25 June 2012
A Syro-Malabar Catholic woman of the Wayanad district in Kerala shades herself from the sun. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Over the years we have published many stories in the magazine about the influence of St. Thomas on the Christian community in southern India. The saint who famously doubted the resurrection has inspired countless believers in that corner of CNEWA’s world. In the March 2010 issue of the magazine, journalist Sean Sprague captured how the influence of the saint still resonates with the Christians of the region:
“St. Thomas definitely landed on this very spot,” says Philomena Pappachan, caretaker of a chapel that marks where the doubting apostle arrived in southern India in the year A.D. 52. Located a few feet from the cemented banks of the Periyar River, the chapel is dwarfed by a grove of palm trees and a 30-foot cutout of the saint, who is depicted with a staff and an open book on which “my Lord and my God” is printed in English.
No archaeological evidence exists to substantiate or refute her claim. Yet for nearly two millennia, countless numbers of Christians and Hindus have believed “the holy man” journeyed through Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia and finally India, where Thomas died a martyr’s death in the year 72.
For more, read In the Footsteps of St. Thomas. For more of Sprague’s accompanying photos, check out the image gallery, “St. Thomas’s Influence.”
22 June 2012
In this photo taken in 2005, two young orphans are cared for at the Kidane Mehret Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In 2009, thanks to generous CNEWA donors, the Kidane Mehret Catholic School in Ethiopia started offering students the opportunity to attend 11th and 12th grades. This means that young children, like those featured in the photo above, are promised a brighter future. In this month’s CNEWA Connections e-newsletter, we featured a letter from a recent graduate of the school:
We and our families are so grateful to the CNEWA family and Mr. Doty. If it were not for you, we could not have gotten a good education.
What I am trying to say is that regular schools do not have as many resources as we have. Regular schools may have a science lab, but not enough lab material for the students. Regular schools do not have a sufficient number of computers, but we have a computer for every student who needs one. Thanks to CNEWA, we have enough.
I always thank God because He is always with me. I also thank CNEWA because you are my source of success. God willing, I want to graduate from university and help my family, my school and my country.
For more read, “We Are So Grateful to You.”
21 June 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Orphans/Orphanages Catholic Schools
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.
Tags: Jordan ONE magazine Catholic Schools Bedouin