23 March 2012
In this photo taken in 1996, a woman prays in an Armenian Apostolic church in Georgia.
(photo: Armineh Johannes)
Photographer Armineh Johannes has documented extensively the Armenian Catholic community — in Armenia and in the surrounding border countries like Georgia — for our agency for almost 20 years. She has captured some stolen moments that have really helped to educate us about the peoples and culture of Armenia. We’ve featured Armineh’s photos several times as ’Picture of the Day‘.
22 March 2012
Tags: Georgia Armenian Apostolic Church
In this photo taken in 2010, a woman fetches water from a well in Kerala. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Today is U.N. World Water Day and in many of the countries CNEWA serves, there is a water crisis of some sort to which we have responded. We recently wrote about CNEWA’s efforts in helping with Lebanon’s water supply crisis.
There are similar problems in India. In Kerala usually the women and girls of the family have to travel a mile or more on foot from their homes in order to retrieve gallons of clean drinking water. CNEWA has funded water tanks in many villages in Kerala, in order to eliminate such a burden. Just this month, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar was able to witness firsthand the positive impact these tanks have had on the people of Kerala:
Besides construction projects and renovations at the parish proper, CNEWA has been instrumental in helping the people of this parish to improve the quality of life by assisting in the building of substantial houses and water holding tanks. The area is very mountainous. Normally the rains come with great force and cause annual flooding, mudslides and loss of soil. With the water tanks, they now can break out of the cycle of being inundated by floods or suffering from drought.
After a most moving and loving visit with the parishioners at the church hall, we headed out with the pastor to a much more remote area of the parish. We saw firsthand the dynamic difference a new durable house can make for the poor and how having a controlled supply of water gives the cycle of life new meaning. We had some very steep climbs to arrive at these sites, but the recipients of our charity were beaming to show us their new homes and their water catchment systems. Thanks to you for giving them this new dignity through your kind donations over the years! CNEWA has funded over 40 such water tanks just in 2011 alone. Over the years, hundreds of families have benefitted from CNEWA’s water tanks in this part of India.
To learn more about Kerala’s water woes, read Rain Rich, Water Poor in the May 2010 issue of ONE.
21 March 2012
Tags: India Water Women in India
From left, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar, Dominican Sister Maria Hanna and CNEWA Regional Director for Jordan and Iraq Ra’ed Bahou gather with Dominican Sisters outside the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Jordan. (photo: CNEWA)
Last December, during his pastoral visit to the Holy Land, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar had a chance to visit with Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena at their clinic in Jordan. These sisters — whose provincial house is in Iraq — staff hospitals, orphanages and schools for those still in Iraq and those Iraqis displaced throughout the Middle East. They do not turn their backs on the people, and the dire circumstances in Iraq seem to drive them to want to do more. Last August we were able to catch up with a few Dominican Sisters visiting the U.S. and gain some insight into this fearless congregation of sisters:
Your community lost its mother house to the violence.
Sister Diana Moneka: Yes, it was bombed several times. But God was with us. When they bombed our mother house the first time, the missile fell on a bedroom where four sisters were sleeping. It was 1:30 a.m. They couldn’t escape. Pressure from the fire prevented them from opening the door. A sister sleeping down the hall eventually got them out. The sisters were so shocked, but after a while they felt the presence of God. They realized, “We’re still alive because of God.”
How is morale among the sisters?
Sister Maria: They are very down and frustrated. Whenever there is some activity and work, and they’re busy and producing, they are happy. But sometimes, they get very frustrated.
Sister Diana: We’re walking with people step by step, every day. Wherever there is a bomb, we’re with the victims. Caring for traumatized people is a very difficult task, because their trauma wears off on you. Coming back home, if you don’t have a big community that supports you, the spiritual and psychological parts are very hard.
We’ve lost lots of family. I lost my brother. Five years ago, he was shot. One sister, two of her nephews were kidnapped and disappeared. Another, her nephew disappeared and they have heard nothing about him. It’s been almost five years now. We’re trying to help people and at the same time dealing with our own trauma.
Sister Maria: In the past six years, we have not had one meeting with all the sisters together. We used to have them at the mother house. This is very difficult for the sisters, because we can’t unite together. We want to build a new mother house. We have the property and the blueprints, but we do not have the money.
Click here to read more of our interview with the sisters.
20 March 2012
Tags: Middle East Jordan Health Care Dominican Sisters
In this image taken in December 2008, a worker prepares grapevines at the La Salle Center near Meki, Ethiopia. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In 2007, the Brothers of the Christian Schools launched the La Salle Agroprocessing and Farmers’ Training Center facility in Meki, Ethiopia, which produces quality products, such as wine, marmalade, yogurt and butter, for domestic and international markets. The brothers aimed to develop a sustainable, profitable facility that at the same time provided educational, economic and professional opportunities to the community:
Women, wrapped in scarves to protect them from the scorching sun, clear brush from under the vineyard’s 20,000 imported Italian grapevines — grouped together by origin and identified with signs, such as “Barbera,” “Sangiovese” and “Montepulciano.”
