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December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
22 June 2012
Erin Edwards

In this photo taken in 2005, two young orphans are cared for at the Kidane Mehret Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Sean Sprague)

In 2009, thanks to generous CNEWA donors, the Kidane Mehret Catholic School in Ethiopia started offering students the opportunity to attend 11th and 12th grades. This means that young children, like those featured in the photo above, are promised a brighter future. In this month’s CNEWA Connections e-newsletter, we featured a letter from a recent graduate of the school:

We and our families are so grateful to the CNEWA family and Mr. Doty. If it were not for you, we could not have gotten a good education.

What I am trying to say is that regular schools do not have as many resources as we have. Regular schools may have a science lab, but not enough lab material for the students. Regular schools do not have a sufficient number of computers, but we have a computer for every student who needs one. Thanks to CNEWA, we have enough.

I always thank God because He is always with me. I also thank CNEWA because you are my source of success. God willing, I want to graduate from university and help my family, my school and my country.

For more read, “We Are So Grateful to You.”

Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Orphans/Orphanages Catholic Schools

22 June 2012
Erin Edwards

Left to right, Aleena Gichie, Eileen Fay, Janet Pascual, Teresa Cardone and Beth Clausnitzer of Donor Services pose for a portrait. (photo: Erin Edwards)

If you have ever had a question or concern about the many ways in which CNEWA helps those in need, you may have spoken to one of five fabulous ladies in Donor Services. This Friday, they were kind enough to open up to us and answer some questions we had for them:

Eileen – Donor Services Representative

What do you do at CNEWA?
Well, I’ve worked here going on 51 years — I like to tell people I was born here! I take care of donors when they call the office by answering their questions. I also acknowledge and thank them for their donations with letters. Sometimes people will ask for Mass cards and I’ll put those together — odds and ends.

What is the best thing about your job?
I enjoy talking to donors when they call. Sometimes we make small talk and I’ll ask them “How’s the weather?” wherever they are calling from. Sometimes donors will tell me they like my [New York] “accent.” It’s pretty funny.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of CNEWA?
I really enjoy dining out, mostly food from Spain or Italy.

Aleena – Charitable Giving Advisor

What do you do at CNEWA?
I answer donors’ questions — primarily questions about Charitable Gift Annuities. I recruit new annuities, maintain and process the current annuities. When a caller wants to learn more about CNEWA, I’ll mail them a packet containing our magazine and annual report among other informational materials.

What is the best thing about working for CNEWA?
Knowing that we help people in need — like children, novices and seminarians. It helps me get through the day. It makes me feel good.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
In 2006 I won Miss Tropical Paradise, a beauty pageant in Jamaica. I still hold the crown! Winning that pageant actually led me to meeting my husband and ultimately having our two beautiful babies whom I love spending time with.

Janet - Donor Services Representative

What do you do at CNEWA?
I have worked here for 29 years now! Once a donor’s gift is processed, I receive their information and send out a letter acknowledging their donation. Every year, CNEWA receives 9 percent of the “Mission Sunday” collection from archdioceses all over the United States. I send out letters, which are signed by Msgr. Kozar [CNEWA’s president], to each archdiocese thanking them.

What is the best thing about working for CNEWA?
I really enjoy working with my sister, Eileen. I enjoy helping donors and having the opportunity to talk to so many people from all over the country.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of CNEWA?
Spending time with my family. My husband died 11 years ago and as a result I grew much closer to our two children and now our 8 and a half (very important to mention the half!) year old granddaughter whom my husband never met.

(photo: Erin Edwards)

Teresa – Charitable Giving Advisor

What do you do at CNEWA?
I answer donors’ questions and concerns — primarily questions about our sponsorships. I also fundraise over the phone, reaching out to donors for assistance with current appeals and projects.

What is the best thing about working for CNEWA?
The mission. I also enjoy helping people who help other people. I am the channel between those in need and the people who want to help them. I also enjoy talking to donors and answering their questions about what we do and how their money is used.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of CNEWA?
I love cinematography and movies in general. Historical films are some of my favorites, like Schindler’s List and Braveheart. I also really enjoy spending time with my 16-month-old son.

Beth - Director of Donor Services

What do you do at CNEWA?
Everyone is familiar with the concept of customer service. At CNEWA we don’t have “customers;” we have donors. Donor Services provides individualized assistance, as requested, regarding the many ways our donors can assist the good works of our agency — by developing and maintaining positive and trusting relationships that, for some, have endured for decades. We ensure our donors’ confidence in CNEWA’s stewardship of their loving generosity.

