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

We’re pleased to announce that the September edition of our award-winning magazine ONE is now available online.

This edition focuses on the Middle East — with stories of perseverance and faith that reveal the impact CNEWA’s donors are having on that troubled corner of our world.

Among the many stories in this issue:

  • Raed Rafei takes readers to Iraq, where Christians are facing Hard Choices as they return home in the wake of ISIS.
  • Dale Gavlak introduces us to Jordan’s Christian Shepherds, and their efforts to preserve a vanishing way of life.
  • And Diane Handal meets members of a family in Palestine who are overcoming tragedy with Love as a Healing Balm.

Plus: news, profiles, videos and photographs that help bring our world to you with passion and power. It all begins right here.

Meantime, take a moment to watch the video below, as CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar gives us a preview of the magazine.

14 September 2017
CNEWA staff

Sister Aurelia, 86-years-old, shares a comforting moment with Mother Superior, Sister Bonifatia.
(photo: CNEWA)

CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar and CNEWA Canada’s national director Carl Hétu are on a pastoral visit to Ukraine. Among the places they visited: a crumbling house where elderly religious sisters are living. Mr. Hétu sent us this image and wrote:

We visited three elderly sisters living in awful conditions. No running water, small shack, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Terrible. Here you are with sisters that lived underground [during the Soviet era] and risked their lives to preserve Christ’s teaching and they live like this. The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate understand this and are trying to renovate an old building. But there is a long way to go and it is very expensive, and most likely not equipped for people with no or little mobility.

To read more about the church in Ukraine, and the challenges Catholics are facing there, check out these stories from our magazine:

The Displaced

Out From Underground

7 August 2017
CNEWA staff

In this image from last summer, Dominican Sister St. Elene kisses a 4-year-old headed to a church-run preschool in a camp for displaced Christians in Erbil. The sisters and some families have recently begun to return to Christian towns that have been liberated. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)

Editor’s note: Our partners in Iraq, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, sent the following letter to their friends around the world on Sunday, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. It offers an update on recent developments in Iraq.

Dear brothers, sisters and friends,

It has been three years since we were displaced and you have been accompanying us through your prayers. During these years, we cried, screamed, wondered, questioned God and our faith and also laughed and found moments of hope, love and gratefulness to our Lord, the church and all individuals who supported us in so many different ways. On 6 August 2014, we entered a tunnel that we did not know when we would get out of it. In fact, some days we thought we would never see the light. Three years ago, we left our homes at night to the unknown. We started a journey of displacement, exile and questioning. But, to speak the truth, despite everything, we always dreamed of going back and finding our houses safe and sound, just as we left them. We strongly wished that we would return and kindle our candles for prayers, harvest our grapes, and read our books. We hoped even when we knew that it was our neighbors who betrayed us and did us harm even before ISIS did.

That was the case until the fall of 2016, when Iraqi forces started the military operations to liberate the Plain of Nineveh. God showered us with His graces as our towns were liberated one after the other; ISIS was defeated and the Plain of Nineveh seems to have been liberated.

When we first visited our Christian towns, we were so much stunned by the damage we saw. It was painful to see all that overwhelming destruction. We immediately realized that it was not the military forces or smart weapons that caused all that damage, but hate. Hate leaves both oppressed and oppressor deeply wounded. Only God knows how much love we need to heal these deep wounds.

Walking sluggishly in our Christian towns, we wandered remembering the word of God to prophet Ezekiel, “to endure the days of turmoil. ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’” and we found ourselves answering him “‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’” (Ezekiel 37:3) Inspired by the stories and experiences of Biblical characters, we believe that God is able to raise us again in a new way.

Today we see the marvelous work of God. There are some signs of hope. The rebuilding process, although slow, has started and some families have returned to their homes. In Batnaia, a town that was 90 percent destroyed, a process of cleaning has started. To Telskuf and Qaraqosh, Christian towns, some families have returned and there are families returning every week. There are over 600 families today in Telskuf and 450 in Qaraqush. Telskuf was much less destroyed than Qaraqosh. Although in Qaraqosh the amount of destruction is estimated to be 30 percent, rebuilding is not easy and the NGOs that have offered to help with rebuilding are not enough compared to the destruction. There are 7,000 homes in Qaraqosh and 2,400 of them are completely burned and another 4,400 are partly burned and destroyed. There are 116 houses completely destroyed. The hope is to repair as many houses as possible before the beginning of the school year in September but, of course, there is a problem with the funding. So far, only the church and some NGOs are doing the rebuilding.

