1 August 2013
A sister with her young friend at the John Paul II Peace Center in India. The center, which is dedicated to the care of people of every age facing severe physical and mental challenges, is part of the Paul VI Mercy Home, a complex of social service modules owned and operated by the Archeparchy of Trichur. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Last year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited India. One memorable stop along his way was the Paul VI Mercy Home:
This Mercy Center offers superb educational programs to mentally challenged children. It is directed by the Nirmala Dasi Sisters, who do a marvelous job in serving the needs of these special loved ones. We were welcomed by a marching band and many smiling faces, including very small children, children up to their teens, many sisters serving there and a large contingent of trainees who study there to receive a diploma in working with special needs children. This institution is licensed to offer this diploma, as it has such a good name in its care for the specially challenged.
Read more about the Nirmala Dasi Sisters in House of Blessings, from the March 2007 issue of the magazine.
31 July 2013
Tags: India Children Sisters Msgr. John E. Kozar Nirmala Dasi Sisters
Ethan Jacob Ramirez awaits his baptism in the arms of his mother at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Amman. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
Two years ago, we visited Jordan and profiled the migrant workers there, many of them Filipino Catholic women:
On Fridays, Mass is standing room only at the English-speaking Sacred Heart Latin Catholic Church in Amman, Jordan. Friday is the Islamic day of rest and it attracts the largest number of parishioners, most of whom work the rest of the week in and around the capital.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem established Sacred Heart parish in 1996 to serve Amman’s swelling Catholic migrant community.
Among the families are a scattering of Europeans and North Americans, most of whom work in the foreign embassies of the posh Jabal Al Weibdeh neighborhood that surrounds the church. A few wear bright salwar kameez, the traditional pajama-like trousers worn by men and women from the Indian subcontinent. The vast majority, however, are Filipino women.
“It was a little strange for me in church at first,” says Father Kevin O’Connell, who has led the parish since its inception 15 years ago. “You’d look out to an entire congregation of women.”
A congenial 67-year-old Jesuit priest from Boston, who wears slacks and sandals under his vestments, Father O’Connell, looks and acts the part of a wise, friendly grandfather.
He helps the choir and he holds the lease on a house where the choir rehearses and other church groups gather. Father O’Connell also oversees the Sacred Heart youth basketball team and helped a group of youngsters from the church secure a space in the Jesuit Fathers’ center where they can breakdance.
Most important, Father O’Connell spends much of his energy responding to the spiritual, emotional and material needs of his predominantly Filipino congregation and other Filipino migrants in the country.
“I understood that the first task was to give people a place where they could be at home,” says Father O’Connell. “For these people, just the ongoing, regular liturgy — with Filipino music, with people reading, with them being able to participate in whatever way they want — gives a strand of consistency and continuity. It’s their home. It’s their place. In most cases, there’s no place else they can gather.”
Though some have jobs at the Philippine Embassy or in international organizations, most are domestic workers. They live in their employers’ homes and work long hours. Many experience intense feelings of loneliness and homesickness. They often have families back home whom they miss desperately.
With few job opportunities in the Philippines and families to support, these women come to the Middle East, where jobs in the “care-giving industry” are plentiful. Motivated by the promise of comparatively high earnings, most of which they intend on sending home to their families, they often accept without complaint long hours, little personal time or freedom and substandard living accommodations.
When the Filipino women attend Mass at Sacred Heart, they make the most of it. Friday’s celebration is usually their only free time all week. They embrace it as a chance to connect with others, speak their native language and openly practice their faith.
The Friday mass in the Catholic church in Amman’s Jabal Al Weibdeh is celebrated by the Sacred Heart English-Language Catholic parish, and the attendees are almost all migrant workers—the vast majority are Filipino women. They come on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, because for many of them that is the only day they are allowed time off.
Read more about Filipinos who are Far From Home in the November 2011 issue of ONE.
