Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
19 June 2017
CNEWA staff

Some children in the Kiev Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who have benefitted from CNEWA’s support express their appreciation. (photo: CNEWA)

We received these images from Anna Dombrovska, who works on projects for us in Ukraine. She writes:

The Kiev Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and its parishes pray for all those who donated and supported it through CNEWA. With this special prayer the people of the Kiev Archeparchy would like to thank all its donors for their generous support.

With support from CNEWA, parishes have been helping resettle women, orphans and families from Donbass.

They have been helping those in need and now continue to build a strong church in Ukraine.

We continue to be uplifted and inspired by the generosity of our donors — and grateful for their continued support. We add our voice to those of the good people of Ukraine, to say to our donors, “Thank you and God bless you.” We pray for you!

13 June 2017
CNEWA staff

Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries during a 12 June rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan. Her uncle was among dozens of Chaldean Christians who were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend in the Detroit metropolitan area, which members of the local church community said left them sad and frustrated. (photo: CNS/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

It happened over the weekend. Details, from Catholic News Agency:

Dozens of Chaldean Christians were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend in the Detroit metropolitan area, leaving the local Church community with sadness and frustration.

“Yesterday was a very strange and painful day for our community in America,” Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit stated Monday in a Facebook post.

“With the many Chaldeans that were awakened by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and consequently picked up for deportation, there is a lot of confusion and anger,” he added.

The Rev. Anthony Kathawa of St. Thomas Chaldean Church in West Bloomfield, Mich., told CNA 12 June that “As a community, we’re all suffering seeing the loss of our loved ones.”

The Detroit Free Press noted:

Martin Manna, an Iraqi-American Christian advocate who is president of the Chaldean Community Foundation based in Sterling Heights, said he’s getting information from family members of those arrested, many of who live in Macomb and Oakland counties.

“Most of the arrests of the 40 or so were all done today,” Manna said, adding people on a final order of removal were targeted, most of whom have a criminal record.

Sending them back to Iraq, he said, “is like a death sentence.”

A spokesman for ICE declined to comment on any specifics.

“ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending removable aliens,” spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement Sunday evening.

Catholic News Service added some context from Bishop Kalabat:

A bill passed by the U.S. House 6 June “to protect Christians,” Bishop Kalabat said, “goes against this very thing.” He was referring to the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act that would provide humanitarian assistance to Christian and other religious minorities suffering genocide at the hands of Islamic State militants.

The bishop acknowledged it “will take a lot of effort” to work on behalf of those who have been taken into custody, “but acting in disrespectful ways in front of the federal building (will) only bring harm and not good.”

“We understand the pain that many members of our community are going through but emotional outbursts will not bring change,” he said, and urged them to get official statements from the eparchy about efforts being made on behalf of the detainees. He added: “Let’s pray for God’s blessings to rain down on us.”

Read more here, here and here.

Tags: Iraq Catholic Chaldeans

12 June 2017
CNEWA staff

A woman holds an image of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar during his 5 June funeral Mass at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. Cardinal Husar died 31 May at the age of 84. (photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

Following the recent death of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, we received this week a note from Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church:

Dear Msgr. John Kozar:

I would like to express my sincere words of gratitude for your letter of condolences on the occasion of the passing into eternity of His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop emeritus of Kiev-Halych.

We comprehend your kind words, which are full of admiration for the life and service of the deceased, as a sign of sincere gratitude to the good Lord for the gift of life of our venerable predecessor.

It is indeed a great loss for our church and nation, but we nourish hope that now we have a great intercessor who prays for all of us at the heavenly altar.

May the memory of His Beatitude Lubomyr be eternal and may his spiritual testament expressed in the words “pray and work” become the program of life of each one of us.

