15 December 2011
St. Joseph’s girls perform a traditional Keralite dance. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
In the September 2005 issue of ONE we featured a story on St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Pulincunnoo, Kerala:
But for all its classes and study periods, St. Joseph’s Orphanage is hardly a brain-stuffing sweatshop. The girls have plenty occasions for fun, and even the classes are likely to be interrupted by a fit of giggles. On feast days, the girls choreograph elaborate dances, which they perform in their school uniforms and bare feet in the orphanage’s common room. There is also occasion to sing, play sports and gossip. The girls also tend to their pets — tiny turtles that have made their home in the orphanage’s garden.
“Nearly all the girls are scared when they first get here, which is only natural,” said Sister Flower Mary. “But they soon make friends. We try to make this transition period as easy as possible for them by making sure the new girls are well-attended to.
“In many cases, the friends they make here will be with them for the rest of their lives,” Sister Flower Mary continued. “And they will always be a part of my life. Just because they move away and get a job or get married doesn’t mean I don’t stay in touch with them. We are all one big family.”
For more from this story see, St. Joseph’s ‘Orphans’.
13 December 2011
Tags: India Kerala Orphans/Orphanages
Hermina Tharwat, 12, studies for winter exams at Santa Lucia, a home for the blind
in Abou Kir, Egypt. (photo: Holly Pickett)
Today is the feast day of Saint Lucy, the patron saint of the blind. In the May 2010 issue of ONE we profiled a home for the blind in Egypt named after the saint:
The Santa Lucia Home — named in honor of the patron saint of the blind — was built with funds from CNEWA’s donors and houses ten girls and eight boys from ages 8 to 18. The children do not attend school next door, which is not equipped to teach the blind. Rather, they are enrolled in public programs in other areas of the city. The boys attend El Nour School in Alexandria’s Muharram Bey neighborhood, while the girls attend a similar school in the Zizina area.
Sister Souad and her colleague, Sister Hoda Chaker Assal, rouse the children every morning for breakfast, baths and a 7:45 date with the school bus.
“Here we wake them and prepare them for school, we feed them and do their laundry and we tuck them in at night and make sure they get a good rest,” says Sister Souad. “It is just like at home.”
For more from this story see, Blind to LImitations.
12 December 2011
Tags: Egypt Children Africa Disabilities
Cardinal John Patrick Foley greets a Syriac prelate in Lebanon on a fact-finding trip with members of CNEWA’s governing board in April 2010. (photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)
Early Sunday morning, I learned that a good friend of CNEWA and of the Catholic press, Cardinal John Patrick Foley, had died in Philadelphia after battling leukemia. He was 76, and just a few weeks shy of the golden jubilee of his priesthood.
For those of us in the trenches of the Catholic media, Cardinal Foley was like a godfather, a prelate with media credentials; he had a Master's in Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism, and was a longtime editor of the Catholic Standard and Times in Philadelphia. He understood us and sympathized with the challenges we faced as Catholics and as journalists. “We know as journalists,” he said, “that the more some people try to cover up bad news, the more likely it is to be known.”
For more than two decades, Cardinal Foley headed the Holy See’s social communications council, and perhaps he is best known for his commentary during the pope’s celebration of midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
I remember him best for his yearly trek to the annual convention of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. This ragged band of wounded warriors (well, some of us) were his colleagues and friends, and he made no attempt to hide the fact that this visit was a highlight on his very busy calendar. Though an archbishop, he did not preside at events or deliver key note addresses. Instead, he mingled with the gang — attending seminars, asking questions, grabbing minutes here and minutes there for a question or simply to tease. His presence was powerful.
His annual celebration of the Eucharist commemorating those colleagues who had died since the previous convention — and his excellent homilies at those liturgies — stand out. Whether in a convention hall or a 19th-century church, John Patrick Foley celebrated the Mass as one expected from a priest bred in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: with reverence, thoughtfulness and care. His homilies always inspired, always brought laughs, always brought tears.
