21 November 2011
Ethiopians attend early morning prayer led by monks of Meskaye Hizunan Medhane Alem Monastery in Addis Ababa. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In the November 2010 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux explored how Ethiopian Orthodox monasticism now functions in a more modern or urban setting:
Sunrise at the Meskaye Hizunan Medhane Alem Monastery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city, feels anything but contemplative. A cacophony of roaring bus and car engines interrupts the early morning calm. A blur of red brake lights eclipses the rising sun’s soft rays. The compound, which includes a church and an elementary and high school, sits at the heart of the bustling Sidist Kilo neighborhood, home to Addis Ababa University’s main campus. The neighborhood’s urban energy is palpable, even when the city has barely awakened.
Inside the church, worshipers and monks have filled the pews to celebrate the day’s first liturgy. Chants drown out the noise of the street. Incense meanders through the candlelit nave.
As the service concludes, Abbot Melake Girmai leads the monks to the monastery’s refectory. A small army of kitchen staff serves a hearty breakfast — fluffy white injera (spongy bread made from teff), wat (a traditional vegetable and meat stew), fruit, coffee and tea.
Though hardly the lap of luxury, the monks at this urban religious house enjoy comforts unthinkable in the far more ascetic rural monasteries for which Ethiopian Orthodoxy has long been known.
For more from this story see, Relevant or Relic?.
21 November 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Monastery
CNEWA salutes Alfred A. Lagan, shown here visiting Ethiopia in 2009.
(Photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)
Today, Monday, 21 November, is National Philanthropy Day. It is a day set aside to thank all those in the United States who have given of their time and resources to support those initiatives that reach out to make this world a better place.
At a luncheon today hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in New York’s legendary Plaza Hotel, Alfred A. Lagan was honored for his generosity to the peoples and churches served by CNEWA.
A member of the agency’s Development Leadership Council, Mr. Lagan has not only provided assistance to child care endeavors of the church throughout our world — especially in Ethiopia — but he has offered professional assistance and guidance and invited others to join him in supporting this unique agency of the Holy See.
Thank you, Mr. Lagan, for your help and your example! May God continue to bless you and your family.
18 November 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Donors
Each of these three women lost family members in Chechnya’s Second Chechen War in 1999. They came to Georgia along with other refugees. Most of them live in Pankisi Gorge — where Kisti-Georgians settled about 150 years ago after migrating from present day Chechnya.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
Photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz has spent many years documenting the people of the Caucasus and Georgia in particular. Using images like the one above, she’s helped capture the storied history and dynamic culture of this diverse region. In our November 2009 interview with Mielnikiewicz she shared her goal of documenting life in Georgia.
You can read more about the Caucasus region in Where Europe Meets Asia.
17 November 2011
Tags: War Georgia Eastern Europe Caucasus
Sister Lisi Valloppally, a registered nurse, cares for H.I.V. infected adults at the Grace Home in Kerala. If patients need emergency care or hospitalization, they are sent to the Medical College of Trichur just a few kilometers away. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In the November 2010 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux reported on the work of the Nirmala Dasi sisters with children and adults living with H.I.V./AIDS in Kerala.
In addition to caring for H.I.V.-positive children, Grace Home offers temporary inpatient services to H.I.V.-positive adults. “We take in sick patients, patients recently diagnosed or patients who have nowhere to go,” says Sister Lisi. “We try to get them back on their feet and healthy so they can go back to the outside world. Grace Home is not set up for long-term stays.”
Msgr. Vilangadan, however, recognizes the precarious situation in which most of these adults live. “If nobody will accept them, where will they go? They’ll die at the home.”
Sister Lisi spends her afternoons checking in on the home’s 15 to 20 adult patients. She moves swiftly from bedside to bedside, asking questions, checking charts and I.V.’s.
For more about the Grace Home see Full of Grace.
16 November 2011
Tags: India Sisters Kerala HIV/AIDS
An altar server stands near a statue of Jesus in a Syriac Catholic church
outside Stockholm, Sweden. (photo: Magnus Aronson)
Yesterday, two U.S. Bishops suggested ways Americans and Catholics can help the people of Iraq during a press conference at the USCCB’s annual fall meeting in Baltimore:
Bishop Murry said that to aid Iraq he envisioned a “modern-day version of the Marshall Plan, which helped to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.”
“When something comes up that our country and other countries consider important we do find the money,” he said. “Iraq is suffering from the results of the war. The United States and the nations that joined with it in the war can help Iraq rebuild their infrastructure and rebuild their country.”
Bishop Murry added, “We have to be open to Iraqi refugees coming to this country, and to countries in Western Europe.”
For more from this Catholic News story, see Bishops Urge Catholics to Help Iraqis.
