Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
26 July 2019
Greg Kandra

Nanditha Shibu chats with Sister Phincitta at the St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf in Kerala. Learn more about the school and how it offers A Sound Education in the July 2019 edition of ONE.
(photo: Sajeendran V.S.)

Tags: Kerala

25 July 2019
Greg Kandra

A local catechist visits an Adivasi village in rural India. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

In the July 2019 edition of ONE, Msgr. John E. Kozar looks at the idea of vocations — and how this idea really applies to all of us:

More than ever, each baptized Catholic is called to give public witness and service by assuming a greater responsibility in the abiding need for personal sanctification and the evangelization of others.

Although the response to Vatican II may have been slower in some countries, due to remote conditions and cultural limitations, the need to more fully integrate all members of the church in the continuing challenge to evangelize is as strong as ever. And CNEWA is committed in our role of accompaniment to support a variety of programs that invite more and more of the laity to be trained and available for service within the local church and to continue in the education and formation of men and women in religious life. That includes everything from teaching and preaching to simply witnessing the Gospel with lives of generosity and love.

In CNEWA’s world, there are some overriding challenges: Men and women religious who originally came from Europe are not as present; some areas are so remote that they have never been visited by a Christian; and many areas which came to know of Jesus a long time ago were not properly evangelized and thus their faith has diminished greatly.

Thus, much emphasis is placed on preparing catechists and supporting them, sometimes going to tribal areas which have never heard the name of Jesus or to areas where the faith needs to be reintroduced. CNEWA proudly offers support in this entire process of evangelization and religious education.

Read more in the current edition of ONE. And check out the video below for more of Msgr. Kozar’s thoughts on this important subject.

Tags: Evangelization

24 July 2019
J.D. Conor Mauro

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop John Michael Miller and Bishop William Francis Murphy visit the shrine of St. Charbel in Annaya and on their 2018 pastoral visit to Lebanon. (photo: Michael La Civita)

Today marks the feast of St. Charbel, who “ranks among Lebanon’s most celebrated religious men.” As Marilyn Raschka continued in the July 2009 edition of ONE:

During his life, the hermit performed numerous miracles and inspired the lives of those who sought his counsel. Even after his death in 1898 at the age of 70, he has touched the lives of countless more. As did the legendary oil lamp that once illuminated his cell, Sharbel’s memory still burns today, inspiring pilgrimages, parish shrines, internet chat-room conversations and even a feature film.

Born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf on 8 May 1828, Sharbel grew up in a remote mountain village near the Cedars of Lebanon. He entered religious life at the age of 23, leaving his village home to serve Christ as a priest and monk in the Maronite Catholic tradition at the Monastery of St. Maron, in the village of Annaya, north of Beirut. He was given the name Sharbel, after a second-century Christian martyr, and lived at the monastery for 16 years before retreating to a nearby cell to live as a hermit in ceaseless prayer, which he did for the remaining years of his life. He died quietly on Christmas Eve 1898 and was buried near the monastery.

While Sharbel never traveled much further than a couple days’ journey from his boyhood home, stories of his miraculous works during and after his life have spread throughout the world. He is said to have cured a madman by reading from the Gospel and to have protected crops from locusts by sprinkling them with water that he had blessed. In the last century, pilgrims to the saint’s tomb have attributed numerous miracles, two of which were made public before Sharbel’s beatification in December 1965 and a third before his canonization in October 1977.

Read the rest here.

Tags: Lebanon Saints Maronite Hermit

23 July 2019
Doreen Abi Raad, Catholic News Service

Syriac Catholic Archbishop John Jihad Battah, newly named to Damascus, Syria, will be installed as archbishop on 28 July 2019. He is pictured on 15 July in the Church of the Monastery of Our Lady of Deliverance in Harissa, Lebanon. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syriac Catholic Patriarchate)

After eight years of war, the faithful in Damascus, Syria, are “so tired,” said their new bishop, Syriac Catholic Archbishop John Jihad Battah. Nevertheless, he is returning to his birthplace with enthusiasm.