Our sisters are back to Telskuf and we hope to find a place by the beginning of the year and will start a kindergarten. Soon also we will return to Qaraqosh. Since our convent in Qaraqosh is partially destroyed, we repaired a family home for us to live in until we move back to our convent. Also, the orphanage was totally burned but we found a place for the sisters and girls to move to in Qaraqosh.

As you probably already have heard, Mosul has been liberated, but the amount of destruction is overwhelming in every field. It will take years to be fixed, but there is nothing impossible with God. Of course, it is not easy to decide whether to go back to Mosul or not. Some people still try to understand what the will of God is — if ISIS is defeated that does not mean that the Plain of Nineveh is entirely cleansed from that mentality. However, we as community decided to return with our people; and pray and hope all people will have the courage to go back to their hometowns and be able to start from the beginning again. God is with us and will not leave us.

We thank you for all the support you have shown us. Please pray for us as we start this new phase of our lives. Know of our gratitude and prayers for you.

Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena Erbil-Iraq


‘God Wants Me Here’: Christians Keep Hope Alive in Iraq
Grace: Meet the Sisters Bringing Hope to Displaced Iraqis
Remembrance: Iraq, Two Years After the Exodus

2 August 2017
CNEWA staff

CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar was honored yesterday by his alma mater, Saint Meinrad College in Indiana. (photo: courtesy Saint Meinrad College)

We are delighted to share this news, from Saint Meinrad College in Indiana:

Rev. Msgr. John Kozar, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, PA, was honored on 1 August with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, at the annual Saint Meinrad Alumni Reunion. He graduated from Saint Meinrad College in 1967.

The award, given by the Saint Meinrad Alumni Association, was begun in 1990 to honor alumni who exemplify the Gospel values and have provided exemplary service in their lives or professions. The association’s board of directors reviews nominations for the award annually and makes the recommendations.

Msgr. Kozar is president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine. On behalf of the Holy Father, Msgr. Kozar oversees the Catholic Church’s aid to Christians in the Near East and Middle East — about 16 countries.

He attended Saint Meinrad High School and College, graduating in 1967 and continuing his seminary studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, MD. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1971.

Then-Father Kozar spent the early years of his priesthood as an associate pastor at various parishes in the Pittsburgh Diocese. In 1978, he was named the development coordinator for the diocese’s mission office, making yearly pastoral visits to the diocese’s mission in Chimbote, Peru.

He also worked from 1987 to 2001 as pilgrimage director for the diocese, from 1995 to 1997 as vicar for clergy, from 1995 to 2001 as diocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and from 1997 to 2001 as director of the Diocesan Jubilee Office — while simultaneously serving as pastor of several parishes.

Then in 2001, he was named national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Responsibilities for the national offices of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of Saint Peter Apostle, the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, and the Holy Childhood Association were added later that year.

Since 2011, Msgr. Kozar has been leading Catholic Near East Welfare Association, where he oversees the organization’s mission to support the Eastern Catholic churches, provide humanitarian assistance, promote Christian unity and interreligious understanding and collaboration, educate people about the churches of the East, and offer pastoral support to seminaries and religious orders.

He becomes the 26th Saint Meinrad alumnus to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Congratulations, Msgr. Kozar!

26 July 2017
CNEWA staff

In this image from April, people from Mosul, Iraq, raise a wooden cross near St. Georges Monastery. (photo: CNS/Omar Alhayali, EPA)

CNEWA Canada’s national director, Carl Hétu published some thoughts recently on the future for Christians in Iraq, after the defeat of ISIS:

The reign of the Islamic State (Daesh) has come to an end in Iraq and it is losing ground in neighboring Syria. Iraqis, with an international coalition supporting them, have finally succeeded in uniting against a common enemy that has caused so much suffering, in particular to Iraq's Christian and Yazidi communities.

What happens now in Iraq? There seems to be no reconciliation in sight between the Shi’ite-led government and Sunnis who led the country under Saddam Hussein. Further north, the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan have clearly expressed their intention for more autonomy — even separation from Baghdad if they have to. The Iraqi central government has already indicated its opposition to such an idea — threatening force to repress any such movement.