In the May issue of ONE, we featured a story on Iraqi refugees in Sweden and the challenges they face.
However, it is the mass repatriation of Iraqi asylum seekers that has panicked Sweden’s Iraqi Christian community, especially in light of the recent string of attacks against Iraq’s Christians — including the massacre in a Baghdad Syriac Catholic cathedral that left 52 dead last October. Currently, some 2,600 Iraqi asylum seekers in Sweden await deportation. Many are Christians with well–founded fears of persecution back home in Iraq. Last October, the European Court of Human Rights issued a statement urging Sweden to suspend the deportations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, church leaders and human rights activists have also sharply criticized the policy.
For more from this story, see A Nordic Refuge No More by Anna Jonasson. To learn how you can support Iraqis in need, visit our web site.
15 November 2011
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Chaldean Church Emigration
Hierodeacon Andrii presents the gifts during the Divine Liturgy at the 17th-century church of St. Michael the Archangel in Lviv, Ukraine. (photo: Ivan Babichuk)
The primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, praised the U.S. Bishops’ annual collection to aid the churches of Eastern Europe yesterday during the USCCB’s annual fall meeting in Baltimore. He noted that the collection “has provided financial support for the development of basic church structures which had been destroyed by the communist regime.” In the September 2003 issue of our magazine, Matthew Matuszak reported on monks also supporting a post-Soviet society in Ukraine:
The newly independent Ukrainian government gave the Studites their church and monastery in 1991 (the mix of structures was built in the 17th century for the Discalced Carmelites, though its most recent occupants had been the K.G.B.).
With a prayer and rest schedule established by the order’s rule, filling eight hours with work was something of an open question in the urban setting of Lviv.
Repair of the neglected church and monastery complex has been a work-in-progress, taking up some of the Studites’ time. But it is the people of Lviv, seeking a good Christian example, who are the monk’s real work. About 1,500 people attend three liturgies at St. Michael’s on Sundays and holy days. Two of the community’s six priests are assigned to parish ministry. The others have special duties in the monastery or the eparchy (diocese). All 26 monks, in varying degrees, are involved in the care of this urban parish in post-Soviet Lviv, a city of 800,000. The parish faithful, in turn, join the monks in prayer and service.
For more from this story see If You Pray, They Will Come .
15 November 2011
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Byzantium
Bob Pape, CNEWA's director of major gifts, meets with Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
When I began my work at CNEWA, I didn’t fully appreciate the impact the work would have on my faith journey. True, when discussing fundraising for CNEWA with our benefactors, I am constantly reminded of the words of Matthew: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Our benefactors understand this passage and live it and witness it in their lives. Participating in these discussions has inspired me greatly when I speak on behalf of CNEWA, but it has also strengthened me in my work, which I have come to think of in terms of a vocation. Certainly, it has been a surprisingly big step for me in my journey.
The people you meet along the way all have an impact on your faith journey. The impact may be big or small or barely noticeable at first, but if you allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Spirit as you travel along your own course, everything becomes clearer. Take, for example, my meeting with a woman named Dorothy, whom I met in Kentucky. She has been supporting CNEWA for over 40 years! Despite all I know about the great work of CNEWA, our people, our programs and all the good that comes from the hardworking people in our regions, I had to ask her, “Why do you do it?”
Dorothy told me quite simply that her actions are at the center of our faith: helping those in need. Simple, yet powerful.
Then there’s Michael. He’s a young man from Scranton I met recently. He is finishing up his college degree and taking care of his elderly parents. He has been supporting CNEWA for over 10 years. Again, I asked: “Why?” Michael said with true conviction that he was simply redirecting God’s grace – a profound statement from this remarkable young man. Once again, God had given me inspiration for my journey through someone I met along the way.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston when he came to visit our offices. An inspiring man of faith, yet such a humble man – despite being a “prince of the church,” he has not lost sight of his Capuchin roots. Cardinal O’Malley was most welcoming and encouraging. Quite a guy to meet along the journey.
Last month, I met with the pre-school and pre-K classes at St. Peter of Alcantara School in my hometown of Port Washington, NY. It was Fire Prevention Week and I was asked to speak to the children in my role as a member of the Port Washington Fire Department. I had my bunker pants on as I read a story about fire trucks and then spoke to them about basic fire safety. Then I answered their questions, which covered a variety of topics (as you would expect from small children). I enjoyed it thoroughly. All during my visit to St. Peter’s I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me. I saw the joy in the children’s faces, the dedication of their teachers, all presented in a positive and caring environment. I was reminded of Jesus’s remark, “whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Imagine me, thinking of scripture! These children, too, help me on my faith journey.
