6 January 2012
Four young carolers pose in their home-made costumes in front of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kosmach. (photo: Petro Didula)
For many Christians around the world, 6 January is celebrated as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings, when the Magi visited the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. In some places, it is also the “12th Day of Christmas,” marking the close of the Christmas season.
It has a number of cherished customs in parts of Eastern Europe. As one website describes it:
Beginning with New Years and through January 6, children dressed as the kings, and holding up a large star, go from door to door, caroling and singing a Three Kings’ song. For this they receive money or sweets. Formerly the collected donations went to unemployed craftsmen and veterans, today they go to charities of the church or the Third World.
So, for one last time before the season ends: Merry Christmas!
5 January 2012
Tags: Ukraine Greek Catholic Church
In this photo from 2003, Sister Nahla tends to a patient at the Al Jamh-Al Zahrawi Hospital in Mosul, Iraq, where she has been working since May. (photo: Philip Toscano-Heighton)
Today, the Washington Post reported that a suicide bomber targeting Shiites killed at least 72 people in Baghdad — the highest one-day death toll since U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December. This bombing is one in a series of recent attacks resulting in many causalities. In the midst of so much turmoil and suffering, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena have been a safety net for Iraqis affected by war for many years. In the January 2004 issue of the magazine, Jill Carroll wrote about their work with the wounded and sick:
Others, like Sister Nahla Francis, work outside the convent. Sister Nahla started working as a nurse six months ago at the nearby Al Jamh-Al Zahrawi Hospital in Mosul. She monitors life-support machines, feeds patients and changes bed linens. Many patients are recovering from gunshot wounds and other life-threatening injuries.
She is the only sister in the hospital and often has to explain to Muslim patients what a sister is.
“I saw a lot of different cases here. One patient came who had lost her legs and her family,” said Sister Nahla, who has been a member of the community for six years. “She told me, ‘I want to die because I have nothing to live for.’”
In such cases, “I can only pray for the patient,” said Sister Nahla.
Equally trying was the death of many children brought to the hospital during the war, she said. “The community gave me spiritual support and encouragement to continue my work here.”
Since that report, Sister Nahla has left Iraq; she now works at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, which is also supported by CNEWA.
Meantime, the author of the story, Jill Carroll, came to know all-too-well the nightmare of Iraq. In 2006, she was kidnapped by Sunni Muslim insurgents and spent nearly three months in captivity before finally being released. You can read more about her story in The Christian Science Monitor.
For more, read In the Shadow of War. To learn how you can help support the sisters and hospitals in Iraq, visit our website.
4 January 2012
Tags: Iraq War Health Care Dominican Sisters
Sister Lucy Maule of the Ephpheta Institute in Bethlehem, holds four-year-old Abdil-Karim Yosef Allush. This photo was featured on the cover of the Jan/Feb 1996 issue of the magazine.
(photo: Miriam Sushman)
In this photo from our archives, Miriam Sushman documented the work of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy at Ephpheta Institute, a school for hearing-impaired children in Bethlehem that CNEWA has supported for many years. George Martin wrote about his experience at the school for our magazine back in 1996:
Ephpheta was founded at the Pope’s request after his visit to the Holy Land in 1964. Supported almost entirely by CNEWA-PMP, Ephpheta admits children on the basis of need, not their parents’ ability to pay.
Ephpheta is run by the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, a largely Italian community dedicated to spreading the love of Christ through fostering human and Christian development. Although engaged in many types of educational and social work, the sisters have specialized in educating the deaf.
How does one go about teaching a child born deaf to speak? It is a slow and exceedingly painstaking process. The more I witnessed it, the more I marveled.
For more, read The Miracle of Ephpheta. To learn how you can help support the children of Ephpheta Institute today, visit our website.
3 January 2012
Tags: Children Palestine Bethlehem Disabilities
Ethiopians celebrate Maskal in 2007. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
For many Christians around the world, the Christmas season is celebrated with lights — but the photo above reminds us that Ethiopians use light to mark another great feast, Maskal, which commemorates the finding of the true cross by St. Helena. The feast takes place in late September. As this account describes it:
Maskal is a religious and joyful annual social occasion that Christians throughout the country look forward to each year. Both women and men wear their national clothes, while youths boast and compete in fights with sticks. There is also jesting as well as flirting and courting sanctioned by the festival. These days, people return from the capital parade to their houses and bring the torches called Chibbo, to neighborhood bonfire gatherings.
You can read more about Ethiopia’s religious traditions in this article from ONE in 2004: Behold the Ethiopian.
30 December 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa
A woman prays in a church in Deir Azra, a Christian village in Upper Egypt. This is an unpublished photo from the September 2011 story Spotlight: Coptic Women. (photo: Holly Pickett)
2011 was a year of change throughout the world. Many countries in the Middle East underwent political upheavals — the repercussions of which will surely unfold for years to come. The people and churches we serve in the region — from Iraq to Egypt to Syria — were undoubtedly affected. Through it all, and with your generosity, CNEWA has assisted Christians throughout the Middle East.
This year has been one of change for our agency, too. In September, we welcomed a new president, Msgr. John E. Kozar.
With your continued support, CNEWA will remain a lifeline to those in need in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe in 2012! May your New Year be a blessed and prosperous one!