Minority groups would be the biggest losers if a new civil war breaks out. Christians have found themselves unprotected and mistreated (threats, kidnappings, torture, assassinations) over the past 14 years in Iraq. While there were some 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, barely 250,000 remain today — half of whom were forcibly displaced by Daesh in 2014. The vast majority are displaced, living in Iraqi Kurdistan. In three years, some 40,000 have left for Jordan and Lebanon and for the promise of passage to Australia, Europe or Canada.

Iraq’s Christians were once recognized for nurturing excellent relations with other ethnic and religious groups within the country. Entrepreneurially driven, they have been important contributors to the country’s socio-economic development, creating jobs, and establishing effective social services and health-care institutions that provide assistance to the most disadvantaged, regardless of religion. For those who remain, a majority do not see a return to Mosul or the Nineveh Plains as a solution for fear of political and economic instability. Thus, without its Christians, Iraq now faces an enormous brain drain and shortage of qualified labor.

Should armed conflict erupt, the Christian presence in Iraq would suffer yet another blow. Peace, which to some eyes seems within reach, is the only way to save what remains of this ancient community. If members of the international coalition were to invest the same energy and resources as used in their mission to help neutralize Daesh, the country could finally achieve the stability that it desperately needs.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

24 July 2017
CNEWA staff

In the video above, Iraq’s Patriarch Louis Sako visits Mosul on 20 July.
(video: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Patriarch Louis Sako, the head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, visited Mosul last week, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was there. Check out the video above — which also features CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar — to see what the patriarch had to say.

The visit came days after the city was liberated. Earlier this month, Patriarch Sako released a statement on the status of Christians in Iraq, with a plea for Christians to embrace their homeland and their heritage:

“Now is the right time to adhere effectually to the land of their parents and grandparents, their identity, history and heritage,” Patriarch Sako wrote. “The fact that we are the indigenous people of this country and its ancient civilizations, and that our history is traced back to the oldest Christian Church in the world, should be kept in our mind always.”

The patriarch called this a “historic moment and a test for Christians” to renew their commitment and confirm their presence in Iraq. He also urged the faithful to claim compensation for their losses from the Iraqi Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, as well as the international community.

After celebrating the liberation of Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, the patriarch said there’s still “a long way to go” before IS is “completely eradicated from the region.“

Read more.

10 July 2017
CNEWA staff

These Iraqis in a refugee camp in Erbil are among the many thousands who have been displaced in recent years. A new interactive report by CNEWA gives what amounts to a definitive snapshot of Christianity in the region. (photo: John E. Kozar)

The migration of Christians in the Middle East over the last several years — owing to the war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and ongoing political upheaval in the region — has had a profound impact on the region. The cultures and countries that are the very cradle of Christianity are seeing the faith disbursed and displaced. But hard and reliable statistics on this movement of peoples have been elusive — until now.

Drawing on diverse statistics and resources, CNEWA has compiled what amounts to a definitive snapshot of Christianity in the region today.

It is available as a multimedia presentation at this link.

We encourage you to visit the site and see for yourself how recent events have affected parts of CNEWA’s world — and, indeed, will continue to affect all of us who care about our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

28 June 2017
CNEWA staff

The Rev. Gregory Gilbert celebrates the liturgy at Sts. Mary Magdalene and Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Darlington, Maryland. (photo: Facebook)

From The Baltimore Sun:

Growing up a Southern Baptist in eastern Tennessee, Brent Gilbert says, he never realized there were other ways to worship.

He figured everyone knew the best church music was contemporary.

He was sure there was a 45-minute pastor’s sermon at the heart of every Sunday service.

And didn’t all Christians agree that religious art, symbols and rituals were relics of a less desirable past?

Then he encountered the ancient faith that would change his life.

In the formal liturgy, rituals and language of the Greek Orthodox Church, he found a worship tradition so enriched by its direct link to lives of Christ’s original followers that it turns faith into an “all-encompassing phenomenon.”

Gilbert is neither ethnically nor culturally Greek — his forebears came to America from the British Isles. But after discernment and years of study, he’s now the Rev. Gregory Gilbert, the presiding priest of Sts. Mary Magdalene and Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Darlington — and a prominent example of the gradual but insistent wave of conversion that is turning a tradition long rooted in ethnic heritage into a more varied and, some say, more American movement.

