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Volume 44, Number 4
7 June 2016
Greg Kandra

In this image from the 1970’s, Msgr. John G. Nolan greets the children at the Pontifical Mission Orphanage in Bethlehem during one of his frequent visits. (photo: CNEWA)

“A rascal for God” is how longtime CNEWA president Msgr. Robert Stern described Bishop John G. Nolan, who served CNEWA for 25 years as National Secretary and then President. Bishop Nolan had “a fantastic imagination,” Msgr. Stern wrote, and loved a good story. But above all, this “rascal” had a special commitment to orphans, particularly those CNEWA helped support in Bethlehem.

As Msgr. Stern wrote not long after Bishop Nolan’s death in 1997:

His heart was always in the Holy Land. As did his predecessors, he spent every Christmas there. He always shared in the ceremony and splendor of Midnight Mass in Bethlehem. Then, Christmas morning, he would go to the Pontifical Mission Girls’ Orphanage and offer Mass for them. After, with the children gathered around him, the celebrant would become Santa Claus, giving each of them her gift. “This is my parish,” he would say with deep feeling. “This is my family.”

His background and experience were far-ranging and far-reaching:

The youngest of six children, John Nolan was born in Mechanicville, N.Y. He entered the former St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville, Md., and completed theological studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and at Theological College of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Ordained for the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., on 11 June 1949, Bishop Nolan served in parishes and held a number of teaching positions, including a post at the College of St. Rose. In 1956, Bishop Nolan earned a doctorate in theology from Catholic University.

Appointed to CNEWA in 1962, Bishop Nolan succeeded Archbishop (then Msgr.) Joseph T. Ryan as National Secretary in 1965. Bishop Nolan initiated a number of fund-raising programs, including an Annuity Program in 1968. Children were dear to the heart of Bishop Nolan and he started CNEWA’s Needy Child Sponsorship Program during his tenure. An expert on Middle East affairs, he visited the region often and was regularly consulted by the Holy See. In 1974, Bishop Nolan established Catholic Near East magazine. In 1985, he initiated a reorganization of CNEWA to expand its services. Ordained by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 6 January 1988, Bishop Nolan was responsible for the chaplaincy program for U.S. military personnel stationed in Europe. Among his many awards was the Gold Cross of the Council of Rhodes, presented by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I in 1967. Bishop Nolan was the first Catholic to receive this award.

In 1976, our magazine described his great commitment to the care of orphans of Bethlehem:

Monsignor John Nolan, President of the Pontifical Mission and National Secretary of Catholic Near East, has spent many a Christmas with “his children.” His greatest wish is that each child in need will find a home here as these happy youngsters have, and that no child in Bethlehem need ever hear the words, “There is room...”

But perhaps it was Msgr. Stern who best captured his character and personality:

Wherever he went, whomever he was with, he would spin them a fascinating tale...His imagination was so great that he always imagined others would respond with the same love he had.

At Bishop Nolan’s funeral in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, when all the tributes were paid and prayers said, his former boss and good friend, John Cardinal O’Connor, fondly reminded the congregation that, besides everything else, John Nolan was a rascal!

The world needs more heroic “rascals” like John Nolan — and we’re grateful his legacy lives on in CNEWA’s care for children around the world, care made possible through generous donors who help to give these little ones a place to call home.

To continue Bishop John G. Nolan’s work and help care for needy children, visit this page.

7 June 2016
Greg Kandra

Women from Manhari, Egypt, weave religious articles in a program supported by the eparchy. For a closer look at the challenges facing some Christians in that corner of the world, read Upper Egypt’s Copts in the July-August 2002 edition of our magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)

7 June 2016
Greg Kandra

Police officers secure the area near the scene of a bomb attack in Istanbul, Turkey,
on 7 June 2016. (photo: Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images)

At least 11 killed, dozens injured in rush hour car bombing in Istanbul (Chicago Tribune) Rush-hour car bomb attack targeting a bus carrying riot police killed 11 people and wounded 36 others Tuesday, Istanbul’s governor said. Speaking at the scene of the blast in the district of Beyazit, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the dead included seven police officers and four civilians. At least three of the wounded were in serious condition. The explosion was caused by a bomb placed inside a car and was detonated as the police vehicle was passing by, Sahin said...

Assad vows to “liberate” Syria (Associated Press) The Syrian president vowed on Tuesday to “liberate” every inch of the country in the same way his troops earlier this year recaptured the historic town of Palmyra from the Islamic State group. Bashar Assad’s speech in front of the newly-elected parliament came as government forces pushed ahead in their offensive in the northern province of Raqqa, which is home to the de facto capital of IS and the seat of its self-proclaimed caliphate. Government forces have also almost encircled rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city...

