26 February 2015
Samundar Singh, left, pays tribute at a memorial ceremony for Sister Rani Maria Vattalil, whom he stabbed to death in 1995. Flanking Mr. Singh are Sister Selmi Paul and Stephen Vattalil, siblings of Sister Rani, who have offered him forgiveness. (photo: M.L. Thomas)
On 25 February 1995, while riding a bus in central India, Samundar Singh stabbed Franciscan Clarist Sister Rani Maria Vattalil over 50 times in plain view of 60 passengers. Mr. Singh was tried and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison. While serving his sentence, Sister Selmi Paul, F.C.C., his victim’s sister, visited Mr. Singh, forgiving him and calling him “brother.” Profoundly touched by this gesture, Mr. Singh repented and converted to Christianity. After 11 years in prison, Mr. Singh was released as a result of the petition signed by Sister Rani’s family, the provincial of the Clarist Congregation and the bishop of Indore, offering their forgiveness in a powerful message of Christian love.
Yesterday, Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, led a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of Sister Rani’s death. Samundar Singh attended, praising Indian Christians as “India’s hope,” remarks all the more relevant in light of recent Hindu fundamentalist attacks on Christians.
Sister Rani Maria received the title, “servant of God,” in 2007. The cause for her beatification and sainthood is being considered.
25 February 2015
Tags: India Violence against Christians Sisters Indian Christians Reflections/Inspirational
Glass-like works made from colorful powders, the art of cloisonné enamel originated in the eastern Mediterranean region and developed in the Byzantine Empire — and, some scholars argue, Georgia, where it is known as minankari. To learn about its revival in Georgia, and how the church is using it to improve the lives of Georgian youth, read Crafting a Future from the Winter 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
24 February 2015
Tags: Georgia Art Georgian Orthodox Church Caritas Youth
A Syrian child refugee from Hassake plays near his temporary home in Bechouat, Lebanon. Sources now report that the Islamic State has kidnapped some 90 Christians in Hassake. To lend your support to children in Syria whose lives have been upended by violence, please click here. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
23 February 2015
Armenian Apostolic sisters garden outside the seventh-century St. Gayane Church in Etchmiadzin. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
St. Gregory of Narek, born in the year 951, is an important figure in the traditions of both the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches — “priest and poet, theologian and philosopher, monk and mystic.”
Earlier today, Pope Francis declared St. Gregory a doctor of the church. (For an explanation of this honor, click here.)
In the Autumn 2013 issue of ONE, Michael La Civita wrote about this saint’s life and works:
Few details of Gregory’s life are known, but hints of the man’s years of pain and suffering suffuse his writings, particularly his Book of Lamentations. Written in the waning years of the first Christian millennium, Lamentations is considered by scholars a metaphor for the preparation and celebration of the Divine Liturgy — an “edifice of faith,” to use the poet’s words.
The 95 Lamentations are grouped together, mirroring the different stages of the liturgy, from the dismissal of the catechumens, the profession of faith and communion to the final prayers in preparation of death and judgment.
For the entire piece — complete with an excerpt from St. Gregory’s Book of Lamentations — click here, or read Staying Power, from the Autumn 2013 issue of ONE.
20 February 2015
Tags: Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church Prayers/Hymns/Saints Saints Monasticism
In this photo from the Winter edition of ONE, students pray at the Sts. Tarkmanchatz Armenian School in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. To learn more about the school and the Armenian community, read “A Beacon of Hope in Jerusalem” in the current edition of ONE.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)
19 February 2015
Sonu Augustine plays with his daughter Nidhika in the yard of their home. (photo: Don Duncan)
The Winter edition of ONE features an interview with Sonu Augustine, who grew up in Kerala, India, but now lives with his family in Qatar. He is one of an estimated 400,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics in the Persian Gulf region. In his conversation with reporter Don Duncan, he discusses the challenges of faith and culture in the Persian Gulf:
ONE: Does your existence far from the core of the Syro-Malabar Church make it harder for you to transfer your traditions to your children?
SA: We have to work assiduously to make sure that the children are growing up in our faith. Growing up in India means that there is a communal family structure. Grandparents live with the family, brothers and sisters are always nearby, and there are Christian neighbors and a parish with activities of all types. In Qatar, however, it is much different. Even if I go regularly to church here, Syro-Malabar Catholics do not have adequate access to services in our tradition in the Gulf. The children miss out.
ONE: So you have attended the Latin-rite Mass for want of the Divine Liturgy in the Syro-Malabar’s tradition?
SA: For a starving man, whatever food he gets is good food. When he has options, he will opt for the best food. It was a situation like that when I first got here.
Read the full interview here.
18 February 2015
A young girl leads her visually impaired classmates to their house in San Joe Puram in Faridabad, India. (photo: John Mathew)
In the Winter 2014 issue of ONE, Jose Kavi reports on a Syro-Malabar Catholic institution providing care and education for children in northern India, with a special focus on girls with disabilities:
As with [ninth-grader] Diksha, [tenth-grader] Bhanu says life among the San Joe Puram children has given him a desire to help others. Both he and Diksha dote on Uma, a visually impaired girl in the tenth grade.
“Uma sings and studies well. We never consider her ‘blind,’ ” Bhanu says. He recalls Uma going on rides with them at a class picnic. “Most children were terrified and screaming, but Uma was cool. She is more courageous than us.”
Diksha was thrilled when she was asked to take notes for Uma. “We have become close friends,” she says.
Carmelite Sister Nancy George, the principal, is happy to see such developments among her students. She says village students vie with each other to help the children who reside at St. Joe Puram — they push wheelchairs, carry school bags and guide the visually impaired to various places in the school. The result, she believes, could help transform her country.
“We are creating a new generation that is sensitive and caring.”
Read more in A Place of Promise — and Providence.
17 February 2015
Tags: India Children Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Orphans/Orphanages Disabilities
Pope Francis greets new Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after presenting a red hat to him during a consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 14 February. The pope created 20 new cardinals. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
13 February 2015
Young members of Jerusalem’s Armenian community socialize in the courtyard of the Cathedral of St. James. To learn more about this tiny group of Armenian Christians in the heart of the Holy Land, read “Living Here is Complicated” in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)
12 February 2015
Sister Terese Dorias is one of three sisters who helps care for the children at the Good Samaritan Orphanage in Cairo. To learn more about the remarkable work she and other sisters are doing, read ‘Egypt’s Good Samaritans’ in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Amal Morcos)
Tags: Egypt Children Sisters Orphans/Orphanages