Almost half the nearly 1 million Orthodox Christians in the United States today are converts, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America reported in 2015. The majority of these married into the church. But a growing number are joining simply out of an affinity for the faith.

“We can still say that it’s not the majority of the laity — at this stage, most have been raised in the church — but there’s a lot of them,” says the Very Rev. Archpriest Andrew Damick, pastor of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pa., and the author of several books on Orthodox Christianity. “Conversion has already had a pretty big impact.”

Continue reading at the link. You’ll also find a gallery of photos and a video.

26 June 2017
CNEWA staff

CNEWA’s flagship quarterly magazine, ONE, took top honors, including Magazine of the Year (in the mission magazine category) at the 2017 Catholic Press Association awards last week in Quebec City, Canada. The magazine won a total of 31 awards — the most in its history — in categories that included writing, photography, graphic design and online newsletter.

Citing the overall excellence of the publication, the award judges had many kind words:

“Some publications seem almost flawless; this is an example.”

ONE magazine produces powerful narratives that illuminate stories rarely seen in other publications.”

The panel of judges was comprised of journalism professors from Marquette University and Spring Hill College.

A complete list of the awards can be found below, with links to the winning stories and comments from the judges:

First Place:

Magazine/Newsletter of the Year (Mission Magazine)
“Strong design and photography carries the reader through the pages and content is varied within the magazine’s focus; a selection of interesting topics in each issue.”

Best Single Photo (Black & White)
“Mother and Child Alone, Tashir, Armenia” by Nazik Armenakyan
“The image itself could tell the story of the child and family, conveying both emotions of sadness and hope. The full spread use of the photo also effectively places the focus on the child telling the reader that he is a major piece of the story.”

Best Photo Story (Feature Photo Story)
Focus: A Pictorial Journey to Egypt by John E. Kozar
“Two words that come to mind immediately are commitment and hardship. The first two images and others show the commitment of parishioners. The images of he community and its members highlight their hardships and how they remain committed.”

Best Personality Profile (Person of Interest)
A Survivor Speaks by Molly Corso
“A wonderfully crafted story about a true survivor who keeps herself too busy to let her situation get in the way of helping others with a smile. A great blend of excellent writing and an excellent subject.”

Best Layout of Article or Column (Mission Magazine)
When Rain Fails by Paul Grillo
“When pictures speak a thousand words, the reader knows it. The whole layout utilizes these images to achieve maximum impact. The reader’s eye moves around the page and back again. Solid design and use of graphics/typography make the entire package work well.”

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Option for the Poor and Vulnerable)
When Rain Fails by James Jeffrey
“The story opens with a moving detail: a measuring tape carefully wrapped around the arm of a nine-month old baby, showing that she doesn’t get enough to eat. The piece goes on to explain that while Ethiopia has taken steps to recover form its 1984 famine, drought may push the country back into crisis. The language is urgent, clear and compelling.”

Second Place:

Graphic Artist/Designer of the Year
Paul Grillo
“The images are captivating and keep the reader interested. The creation and application of the 90 years anniversary graphic was cool. Strong branding and concepts. True talent with solid core messaging and textual strength.”

Best Photo Story (Feature Photo Story)
Focus: A Pictorial Journey to Ethiopia by John E. Kozar
“Both the colors and the emotions expressed within these images are vibrant and telling. In those images that are more cheerful you can see brighter colors and light. In those that highlight the struggle or challenges of the community, the images have more shadows and dull colors.”

Best Reporting on Vocations to Priesthood, Religious Life or Diaconate
On a Mission from God by Jose Kavi
“A timely article committed to showing how a service-oriented community touches lives and eases their suffering. The author creates a portrait of collective kindness with the appropriate cultural sensitivity while appealing to universal Catholic values.”

Best In-Depth/Analysis Writing (Best In-Depth Writing)
When Rain Fails by James Jeffrey
“This piece offers clear insight into the issue while balancing all the different factors and players involved with solving the crisis. Clarity meets with empathy in this piece.”

Best Coverage of Ecumenical/Interfaith Issues
Hearing the Voice of God in Africa; Deep Roots, Wide Branches; Where It All Began by Don Duncan and Greg Kandra
“Well-done pieces about an interesting topic. The artwork is excellent and each story does a good job of telling the individuals’ stories.”