30 July 2013
Tags: Jordan Catholic Migrants Women
In this image from 2011, women clean coffee beans at Abdirasid Ogsadey’s coffee mill in Ethiopia. The process requires manually sorting through the coffee beans to remove pebbles and imperfect beans — beans that are too young, too old, too moist, too dry, cracked or broken. To learn more about this fascinating facet of Ethiopian culture, read Brewed to Perfection in the November 2011 issue of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
29 July 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Cultural Identity Farming/Agriculture
In this image from 2011, Petro Moysiak is ordained a priest in the Church of the Transfiguration in the city of Kolomyja in Ukraine. For more on the life of priests in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, read Answering the Call from our November 2011 issue. (photo: Petro Didula)
26 July 2013
Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
During a World Youth Day Mass this week, Pope Francis gestures and shows his chotki,
or prayer rope. (photo: AP via News.va.)
Some Roman Catholics may have wondered what Pope Francis was wearing around his wrist during his visit to Rio de Janeiro this week. But the faithful in the Eastern churches — Catholic and Orthodox — no doubt recognized it: it’s a chotki, or prayer rope. It’s not uncommon to see patriarchs wearing one. It’s almost unheard of, though, to see one in the hands of the bishop of Rome.
The rope is usually used with the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Historically it typically had 100 knots, although prayer ropes with 300, 50, or 33 knots or, less commonly, 250 or 12 can also be found in use today. There is typically a knotted cross at one end, and a few beads at certain intervals between the knots. “The purpose is to help us concentrate, not necessarily to count.”
Its invention is attributed to St. Pachomius in the fourth century as an aid for illiterate monks to accomplish a consistent number of prayers and prostrations. Monks were often expected to carry a prayer rope with them, to remind them to pray constantly in accordance with St. Paul’s injunction in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
Pope Francis, of course, has a close connection to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Shortly after the pope’s election, Patriarch Sviatoslav wrote:
The newly elected Pope Francis was mentored by one of our priests, Stepan Chmil who is now buried in the basilica of St. Sophia in Rome. Today’s Pope, during his time as a student of the Salesian school, awoke many hours before his classmates to concelebrate at our Divine Liturgy with Fr. Stepan. He knows our Tradition very well, as well as our Liturgy.
The last time I had an opportunity to see him was as I was preparing to leave Argentina for Ukraine. I asked him to bear witness to the process of beatifying Fr. Stepan Chmil, to which, he gladly agreed. The Holy Father very well knows not only of our Church, but also our liturgy, our rites, and our spirituality.
Apart from this, Pope Francis, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, was assigned as ordinary for Eastern Catholics, specifically those who at the time did not have members of their own hierarchy. Our Eparchy in Argentina is, let’s say, suffragan to the Archbishop’s seat of Buenos Aires. In this way, Cardinal Bergoglio, always took care of our Church in Argentina; and as a young bishop, I took my first steps in episcopal ministry under his watchful eyes and help. Because of this, I am positive that the Holy Father will be a great help to our Church, and I expect that great things await our Church with this Pope.
25 July 2013
Young men attend a shoemaking class at vocational training center in Minya, Egypt.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
Several years ago, we visited a vocational school in Upper Egypt that was giving hope and opportunity to the handicapped:
The Jesuit Center for the Handicapped is one of several projects in the region funded by CNEWA. The center is dedicated to youths who would otherwise have few opportunities for an independent life.
The center, originally for boys, was founded in 1983. Since 1992, girls have also been admitted. There are now 40 students at the center and admission is equally divided by gender.
Students are bused from surrounding areas and they room at the center from Monday to Thursday. By having a three-day weekend in their villages, respect is paid to both Muslims, who pray on Fridays, and Christians, who worship on Sundays.
Minya’s population is about 20 percent Christian and 80 percent Muslim. Osama Iseq, the center’s director, said there are tensions between the two religious communities, fueled largely by Islamic fundamentalists.