With gratitude and prayer,
+ Sviatoslav

19 May 2017
CNEWA staff

CNEWA’s Michael J. La Civita writes: “This gentleman lives in a container with his wife, who is dying of cancer. He asked me to take a picture of him and his wife. Their sons are dead, and he alone cares for Victoria, who said she has every comfort.” (photo: Michael J. La Civita)

Today, we received more stirring images from Michael J. La Civita. He and Thomas Varghese, CNEWA’s director of programs, are on a pastoral visit to the Caucasus.

Michael described what he saw:

There is poverty, and then there is grinding poverty.

For many reasons, but I will start with corruption and tragedy, almost half of Armenia’s people have endured decades of want: want of shelter, heat, food, water and health.

What they have in abundance is dignity.

My friend and colleague, Thomas, today visited people who this past winter needed help to heat their homes and needed, as well, food to eat.

CNEWA’s Thomas Varghese visits Ophelia, an 85-year-old orphan who lives in a room in a decomposing hostel built by the Soviets in 1926. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)

Unemployment in the Gyumri region is more than 70 percent. Many of the people we visited today live in “temporary” housing since their homes and their lives were destroyed in the great earthquake in 1988.

Yes I said temporary. Sheds made of corrugated tin — some with electricity, others not. Bathrooms are holes in the ground.

This corrugated structure houses a blind father, his wife, their daughter and her two toddlers. Her husband abandoned her at 25, leaving her for Russia and a new life. That is a common story in Armenia. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)

Thanks to Caritas Armenia, families are receiving help, and I am pleased CNEWA is there in support. But I am frustrated that what we do is but a drop in the bucket.

The tears here, and the desolation, are heartbreaking.

Despite the dirt, this lady’s house is tidy. Lilacs perfume the air. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)

Read more about the work of CNEWA and Caritas Armenia, in A Letter from Armenia in the Summer 2015 edition of ONE.

Related stories:

An Unshakable Faith

Armenia’s Children, Left Behind

Shaken by the Earthquake of Life

18 May 2017
CNEWA staff

Armenian Catholic Archbishop Rafael Minassian is always looking for ways to greet and help the poorest of the poor. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)

CNEWA’s Michael J. La Civita sent us these images this afternoon, showing Archbishop Rafael Minassian visiting his flock.

Michael wrote:

Armenia is rich in culture, history, faith and generosity. And thank God for that, for the poverty among some of its people is heartbreaking. Yet, how moving is the work of the church here.

Although tiny — and scattered from Siberia to the Caucasus — the Archdiocese of the Armenian Catholic Church is led by a shepherd who smells of his sheep. “RAM,” as the archbishop [Rafael Minassian] jokingly refers to himself, is a man on the move, always thinking of ways to reach and greet and help the poorest of the poor.

Archbishop Rafael Minassian, a shepherd close to his flock, jokingly refers to himself as “RAM.”
(photo: Michael J. La Civita)

16 May 2017
CNEWA staff

A villager and his horse make their way through downtown Eshtia, Georgia.
(photo: Michael J. La Civita)

CNEWA’s Michael J. La Civita is making a pastoral visit to the Caucasus this week, and sent back these images from the tiny village of Esthia. He noted on Facebook:

Eshtia. Once a village of 1,300 families, now home to just 500 families — all Armenian Catholic refugees from the genocide a century ago.

It is a tidy village of birches, daffodils and thieving magpies. CNEWA is proudly supporting Caritas’s work here in helping the youth, who number 300.

While it seems as if time stands still, it does not. Many of the men men have fled to Omsk, Russia, to earn a living — leaving their families behind.

The landscape surrounding Eshtia. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)

Tags: Georgia Caucasus

8 May 2017
CNEWA staff

CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, recently received another letter from Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Syria, along with the holy card shown above — a poignant image of Mary for the month of May. The image shows part of the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, which we wrote about in our magazine in 1990. (Read more about the image and its history here.)

The card bears a scriptural reference on the back: John 19, 25-27, which includes the words spoken by Jesus from the cross, “Behold your mother.”