“I want to help the people, to give them hope to stay in their country,” Archbishop Battah told Catholic News Service ahead of his episcopal ordination in Damascus on 28 July.

“In all my missions, in Italy, in Lebanon, I was obeying the call of the church. This is the first time I feel great joy and happiness in a new mission, to be going back to Syria,” the 63-year-old archbishop said. He served in Lebanon for the last eight years as bishop for the patriarchal diocese of Beirut and previously in Rome for seven years.

“The most important thing is to take care of the people,” Archbishop Battah said of his new mission. His motto as archbishop is Luke 22:27: “I am among you as the one who serves.”

Damascus did not experience a mass exodus like in war-torn dioceses such as Aleppo. In the Syriac Catholic Archdiocese of Damascus, there are about 1,000 families, compared to about 1,200 families before the war, the archbishop said.

However, the sanctions against Syria are taking a toll on the Syrian people.

“It’s leading people to leave the country to search for a better future,” he stressed.

“The economic situation is very bad. Everyone is in need now,” he said. The cost of basic necessities has skyrocketed, and medicine is very expensive. “People are dying from lack of medicine.”

“We need prayers for the removal of sanctions. If the sanctions are removed, the people can at least live with dignity,” Archbishop Battah said.

The government in Syria “is a positive government that respects all religions,” Archbishop Battah noted.

He cited the Syriac Catholic youth gathering in Damascus in early July, when Syrian President Bashar Assad visited with the more than 200 young people for three hours, answering their questions in an open forum.

Archbishop Battah said his “main mission is to give Christians hope in the future, to stay in their country.”

“My message to the West is to help the Christians in the Middle East to stay in their homelands. Their presence is vital,” the archbishop said, noting that Christians are an “equilibrium, a bridge between all the religions.”

“The Christians are the light of the world. The light should stay in the Middle East,” Archbishop Battah said.

Tags: Lebanon Syriac Catholic Church

22 July 2019
Greg Kandra

One of the windows of Notre Dame Cathedral is seen on 17 July 2019, three months after a fire destroyed much of the church’s wooden structure in Paris.
(photo: CNS/Stephane de Sakutin, pool via Reuters)

Tags: Architecture

19 July 2019
Greg Kandra

Sister Nabila Saleh, principal of the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza, checks in with students. Read her Letter from Gaza, about life with the students, in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Ali Hassan)

Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank

18 July 2019
Dale Gavlak, Catholic News Service

People gather at the site of a car bomb blast outside the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Qamishli, Syria, on 11 July 2019. At least 11 people were injured in the blast during evening services. It was unclear who was responsible for the attack.
(photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)

Syriac Christians in northeastern Syria are calling on the United States to help defend them against a buildup of Turkish troops along the border, fearing they will be overrun and suffer the same fate as Afrin, where jihadist forces pushed out inhabitants last year.

The appeal by the U.S.-backed Christian Syriac Military Council, made available to Catholic News Service, warns of a possible Turkish attack on the eastern Euphrates River region in Syria. It said it fears the onslaught could affect thousands of Christians who live in Syria’s northeast, and it urges Washington to intervene.

The military council forms part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces responsible for driving out Islamic State militants from Syria, while defending Syriac Christians from ISIS fighters.

About 700,000 Syrian Christians fled to Europe due to Islamic State attacks during Syria’s eight-year war.

Now, they fear a Turkish military incursion into the area east of the Euphrates River, which would again displace thousands of Christians who live in villages and towns along the Syrian-Turkish border.

“Turkey has been amassing troops at Ras al-Ayn, where there is no U.S. military presence,” Syriac Christian political leader Bassam Ishak told CNS by phone.

“But anywhere these troops come inside northeast Syria will be tragic, like in Afrin,” said Ishak, who heads the Syriac National Council. A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, he is also a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council.