Also not to be forgotten is the fellow who stands outside the subway stop by the office every morning, handing out the local free newspaper – always a smile on his face and a “Good morning” to all. He always adds a positive start to my day. On Friday mornings, he says to me, “Have a blessed weekend.”
My journey of faith continues in my work here at CNEWA. I realize now this is more than a job. God has put me here for a purpose and has placed people for me to meet along the way – people who will strengthen my spirit and inspire me to do my best, no matter where my journey takes me.
It’s never too early for fire safety instruction, as Bob Pape demonstrates at St. Peter of Alcantara Preschool, Port Washington, NY.
14 November 2011
Tags: CNEWA Education Donors
An after-school program in Khabab, Syria, led in 2008 by Archbishop Boulos Nassif Borkhoche, draws many village children. (photo: Mitchell Prothero)
Like so many places in the Middle East, parts of Syria are experiencing a Christian exodus. In 2008, Mitchell Prothero wrote about this phenomenon in ONE, and the efforts of one man to change that:
Since the 1950’s, economic stagnation, unemployment and a dearth of institutions of higher learning have taken their toll on the population, driving its most talented and motivated to Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut or abroad, particularly the states of the Persian Gulf. Emigration has affected Houran’s population as a whole, but its impact on the Christian minority has been particularly cruel.
Further diminishing their presence is a low birthrate – most Syrian Christian couples have only two children – as opposed to a much higher birthrate among the country’s various Islamic communities, which together form about 90 percent of the population.
Holding together the Christian community, keeping its faith alive and its cultural and spiritual traditions intact – even temporal concerns such as jobs – fall largely on the shoulders of Christian leaders such as the Melkite Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Bosra and Houran, 75-year-old Archbishop Boulos Nassif Borkhoche.
Archbishop Boulos works from a modest three-story rectory, located just outside Khabab. Though surrounded by vineyards and grazing land for cattle, the archbishop touches on the principal challenge facing him and his community – the absence of a sustainable economic future for the Houran. The associated problems are all too familiar in rural Syria: an insufficient water supply, a lack of modern agricultural equipment and a limited choice of crops that can thrive in the region’s lush volcanic soil but harsh climate.
The archbishop does what he can to invigorate the local economy, and has initiated a few projects to this end, but his resources are modest and the problems vast.
“The church provides assistance to the poor [and] money and medicine to the needy,” he explained. “I feel sorry that I can’t do more, because we cannot afford it.
“There are social problems too,” he continued. “For example, when the father in a family dies, there is no one in the family who can support the children or his widow. So, the church helps when it can, but too often there are not the necessary resources.”
Developing farming, the archbishop believes, is the key to stimulating the economy. And with the aid of various benefactors, including CNEWA and the Syrian Bank for Agriculture, he has progressed, albeit modestly.
Read more about the archbishop’s efforts in the story From Dust to Life.
10 November 2011
Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Melkite Greek Catholic Church
An altar server assists with communion at the Chaldean Church of the Mother of God in Detroit. (photo: Fabrizio Costantini)
The influx of Arab Christians to the United States has begun to attract attention from the press. Associated Press reports:
As war, the economy and persecution by Muslim extremists push Arab Christians and religious minorities out of the Middle East, the refugees and immigrants are quietly settling in small pockets across the U.S. They are reviving old, dormant churches, bringing together families torn apart by war and praying collectively in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. Religious experts say their growing presence in the U.S. is all about survival as Christians and religious minorities continue to get pushed out of the Holy Land.
And religious leaders said if violence continues, more can be expected to seek safety in the U.S. while disappearing in lands where they’re lived for 2,000 years. …
According the U.S. State Department’s 2011 reports on International Religious Freedom, for example, Iraq had an estimated Christian population of around 1.4 million before the U.S.-led invasion. The report says only around 400,000 to 600,000 remain and face increasing violence.
You can read the full story here.
ONE has been reporting on this demographic shift for years, as exemplified by Monsignor Robert Stern’s highly detailed essay, Middle East Christians on the Move. Over the past decade, the topic has been broached repeatedly — for example, in Vincent Gragnani’s East Goes West in 2004 and Dorothy Humanitzki’s Going West in 2002. Not just limited to the United States, the movement of Arab Christians to the West can also be observed in the nations of Central and South America — such as Honduras and Brazil, respectively.
Though it does not focus exclusively on Christians, Lori Quatro’s discussion on Detroit’s growing Arab-American population, Forging a New Detroit, is also of interest. The image used above was selected from this article.
10 November 2011
Tags: Middle East Christians United States Emigration Arabs Arab-Americans
Students from different faith backgrounds — but predominately Muslim and Christian — perform modern and traditional dance at the Latin Convent school in the town of Nazareth, Israel.
(Photo: J. Carrier)
Tags: Israel Muslim Christian