The archbishop wrote to ask for prayers for the intercession of Our Lady of Peace in his troubled country. But he also wanted to offer some good news, praising the sisters who are serving and offering “the good works of Christ in Damascus.”

He wrote:

Seventy nine sisters of different congregations are devoted to the church of Damascus. In total discretion, they bring no attention to themselves. Some orders have been here for more than 180 years. They are the profound force that brings life to the Gospel through charisma inspired by the Holy Spirit, in service of the believers and the less fortunate.

  1. Testimony of fraternity: Some sisters live in small communities in schools which were nationalized in 1968. Others live in hospitals, modest apartments or housing in the middle of God's people, leading a life of poverty, prayer and praise.
  2. Always willing to listen: These consecrated religious sisters are available to shelter and listen to the less fortunate. This is a primary need in these years of war and solitude. They accumulate in their hearts all the sufferings and problems of the less fortunate who've been forgotten in their misery and uncertainty. Due to their own powerlessness, these consecrated women lovingly and affectionately represent a Wall of Waiting, which assures a charitable presence for needy families.
  3. Compassionate faces: Our sisters’ commitment to the service of families is evidenced by their presence in daycare centers, schools free clinics, food service establishments and in catechetical and religious formation centers. I give special mention to their heroic mission in the health care sector. Their activities for the care of the sick and the numerous people wounded by war has developed into an avant-garde pastoral of the sick.
  4. Benefits of the future: The basic mission of our dear sisters remains centered on schools in the formation of children and young people. This educational service transmits moral valueless such as peace, tolerance and dialogue to rebuild a torn country...I have to point out in this area the most important psychological support that the sisters provide to those wounded in war and especially for uprooted children scarred by violence, negligence and exclusion.
  5. A huge thank you: This beautiful testimony of light, hidden and unknown, deserves our gratitude and acknowledgement. Dear consecrated beloved sisters in Damascus, the RISEN CHRIST will be the one to thank you and bless you!

Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!

28 April 2017
CNEWA staff

Pope Francis has arrived in Egypt to begin his historic visit. Click on the embedded video below to watch live streaming updates of his trip, from the Vatican’s official news site.

His itinerary, from the Vatican via Catholic News Service:

Times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses.

Friday, 28 April (Rome, Cairo)
— 10:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.), Departure from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport for Cairo.
— 2 p.m. (8 a.m.), Arrival at Cairo airport. Official welcoming ceremony at the Heliopolis presidential palace. Courtesy visits with el-Sissi and Sheik el-Tayeb. Speeches by the grand imam and the pope to participants in an international conference on peace.
— 4:40 p.m. (10:40 a.m.), Meeting with local authorities. Speeches by el-Sissi and Pope Francis. Courtesy visit to Pope Tawadros. Speeches by Pope Tawadros and Pope Francis.

Saturday, 29 April (Cairo, Rome)
— 10:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m.), Mass in Cairo. Homily by pope.
— 12:15 p.m. (6:15 a.m.), Lunch with Egypt's bishops and the papal entourage.
— 3:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.), Prayer gathering with clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians. Speech by pope. Farewell ceremony.
— 5 p.m. (11 a.m.), Departure from Cairo airport for Rome.
— 8:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m.), Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.

For more background on Egypt, and for context on the lives and struggles of Coptic Christians, check out these stories from ONE magazine:

Anxiety in Cairo: Christians Confront Challenges and Change
Finding Common Ground
Egypt’s Good Samaritans
Coptic Renaissance
Seeds of Survival: A Family Faces Fear in Egypt
Faith Under Fire: Young Copts Persevere in Egypt

12 April 2017
CNEWA staff

Ragaa and Emad Anwar hold a picture of their late son, Mina. (photo: David Degner)

The recent horrific events in Egypt have turned the attention of the world to the plight of Christians in Egypt. In the current edition of ONE, Magdy Samaan writes about Copts in Cairo:

The parish of Our Lady of the Annunciation Coptic Catholic Church has grown with the neighborhood. The Rev. Youhanna Saad says its first Divine Liturgy, 18 years ago, had only four attendees; now, the church serves more than 600 families. Through his close relationship with the tight-knit community, Father Saad understands the concerns within his congregation.