What is your favorite thing about working for CNEWA?
Knowing that I’m doing something to help others — something bigger than me. I’m not just pushing papers — I’m helping people.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I’m really active, not athletic in the least. I enjoy scuba diving the most. I lived in Florida for 25 years and didn’t become certified until I moved to New York City. I always had fears about it. But once I did it, it was so freeing, peaceful and beautiful underwater. On my very first dive in Mexico, I did two reef dives and two cave dives.

Give us a call sometime!

Tags: CNEWA Donors

21 June 2012

Carl Hétu, left, and Father Thomas Rosica, right, participated in a panel discussion at the “Across the Divide” screening in Vancouver earlier this month. (photo: The B.C. Catholic Paper)

In partnership with CNEWA Canada, Salt + Light Television is premiering a new documentary entitled “Across the Divide” on a Canada-wide tour. The film tells the story of Bethlehem University, the De La Salle Christian brothers who run it and Christian students who sacrifice everything for their education. Together, they aim to build a better future for the Holy Land. CNEWA has been supporting the efforts of Bethlehem University since its inception in 1973.

The tour began in Vancouver with the world premiere on 3 June 2012. The theater at Simon Fraser University sold out its 350 seats. Immediately following the film, Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada, participated in a panel about life in the Holy Land. Also on the panel were Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver, Brother Jack Curran of Bethlehem University, Father Thomas Rosica of Salt + Light and, via Skype, Berlanty Azzam, one of the students whose story is featured in the film.

Shot on location in Israel and the Palestinian territories, “Across the Divide” offers a glimmer of hope for the region through the heroic actions of staff and students at Bethlehem University. The film captures the drama of a campus that, like its students, bears the scars of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The next screening of “Across the Divide” will take place in Halifax on Monday, 25 June 2012. For further information about the documentary and to R.S.V.P, click here.

The film will also be screened at events in Toronto and Ottawa — on 5 and 19 September, respectively — as well as Montreal and Windsor at later dates. CNEWA Canada is a featured sponsor of the tour and Carl Hétu will continue to appear on the panel at future screenings.

For a more in-depth interview with Berlanty Azzam, on whom the documentary centers, and Kris Dmytrenko, writer and co-director, read this article in the Canadian Catholic Register and watch a special episode of Perspectives Weekly on the film, produced by Salt + Light Television.

Tags: Holy Land Education Canada CNEWA Canada Bethlehem University

21 June 2012

Campers have fun in the healing mineral waters of the Nunisi resort in central Georgia.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

Yesterday marked the summer solstice. Temperatures are rising and summer camps are in session! Summer camp can be an enriching experience for children. When schools close their doors for summer break, summer camp provides an opportunity for fun and learning outside school. Over the years, CNEWA has sponsored many summer camps in the regions we serve, such as the camps in the Caucasus which provide much more than summer fun:

For all the campers, Samta Park represents a soothing escape from their hardscrabble lives in Tbilisi. Many have suffered severe psychological or physical traumas. Lela Mezrishvili, 13, has scars all over her body, but several sessions in the sanitarium’s waters have allowed her to extend her arm fully for the first time in years.

“Many of the children come from very troubled families — very poor,” said Zizi Inadze, a staff member who grew up on the streets and, like Mr. Biganashvili, received assistance from Caritas. “Some had never seen fish or butter before, and even others never had seen a toilet. I was so shocked to see kids using a bucket, I couldn’t believe it.”

The camps of Sister Arousiag Sajonian and Father Witold Szulczynski are different in structure, but their aim is the same. They offer disadvantaged children a quintessential childhood experience that is normally available only to the more privileged. And it is a testament to the camps’ success that so many former campers have returned, as adults, to help educate the next generation.

A mere two carefree weeks can have an outsized impact on the children’s lives, said Ms. Inadze, the former street child who now works for Caritas.

“Here at the camps, they learn to open up and share a sense of warmth. They receive love and attention.”

For more, read Kid’s Camps in the Caucasus in the November 2007 issue of ONE.

Tags: CNEWA Caritas Caucasus

21 June 2012

Sister Anastasija walks to the church at the Monastery of Gorioc, near the town of Istok in Kosovo's northwest. (photo: Laura Boushnak)

When Kosovo unilaterally seceded from Serbia, one question on many minds was what to do with the dozen or so Serbian Orthodox monasteries scattered across the country. In contrast to the mass exodus of Serbs from Kosovo over the past decade, the monasteries are very actively consolidating their presence. For religious Serbs, they are among the most valued symbols of their cultural heritage. Kosovo is considered the cradle of the Serbian nation and of the Orthodox Christianity Serbs embrace.

