11 October 2019
Children enjoyed fun and games and much more at an annual summer camp in Armenia.
(photo: Catholic Ordinariate of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe)
While much of the world is getting ready for winter, some of our friends in Armenia this week shared with us this glimpse of summer.
Below is a video showing highlights of a summer camp that was supported, in part, by CNEWA.
As a report from the church puts it:
From June to August 2019, the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe hosted about 833 participants in “Aghajanyan” Summer Camp in a wonderful campsite of Torosgyugh. The children come from Catholic communities of both Armenia and Georgia.
The report goes on to say the camp also welcomed children with disabilities. Daily activities included catechism classes, to “provide children with a solid foundation in a rapidly changing world of values and morals.” The camp also featured dance, handicrafts, language clubs and games.
The report explains just how important this project has become:
Every summer, our participants are living the dream of a place where everyone belongs and knows each other; becoming more self-confidence and reinventing themselves in new situations; feeling included with their peers in a caring community; lasting friendships and endless fun; trying new things and exploring new talents; and making forever memories.
CNEWA is proud to support this venture — and we’re pleased to share this video of highlights from a summer many young people will never forget.
9 October 2019
In this image from June, Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford, Connecticut, in front of altar with book, concelebrates the Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia. (photo: CNS/Bob Roller)
Leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States have appealed to seminarians to identify candidates for the priesthood who can be “true missionaries and pastors.”
The appeal came in a September letter from the six bishops of the Metropolia of Philadelphia, which covers much of the U.S. It discussed some of the challenges and opportunities facing the Ukrainian Catholic Church and outlined the “spiritual and pastoral expectations of candidates to the priesthood.”
The bishops said parishes throughout the metropolia “will need a substantial replenishment of its clergy over the coming years.”
As an example, they cited the Philadelphia Archeparchy’s needs: 15 new priests in the next five years “to serve its faithful adequately and respond to their needs.”
“We are not looking for workers to simply accomplish a task or fulfill a plan, but for true missionaries and pastors who will care for the faithful with a willingness even to sacrifice their lives for them, from love of God and neighbor,” the bishops wrote.
The Metropolia of Philadelphia includes the Archeparchy of Philadelphia and the eparchies of Stamford, Connecticut, St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, and St. Nicholas in Chicago.
Signing the letter were Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak and Auxiliary Bishops John Bura and Andriy Rabiy of the Philadelphia Archeparchy; Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford; Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo of the St. Josaphat Eparchy; and Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk of the St. Nicholas Eparchy.
In the archeparchy and three eparchies, 185 active priests serve in ministry, according to a church spokesman. That includes 48 priests in Philadelphia, 59 in Stamford, 37 in Parma and 41 in Chicago.
The bishops said they remain committed to serving the faithful in the Ukrainian Catholic Church despite dwindling numbers. The letter cited how the number of parishioners has declined from more than 250,000 in the 1960s to 25,000 today.
The letter called for a widespread effort to rebuild the Ukrainian Catholic Church “one person at a time.”
“We need pastors who are ready to heal, inspire and rejuvenate, who, through their sermons and example, will give clear guidance to the conflicted postmodern person and will proclaim ‘the message of reconciliation,’“ the bishops wrote, citing St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians.
The leaders said the church’s priorities will focus on spreading the word of God, evangelization and catechization. Special emphasis will be made to appeal to youth and young adults through “creativity from the pastor and the ability to address -- persuasively but serenely -- deep and difficult questions of the present day.”
“Answering the appeal of Pope Francis, we should and will go outside the gates of our church buildings. A shepherd should follow the scent of his sheep, even those who are now outside the fold,” the letter said, citing the “millions” of people within the territory of the metropolia who are “unchurched, do not know God, do not enjoy the support of community.”
The bishops called for “team-based” ministry to carry out the important work ahead.
In appealing for priest candidates, the bishops said they were not seeking people “to improve their material status” nor those “with personal or family motivations, rather than the priority of evangelization.”
