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Volume 43, Number 4
  
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29 September 2011
Erin Edwards




An Ethiopian monk prays at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(Photo: Peter Lemieux)


Ben Cramer reported on the dwindling number of pilgrims or visitors to the Holy Land in the March/April 2004 issue of the magazine. The violence in the region at the time kept pilgrims away and depressed Christians living in the region:

The crisis jeopardizes the region’s Christian communities in ways that go beyond economics. According to Christian leaders in the area, the absence of Christian pilgrims in the birthplace of their faith is having a troubling impact on local parishioners and even the hope for peace in the Middle East.

“Pilgrimage has almost totally stopped since 2000,” says Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah. “There are a few pilgrims coming here out of true conviction, but these are only small groups, primarily from Italy, France and Spain.”

Since this story ran in 2004, the number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land has increased. According to a January 2011 article from Independent Catholic News, “...the highest number of pilgrims went to Bethlehem for the Christmas celebrations since 2000. Up to 500 Christians from Gaza were also able to come to Bethlehem which was a considerable improvement...”

For more, check out Holy Land: increase in number of Christians returning home.



Tags: Ethiopia Jerusalem Holy Land Africa

28 September 2011
Erin Edwards




Photographer Sean Sprague captured these dancers during the Istanbul Gypsy & Orientale Dance Festival in May of 2010. (Photo: Sean Sprague)

Turkey’s diversity has been well documented in the pages of ONE — including members of the Roma community, seen in the photo above partaking in an ancient celebration marking the arrival of spring. The celebration includes bonfires, traditional music and dancing. Though the Roma are a minority, their culture and traditions remain strong.

For more about Turkey’s diversity check out, Turkey’s Melting Pot from the May 2011 issue of ONE.

Turkey was in the news this week, being touted as an example of progress in the disarray within the Middle East.

“Turkey is the only country that has a sense of where things are going, and it has the wind blowing on its sails,” said Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations at Istanbul Bilgi University.

The country’s foreign policy seized the attention of many in the Middle East and beyond after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tour this month of three Arab countries that have witnessed revolutions: Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Even Mr. Erdogan’s critics were impressed with the symbolism of the trip.

For more, read the New York Times article, In Riddle of Mideast Upheaval, Turkey Offers Itself as an Answer.



Tags: Turkey Gypsy

27 September 2011
Erin Edwards




Santa Lucia (home for the blind in Abou Kir, Egypt) staff member Iman Bibawi Iskandar helps a resident practice writing Arabic Braille in preparation for an exam. (Photo: Holly Pickett)

In the May 2010 issue of ONE, journalist Liam Stack shared the stories of the sisters and children at the Santa Lucia Home for the Blind — which was built with funds from CNEWA donors.

Santa Lucia inspires dedication and devotion among its faculty and staff. Samira Ibrahim Matta was one of the first teachers hired by Father Tarcisio. Every afternoon, she teaches the intricacies of Arabic grammar, a language whose swooping letters they learn to write on small, clanging Braille typewriters. Between school and afternoon classes at the home, residents learn to read and write Braille in Arabic, English and French.

Proud of her role at Santa Lucia, Ms. Samira teaches her students not only reading and writing, but lessons about life. A few years ago, her own vision began to fade, and today she is blind. As hard as it has been for her to adjust to being blind, she uses her own, recent experiences as a way to teach the children to respect themselves and work hard.

“I don’t want to congratulate myself for what I do, it is just important to teach them to challenge themselves and the difficulties of their lives,” Ms. Samira explains.

Learn more about the Santa Lucia Home in Blind to Limitations by Liam Stack.



Tags: Egypt Africa Franciscan Sisters of the Cross

26 September 2011
Erin Edwards




This photo of two Georgian Orthodox monks was taken in July of 2001. Photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz has documented the Caucasus region extensively for many years.
(Photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

In the November 2009 issue of ONE, we featured a beautiful photo essay by photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz, profiling the diverse Caucasus region. Annie Grunow wrote the text accompanying Mielnikiewicz’s beautiful imagery:

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 about the Caucasus region read, Where Europe Meets Asia.



Tags: Georgia Monastery Georgian Orthodox Church Caucasus

23 September 2011
Erin Edwards




Roman’s Girls, a Catholic initiative in Addis Ababa, assists about 20 girls with school.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)

Today marks the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere — the first day of fall.

For a lot of children, the return of fall means returning to school. In the countries CNEWA serves, Catholic schools are often the only institutions providing an education in regions where quality education is a luxury. Meki Catholic School in central Ethiopia is one example. In An Uphill Battle, Peter Lemieux explored some of the challenges young women in Meki, Ethiopia face in their quest to achieve a higher education:

If growing up in Ethiopia these days were a race, these children would appear to be off to a good start. But a closer look reveals an unfair contest, one that favors the boys.

While Meki Catholic School makes every effort to maintain gender balance — an equal number of boys and girls make up its primary grades — the number of girls enrolled in the school’s secondary classes drops sharply. For the girls fortunate enough to remain in school, the harsh reality of Ethiopia’s tradition of gender disparity hits harder than a stiff headwind in a 50-yard dash.

Against a metal fence enclosing the school grounds, Messeret Yohannes, an 18-year-old senior, discusses the future with her girlfriends. All expect to go to college. And all hope to become professionals either in accounting, banking, education or medicine. Given the school’s outstanding achievements, high aspirations such as theirs are certainly realistic. From among the graduating class, 94 percent are expected to attend college, compared to 30 to 35 percent nationally.