Despite my reluctance to hobnob with the famous and the titled, for 20 years this kind priest — Philly’s best — took the time to tell me how he read the magazine “cover to cover,” how he “always learned something new,” and urged me to keep pursuing excellence in Catholic publishing.
Last February, the cardinal retired to his beloved native city of Philadelphia after serving for four years as the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. During his brief tenure as grand master, the cardinal reanimated the ancient chivalric order — which was founded to support the church in the Holy Land through the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem — by extending its mandate to include the support of Latin Catholic initiatives in Lebanon and Egypt.
In April 2010, the cardinal traveled to Lebanon and Syria on a fact-finding trip with members of CNEWA’s governing board, which included Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., of Ottawa and Archbishop Alexander Brunett, emeritus of Seattle, and the cardinal’s good friend and classmate, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, who then led CNEWA.
The group met with patriarchs and seminarians, refugees and farmers, needy children and religious superiors. “It was,” said CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon and Syria, Issam Bishara, “a whirlwind visit that benefited from the cardinal’s astute analysis, compassion, curiosity and wit.”
“The church in the Middle East,” said Msgr. Stern, “has lost a good friend. The church universal has lost a shepherd, a humble and prayerful giant.”
9 December 2011
Tags: Lebanon Middle East Vatican Cardinal John P. Foley
A villager samples clean water from the new filtration system in Lebanon.
(photo: Marilyn Raschka)
“Water is the stuff of life,” Msgr. John Kozar wrote on this blog a few days ago. Traveling through Lebanon on his first visit as CNEWA’s president, Msgr. Kozar is observing firsthand how this modest-sized agency of the Holy See is reclaiming land, restoring families and reviving parishes simply by bringing the basics like water to a forlorn community.
Since the end of Lebanon’s civil war (1975-90), CNEWA’s Beirut staff has worked tirelessly to resettle displaced families, revive abandoned villages and restore what has made Lebanon unique: A diverse mosaic, a home to all people, Christian, Druze, Sunni and Shi’ite. “Lebanon is more than a country,” Pope John Paul II said during his visit in 1997. “Lebanon is a message.”
In 2000, in the pages of our November issue of the magazine, writer Marilyn Raschka wrote about two neighboring villages in the Chouf region, just south of Beirut. Dmit is home to the Druze, a religious community that developed from Shi’ite Islam. Serjbal is a Christian farming community.
Historically, the two villages got on well, “feast days and funerals find villagers heading in each other’s directions for a respectful courtesy call,” writes Ms. Raschka. “But it’s water that will bring these two communities closer together, now that their pipe dreams have come true.”
Creating reservoirs, excavating trenches and laying irrigation pipe isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t even sound appropriate for an agency of the Holy See, but in Lebanon it reinforces what the Holy Father believes is that nation’s unique calling: to serve as a model of coexistence and love.
7 December 2011
Tags: Lebanon Beirut Water
An altar server stands near a statue of the Virgin Mary in greater Stockholm’s
Syriac Catholic church. (photo: Magnus Aronson)
According to the Latin calendar, tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Roman Catholics celebrate 8 December as the day that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother free from original sin. Many churches in CNEWA's world, meantime, observe the feast on the following day. You can find out more by visiting the online Catholic Encyclopedia.
5 December 2011
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Syriac Catholic Church Sweden
Boys at Bhorathannoor Ambeaker Harigen Colony show off hats the village sells in larger towns. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
The work of priests in CNEWA’s world is often crucial to the communities they serve. In the November 2005 issue of ONE, writer Paul Wachter explored the sometimes challenging ministry of priests in rural India, work which can even include helping people learn new skills — such as how to weave hats like those pictured above:
Bhorathannoor Ambeaker Harigen Colony is home to 700 families, 100 of whom are Catholic and the remainder Hindu. Most of the Catholics entered the church about 10 years ago, the priests said.