The task facing future priests will be difficult, the bishops wrote.
“A commitment to serve in our church must be a commitment for the long haul,” they said. “It is not for those who are quickly discouraged or disillusioned. True service to the flock entrusted to a pastor requires dedication and endurance -- an understanding the realities of the community you serve, in all their unvarnished truth.”
8 October 2019
Tags: Vocations (religious) Ukrainian Catholic Church
Filipina community members attend a meeting at the Pontifical Mission Library in Amman.
(photo: Nader Daoud)
In the current edition of ONE, writer Dale Gavlak visits Filipino migrants who are building a home in Jordan, thanks to the Teresian Association:
Aurea Gutierrez Perlai says she has found support through a pair of Filipina women who belong to a community of the Catholic Church known as the Teresian Association.
“Elisa [Estrada] and Amabel [Sibug] invited me and the children to get involved in the choir at church. My daughter, Nicole, now 13, plays guitar for the choir. Amabel taught her how to play and is working with Nicole on her very first recital. And my son, Jordan, who is 11, serves at the altar,” Ms. Perlai says proudly.
“They are like mothers to us. They stand beside us, asking us always what we may need, and how they can support us.”
An international community of the faithful present in 30 countries, the Teresian Association seeks to transform society in light of the Gospel through education and culture.
Both Ms. Estrada and Ms. Sibug say they draw inspiration from the martyr St. Pedro Poveda, the founder of the Teresians, whose ministry emphasized love, sacrifice and hard work.
“We are here only to walk with them. We are not the solution to their problems; Jesus is. Our own strength is in prayer,” says Ms. Estrada.
This, indeed, is how the two begin every day: “Amabel and I pray the rosary together.”
Read more about Filipinos In a Land of Refugees in the September 2019 edition of ONE. And for another glimpse at their world, check out the the video below.
7 October 2019
Tags: Jordan Migrants
Abel, a 16-year-old student at the Abune Endrias School in Ethiopia, is learning about the dangers of khat addiction and has seen the effects in his own family. Read how Ethiopians, with support from the church, are Breaking Free of this dangerous plant in the September 2019 edition of ONE.
(photo: Petterik Wiggers)
4 October 2019
Children participate in a group activity at the St. Paul Center for Church Services in Iraq.
(photo: Raed Rafei)
In the current edition of ONE, journalist Raed Rafei writes about visiting Iraq two years after the defeat of ISIS. He reports on how Iraqi Christians are facing the future — and notes that many are encouraged to stay because of the church’s commitment to education:
In the lively St. Paul Center for Church Services, hundreds of children come every day to take summer lessons in catechetics and Christian values, learn hymns and watch animated films about Jesus and the saints. The center, run by priests and young volunteers, also offers classes in music, computer literacy and English, as well as counseling and courses for young couples preparing for marriage.
“We focus on entertaining methods that foster cooperation among children,” says Father Ignatius, who manages Christian teaching for children, stressing the importance of such a program in encouraging the return of families, despite difficult economic conditions. Nearby, children participate in a group activity that tests their knowledge of the Bible in a playful environment.
“We need to plant the seeds of endurance and of Christian values in the hearts of our kids,” the priest explains. “They are the future.”
Educators are routinely trained to help tackle social issues that might affect youth, such as drinking and excessive online gaming.
Teaching is also the priority for the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, who reside in Qaraqosh at the Immaculate Conception Convent, a building from the 1960’s restored a year and half ago after sustaining heavy damage during the years of occupation and war.
“The psychological situation of our students is difficult,” says Sister Muntaha Hadaya, who teaches math at the Dominican Sisters’ school. She says instability and the lack of jobs affect the children’s morale.
“They need a lot of motivation, because the atmosphere in most households is depressing,” she explains. “Parents are constantly preoccupied with life’s many needs.”