“There is a state of anxiety of the future and a feeling of fear because of the economic situation and increasingly sectarian incidents against the Copts,” Father Saad says.

As it is the only Catholic church in a large area, buses bring families from a wide radius every Friday and Sunday to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. After the Friday liturgy, parishioners of all ages — but from one common economic background — come together to share an inexpensive breakfast of beans and falafel.

The church acts not only as a place of worship, but also a site for activities such as nursery school, elder or youth meetings, Sunday school and programs to assist people with special needs. But the congregation continues to grow, outstripping the building’s capacity and prompting Father Saad to seek a license to turn a new building nearby — currently a service center — into a more ample church.

“The situation is normal for us as Christians,” says Raof Rateb, 53, a local shopkeeper. “But regarding making living, we don’t feel secure. The rising of prices is horrible.”

...Renowned as one of the most beautiful, cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the world in the first half of the 20th century, Cairo integrated people from different nationalities and religions into Egyptian society — where they could live, work and worship freely.

This tolerant face of Cairo has gradually faded. Much of the country’s Jewish population left the country in the 50’s because of state persecution amid the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many of those who remained later faced expulsion — along with foreign-born Egyptian citizens who lost their citizenship — amid a wave of Arab nationalism intensified by events such as the Suez Crisis. And for a variety of reasons that often relate to economic mismanagement and a restrictive and heavy-handed state, many middle-class Egyptians, including Copts, have emigrated since the 60’s.

Meanwhile, Egypt has witnessed the steady growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and other more militant Islamic groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Islamic Jihad.

From a population of about two million in the 50’s, Cairo has expanded to some 23 million, growing in uncontrolled spurts. Among other factors, high rural unemployment has driven millions to Cairo in search of a better life.

As a result, it has become one of the most polluted and congested cities in the world, ringed by unplanned districts where newcomers carry with them various, relatively isolated rural cultures, creating enclaves and slowing assimilation.

Nowadays, Muslims and Christians in Cairo enjoy a mostly peaceful relationship. The megacity keeps its people busy with other daily crises. Moreover, the shared memory of a highly cosmopolitan city does live on in the old neighborhoods, old movies and other cultural relics.

Read more. And take a moment to watch the video below, about one family’s struggles.

11 April 2017
CNEWA staff

A young student reviews his classwork at St. Joseph’s Home for Children. (photo: Don Duncan)

In the March 2017 edition of ONE, journalist Don Duncan explores efforts at Breaking the Cycle of addiction and suffering that has scarred so many young people in Kerala, India:

Alcoholism strongly afflicts Kerala, reputed to be the heaviest drinking of India’s 29 states.

A 2007 report by the Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC)-India, estimated Kerala’s consumption at more than two gallons of pure alcohol per person per year. Other studies suggest rising consumption rates since then — part of a broader trend spanning several decades.

In the last ten years, Kerala’s government has made a number of attempts to combat alcoholism — including, in 2014, announcing phased prohibitionary measures, restricting alcohol sales in hotels and limiting liquor license renewals, resulting in the closure of hundreds of bars and liquor distributors. The effects have been inconclusive, and recent election results have likely signaled a shift away from such heavy-handed measures.

Primary knock-on effects of alcoholism — domestic violence, marital crisis and the premature deaths of men — are clearly detrimental to children. But secondary consequences, such as the squandering of family income and the perpetuation of negative behaviors, also disrupt the lives of Keralite youth and obstruct them from reaching their full potential.

With no easy answers in sight, it has fallen to the church and its institutions to seek solutions for a problem that seems only to be growing worse.

And one way the church is trying to help is through education: creating institutions that help families struggling with a wide range of financial, medical or social issues. For more, check out the video below.

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