Many of these sites are also on UNESCO’s heritage list. One of the few things that all in Kosovo agree on is the immeasurable value of the ancient buildings, often adorned with medieval frescoes and icons. But the question of their ownership goes right to the heart of the intangible political problem that is Kosovo, dominated by predominantly Muslim Albanian Kosovars with painful memories of Serb rule.

Some take a purely conservational stance. “We need to convince the Serbs they are part of Kosovo’s heritage, and convince Albanian Kosovars that part of Kosovo’s heritage is Serbian,” says Nol Binakaj of Cultural Heritage without Borders, a non-governmental organization promoting interest in heritage without prejudice to ethnicity. He dreams of a day when tourists will pour in to visit the monasteries, now still heavily guarded for fear of attacks by Albanian Kosovars.

In the presently tense atmosphere, mass tourism is unlikely. Both the church and the Serbian state jealously guard the monasteries. The government in Belgrade will have nothing to do with the Kosovar state it does not recognize, and continues to fund and regulate the convents it considers on its own territory.

Financial imperatives may go some way towards bridging the divide. While politically sensitive, nobody in Kosovo seems much bothered by Serbia’s funding of the monasteries — which, after all, helps to preserve the buildings. “Serbian funding is not a problem per se for us,” says Haki Rugova, the mayor of the municipality in which Gorioc is located, as well as a leading national politician. “We can’t stop it anyway.”

At the same time, the clergy are happy to work with outsiders and even the Kosovo state when it can help them. The steps forward are tiny, but it is clear nobody wishes the monasteries to go to waste. Mr. Rugova is adamant he would maintain them, should Serbian funds dry up. “We have the money. We would do whatever is needed to preserve these buildings.”

Pack a bit of optimism, should you ever wish to visit some of the most amazing structures in the region.

Tags: Monastery Serbian Orthodox Church Serbia Kosovo UNESCO

20 June 2012

A man makes an icon at the Immaculate Conception Church in Jordan, which is undergoing major restoration sponsored by CNEWA. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Back in December, Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, made his first pastoral visit to the Holy Land. Along the way, he visited many people and projects vital to CNEWA’s mission, such as the Immaculate Conception Melkite Greek Catholic parish in Jordan:

From the hospital we went to visit the Melkite Greek Catholic pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Abuna Boulos (or Father Paul), and were joined there by Archbishop Yasser Ayyash and some other priests. We had a delightful lunch, where I learned much about the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. When I entered the rectory, Father Boulos immediately introduced me to his wife, as it is the Melkite tradition for priests to marry before ordination. After a brief visit to the church, which is finishing up a major restoration project sponsored by CNEWA, we headed for the Bedouin village of Smakieh for the highlight of the day and the spiritual highlight of this pastoral visit thus far.

We were invited by the archbishop and Abuna Boulos to concelebrate at the ordination liturgy for a subdeacon and deacon. What an honor for Father Guido and myself. Not only did the archbishop make us feel welcome, he even vested us in the Melkite vestments used for their liturgy. It was a very proud moment for both of us.

For more, read Msgr. Kozar’s blog series “Journey to the Holy Land.”

Tags: CNEWA Middle East Christians Middle East Jordan Melkite Greek Catholic Church

19 June 2012

Budding artists at work in the Asela orphanage school in Ethiopia. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

Four years ago, we took readers to a remarkable facility in Ethiopia, the Asela school, where children with special needs were being given both help and hope:

Since the Consolata Fathers opened the doors of the Asela school and orphanage some 28 years ago, more than 500 boys — abandoned and often disabled — have graduated. The facility now cares for more than 150 children with diverse backgrounds from the Ethiopian region of Oromia, meeting the full range of their basic needs as well as providing them with a reputable education.

Chief among the facility’s accomplishments has been the quality schooling it offers to all its children. The general curriculum centers on traditional academic subjects, preparing most students for a high school diploma.

For those students better suited for a skilled trade, the Consolata Fathers have in recent years developed a vocational training program that offers a variety of specializations, including wood and metal works, auto mechanics, house painting and sewing. The vocational program prepares students for a certificate of technical expertise in an elected trade skill rather than the conventional high school diploma. Students in the vocational programs receive instruction from highly qualified professionals in the field and use state-of-the-art machinery, which has been installed on the premises.

Read more about Revealing Hidden Talent in the January 2008 issue of ONE.

