21 June 2012
Campers have fun in the healing mineral waters of the Nunisi resort in central Georgia.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
Yesterday marked the summer solstice. Temperatures are rising and summer camps are in session! Summer camp can be an enriching experience for children. When schools close their doors for summer break, summer camp provides an opportunity for fun and learning outside school. Over the years, CNEWA has sponsored many summer camps in the regions we serve, such as the camps in the Caucasus which provide much more than summer fun:
For all the campers, Samta Park represents a soothing escape from their hardscrabble lives in Tbilisi. Many have suffered severe psychological or physical traumas. Lela Mezrishvili, 13, has scars all over her body, but several sessions in the sanitarium’s waters have allowed her to extend her arm fully for the first time in years.
“Many of the children come from very troubled families — very poor,” said Zizi Inadze, a staff member who grew up on the streets and, like Mr. Biganashvili, received assistance from Caritas. “Some had never seen fish or butter before, and even others never had seen a toilet. I was so shocked to see kids using a bucket, I couldn’t believe it.”
The camps of Sister Arousiag Sajonian and Father Witold Szulczynski are different in structure, but their aim is the same. They offer disadvantaged children a quintessential childhood experience that is normally available only to the more privileged. And it is a testament to the camps’ success that so many former campers have returned, as adults, to help educate the next generation.
A mere two carefree weeks can have an outsized impact on the children’s lives, said Ms. Inadze, the former street child who now works for Caritas.
“Here at the camps, they learn to open up and share a sense of warmth. They receive love and attention.”
For more, read Kid’s Camps in the Caucasus in the November 2007 issue of ONE.
20 June 2012
Tags: CNEWA Caritas Caucasus
A man makes an icon at the Immaculate Conception Church in Jordan, which is undergoing major restoration sponsored by CNEWA. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Back in December, Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, made his first pastoral visit to the Holy Land. Along the way, he visited many people and projects vital to CNEWA’s mission, such as the Immaculate Conception Melkite Greek Catholic parish in Jordan:
From the hospital we went to visit the Melkite Greek Catholic pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Abuna Boulos (or Father Paul), and were joined there by Archbishop Yasser Ayyash and some other priests. We had a delightful lunch, where I learned much about the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. When I entered the rectory, Father Boulos immediately introduced me to his wife, as it is the Melkite tradition for priests to marry before ordination. After a brief visit to the church, which is finishing up a major restoration project sponsored by CNEWA, we headed for the Bedouin village of Smakieh for the highlight of the day and the spiritual highlight of this pastoral visit thus far.
We were invited by the archbishop and Abuna Boulos to concelebrate at the ordination liturgy for a subdeacon and deacon. What an honor for Father Guido and myself. Not only did the archbishop make us feel welcome, he even vested us in the Melkite vestments used for their liturgy. It was a very proud moment for both of us.
For more, read Msgr. Kozar’s blog series “Journey to the Holy Land.”
18 June 2012
Tags: Middle East Christians CNEWA Middle East Jordan Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Sister Anastasija and Sister Isidora pray in the Gorioc Monastery’s dining room, which is located outside Kosovo’s northwestern town of Istok. (photo: Laura Boushnak)
In the current issue of ONE, journalist Joost Van Egmond writes about spending some time with a group of Serbian Orthodox nuns pursuing their calling at the Gorioc Monastery in Kosovo, in spite of cultural tensions:
“It doesn’t matter much to me. I just want to live here,” says Sister Anastasija, standing outside the Gorioc Monastery, which is located outside Kosovo’s northwestern town of Istok. The 25-year-old Orthodox nun points through the barbed-wire fence enclosing the property to a vista of the snow-covered valley below. “It’s hard,” she says, glancing at the fence. “But beauty is where the suffering is.”
The new recruit entered the monastery in August 2010. She refers to the area as Metohija Valley, its Serbian name, still unaware that locals, most of whom are Albanian Kosovars, consider the term a provocative reminder of past Serbian oppression. They prefer to call it by its Albanian name, the Dukagjin Valley. This seemingly minor discrepancy epitomizes the tightrope the young nun walks in her new life in Kosovo.
With four other women, she is striving to do something not only radical, but almost impossible: to live a life of prayer and peace in a wounded corner of world that has been torn apart by conflict and ethnic strife.
