16 April 2012
Children dressed in traditional Bavarian garb dance for Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's 85th birthday celebrations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican 16 April.
(photo: CNS/Gregorio Borgia, pool via Reuters)
Today is Pope Benedict XVI’s 85th birthday. The Holy Father’s celebrations included Bavarian song and dance as an homage to his native country. Representatives from the Lutheran church and the Jewish community in Bavaria also gathered to wish him well. Join us in wishing Pope Benedict XVI a very happy birthday! Ad multos annos! To many years!
13 April 2012
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope
In this image from 2001, Ruthenian Greek Catholics celebrate the paschal mystery in the village of Tichy Potok in Slovakia. (photo: Jacqueline Ruyuak)
Today is Good Friday for some Christians in the East and this Sunday, 15 April, marks Easter. We explored date discrepancy on the blog post earlier in the week. Holy Week celebrations not only occur on different dates, but the rituals may also be different, depending on the particular church and region. Despite these differences for these high holy days, the deep meaning remains universal.
In the March/April 2001 issue of the magazine, journalist Jacqueline Ruayk wrote about her Easter experience in the small village of Tichy Potok in Slovakia:
Despite the early morning chill and fog, the day turns bright and glorious. By late morning, one corner of the churchyard, crowded with baby carriages and parents, has become a nursery al fresco. All, even the babies, are dressed in their finest for the Easter Divine Liturgy.
After the liturgy, the parishioners file through the left arch of the iconostasis, where the priest uses myrrh to make the sign of the Cross on their foreheads. Then an altar boy places tiny cubes of blessed bread into their hands as they exit.
Our pew is last when Adriana invites us to join her in receiving a blessing from her priest husband. Outside parishioners mill about, exchanging Easter greetings – “Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!” – and bread, a token that all will meet again in heaven. There are Jozef, Lubomira and shy Slavko, Anna and Maria and the mayor’s secretary and other villagers whom we have met during the weekend.
There is more, though. Led by young men and women carrying banners and icons, everyone files through the village to the cemetery. There the priest, handsome in white silks, offers prayers at a central cross. Below, the village lies in sunshine, the river a glittering thread. Pastures, still empty, reach up the mountainsides just turning green with the spring. And just like that it is time to say good-bye to Tichy Potok and its generous people, who have made this a memorable Easter.
For more, read Easter by the Quiet Stream.
12 April 2012
Tags: Eastern Christianity Greece Easter Greek Catholic Church Ruthenians
Residents of Palai Girls’ Town in Kerala perform onstage. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During his trip to India last month, CNEWA president Msgr. John Kozar had the opportunity to visit CNEWA-supported institutions and projects, like Palai Girls’ Town in Kerala. Here’s what Msgr. Kozar experienced upon visiting the girls home:
Guess what kind of welcoming reception greeted us as we entered the rather large compound: A large, beautifully bedecked marching band made up of about 35 girls who live at this orphanage. They led us into a large and immaculately clean auditorium where we were given the ceremonial bouquet of flowers. A special treat of this visit was to meet the founder of the congregation, Father Abraham, and the sisters’ superior general, Mother Virmala. Father Abraham is 98 years old and is still sharp in mind, albeit limited in mobility. What an honor to be in his presence!
The girls also presented some absolutely professional-grade dancing entertainment. They were dressed in classical Indian garb, displaying intricate moves, and were well disciplined in their every move. The superior told me they have won a number of competitions. There are about 175 girls at this institution and CNEWA has been a major donor in support of the wonderful programs offered to the girls. In many of these “orphanages,” the girls are not necessarily orphans in the traditional sense, but are nonetheless in need of some type of support. Some have lost a parent; others have parents who cannot care for them. Some have been abandoned; others have parents too involved with caring for the ills of another family member.
For more of Msgr. Kozar’s impressions from his visit to India, check out all of his blog posts from his India visit.
11 April 2012
Tags: India CNEWA Kerala Msgr. John E. Kozar
In this photo taken in 2009, Ethiopian women carry firewood up a hill in the Eparchy of Emdibir. (photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)
Throughout rural Ethiopia, women and girls carry out many of the domestic chores — which are almost always strenuous physically and very time consuming. It is not uncommon to see women, like the two pictured above, walking up hills and side roads with heavy buckets or baskets filled with food, water, or any other common necessity strapped to their bodies. Norma Intriago, a fundraiser in CNEWA’s development office, saw this first hand during a visit to Ethiopia in 2009:
“We saw women and girls working, fetching/collecting water, often walking miles to do so. [Some would] carry firewood (like the women in Gabriel’s photo) for cooking, transporting food & goods to sell at the market and caring for children. It was quite common to see a young toddler carrying her infant sibling on her back. I was stunned with all the responsibility that befalls women and girls in Ethiopia and [other parts of] the underdeveloped world, leaving little time, if any, for an education and healthcare.