The high rate of success of their students in official exams and the increasing demand for education have prompted the sisters to build a larger secondary school that will accommodate around 350 students. The new school will be equipped with laboratories and computer rooms.
Read more about the Resolve of Iraqi Christians in the September 2019 edition of the magazine. And discover more about the St. Paul Center in the video below.
3 October 2019
Tags: Iraqi Christians
Brother Peter Bray chats with students on the grounds of Bethlehem University.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)
In the September 2019 edition of ONE, Brother Peter Bray, vice chancellor of Bethlehem University, writes about the challenges and opportunities facing students at the school:
We are seeking to create an environment, develop an atmosphere, provide opportunities for our students to acquire the knowledge, gain the skills and develop the attitudes and values that are going to enable them to do what Jesus wanted — that is, to live life as fully as they possibly can, despite the military occupation with its various restrictions and confinement within the concrete wall and other barriers surrounding the West Bank.
One of the opportunities offered by the university is a place for Christians and Muslims to come together. For a significant number of the Muslim students, coming to Bethlehem University is the first time they have met a Christian. Many speak about it as an enlightening experience for them.
There are many challenges facing us as we seek to provide quality higher education for our students. The most obvious are the restrictions on movement. At present, 46 percent of our students come from East Jerusalem. To attend class they must pass through a military checkpoint at the wall each day — an unpredictable and humiliating experience. What these students face on their way to and from the university is the possibility that their bus may be stopped once or twice or even three times by different groups of Israeli soldiers. They can be questioned, interrogated, arrested; they could have a gun held to their face without any warning. You can imagine how they might feel by the time they arrive at school.
I am deeply concerned about our undergraduates and the potentially disheartening lives they face. We need to keep them aware of and committed to their dreams. Yet every day, they live with the possibility of their homes being raided in the middle of the night and some member of their family being taken away. The question that arises: What can we do to help them deal with this unpredictability, this injustice?
Read more of his thoughts here.
2 October 2019
Tags: Bethlehem University
The future is brighter for students at the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza, where renovated classrooms provide a comfortable and well-equipped learning environment. (photo: Ali Hassan)
The July 2019 edition of ONE included a compelling first-person account of life in Gaza from Sister Nabila Saleh, principal of the Rosary Sisters School:
Being the principal of the school is a tough row to hoe; it’s not an easy task to deal with life in Gaza, where teachers, parents and students are living with the aftermath of war or are threatened by its renewal. Anxious and unnerved, tempers flared. I understood the burdens and fears of a people under siege and living in poverty with little hope in the future.
Most people in Gaza suffered from posttraumatic disorders in one manner or another — especially the children, who endured three bloody conflicts in only five years. I could hardly hold back my tears when I came to realize how much they were deeply and forever scarred. Some of the children had seen mutilated bodies or experienced the daily artillery shelling and heard the continuing roar of warplanes overhead.
“No place in Gaza was safe,” some would tell me, adding, that they experienced panic attacks whenever there was a bombing. So often when I heard these stories, I wasn’t able to contain myself and I cried.
In a tenth-grade class, a student named Salma told me, with tears running down her cheeks: “I will never get married because I can’t bear losing one of my beloved in war. I can’t bear seeing them mutilated; I don’t want to be responsible for the misery of my children by letting them live in Gaza to suffer as I do. I have lost hope in life.
“I’m expecting another war any time,” she said. “I struggle daily with the fear that next time will be my turn to die, or my father’s, or my mother’s, or my little brother’s.”
I am deeply concerned by what happens in Gaza. Siege, war, internal dislocation, pay cuts and long-lasting electricity outages impact every aspect of Gazans’ lives — particularly the children. Living in these circumstances has forced them to experience poverty, hunger and a daily struggle to exist. This situation has left most of the people dependent on humanitarian aid.
Whenever I have to face hardships and feel vulnerable, I remind myself of the words of St. Paul: “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’
Read more in ONE magazine.
And check out the video below, which gives an intimate look at the work of the Rosary Sisters.