The villagers live in small brick homes — they have one or two rooms each and the roofs are made of coconut leaves. There is a lone, tiny convenience store in the village, which sells a few staple goods and packets of candy that are popular with the children.
“There is a general lack of education in the area,” Father John said back at St. Mary’s. “There is a lot of unemployment and most people are small farmers who work only here and there throughout the year. That is why we try to introduce programs such as basket weaving or making other handicrafts.”
For more from this story see, Village Priests.
2 December 2011
Tags: India Kerala Village life
A parishioner raises a candlestick as a symbol of light during the Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy. (photo: Andrej Bán)
Christians around the world this weekend will begin the second week of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas, and many will continue the custom of lighting candles on an Advent wreath. Even outside of Advent, the lighting of candles is a powerful gesture, symbolizing the light of Christ, as we see in the photo above from Slovakia. For more see, Those Who Remain Behind, from the January 2009 issue of ONE.
1 December 2011
Tags: Greek Catholic Church Slovakia
Children welcome visitors to the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
Sister Arousiag Sajonian is a remarkable woman. An Armenian Sister of the Immaculate Conception, she has dedicated her whole life to the care, education and spiritual development of the young. In the 1960s, she helped establish the Armenian Sisters Academy in Radnor, Pennsylvania, which provides high-quality, affordable primary education to the local Armenian community.
After decades spent teaching, she returned to Armenia in 1990 and has continued her work there ever since. The superior of her community in Gyumri, she founded the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center, and currently directs the Our Lady of Armenia Camp (Diramayr, for short). Of the latter, ONE contributor Paul Rimple wrote in 2007:
Having just wrapped up its 13th year, the camp brings together 850 needy children, ages 7 to 14, for three weeks of rest, exercise and physical and spiritual nourishment. Divided into four three-week sessions in the months of July and August, Diramayr is a refuge for Armenian orphans living in state orphanages as well as children invited by social workers and the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, an Armenian Catholic community that sponsors the camp.
For Sister Arousiag, who returned to the land of her ancestors in the summer of 1990, the camp strengthens the emotional well-being of children scarred by abandonment and poverty and deepens their exposure to their Armenian culture and heritage.
"I like to think that here the children are camping with Christ," Sister Arousiag said. "Many of the kids had never been to church before coming here."
To read more about the fine work of Sister Arousiag, see the above-referenced Kid’s Camps in the Caucasus by Paul Rimple, as well as Armineh Johannes’s Tackling Pastoral Challenges in Armenia and John Hughes’s A New Start for Armenia’s Catholics.
30 November 2011
Tags: Education Armenia Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Boys watch at the shore as a boat of fishermen heads out to sea in Kerala, India.
(photo: Luke Golobitsch)
Today is the feast day of St. Andrew, the patron of fishermen. In this image from our archive, taken in 1990, fishermen in India head out to sea at sunset.
29 November 2011
Tags: India Kerala
Nasrin Abdul-Ahad Aziz, 53, and her husband Tali Mati Nasser, left, have lost several family members as a result of ethnic and sectarian violence in Iraq. They now reside in Hamdaniya, Iraq. (photo: Safin Hamed)
Iraqi Christians are now calling the Kurdish-controlled northern region of Iraq home, as we report in the November issue of ONE:
“I saw injustice in Mosul. I want to start a new life here,” says Salam Talia, a 23-year-old Iraqi Christian. The young man sits on a sofa between his middle-aged parents in their newly built apartment in Hamdaniya, a historically Christian town about 20 miles southeast of the city of Mosul. On one of the living room walls hangs a large image of Jesus surrounded by photos of family members killed in the war and the sectarian violence that has ravaged the nation for the past eight years.
Despite the trauma they suffered in their native Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city and capital of the Nineveh Governorate, the Talia family considers itself fortunate and even expresses a measure of happiness with their new lives in Hamdaniya. They no longer fear practicing their faith and attend church regularly. They have made friends and are settling into their new home.
For more from this story, see A New Genesis in Nineveh by Namo Abdulla.
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Violence against Christians