“The safe zone Turkey has proposed is 32 kilometers (20 miles) deep. It’s in these areas where Kurds and Christians live. If Turkish forces come in, the expectation is that they will push out the inhabitants and turn the region over to extremist jihadist groups that they support, just like they did in Afrin a year ago,” he said.

Turkish troops and their rebel allies, including Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked fighters, swept into the northwest Syrian town of Afrin in March 2018, scattering its mainly Kurdish inhabitants, some of them Christian converts, and thousands of internally displaced Syrians from other parts of the country seeking shelter. Afrin had been one of the only areas virtually unaffected by the war. Turkey said it wanted to root out Kurdish militants.

Military Council member Aram Hanna told Kurdistan 24 TV that he hopes a U.S.-led coalition would protect northeast Syria because Islamic State “sleeper cells still pose a threat.”

Pope Francis has called Syria’s war the worst humanitarian disaster after World War II.

Ishak and Syrian religious leaders like Chaldean Catholic Father Samir Kanoon of Qamishli said the region’s inhabitants view Turkey as an enemy of Christians due to past history. Syriacs and other Christians living in Turkey were caught up in the 1915 Ottoman Empire’s genocide of Armenian Christians, which saw 1.5 million Armenians killed.

“Because of the massacres, Christians were forced to escape from Turkey, and this is where they fled, to northeastern Syria and Aleppo. Turkey is viewed by many as the enemy of Christians,” Father Kanoon told CNS earlier.

Also, “Syriac Christians and many of the Kurds who live in northeast Syria are the grandchildren and descendants of those who fled oppression and massacres in Turkey and fled to this area, considered the last safe zone from the Turks. Turkey, in their minds, is the source of terrorism,” Ishak told CNS.

Ishak drew attention to continuing instability in the area. On 11 July, three explosions took place in the northeast city of Hassakeh and, later that day, another explosion targeted the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Qamishli during the evening services, injuring about 11 people. It was unclear who was responsible for the attack.

“The church is located in an area within the control of the Syrian regime, but a truck was able to come and park outside the church,” Ishak said. “Someone detonated it from afar. It exploded just five minutes before the end of the Mass. If the blast happened 10 or 15 minutes later, when the people were leaving the church, it would have been a catastrophe.”

Lauren Homer, a Washington, D.C.-based international human rights lawyer familiar with the situation, called the Turkish troop amassing “puzzling, coming so soon after the Turks deployed Russian missiles near their southern border -- almost ensuring additional U.S. sanctions.”

Homer spoke to CNS during the U.S. State Department Ministerial on Religious Freedom taking place in mid-July in Washington.

She questioned whether Turkey is making “a direct challenge and threat to the U.S. and its global coalition partner troops present in Tel Abyad” or an “imminent threat to follow through on its long-threatened invasion of the entire Democratic Self-Administration” present in the region.

Syrian Christians and Kurds making up the self-administration have permitted religious freedom choices to all the inhabitants.

Homer, too, believes that if Turkey does invade northeast Syria, “it will be a repeat of Afrin in any territory they seize, bringing targeted genocide, ethnic cleansing, rapes and trafficking of women.”

Tags: Syria

17 July 2019
J.D. Conor Mauro

Martina Isaac stands in front of her home in the Zabbaleen quarter of Manshiyat Naser, Cairo. For more about the life of this Coptic enclave, and the sisters who serve their community, read Reclaiming Lives, from the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Hanaa Habib)

Tags: Egypt Sisters Copts Catholic education Coptic

16 July 2019
Greg Kandra

Sister Abhaya and Sister Phincitta socialize with students St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf in Kerala. Read more about how these young people are getting A Sound Education in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Sajeendran V.S.)

Tags: Kerala

15 July 2019
Greg Kandra

Syrian Armenians celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Grigor Narekatsi Armenian Catholic Parish in Yerevan, Armenia. Read how Syrian refugees are starting over in Armenia, and how the church is supporting them, in Hope Takes Root in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)

Tags: Syria Armenia

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