1 October 2019
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri paid a visit to the Jerusalem office of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission this morning to meet the staff and hear about challenges facing Christians in Jerusalem. (photo: CNEWA)
This morning, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation of the Eastern Churches, and Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Holy See’s representative in Jerusalem, visited CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s Jerusalem office. During an hour-long visit, we were privileged to describe our work and our mission and discuss issues of concern to the people we serve.
Among other things, we explained to the cardinal how the local community looks to CNEWA-Pontifical Mission as a sign of the pope’s interest, closeness and support toward those in need in the Palestine and Israel — and how we seek to express that through the programs and projects we support.
We also discussed challenges facing local Christians — including their lack of identity, and how many don’t feel a sense of belonging to the land of Jesus. We talked, as well, about the effects of emigration on the local population. We shared with the cardinal how we approach these and other issues in close partnership with the local church.
At the end of the visit, we gave Cardinal Sandri a small reminder of this historic visit: a ceramic pomegranate decorated with the walls of Jerusalem and the most important Christian monuments in the holy city.
CNEWA's regional director in Jerusalem presented Cardinal Sandri with a gift: a ceramic pomegranate made by local artisans. (photo: CNEWA)
30 September 2019
Tags: Jerusalem CNEWA Pontifical Mission
Pope Francis attends the unveiling of a large bronze statue titled, “Angels Unawares,” by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 29 September 2019. The statue depicts a group of migrants and refugees on a boat. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Christians have a moral obligation to show God’s care for all those who are marginalized, especially migrants and refugees, Pope Francis said.
“This loving care for the less privileged is presented as a characteristic trait of the God of Israel and is likewise required, as a moral duty, of all those who would belong to his people,” the pope said in his homily on 29 September during an outdoor Mass for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Some 40,000 men, women and children packed St. Peter’s Square as the sounds of upbeat hymns filled the air. According to the Vatican, the members of the choir singing at the Mass hailed from Romania, Congo, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Peru and Italy.
The choir wasn’t the only aspect of the liturgy that celebrated migrants and refugees. According to the Vatican Section for Migrants and Refugees, the incense used at the Mass came from the Bokolmanyo refugee camp in southern Ethiopia, where refugees are restarting the 600-year old tradition of collecting high-quality incense.
After the Mass, Pope Francis unveiled a large bronze statue, “Angels Unawares,” in St. Peter’s Square.
Designed and sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, the sculpture depicts a group of migrants and refugees on a boat. Within the group, a pair of angel wings can be seen, which suggests “that within the migrant and refugee is the sacred,” the artist’s website said.
Cardinal-designate Michael Czerny, a fellow Canadian and co-head of the Migrants and Refugees Section, had a very personal connection to the sculpture. His parents, who immigrated to Canada from
Czechoslovakia, are depicted among the people on the boat.
“It’s really amazing,” the cardinal told Catholic News Service, adding that when his brother and sister-in-law arrive in Rome to see him become a cardinal on 5 October, he expects they will pose for many photos in front of the artwork.
Before praying the Angelus prayer at the end of Mass, the pope said he wanted the statue in St. Peter’s Square “to remind everyone of the evangelical challenge to welcome.”
The 20-foot tall sculpture is inspired by Hebrews 13:2, which in the King James translation says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” The sculpture will be displayed in St. Peter’s Square for an undetermined time while a smaller replica will be permanently displayed in the Rome Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In his homily, the pope began by reflecting on the world day’s theme — “It’s not just about migrants” — and emphasized that God calls on Christians to care for all “victims of the throwaway culture.”
“The Lord calls us to practice charity toward them. He calls us to restore their humanity, as well as our own, and to leave no one behind,” he said.
However, he continued, caring for migrants and refugees is also an invitation to reflect on the injustices that occur in the world where those “who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable.”
“Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees generated by these conflicts,” he said.
