Christ, and he is their Lord.
For their humility, their faith, and their tireless quest for dignity, they are also, to us, heroes.
To support our brothers and sisters in Egypt, visit this link.
13 September 2016
The Rev. Androwas Bahus leads an early morning liturgy at St. Peter and St. Paul Church in the city of Shefa-Amr, Israel. That was just the beginning of his long and eventful day. Learn more about A Day in the Life of an Israeli Priest in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)
13 September 2016
Syrians celebrate Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) on 12 September 2016 in Aleppo. Syria is beginning its first full day of a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the United States.
(photo: Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Calm in Syria as ceasefire begins (Al Jazeera) No deaths have been documented in Syria since a ceasefire brokered by Russia and the US entered its first full day, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). At least 14 violations were reported since the ceasefire took effect on Monday, but most parts of Syria remained relatively calm, the SOHR’s Rami Abdulrahman told Al Jazeera. “No one has died from gunfire over the past 15 hours,” he said on Tuesday at 12pm Damascus local time (09:00 GMT). “This is so far the most successful ceasefire to take place in the country...”
Thousands of Syrian refugees head to school in Jordan (Al-Monitor) To allow more Syrian refugee children access to education, the kingdom has taken several measures supported by international funding. One of them is that from now on, state schools are allowed to enroll Syrian children even if their paperwork is not in order, government spokesman Mohamed Momani told Agence France-Presse. Families can sort out their situations during the school year. Jordan has also created special classes for some 25,000 children ages 8-12 who had been deprived of schooling for the past three years or more. Falling behind has been one of the barriers that complicated many Syrian children’s education. These new “catch-up classes” will prepare children to join their age group in just one year...
Ukrainian rebel leader announces ceasefire (ABC News) Separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday announced a unilateral cease-fire starting at midnight Wednesday, which could be a major step in solving the conflict that has raged for more than two years...
Syrian refugees living in fear as Lebanon tightens its laws (BBC) Faced with one of the most severe refugee crises in the world, Lebanon has been toughening up its policies towards Syrians who have fled there, leaving many in an increasingly vulnerable state. In one of the latest examples, authorities in the southern village of Kfarruman gave those who did not have a local sponsor 15 days to leave...
Hindu militants attack Christian church in India (Fides) For more than half an hour, a small Pentecostal Christian church packed with faithful was hit by a hail of stones organized by Hindu extremist militants who accused the Christians of proselytism, according to Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians. The incident took place on Sunday, 11 September, in Siddharth Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India...
12 September 2016
A woman prays during the liturgy at the Armenian Catholic Center in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Vatican today announced the itinerary of Pope Francis, who will be visiting Georgia and Azerbaijan later this month. Read details here. To learn more about the faith in Georgia, check out Staying Power from the Autumn 2013 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
12 September 2016
In this image from 2014, Jordan’s King Abdullah II meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Last week, the Muslim king called on Muslims to help Christians address challenges in the Middle East.
(photo: Paul Haring/CNS)
Jordan’s king: Muslims must help Christians address Mideast challenges (CNS) Jordan’s King Abdullah II told a visiting delegation from the Middle East Council of Churches that his country has become a model for coexistence, fraternity and moderation in the Middle East. “Christians in the Arab world are an integral part of the Arab social fabric, and protecting their rights is a duty of all,” the Muslim monarch told the delegation on 7 September. King Abdullah said Arabs, whether Muslims or Christians, face similar challenges in the Mideast, caught up in sectarian and other conflicts, adding that they also share a responsibility in addressing these challenges...
Syria ceasefire set to begin (CNN) When the sun sets Monday over Syria, the country’s war-weary residents will be watching to see if the fighting will stop for a full 48 hours, in line with a hard-fought ceasefire brokered Friday by the US and Russia...
A nation at war, Ukraine turns to the Lord (Catholic Register) With 10,000 dead in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, Russian tanks and missile systems massing on the eastern border, two million internally displaced Ukrainians, Crimea already under Russian rule and the Ukrainian Black Sea fleet sunk or stolen, the Rev. Peter Galadza is putting his trust in the politics of the beatitudes. Along with about 1.2 million other Ukrainian-Canadians, Father Galadza understands just how easily his country is sacrificed on the altar of power politics and strategic interests...
Christians and Muslims meet to discuss violence against religious minorities in India (Christian Today) Fifty Christian and Muslim religious leaders gathered in India’s capital New Delhi to discuss “challenges for the freedom of religion and belief in India” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and to tackle ways on how to address the increasing violence against religious minorities in the Hindu-dominated South Asian nation. Father Z. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops’ conference’s office for Dalit and indigenous people, lamented how both Christians and Muslims are currently “facing physical, symbolic and structural violence” from Hindu extremists across the country...
Rabbi, imam nurture interfaith relationships in the wake of 9/11 (RNS) Like many Americans, New York University chaplains Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna remember exactly where they were on 11 September 2001. Both men say that day and its aftermath were pivotal in defining what they now see as their lives’ mission: to promote a vision for interfaith engagement based on personal relationships...
9 September 2016
Some of the children who attend the new Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem show off their handiwork. The center — supported in part by CNEWA — cares for the children of migrants in Israel. Read more about it here. And for a deeper look into the lives of migrants in Israel, check out Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
(photo: St. James Vicariate)