For more, read Praying Behind Barbed Wire. We were able to catch up with Joost Van Egmond to talk more about his assignment in Kosovo. Check it out in the video below:
15 June 2012
Tags: Sisters Albania Serbia Kosovo
Armenian World War II veterans celebrate Victory Day in Yerevan, Armenia.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
In the November 2009 issue of ONE, Justyna Mielnikiewicz’s photographs and Annie Grunow’s words helped to paint a picture of the vast, diverse region referred to as the ‘Caucasus’:
While the Armenians, Georgians and Chechens may be most familiar, there are countless other peoples in the Caucasus who staunchly retain their own ethnic identities. Geographic names usually reflect a portion of an area’s ethnic population, but by no means can a geographic name be mistaken for ethnic homogeneity. Linguistic and religious differences also occur within a seemingly distinct ethnicity. Refugee and emigrant populations further confound the picture.
Abkhazians, Chechens and Ossetians are present in both Georgia and Russia; each group is struggling to gain some degree of autonomy. Abkhazians and Ossetians, which are distinct ethnic groups with their own languages, are largely Orthodox Christians.
For more, read Where Europe Meets Asia.
14 June 2012
Tags: Cultural Identity Armenia Caucasus
Olha Tomkiv, Daryna Palykh and Iryna Tomkiv come together for a family reunion.
(photo: Petro Didula)
In the March 2011 issue of ONE Mariya Tytarenko reported on the disappearance of Ukraine’s villages and the efforts to preserve Ukrainian culture and history. She met with many elderly residents, such as the Tomkiv sisters, who shared a desire to keep tradition alive:
Though a widow living on her own, Mrs. Palykh–Tomkiv has three sisters living nearby, 61–year–old Daryna Palykh, 70–year–old Iryna Tomkiv and 80–year–old Olha Tomkiv. The sisters survive their parents as well as two brothers and a sister.
On the feast day of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God, the family gathers at Iryna’s home. “Glory to Jesus Christ,” she says, using the traditional greeting in the village to welcome visitors, who include several relatives from the area and two nieces from Lviv.
Iryna has earned a reputation in the region for her exceptional embroidery skills. Her elaborate needlework adorns almost every item in the house, including napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases, curtains, wall décor and icons.
For more, read What’s Next for Ukraine’s Villages?
13 June 2012
Tags: Ukraine Village life Eastern Europe Eastern Catholics
Novices pose for a portrait at the mother house of the Daughters of Mary in India.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
When you give to CNEWA this month, your gift will be doubled to support sisters in the regions we serve. Your generosity not only provides support to the sisters working in the field, but it supports the formation of these women. While in India earlier this year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar had an opportunity to meet with novices at the mother house of the Daughters of Mary:
After a plentiful breakfast and more wonderful conversation with the major archbishop and his chancery officials, we headed out to the mother house of the Daughters of Mary, one of the larger congregations of women religious in the Trivandrum Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Waiting at the doorway was our host, Mother Roselin, D.M., the superior of the community. After a coffee with Mother and other council members, she proceeded to give us a mini tour of the facility and to introduce us to a lovely, smiling group of novices, postulants and aspirants — about 50 in total. The joy and happiness of these young girls and sisters was infectious. They greeted us with songs and kind expressions of welcome. And I was invited to share with them about my own life and the work of CNEWA.
Visit our website to learn how you can double your gift to sisters.
12 June 2012
Tags: India Sisters Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Vocations (religious)
A female member of Kunama village — a peaceful, nomadic people who eventually settled near the border with Ethiopia — can be identified by her jewelery.
(photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Representing CNEWA on a visit to Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000, Sister Christian Molidor documented a unique group of people that had settled in Eritrea — the Kunama people. Lacking an alphabet and doused in many traditions, the group experienced hard times during the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Sister Christian visited a mobile clinic in the Kunama village:
One by one the women approached the hut with their children. Only three women could fit inside the hut, especially when each mother had several children. Using the posters, a lay catechist explained how polio can be a serious health threat, how to detect the virus and why immunization would help each child. The catechist also described rehabilitation exercises to be used if a child contracted the disease. Illiteracy and language differences did not prevent the women from understanding these facts.
When it was their turn to take the vaccine, some children took the drops with stoic courage; others screamed and their mothers had to hold them while the nurse poured the vaccine into their mouths.
After each child received the vaccine, the women and children remained around the hut visiting with one another, watching others arrive and just enjoying the day “away from home.”
The African sun is unbearably hot, but following tradition the Kunama women wear layer upon layer of flowing garments. Kunama villages are desolate and colorless; it is a small wonder the women wear such lovely, brightly colored clothing. All the women wear colored beads that identify them as Kunama. Some younger women wear jewelry — in their noses, their ears, around necks and ankles; all the children, male or female, wear at least one amulet around their necks. Christians wear crosses or scapulars.
For more, read Strange But Miraculous Medicine.
11 June 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Health Care Eritrea Women
Three students pose for a portrait at a Latin Catholic school in Ader, Jordan.
(photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
In the May edition of ONE, journalist Nicholas Seeley visited some of Jordan’s remaining Christian villages and reported on efforts to uphold the faith and adjust to a changing world:
“I have five engineers — boys and girls — out of nine.” He grins proudly as he lists their accomplishments: one works as an agricultural engineer for the army, another teaches in Amman, a third is an engineer in Abu Dhabi. The other children are in high school and college. His wife teaches in Smakieh’s public schools.
“All scientific knowledge has come to us through the church,” says Mr. Hijazine. “We, as Christians, want to be the best in the area.”
For years, he says, people from Smakieh have left to pursue higher education, a choice the local church has always encouraged. “They came back bringing new ideas and information with them,” continues the educator. “They tried to make us understand or to explain to us how the rest of the world was working and changing. So everything came to us either through the church or through the people who came back.”
For more, read A Bridge to Modern Life.
8 June 2012
Tags: Jordan ONE magazine Catholic Schools Bedouin
This icon of St. Ephrem the Syrian is one of many that
shows him in a popular pose, writing. (photo: Wikipedia)
Saturday 9 June marks the feast of St. Ephrem in the Latin church (it’s celebrated on 28 January in the East) and 17 centuries after his death, he continues to be a compelling and fascinating figure. As CNEWAs magazine once noted:
Often referred to as the Harp of the Holy Spirit, this
learned theologian and Doctor of the Church was born in Nisibis, Syria
(modern Nusaybin, Turkey) in the year 306. He spent much of his life in
preaching and writing hymns and poems dedicated to combating the heresies of
Gnosticism and Arianism. He was baptized by Bishop James of Nisibis — a man
who greatly influenced his life.
A poet and writer, Ephrem had a complex and artistic personality marked by a
strong tendency to be hot-tempered. But with tremendous self-control, he
dominated his fiery nature and devoted his life to asceticism.
Ephrem taught in Nisibis until the city was ceded to the Persians and he was
forced, with other Christians, to emigrate to Edessa (now Urfa, Turkey).
There, Ephrem continued his teaching at the famous School of Edessa whose
reknown, and even founding, has been attributed to him.
An aspect of Ephrems unusual personality is evident in the fact that,
although ordained a deacon, he never became a priest — avoiding consecration by feigning madness. Although no certain explanation can be found for this behavior, some biographers believe it was due to a feeling of unworthiness.
He was a prolific writer, and one of his hymns was translated and published
in the magazine in 1999:
HE CAME TO US IN HIS LOVE, THE BLESSED TREE, WOOD DISSOLVED
WOOD. FRUIT WAS ANNIHILATED BY FRUIT, THE MURDERER [ANNIHILATED] BY THE
IN EDEN AND IN THE INHABITED EARTH ARE PARABLES OF OUR LORD. WHO IS ABLE TO
GATHER THE LIKENESSES OF THE SYMBOLS OF HIM, ALL OF WHOM IS PORTRAYED IN ALL
IN SCRIPTURE HE IS WRITTEN; IN NATURE HE IS ENGRAVED. HIS DIADEM IS
PORTRAYED BY KINGS, AND BY PROPHETS HIS TRUTH, HIS ATONEMENT BY PRIESTS
HE IS IN THE ROD OF MOSES AND IN THE HYSSOP OF AARON AND IN THE DIADEM OF DAVID.
THE PROPHETS HAVE HIS LIKENESS, BUT THE APOSTLES HAVE HIS
You can read the complete hymn here.
7 June 2012
Tags: Syria Saints
A sister speaks with a resident of the Maison du Sacre Coeur, a Catholic institution run by the Daughters of Charity that serves the needs of disabled children. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Here at CNEWA, we value the work of religious sisters throughout the regions we serve. Congregations such as the Daughters of Charity in Israel remind us, through their dedication, that the love is in the details. Msgr. John Kozar, CNEWA president, was able to witness their remarkable work firsthand when he visited Israel last December:
From his office we drove to the Maison du Sacre Coeur. This is a cherished Catholic institution that serves the needs of specially challenged children of all ages — even up to their early 20’s. Sister Katherina Fuchs, the Austrian-born Daughter of Charity who directs the facility, welcomed us and introduced us to three other sisters, who came from Lebanon and Spain. This dedicated group of sisters, followers of St. Vincent de Paul, offer tender, loving care to these very special children. I was particularly moved while watching the level of care with which some physical therapists worked, massaging the muscles of these special needs kids. Through a delicate series of respiratory heaves and hos, they were able to extract from them the desired cough that would help to clear their lungs.
Do you want to support the work of sisters like the Daughters of Charity? For the next 60 days, your gift to sisters — for their formation and good works — will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 by a generous benefactor of CNEWA.
Tags: Children Israel Sisters Disabilities Daughters of Charity