Recalling the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the pope said that men and women today also can be tempted to turn a blind eye “to our brothers and sisters in difficulty.”
As Christians, he said, “we cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of old and new forms of poverty, to the bleak isolation, contempt and discrimination experienced by those who do not belong to ‘our’ group.”
Pope Francis said the commandment to love God and neighbor is part of “building a more just world” where all people have access to the “goods of the earth” and where “fundamental rights and dignity are guaranteed to all.”
“Loving our neighbor means feeling compassion for the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, drawing close to them, touching their sores and sharing their stories, and thus manifesting concretely God’s tender love for them,” the pope said.
27 September 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Migrants
The Rev. Martin McDermott blesses a parishioner during Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Beirut. The parish is providing pastoral care to migrant workers in Lebanon. Read more about how the church community is creating A Home for Migrants in the September 2019 edition of ONE.
(photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
The new edition of ONE magazine has a series of stories involving ways people are Finding a Home in new and often challenging places, frequently with the help and support of the church. It is a situation with special resonance this weekend; Sunday, we mark World Day of Migrants and Refugees .
Some of the migrants seeking better lives are domestic workers from the Philippines who have settled in Lebanon, as Doreen Abi Raad reports:
Emelyn rises at 6 each morning to prepare breakfast and usher the children off to school, accompanying them to the bus stop. So begins her long day of cleaning, cooking, ironing and general housekeeping, ending a couple of hours before midnight.
The children and the house are not hers. They belong to her employers, and form part of her job. Her own two children are 5,500 miles away in the Philippines. She misses them terribly.
For five years, 36-year-old Emelyn has been living in Beirut, Lebanon, employed as a domestic worker. Her partner in the Philippines finds sporadic employment in construction, making Emelyn the primary breadwinner. The couple never married because they could not afford a wedding.
Emelyn’s eyes well up with tears, her voice turning to a strained whisper as she shares the painful conversations and text messages she experiences with her 12-year-old daughter back home.
“Why, mama? You’ve been there a long time. Don’t you miss me?”
“If I don’t work here, you won’t have anything there: a house, electricity, water,” Emelyn reminds her daughter. “You won’t have a nice dress, new shoes.”
Sometimes her daughter feels so angry at these circumstances, she refuses to speak to her. But both are looking forward to Emelyn’s visit near Christmas — her first return in five years.
What Emelyn would most like to do is to set up a small convenience store back near her home.
Despite the anguish of being away from her children — and despite the tedious, hard work she performs daily — Emelyn is thankful.
“God heard my prayers,” she says. “I work for a good family. They treat me as part of their family, not like a maid.” Her Greek Orthodox employers, recognizing how she values her Catholic faith, provided Emelyn with two copies of the Bible — one in English and another in her native language, Tagalog.
The high point of Emelyn’s week is Sunday, her only day off. She attends Mass in Beirut in English at the Jesuit-run St. Joseph’s Church, and afterward goes upstairs to the Afro-Asian Migrant Center to meet up with her friends. There they spend their day together, having fun, sharing a meal and being spiritually nourished in their common Catholic faith.
The center was established at St. Joseph’s in 2000, by an American Jesuit, the Rev. Martin McDermott, now 86. He has been working with migrants since the early 1980’s, in partnership with a Dutch Jesuit, the Rev. Theo Vlught, who recently returned to his homeland at the age of 90.
But Father McDermott is not working alone in providing pastoral care to migrants. The Jesuit-run center he founded forms part of a pastoral care committee, established by the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, for migrants throughout the country. The charity of the Catholic churches in Lebanon, Caritas Lebanon, operates safe houses and shelters for migrants in distress. And since September 2017, the American Jesuit has been joined in his work at St. Joseph’s by the Rev. Henry Ponce, S.J. — the first time the Jesuit Province of the Philippines sent one of their own priests to the Middle East.
Read more about A Home for Migrants in Lebanon in the September 2019 edition of ONE.
Tags: Lebanon Migrants