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Option for the Poor and Vulnerable)
‘My Great Hope is the Sisters’ by Jose Kavi
“This story raises up the voices of children in India who rarely have a chance to express their dreams. It’s an inspiring narrative of their efforts to get an education, helped by the Sisters of the Destitute. While the story details the setbacks and obstacles the community faces, it also provides tangible evidence of progress.”

Best Story and Photo Package
When Rain Fails by James Jeffrey and Petterik Wiggers
“The opening and closing images are the most visually striking. The opening image shows physically and metaphorically the long road ahead for many in he midst of the drought. The closing image is striking due to the juxtaposition of emotions. The two girls in shrouds seem forlorn and lost while the two young girls are giggly and oblivious to the loss around them.”

Best Electronic Newsletter
“Discover ONE Online” by Staff
“The design is inviting with a clear hierarchy. Beautiful photography.”

Third Place:

Best Essay Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter (Mission Magazine)
A Letter From Georgia by Anahit Mkhoyan
“The power of lived experience recounted pointedly and honestly draws the reader to want to fight for peace. Good writing for sure.”

Best Single Photo (Color)
“Young Student with Biscuit” by John E. Kozar
“Close cropping brings out the subject and his emotions and also the vibrant colors in the image. This image seems to lead into a photo essay and is a compelling entry point into the lives of these students.”

Best Photo Story (News Photo Story)
United in Faith, Prayer and Love by Staff
“Images convey the story of the ‘Faith, Prayer and Love’ by title with sorrow, excitement, seriousness and curiosity.”

Best Multiple Picture Package (Feature Package)
Armenia’s Children, Left Behind by Gayane Abrahamyan and Nazik Armenakyan
“Wonderful main photo. Liked the B&W.”

Best Feature Article (Mission Magazine)
Welcoming the Stranger by Diane Handal and Tamara Abdul Hadi
“A timely piece that gives context and humanizes the ideas that are central to American political discussions. The writer shows the people while discussing the facts in a clear and compassionate manner.”

Best Layout of Article or Column (Mission Magazine)
Armenia’s Children, Left Behind by Paul Grillo
“The black and white images draw the reader into the story and further the narrative. The layout is clean, uniform and encourages the reader to move through the story.”

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Option for the Poor and Vulnerable)
Health on Wheels by Raed Rafei
“ONE magazine produces powerful narratives that illuminate stories rarely seen in other publications. This piece, about a mobile health clinic in Iraqi Kurdistan, chronicles residents’ arduous journeys to get medical care and find safe places to live. The close-up perspective on the families’ stories helps readers imagine the fear and strain of living in exile.”

Best Reporting on Social Justice Issues (Solidarity)
A Letter From Gaza by Suhaila Tarzai
“This first-person narrative poignantly details the plight of employees and patients at the only Christian hospital in Gaza. In a voice that is descriptive and emotional, yet measured, the writer bears witness to a crisis that demands a response.”

Honorable Mention:

Best Essay Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter (Mission Magazine)
A Letter From Gaza by Suhaila Tarazi

Best Single Photo (Black & White)
“Immaculate Conception Sisters and Children, Tashir, Armenia” by Nazik Armenakyan

Best Single Photo (Color)
“Students at St. Michael’s School, Aiga, Ethiopia” by John E. Kozar

Best Single Photo (Color)
“Family in Gaza” by Shareef Sarhan

Best Multiple Picture Package (Feature Package)
When Rain Fails by James Jeffrey and Petterik Wiggers
“Great photography about an interesting/timely subject.”

Best Coverage of Immigration
Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land by Diane Handal; Armenia’s Children, Left Behind by Gayane Abrahamyan; Welcoming the Stranger by Diane Handal

Best Layout of Article or Column (Mission Magazine)
Ethiopia’s Sleeping Giant by Paul Grillo

Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues (Option for the Poor and Vulnerable)
Armenia’s Children, Left Behind by Gayane Abrahamyan

Best Web and Print Combination Package
Health on Wheels & “A Day on Zahko’s Mobile Clinic for Iraqi Refugees” by Raed Rafei
“Very important story. Good print story and photos. Although online content is a video only, it is very intriguing, well done and important.”

Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine Catholic Press

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!

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