Tags: Ethiopia Education Africa ONE magazine North Africa

18 June 2012

Sister Anastasija and Sister Isidora pray in the Gorioc Monastery’s dining room, which is located outside Kosovo’s northwestern town of Istok. (photo: Laura Boushnak)

In the current issue of ONE, journalist Joost Van Egmond writes about spending some time with a group of Serbian Orthodox nuns pursuing their calling at the Gorioc Monastery in Kosovo, in spite of cultural tensions:

“It doesn’t matter much to me. I just want to live here,” says Sister Anastasija, standing outside the Gorioc Monastery, which is located outside Kosovo’s northwestern town of Istok. The 25-year-old Orthodox nun points through the barbed-wire fence enclosing the property to a vista of the snow-covered valley below. “It’s hard,” she says, glancing at the fence. “But beauty is where the suffering is.”

The new recruit entered the monastery in August 2010. She refers to the area as Metohija Valley, its Serbian name, still unaware that locals, most of whom are Albanian Kosovars, consider the term a provocative reminder of past Serbian oppression. They prefer to call it by its Albanian name, the Dukagjin Valley. This seemingly minor discrepancy epitomizes the tightrope the young nun walks in her new life in Kosovo.

With four other women, she is striving to do something not only radical, but almost impossible: to live a life of prayer and peace in a wounded corner of world that has been torn apart by conflict and ethnic strife.

For more, read Praying Behind Barbed Wire. We were able to catch up with Joost Van Egmond to talk more about his assignment in Kosovo. Check it out in the video below:

Tags: Sisters Albania Serbia Kosovo

15 June 2012

A resident of the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, studies.
(photo: John E. Kozar)

It’s a fair question any donor might ask: “Where does my money go?” Well, this Friday, we offer a few answers. Here are five things that happen when you give to CNEWA:

  1. Your gift ends up on the table of a family fleeing the violence of Syria.
    About 240 Christian families have fled the embattled city of Homs, as the situation deteriorates by the day. A parish priest and religious sisters are sheltering them away from the violence. But for as little as $108, you can give a month’s worth of lifesaving aid to one family — aid that offers food and medicine to people in dire need right now.

  2. It ends up helping support a sister in India.
    Maybe she’s a novice, prayerfully awaiting her final vows. Maybe she’s working with orphans and needs textbooks or supplies. A gift from you will go into her hands, and be an investment in a more hope-filled future. In 2011, your generous gifts sponsored the formation of 507 novices studying in India! And for the next 60 days, one of our benefactors has agreed to match any gifts to sisters, dollar-for-dollar, up to $50,000. Such a deal!

  3. It will give schoolbooks and a warm meal to a child orphaned by AIDS.
    Countless children have been left abandoned or alone by disease or war. CNEWA helps provide them with hope, and a future. Maybe it’s medical care. Maybe it’s food or shelter. Whatever the circumstances, your sponsorship invests in their future — and invests, really, in our future, too.

  4. It helps bring an end to conflict by actually getting people to talk to one another.
    Part of CNEWA’s mandate by the Holy Father is to encourage ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Your gift can support local churches in CNEWA’s world, bolstering their good works, building bridges and fostering understanding and closer ties with all believers.

  5. Maybe best of all: somebody, somewhere, will pray for you.
    And who doesn’t need prayers? All the people you help, and even the Holy Father himself, will raise grateful prayers to God for you. Also, on Christmas Eve, Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, will travel to Bethlehem on your behalf and celebrate Midnight Mass at the Basilica of the Nativity for your special intentions.

Giving to CNEWA is an investment in a better, more peaceful world. We connect you to your brothers and sisters in need. Together, we build the church, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue, affirm human dignity and inspire hope.

Tags: CNEWA Children Africa Donors Sponsorship

15 June 2012

Armenian World War II veterans celebrate Victory Day in Yerevan, Armenia.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

In the November 2009 issue of ONE, Justyna Mielnikiewicz’s photographs and Annie Grunow’s words helped to paint a picture of the vast, diverse region referred to as the ‘Caucasus’:

While the Armenians, Georgians and Chechens may be most familiar, there are countless other peoples in the Caucasus who staunchly retain their own ethnic identities. Geographic names usually reflect a portion of an area’s ethnic population, but by no means can a geographic name be mistaken for ethnic homogeneity. Linguistic and religious differences also occur within a seemingly distinct ethnicity. Refugee and emigrant populations further confound the picture.

Abkhazians, Chechens and Ossetians are present in both Georgia and Russia; each group is struggling to gain some degree of autonomy. Abkhazians and Ossetians, which are distinct ethnic groups with their own languages, are largely Orthodox Christians.

For more, read Where Europe Meets Asia.

Tags: Cultural Identity Armenia Caucasus

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