“At first we had problems with bringing the students to the center,” he said. “There was one village we could not even get to because of anti-Christian feelings, but now there is no problem. Here Muslims and Christians get along. That students are eating, studying, living and working together is better than any discussion...
...The center’s two-year course provides vocational training in the morning and literacy and simple mathematics classes in the afternoon. When students are finished with the course, they read, write, do basic arithmetic and are prepared for an independent life with practical job skills.
But while the vocational school is relatively new, the Jesuits have a long history of being educators in Minya. On the same campus as the Center for the Handicapped is a primary and preparatory school founded in 1889. The Jesuit Fathers school also receives scholarship grants from CNEWA.
The 800-pupil school is run by five Jesuit priests and one brother, two of whom are Egyptians, two are Maltese, one is French and the other is Dutch. Also on staff are a number of Christian and Muslim teachers.
Jesuit Father Joseph Mizi, the school’s director, said the school is one of the best in the district even though it primarily serves the poorer children of the area.
Read more about efforts to take young people From Dusty to Dignity in the November 2002 issue of the magazine.
24 July 2013
A mother and child pause for a picture at the Godano Institution, a home for abused girls and women. The women attend classes, learning to sew and work as beauticians. Last year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited and wrote about his experience. Read his moving account of “the Church”s Priority.” (photo: Cody Christopulos)
23 July 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Education Women (rights/issues)
A girl attends the Divine Liturgy at the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Paradise in São Paulo, Brazil. This week, hundreds of thousands of young people are expected to take part in the visit of Pope Francis to Brazil for World Youth Day. Check out our archives to read more about the Greek Catholic Paradise in Brazil. (photo: Izan Petterle)
22 July 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Melkite Greek Catholic Church Melkite World Youth Day Brazil
Pope Francis carries a bag as he boards a plane at Fiumicino airport in Rome on 22 July. He is making his first trip abroad as bishop of Rome to join more than 300,000 young people in Brazil for World Youth Day. (photo: CNS/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters)
19 July 2013
Tags: Pope Francis World Youth Day Brazil
Father Elias Koucos presides over the liturgy at Prophet Elias Church in Holladay, Utah.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
Three years ago, we visited the Greek Orthodox community in the heart of Mormon-dominated Utah:
From the summit of Ensign Peak in Utah, a mountain Mormons believe sacred, the visitor takes in a panoramic view of the rugged but splendid geography of this unique southwestern American state. To the west, one glimpses the Great Salt Lake and desert; to the south, one looks down upon the Salt Lake Valley, which cradles the state capital, Salt Lake City, and its sprawling suburbs; and to the east, one’s vision is blocked by the Wasatch Mountains, a forbidding, craggy wall towering thousands of feet above the valley. It was through these mountains that the Latter-day Saints first entered the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847 after their long, difficult flight from religious persecution across America’s heartland. Mexican territory at the time, they and their followers nonetheless adopted the valley as their homeland, referring to it as “Mormon Zion,” and began settling what is today Salt Lake City.
A half-century later, the first Greek immigrants arrived in Salt Lake City. They did not come by handcart and oxen-pulled wagons, as did the original settlers, but by railroads built with immigrant labor in the decades before their arrival. Attracted to Utah with promises of jobs on the railroads, most of these Greeks soon began laying railroad tracks themselves. …
The precise number of Utahans of Greek descent is difficult to assess. In the 2000 U.S. Census, nearly 12,000 state residents reported to be of Greek ancestry. Approximately 1,000 active families, or about 4,000 people, belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake. While small compared to the larger Greek-American enclaves in the eastern United States, Utah’s Greek-American community is thriving. According to the 2000 Census, Utah ranks ninth in the nation with respect to the percentage of the population claiming Greek ancestry.
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.”
Read more about Greek Orthodoxy in Mormon Zion from the July 2010 issue of ONE.
Tags: Eastern Christianity United States Orthodox Church Orthodox