9 May 2012
A Syrian family arrives at an army checkpoint in northern Lebanon on 27 March.
(photo: CNS/Afif Diab, Reuters)
Over the last several weeks, we’ve brought you stories about the struggles of Syria’s Christians and the ongoing efforts to help them.
We’ve been gratified and moved by the amazing show of support from our readers and donors. Thank you! You can learn more about what CNEWA is doing in partnership with local churches in this recent update from Issam Bishara, our regional director in Lebanon.
But the need is still great. This report from the BBC shows what some people are facing — and why so many are fleeing:
Homs, a lively Syrian city once regarded as a place of peaceful co-existence, has borne the brunt of violence in Syria’s 14-month long uprising.
The neighbourhood of Baba Amr was its biggest target in a city activists now call the “capital of the revolution”.
Not a single building seems to have escaped the government’s ferocious assault. Structures still standing are peppered with shrapnel, blackened by fire, fingers of concrete.
Indiscriminate bombing ripped away entire floors of large residential blocks.
“No government likes to shell its own people,” says Homs Governor Ghassan Abdulal. “We had no choice. The armed groups were firing from civilian areas.”
Visit our website to learn how you can help provide lifesaving aid such as food and medicine to Syrian refugees.
8 May 2012
Tags: Lebanon Refugees Middle East Christians CNEWA Relief
At Mar Bishoi Church in Port Said, Egypt, a parishioner touches the patronal icon. (photo: Sean Sprague)
It was recently announced that the Coptic Orthodox Church will begin the process for electing a new pope. This comes after a 40-day mourning period for Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Egypt, who served as pope for 41 years. Pope Shenouda III died on 17 March. The process for selecting his successor may be foreign to many:
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom has issued a detailed explanation of the papal selection process, along with a timeline which identifies key stages of the process, saying the following:
“This is an experience with which many will not have been involved in their lifetime, so it was important to provide a simplified explanation, allowing engagement at every level. Within these steps we find a robust process that includes: nominations from peers within the Holy Synod, nominations from laity through the General Lay Council, systematic scrutiny with a process of challenges and appeals, representative democratic election, and above all, the Altar Ballot that encompasses this whole process with a spirit of prayer and trustful submission to the will of God.”
You can read more about the process and the timeline here. CNEWA President, Msgr. John Kozar, wrote about a memorial service for Pope Shenouda III he attended back in March.
7 May 2012
Tags: Egypt Africa Pope Coptic Orthodox Church Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria
An artist works on a painting of the Kremlin of Rostov Veliky, Russia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Today, Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a third term as Russia’s president. The controversy surrounding his return to leadership has erupted in mass protests throughout the country.
The images of Putin being sworn in at the Kremlin in Moscow reminded us of our September 2008 story about Russia’s kremlins, Russia’s Fortified Tabernacles:
For many Westerners, the Kremlin calls to mind aggression, conspiracy, deception, espionage, oppression and imminent nuclear holocaust — haunting fears that remain indelibly marked on the consciences of those who came of age from the late 1940’s to the late 1980’s.
Yet kremlin — from the Russian kreml, meaning castle or fortress — refers to any fortified citadel in historic Russia, not just the seat of government in the Russian capital of Moscow. These fortifications, most of which date from the 11th to the 17th centuries, protected not just princes, palaces and treasuries, but monastic communities, cathedrals and shrines. In effect, Russia’s kremlins functioned as fortified tabernacles, sheltering the most sacred relics of the Russian people from their very real enemies.
Read more about Russia’s kremlins on our website. Take a look at the multimedia feature that accompanied the story, “Journey through Russia’s Kremlins”.
4 May 2012
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church Eastern Europe
Many orphaned children, like the one shown above, are cared for at the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Msgr. John Kozar, CNEWA’s president, recently returned from a pastoral visit to Ethiopia. As usual, he returned with many beautiful images of the people and places he visited. One of those places is the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa:
The director is Sister Lutgarda Camilleri of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, a Maltese national who has worked either at the orphanage or at the school next door for more than forty years. She is a dynamo: a combination of a grandmother that everyone would cherish and a religious sister who commands tremendous respect and can bring anyone to attention with a glance or a word of admonition. She also strikes me as a person with great savvy with the government authorities. You know the type: Give them a little grandmotherly charm and, if that does not work, look right into their eyes and tell them they are wrong. Case closed.
Sister Lutgarda and her crew of two other sisters, dedicated staff members and a rotating crew of volunteers provide amazing loving care to children as young as a few months and up to the age of 16. Many of those in her charge are street children brought here by police or child welfare officials. Sometimes, the officials show up at her doorstep with more than 20 at one time. Exasperated a little, but never overwhelmed, Sister Lutgarda welcomes them into the family.
For a closer look at Msgr. Kozar’s experience in Ethiopia, check out his series of blog posts from his trip, “An Ethiopian Odyssey.”
3 May 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Orphans/Orphanages
Franciscan Sisters of the Cross in Lebanon pick fruit. (photo: Marilyn Raschcka)
The Franciscan Sisters of the Cross in Lebanon care selflessly for the sick, disabled and orphaned individuals in Lebanon. Last December, during his pastoral visit to the region, CNEWA president Msgr. Kozar witnessed the work the sisters do first hand.