If all goes according to plan, the brothers will have completely transformed this ordinary 75-acre plot of subdivided farmland into an integrated, income-generating agribusiness. Since the project’s inception, the brothers have raised a total of $800,000 in grants, which they have used to purchase the land, plants, construction materials, machinery and to pay labor costs. The next installment of funds will be used to double the amount of land, purchase 20,000 more imported grapevines and strawberry plants, and add livestock, including cattle, chickens, fish and pigs.
At every turn, the La Salle Center will provide economic, educational and professional opportunities to the community. Projecting a 54-person payroll, which will swell to 100 during harvest time, the brothers intend to staff the endeavor with people from the local community, who will gain on-the-job skills in modern agricultural techniques for use on their own family farms. The on-site agricultural training center will also offer workshops on improved agricultural techniques, such as biogas production, small- scale drip irrigation, animal husbandry and crop selection. The brothers also plan to loan the center’s tractors and other equipment to local farmers at below market rates.
For more, read Farming a Brighter Future.
20 March 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Farming/Agriculture Employment
Girls discuss reading material with Filipino Teresian Amabel Sibug at the Pontifical Mission Library in Amman. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
Beth Clausnitzer is CNEWA’s director of Donor Services.
While planning CNEWA’s campaign to celebrate women in the church with my colleagues, I found my emotional focus being pulled in two directions: the tireless work of the religious sisters who devote their lives to helping others, and the lay women who support their missions, either directly or indirectly. Mercy Sister Christian Molidor and Megan Knighton have shared their thoughts on the work of the sisters. Now, I would like to share my thoughts on the work of laywomen.
To outsiders, it appears that laywomen make smaller sacrifices than women in religious life in service to God. A sacrifice, however, is still a sacrifice and it should never be undervalued. Time that is devoted to working with the poor, assisting with fundraising or simply volunteering to clean the church hall following a social event — all of it counts.
Every day, I look around CNEWA’s office and see women who could easily earn a larger salary in the secular business world, yet they choose to earn less knowing their sacrifice serves the greater good. Many times I’ve stepped into the elevator — our offices are located in the Terence Cardinal Cooke Center, home of the Archdiocese of New York — and have overheard conversations that ranged from possible solutions for solving technical problems to soothing words of encouragement being given to an immigrant who had sought asylum to avoid religious persecution in his homeland. The range of work that lay women do for the church is broad and never-ending.
I’m proud to be counted among these women. From this office worker living in New York City to all of the women of the church around the world, I celebrate you, your strength, your dedication, your contribution and your love.
For more posts related to our Celebrating Women initiative, click here.
19 March 2012
Tags: CNEWA Jordan Women Amman
In this 6 January 2010 photo, Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Orthodox patriarch, blesses the congregation during a Divine Liturgy celebrating Christmas at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. (photo: CNS/Asmaa Waguih, Reuters)
A lion of the universal church died on Saturday, 17 March.
Shenouda III, pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St. Mark, led some 15 million Coptic Orthodox Christians — most of whom live in Egypt — since his election in 1971.
Not since the earliest days of the Egyptian church has one man impacted the Christian community of the region more than Pope Shenouda III. Picking up where his predecessor, Pope Kyrillos VI (1959-1971), left off, Pope Shenouda III spearheaded a revival in catechesis, particularly among youth, that spawned a resurgence in monastic life, renewed liturgical life and stimulated theological learning and Scripture study.
The pope also ended centuries of near isolation of the Coptic Orthodox Church, strengthening relations with other churches with which it maintains full communion — the Armenian Apostolic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Malankara Syrian and Syriac Orthodox churches. He also reached out to other churches, particularly the Anglican, Byzantine Orthodox and Catholic churches. In May 1973, Pope Shenouda III and Pope Paul VI issued a joint statement that put to rest the Christological discord that divided the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic churches since the fifth century.
“He who is God eternal and invisible,” declared the popes, “became visible in the flesh, and took upon himself the form of a servant. In him are preserved all the properties of the divinity and all the properties of humanity, together in a real, perfect, indivisible and inseparable union.”
Egyptian Christianity is as old as Christianity itself, predating Islam and the Arab invasion of the country by six centuries. Despite 15 centuries marked by periods of persecution and peace, the Coptic Orthodox Church (which today accounts for up to eight million of Egypt’s 80 million people) thrives. Churches are packed with young and old; ancient monasteries flourish with monks and nuns; social outreach programs touch the needy and catechetical programs instill values and a sense of identity for the young — who are increasingly emigrating to the West.