Chaldean patriarch calls for an “exceptional Ramadan” (Fides) “The month of Ramadan offers a propitious time for fasting, prayer, repentance and to change mentality and behavior, in order to live in peace with oneself and others.” These are the first lines of the letter that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I addressed to his Muslim compatriots, on the occasion of the holy month of Muslims, particularly characterized by the practice of fasting combined with prayer...

Ethiopia’s Christians mark Ramadan alongside Muslims (Andalou Agency) The sun had already sunk below the blood red horizon in Addis Ababa’s neighborhood of Semien Mazegaja as Jemal Ahmed and his wife Kebedech Aliyu prepared for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Sitting in their neat one-bedroom home with their year-old twins Ismael and Issac sleeping nearby, Jemal, a Muslim, and his Orthodox Christian wife Kebedech explained how their different faiths did not prevent them from honoring each other’s religions. “Thanks God, we lead a happy and cheerful marriage,” Jemal, 31, told Anadolu Agency. “We are faithful to our beliefs and a marriage that made us one...”

Restoration work begins on Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre (Fides) A major restoration project has begun at the shrine inside Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is said to have been buried before his resurrection. The experts involved in the work started yesterday, Monday 6 June. Greek architect Antonia Moropoulou, professor at the National Technical University of Athens, scientific coordinator of the project, said in some statements released to the media that the Aedicule structure is stable, but it needs urgent restoration, after years of exposure to environmental factors such as water, humidity and smoke candles...

6 June 2016
CNEWA staff

CNEWA’s multimedia magazine ONE once again took top honors at the Catholic Press Association awards dinner on Friday. The magazine won 17 awards — including First Place for General Excellence — at the Catholic Media Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

In singling out the exceptional work of the magazine, the judges wrote:

Religious journalism at its best is an exchange of ideas. ONE magazine epitomizes exchanging ideas in that each issue is filled with a variety of ideas and issues, big and small, extravagant and simple. The stories are complete, well written and interesting. This is a great example of a link between missions and those of us at home.

Impressive visually and textually, ONE presents a global perspective on the need and efficacy of Catholic mission activity. Each issue enriches the reader with a broad view of the world wide Catholic community, its needs, challenges and achievements. Perhaps the most powerful tool in its communication array is the use of unforgettable, poignant photographs that draw one to the well-written text.

The panel of judges was comprised of journalism professors from Marquette University and Spring Hill College — many with extensive professional experience in the field.

A complete list of the awards for ONE can be found below, with links to the stories:

First Place:

General Excellence (Mission Magazine)
“Perhaps the most powerful tool in its communication array is the use of unforgettable, poignant photographs that draw one to the well-written text.”

Best Essay Originating With a Magazine or Newsletter (Mission Magazine)
A Letter From Ethiopia by Sister Ayelech Gebeyehu, D.C.
“A personal narrative told with not a note of cloying sentiment.”

Best Feature Article (Mission Magazine)
Coming Home by Don Duncan
“A very interesting look at the relationship of a monastery of old with its followers and locals in a world of continuous turmoil.”

Best Online Presentation of Multimedia Visuals
“Divine Intervention” by Raed Rafei
“An intimate portrait that shows the Syrian refugee crisis from an angle not generally explored. Very powerful.”

Best Electronic Newsletter
“Discover ONE Online” by Staff
“Top notch publication design. Attractive and easy to navigate. I enjoyed the content and just exploring the site.”

Second Place:

Best Multiple Picture Package (Feature Package)
A Day in the Life of a Husband, Father, Factory Worker, Priest by Karen Callaway
“Very interesting story. Great photos.”

Best Online Presentation of Multimedia Visuals
In Limbo in Lebanon: Iraqi Refugees Starting Over by Raed Rafei
“Stark and powerful storytelling through video interviews.”

Third Place:

Best Essay Originating With a Magazine or Newsletter (Mission Magazine)
A Letter From Ukraine by Olena Malchyn
“Tells a story that is likely unusual for its readers — a fresh angle, a fresh voice and personal details that make … the piece compelling.”

Best Annual Report (Catholic Nonprofit Organization)
CNEWA 2015 Annual Report by Staff
“Well designed with information … presented in a clear and consistent format.”