Marilyn Raschka wrote one of our first stories profiling the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross in the Jan/Feb 1999 issue of the magazine:
“Love — thats what they need,” my guide asserted as we walked into a room flooded with sunshine and colorful quilts. What looked like four- and five-year-old children in this room were actually teen-agers whose bodies were robbed of growth and whose minds had failed to develop. The room provided a safe, secure playing area for these residents. Toys were often used to stimulate those who could respond. But nothing worked better than a smile and a hug from nuns and staff.
The energy required of this community is replenished by young novices, three of whom I met during my visit. All three young women have sponsors from the United States who, through CNEWAs sponsorship program, contribute to their education and living expenses. Studies are strenuous, separation from family is painful and a future of difficult work could take its toll. But these challenges have created a bond that helps the women persevere. And youth, with its built-in buoyancy, provides extra time for some basic “nunsense.”
For more read, Bearing the Cross in Lebanon.
2 May 2012
Tags: Lebanon Sisters Beirut Franciscan Sisters of the Cross
Residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage take a break from classes.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
In the September 2005 issue of ONE, Paul Wachter reported on the lasting impact of St. Joseph’s Orphanage on its residents in Kerala:
“Nearly all the girls are scared when they first get here, which is only natural,” said Sister Flower Mary. “But they soon make friends. We try to make this transition period as easy as possible for them by making sure the new girls are well-attended to.
“In many cases, the friends they make here will be with them for the rest of their lives,” Sister Flower Mary continued. “And they will always be a part of my life. Just because they move away and get a job or get married doesn’t mean I don’t stay in touch with them. We are all one big family.”
For more, read St. Joseph’s ‘Orphans’.
1 May 2012
Tags: India Kerala Orphans/Orphanages
In this photo taken in 2008, people attending a retreat in Purakkad, Kerala, pray at a shrine
devoted to Mary. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
May is the month Catholics devote to honoring the Virgin Mary. In the regions CNEWA serves, icons of Mary are not only found in churches but are common household items as well.
Above, we see one example from Kerala in India. For more, read Purakkad’s Natural Harmony. And, be sure to check out the accompanying slideshow featuring more of Peter Lemieux’s photos documenting life in the village.
30 April 2012
Tags: India Kerala Icons
In this photo taken in 2000, a young man stands in a field of Meskel flowers in South Ethiopia. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
We all know that “April showers bring May flowers.” So as April ends, we offer a springtime glimpse at what tomorrow may bring.
Ironically, these particular flowers are most popular later in the year, near the fall.
Meskel flowers symbolize the feast day, Meskel, in Ethiopia. They are used to line the streets during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which falls near the Ethiopian calendar’s new year in September. Last October, Gerald Jones, our regional director for Ethiopia wrote about this celebration.
27 April 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Ethiopian Christianity
Archbishop Fares meets with families after baptisms at Our Lady of Paradise Cathedral in São Paulo. (photo: Izan Petterle)
In the July 2011 issue of ONE, São Paulo based journalist Fidel Madeira reported on the Melkite Greek Catholics who have called São Paulo home for the past 100 years:
“In the Middle East, it is common for parishes to have on file the names and details of all the families in the area. Having those archives in hand helps our work. In São Paulo, on the other hand, people move around frequently,” says the priest. “And just the city alone is a world unto itself. Its vastness makes it hard for someone who does not live close to us to attend church regularly. But thankfully, they come to us on important occasions, such as weddings, baptisms and funerals.”
“By the grace of God, we manage to find ways to preserve our traditions,” adds Archbishop Fares. “But there is still much more to be done. For instance, I am trying to translate, in a more comprehensive way, our liturgy into Portuguese and bring awareness to the richness and beauty of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
“I have become acquainted with a new reality when moving to Brazil and now recognize the plurality of the Catholic Church,” continues the archbishop. “All the natural beauty — the endless forests, waterfalls with crystalline water — that I was hoping to find, I did find after all: in the hearts of the Brazilian people.”
For more, read Paradise in Brazil.
26 April 2012
Tags: Middle East Cultural Identity Melkite Greek Catholic Church Arabs
A dance group performs at the 34th annual Greek Festival in Salt Lake City.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
In the July 2010 issue of ONE, Cody Christopulos, the photojournalist who serves as our assignment editor, reported on the Greek community in Utah’s “Mormon Zion” — Salt Lake City — and efforts to preserve its cultural identity:
Today, the Greek Orthodox Church is the binding force for Utah’s Hellenic community. Father Matthew Gilbert, pastor of Holy Trinity Cathedral, describes the parish as very active, with no shortage of activities, especially for the youth. Still, says the priest, himself “Greek” by marriage, passing down the faith to the next generation remains a challenge.
“The hardest thing is the spiritual aspect. It’s nice to dance and to play basketball. We have Greek schools, dance programs, Orthodox Christian camps in the summer, Greek camp, Sunday school. We offer everything imaginable, but it’s up to individuals to cultivate their spiritual life. It’s always easier to cultivate the fun things, but a spiritual life is difficult. It takes a lot of work. Being baptized is the easy part. The rest is commitment.”
For more, read Greek Orthodoxy in Mormon Zion.
Tags: Cultural Identity Greece