Pope Shenouda III responded by setting up jurisdictions and establishing hundreds of parishes throughout Europe, North America and Oceania. Today, perhaps as many as four million Copt Orthodox Christians live outside Egypt, all of whom today are joining with their families back home in mourning the death of their beloved papa.
19 March 2012
Tags: Egypt Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church Coptic Christians Monasticism
A resident of St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Pulincunnoo, Kerala studies for class.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
Today, many Roman Catholics celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. There are numerous religious orders and charities that bear this saint’s name — including St. Joseph’s Orphanage, a home for girls run by the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel in Kerala. The girls’ parents are unable to support them financially, so St. Joseph’s affords them better opportunities and hope for their future. In the September 2005 issue of ONE, Paul Wachter wrote about this home named after the saint:
While it is true that nearly all the “orphans” at St. Joseph’s have parents, the opportunities available to them at the orphanage and affiliated schools offer the young women better lives, the sisters said. “Otherwise there would be even less opportunities for the girls,” said Sister Priscilla Anna. Through the schooling at the orphanage and the after-school program, the sisters believe they are breaking a cycle.
“Our goal is to see all our girls with a good job and/or a good husband,” Sister Priscilla Anna said. “That way, when they have children, they will be able to present them with better opportunities than their parents offered them.”
For more, read St. Joseph’s ‘Orphans’. To learn how you can support girls like the residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage — and the work of religious sisters like that of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel — join us as we “Celebrate Women” this month through a matching gift campaign that supports this admirable work. You can also join our community on Causes.com to share your appreciation for women and sisters!
16 March 2012
Tags: India Kerala Orphans/Orphanages
A young Bedouin traveling by donkey through the ancient city of Petra, Jordan.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
Petra — the ancient fortress city carved out of rock in the Valley of Moses — features some of Jordan’s best-preserved traces of antiquity, along with significant evidence of early Christianity. In December, CNEWA President, Msgr. John E. Kozar visited Petra as a part of his pastoral visit to the Holy Land. Read all of Msgr. Kozar’s blog posts from his journey.
16 March 2012
Tags: Middle East Jordan Holy Land Msgr. John E. Kozar
Children are seen at Vimala orphanage, run by the Daughters of Mary, in Kerala, India.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
As blog readers here know, CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar just completed a pastoral visit to India. He discussed the trip and his impressions recently with Catholic News Service:
Vocations to the priesthood and religious life in India’s two Eastern Catholic communities are strong and a sign that the missionary spirit of St. Thomas the Apostle flourishes, said the president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
At multiple locations in southern India — in seminaries and houses of formation for men and women religious — Msgr. John E. Kozar said he was “blown away” by the quality and quantity of the candidates for religious life in the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches during his 12-day visit.
“The first impression when you walk into a huge seminary chapel or gathering hall is that you see 200, 300, 400 seminarians,” Msgr. Kozar told Catholic News Service March 14 from his office in New York. “That in itself is a culture shock when you compare it to what you know here (in the United States).
“You’re welcomed with big smiles. You’re welcomed with songs and a warmth that reaches out and grabs you,” he said…
…Msgr. Kozar also said he found collaboration among the Eastern and Latin rites — especially among their leaders, the bishops — to be strong, resulting in meaningful service to children, people with handicaps and poor families.
Most touching on the visit, he said, was seeing children, some with severe physical handicaps that affected their mobility, full of joy as they danced, sang and greeted the CNEWA team. Msgr. Kozar said he was impressed by the education standards upheld by the sisters, giving children a chance to move out of the dire poverty in which their families are rooted.
For that, he credited the sisters who oversee the institutions for creating an environment that upholds the dignity of each resident, without regard to physical ability, illness or family background.
Individual donors, through CNEWA, sponsor about 18,500 children in numerous educational and health and wellness programs.
“The children in many parts of the world of poor are really the jewel in their sincerity, their honesty, their simplicity. They are the reflection of the hope, the idealism, the love of that country, the best of that culture,” Msgr. Kozar said.
Read more of Msgr. Kozar’s interview here. And be sure to check out his blog posts from the field, describing more of his trip.
15 March 2012
Tags: India Msgr. John E. Kozar Thomas Christians Catholic Press
Teacher Manna Gebreyons, interacts with her students at a Catholic school in the Tigrayan village of Sebia, Ethiopia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In 2009, we interviewed Sister Winifred Doherty, a member of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, about empowering women in Ethiopia. She stressed the importance of knowledge as a tool of empowerment. Having access to education provides the opportunity for success and prosperity. Though Catholics are a minority in Ethiopia, Catholic-run schools are making a difference. Take a look at our interview with Sister Winifred Doherty below:
Tags: Ethiopia Education Africa Catholic Schools