CNEWA has worked with Catholic schools throughout Ethiopia for many years. To learn how you can help, visit our website.
10 April 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Women Ethiopian Catholic Church
In this photo taken in 2007, Georgian Orthodox Christians light candles during Easter celebrations at the Sioni Cathedral of the Dormition in Tbilisi, Georgia. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
This past Sunday, many Christians around the world celebrated Easter. The Orthodox churches in CNEWA’s world will celebrate Easter next Sunday, 15 April. Last November, our Education & Interreligious Affairs Officer Father Elias Mallon explored the reasons behind the two dates for Easter. You can read more about that here.
“Ultimately,” Father Elias concludes, “the most import issue is whether the common observance of Easter by all Christians would give significant witness to the world. If it would not, then the date or dates of Easter are immaterial.”
5 April 2012
Tags: Georgia Easter Georgian Orthodox Church Tbilisi
Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria sit in their temporary home in Mafraq, Jordan. (photo: CNS/Majed Jaber, Reuters)
Today, Christians around the world observe Holy Thursday, commemorating the last supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. Today’s liturgy begins the commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This period includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday and ends with Easter Sunday.
As was announced last week, Pope Benedict XVI has earmarked the Holy Thursday collection at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, for humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. Please keep all Syrians in your prayers as Holy Week comes to a close. To learn how you can help support Syrian Christians through CNEWA, visit our website.
The CNEWA family wishes you all a blessed Easter!
4 April 2012
Tags: Syria Refugees Pope Benedict XVI Easter
At the N.E.C.C. workshops in Gaza City, students learn to sew dresses. (photo: Eman Mohammed)
Since 2001 Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, preventing humanitarian aid and supplies from entering the territory. In 2010, Israel eased the blockade. But severe damage has already been done. Much of Gaza’s infrastructure still lies in ruins, the unemployment rate is astronomical and most residents rely on humanitarian agencies for the basics.
In the current issue of ONE, journalist Fares Akram profiles Christian-run social service institutions, such as the Near East Council of Churches (N.E.C.C.). The N.E.C.C operates several vocational training programs in Gaza including an 11-month course in dressmaking. Many of the women who participate in the program go on to find work in the field:
Among this year’s students is Umm Musbah. In 2006, the mother of five graduated from a college in Gaza with a diploma in elementary education. For five years, she hunted for a job in her field without success.
“I decided to join this program to help my husband, who is a tailor,” Mrs. Musbah explains, as she sews a mauve dress at a wooden table in one of the workshops. “My husband can bring me the wives of his clients so we can do business together, improve our lives and guarantee our children’s future.”
She cites the program’s low cost as another factor in her decision. “The fees are not high, only 350 Shekels [$100], and they can be paid throughout the course.”
For more, read Behind the Blockade.
3 April 2012
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Palestinians Women
Egyptian protesters hold up a Coptic Christian cross in one hand and a copy of the Quran in the other hand in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
(photo: epa european pressphoto agency b.v. / Alamy)
During Holy Week, CNEWA Canada has launched an appeal to support Egypt’s Christians who are experiencing a difficult period of transition. Their homeland is in turmoil and anti-Christian violence is on the rise. Yet, just as Christ persevered through his passion and death, they are not giving up.
Egypt’s Christians are determined to remain in the country and contribute to its renewal and resurrection. It is important that their message of peace and forgiveness is heard in the Egyptian landscape, especially during this time of unrest.
As a minority in Egypt, they are still playing an important role. CNEWA Canada invites you to be part of the efforts to strengthen the Christian community, especially their schools, seminaries and social service works, like health care clinics.
2 April 2012
Tags: Egypt Africa Easter CNEWA Canada
In this photo taken in 1988, a woman reflects prayerfully in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
(photo: Paul Souders)
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” - John 12:13
Yesterday, Christians around the world observed Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, in the final days before his passion, death and resurrection. It begins a somber week of reflection that culminates with rejoicing on Easter. Hosanna!
30 March 2012
Tags: Jerusalem Middle East Easter Holy Sepulchre
A Dalit woman in the village of Podiyattuvila, India surveys the poor surroundings of her
present home. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, made a pastoral visit to India earlier this month and captured this haunting image of a Dalit woman — one of the so-called “untouchables.” As he wrote in the March issue of ONE:
As an untouchable she was not entitled to own anything or to have any benefits or rights. But thanks to her parish priest and in collaboration with CNEWA, God has brought to her family a newfound dignity in being the actual owner of a new home, being built in the second picture.
It is with a sense of gratitude that she invited me to see what was, block by block and bucket by bucket of cement, becoming her home. She, her husband and neighboring helpers and parishioners are the contractors and builders. A humble gift of $1,800 made all this possible. CNEWA is assisting in building five such houses.
You can see her new home and read more about it, here.
And you can follow all of Msgr. Kozar’s journey “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas” and read his daily blog postings from India here.