For more, check out the May 2009 issue of ONE. Also, if you are interested in learning how you can help children in Ethiopia attend school, visit our website for more information.



Tags: Ethiopia Africa Women (rights/issues) Catholic education Catholic Schools

22 September 2011
Erin Edwards




An elderly refugee from Azerbaijan languishes in an unsanitary government housing project. (photo: Armineh Johannes)

Photographer Armineh Johannes’ enthralling photos from the story, Pensioners in Crisis exposed a harsh reality for a group of Armenians too often forgotten — the elderly:

“When we escaped Azerbaijan in 1988, the state gave us temporary asylum here with assurances we would receive an apartment later,” said the 80-year-old widow. “But they forgot about us,” she continued, repeatedly pressing her face into her open hands.

A “refugee,” Mrs. Sargsian is among the thousands of Armenians who fled their homes in neighboring Azerbaijan in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

“Who needs a life like this? I don’t want to live in these inhumane conditions,” she added, gesturing at her run-down studio apartment.

Sonya Sargsian resides in a dilapidated government-owned building housing impoverished pensioners and the homeless — one of three clustered in a forgotten suburb of Yerevan, the Armenian capital. Built as a student dormitory after World War II, the building has not been renovated since its construction. Residents share a common bathroom, which barely functions. Decrepit plumbing supplies water at irregular intervals.

For more about the state of Armenia’s senior citizens, read the story, Pensioners in Crisis, by Gayane Abrahamyan, in the January 2008 issue of ONE.



Tags: Refugees Armenia Caucasus

21 September 2011
Erin Edwards




In an undated photo from our archive: A seminarian prays in a church in Beit Jala, Palestine. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)

Today the Catholic News Service reported on the recent Palestinian bid for U.N. membership:

In a Sept. 20 interview in the suburban Washington offices of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Patriarch Fouad Twal told Catholic News Service that “the question of full membership for Palestine does not mean the end of negotiations. On the contrary, they must continue negotiating and speaking to find a solution for everybody, peace for everybody and security for everybody.”

Patriarch Twal, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, said that, in preaching about peace, he often says that it must be “peace for all the inhabitants, otherwise nobody can enjoy peace.” He and other Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, often cite a two-state solution as the desired path to peace.

Read more on the Catholic News Service website.



Tags: Palestine Seminarians Church of the East

20 September 2011
Greg Kandra




Near Tibilisi, Georgia, Mother Ephemia plays with a dog belonging to the St. Tornike of Athos Monastery. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

In 2007, journalist Paul Rimple visited the nuns carving out Alternative Lifestyles in Georgia:

Joining a monastery or convent is an arduous process, which discourages the casually interested or the naïve and gullible. “First a woman must agree to live by the monastery’s rules,” said Mother Ephemia, abbess of St. Tornike of Athos Monastery in Mtskheta. “She pledges obedience. Then she goes through a period of character evaluation.”

Each night, Mother Ephemia meets with members of the community in an examination of conscience that is “more of a dialogue and soul-sharing” experience, she said. The informal meeting “helps me know at what stage of development each sister is in.”

The process can take as little as five months or as long as 15 years — there is no set period. But three years is typical, Father Giorgi said.

“Generally, the better educated the woman and her family are, the easier the process is,” Mother Ephemia said. “But modesty in every aspect is absolutely necessary. There is no room for pride.”

But, as the picture shows, there is room for pets. Read more at this link.



Tags: Monastery Vocations (religious)

19 September 2011
Erin Edwards




A nurse gives Noor Fahmy her daughter, Mary, shortly after delivery at St. Thérèse Hospital in Cairo, Egypt. (photo: Shawn Baldwin)

In the July 2008 edition of the magazine, journalist Liam Stack told us about a Catholic hospital in Cairo that provided care to Egypt’s needy without regard to religion:

Overall, the hospital employs 4 dentists, 3 nurses, 45 doctors and 33 nonmedical employees, most of whom live in Imbaba.

While the facility’s employees are all Christian, Father Morgan is quick to point out that the overwhelmingly majority of its patients are Muslim.

“This hospital is interested only in the health of the community, not in people’s religion,” he says. “I would say that more than 85 percent of the people who come here are Muslims, and it’s no problem.”

What patients care about most when it comes to health care, in his view, is not the doctor’s religion, but his ability. That is why people, Christian and Muslim, come from all over the country to receive treatment at St. Thérèse Hospital.

To learn more about St. Thérèse Hospital, check out the story Healing Egypt’s Needy.



Tags: Egypt Health Care Africa

16 September 2011
Erin Edwards




A priest reflects during Holy Week at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
(photo: Paul Souders)


In the Spring 1989 issue of our magazine, when it was just a quarterly, we featured a beautiful photo essay of Holy Week in Jerusalem. The photos, by Paul Souders, accompanied text from a speech by His Eminence, D. Simon Cardinal Lourdusamy.

It is not an accident that we find ourselves “passing this way but once” — making our once-forever passage through life — now, in the age of the post Vatican Council, the age of the permissive society, the age of protest, of painful renewal and re-thinking, in the age of Biafra and Bangladesh and Burundi.

It has not happened by chance. This was planned for us before the stars were hung in the sky. God saw this as a time for us, the time when we could best serve, the time he was going to need our help to carry his cross.
This is our glory — that he wants us here now — nobody else.

For more of the Cardinal’s speech, check out the story On Carrying a Cross: A Reflection for Lent.



Tags: Jerusalem Priests Holy Sepulchre





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