29 December 2011
Tags: Egypt Africa Coptic Christians Coptic Church
Sister Leema Rose and volunteer Jancy Kuthoor visit the homes of needy residents in Dharavi, Mumbai’s most infamous slum. (photo:Peter Lemieux)
In the July issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux reported on the work of the Nirmala Dasi Sisters with Mumbai’s poor. Many of the people the sisters serve live in Dharavi, Mumbai’s most infamous slum. Today’s front page of The New York Times featured an article on Dharavi and it’s residents’ unwavering hope in spite of the many odds they face.
The computer sits on a small table beside the bed, protected, purchased for $354 from savings, even though the family has no Internet connection. The oldest son stores his work on a pen drive and prints it somewhere else. Ms. Baskar, a seamstress, spends five months’ worth of her income, almost $400, to send three of her children to private schools. Her daughter wants to be a flight attendant. Her youngest son, a mechanical engineer.
“My daughter is getting a better education, and she will get a better job,” Ms. Baskar said. “The children’s lives should be better. Whatever hardships we face are fine.”
Education is hope in Dharavi. On a recent afternoon outside St. Anthony’s, a parochial school in the slum, Hindu mothers in saris waited for their children beside Muslim mothers in burqas. The parents were not concerned about the crucifix on the wall; they wanted their children to learn English, the language considered to be a ticket out of the slums in India.
For more, read In One Slum, Misery, Work, Politics and Hope.
28 December 2011
Tags: India Sisters Poor/Poverty
Founded by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1987, the Bethlehem Day Care Center serves the families of Cherkos, an impoverished neighborhood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
A Catholic school education opens the door to a new world and better life for many of the families CNEWA serves. Its value is priceless, as Sean Sprague reported in this story from the March 2006 issue of ONE.
Paul Wachter reported on the social implications of providing children with a Catholic school education in Ethiopia in the March 2007 issue of ONE:
While much progress is being made at relatively prosperous schools like Bisrate Gabriel (which CNEWA supported in the past), the greatest challenges lie with Ethiopia’s underserved poor.
“It helps if we reach the kids early,” said Genet Assefa, principal of the Bethlehem Day Care Center. The center, founded by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1987, caters to the children of Cherkos, a slum in Addis Ababa that takes its name from the neighborhood church. (The sisters run a second day care facility in Addis Ababa, the Good Shepherd Sisters’ Center.)
On a recent visit to the Bethlehem center, more than 150 children, all under 7, were fully engaged in their classes. Some recited the English alphabet: “C! C is for cat.” Others practiced Amharic, their national language.
“The center serves two purposes,” said Mrs. Assefa. “It gives these children access to an early education that they wouldn’t ordinarily have, which will encourage them to go on to primary school and beyond. And it also frees up the parents, many of whom are single mothers, so that they can try to earn a living and improve their lives.”
For more see, Making the Grade in Ethiopia and Breaking Barriers. To learn how you can help educate a child in Ethiopia, visit our website.
23 December 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Catholic Schools
In Ukraine, a boy stands before a tetrapod (icon stand) and a Nativity scene.
(photo: Ihor Tabin’sky)
We’ll be celebrating the holiday this weekend and returning to the office on Wednesday.
In the meantime, from our family to yours: have a safe, blessed and happy Christmas!
22 December 2011
Tags: Ukraine Church Christian
Bohdana Havryliuk, left, Marichka Semeniuk and Marichka Havryliuk carol near Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Kosmach, Ukraine. (photo: Petro Didula)
Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, today marks the winter solstice. It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The image above, from the November 2004 issue of ONE, shows carolers in Ukraine in the snow. What better way to weclome winter!
As the article notes:
“They can carol for a whole day at one house, if the man of the house provides enough food and drink. In the 1980’s some carolers came to Kosmach from another village to make more money,” he remembers. “At first people didn’t know the difference, but now they don’t give outsiders anything.”
But outside ways are making an impact on the Hutsuls; a dearth of job opportunities threatens the Hutsuls and their traditions.
“There’s no work in the village,” says a native of Kosmach, Anna Havryliuk. “Young people leave the country looking for work in the Czech Republic, Portugal and Italy.”
Still, even as they venture out into the world, the Hutsuls hang on to their traditions. On Christmas visits, Mrs. Havryliuk’s three grandchildren never fail to return to carol.
For more from this story see, Faith and Tradition.
21 December 2011
Tags: Ukraine Orthodox Church Carpatho-Rusyn
A girl lights a candle during Christmas night Divine Liturgy at the church of Three Prelates in Moscow. (photo: Julia Vishnevets)
Last night marked the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Tony Spence, of the Catholic News Service recently blogged about Christian and Jewish ties that date back to the origins of the celebration.
While most Christians know that the Jews are celebrating Hanukkah this season, not all that many know the the story of the festival and the heroic deeds of the Maccabees, the Jewish martyrs who resisted Greek attempts to make them turn away from their ancient faith. Scripture holds that a mother and seven sons chose torture and death rather than renounce their faith. The Maccabees were regarded by the early church as proto-martyrs of the early Christians who died for their faith across the Roman Empire.
In fact, both the Catholic and Orthodox churches even today remember the Maccabean martyrs in their calendars of saints.
In Friday’s The Wall Street Journal, Jon D. Levensen, a Harvard Divinity School professor of Jewish studies and author, writes in his essay — “The Meaning of Hanukkah: A celebration of religious freedom, the holiday fits well with the American political tradition,” that the origins of Hanukkah would have been forgotten in Jewish scholarship and history had it not been for the inclusion of the Book of Maccabees in the Christian Bible.
Read more on the Catholic News Service Blog. And to our Jewish friends: Happy Hanukkah!
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church Jews Jewish