Best Single Photo Originating With a Magazine or Newsletter
“Chaldean Catholic sister congratulates newly ordained nephew” by Nancy Wiechec
“Storytelling images are often fleeting moments that are easily missed. This moment was captured and that … is all that was needed to tell this story.”

Best In-Depth Writing
Serving in the Red by Jose Kavi
“The quality of the fact reporting wrapped into a narrative that illustrates the beauty of the individuals involved is what made this piece stand out.”

Best Online Presentation of Multimedia Visuals
A Priest’s Wife by Joyce Duriga
“A frank, straightforward and informative interview format.”

Honorable Mentions:

Best Feature Article (Mission Magazine)
Casualties of War by Mark Raczkiewycz

Best Multiple Picture Package (Feature Package)
A Day in the Life of an Israeli Priest by Ilene Perlman
“Nice photos on an interesting topic.”

Best Online Content Not Published in Print (Written Content)
“Selected Blog Essays, November-December 2015” by Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D. — e.g.:

“Cover[s] Catholic relations with other faiths in a way that encourages openness, honesty and trust. Historical documents … are used quite well. The blog writer … is very much the expert.”

Individual Excellence (Graphic Artist/Designer)
Paul Grillo
“Great use of space, color, text, photography and design principles. Consistency between pieces, but not sameness. Very good work.”

Individual Excellence (Editor)
J.D. Conor Mauro
“Engaging text. … Top-notch editing and design skills. A strong entry.”

Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine Catholic Press

6 June 2016
Greg Kandra

Students in Ethiopia examine their report cards for their final grades and evaluations for the year. To read more about schools in Addis Ababa, check out It’s Not Just Talk and Chalk from the Summer 2013 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

6 June 2016
Greg Kandra

A group of Maronite Catholics from the United States traveled to Rome last weekend with their Lebanese bishop, who spoke of his country’s challenges during the present refugee crisis.
(video: Rome Reports)

US-backed force in Syria closes in on ISIS-held city (Reuters) U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have surrounded the Islamic State-held city of Manbij from three sides as they press an offensive against the jihadists near the Turkish border, a spokesman for the fighters said on Monday. The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), including the powerful Kurdish YPG militia and Arab allies, launched the attack last week with the ultimate aim of dislodging Islamic State from its last foothold at the Syrian-Turkish frontier...

World’s Muslims mark beginning of Ramadan (Al Jazeera) Millions of Muslims around the world are marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, a time marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and good deeds . Religious authorities in most Middle Eastern countries announced the new moon of Ramadan was spotted on Sunday evening...

Syrian children are breadwinners in Lebanon (Associated Press) More than 1.1 million Syrians have sought refuge here since the start of the 2011 uprising, more than half of them children. The U.N.’s children agency, UNICEF, says there are 2.8 million children out of school in the region, and child refugees are particularly at risk of exploitation and abuse, with large numbers having no choice but to go to work...

Synagogue hosts welcome dinner for Syrian refugees (The Washington Post) In Syria, Mostafa Hassoun was told that Jews were the enemy of Syrians and that Israel was out to occupy and oppress his people. But then he fled his country — and he gained access to the Internet. One of the first topics he read about online was the Holocaust. And his attitude shifted drastically. On Thursday, Hassoun found himself in a building he might never have thought he would enter — a synagogue — to speak to people he had been taught to hate — Jews...

Thousands attend memorial for Ethiopian Jews who died on way to Israel (The Jerusalem Post) At a ceremony Sunday memorializing those who perished en route from Ethiopia to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to eradicate racism in Israeli society. “This is an alarming phenomenon among us. It’s something that is unacceptable,” he said at the national memorial ceremony held on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. “We are against this with all our might, and it has no place in Israel. You are the flesh of our flesh, an integral part of our nation, equal among equals...”

Vladimir Putin visits Mount Athos (BBC) Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the monasteries at Mount Athos, in northern Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites. Mr. Putin joined celebrations at the monastery of St Panteleimon to mark 1,000 years of Russian monks at Mount Athos. He was accompanied by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church...

3 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

The Rev. Joaqim Unfal tends to a garden at Mar Evgin Monastery, a fourth-century Syriac Orthodox monastery in the mountains of Tur Abdin, Turkey. To learn more about the Christians who have returned to this ancient homeland, read Coming Home in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)

Tags: Cultural Identity Turkey Monastery Syriac Christians

3 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch meets with children as they take part in a day of activities and prayers at a church in Damascus. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)

U.N. plans no imminent aid airdrops in Syria, despite expired deadline (New York Times) The United Nations on Thursday dimmed any prospect of immediate airdrops of aid to Syrian civilians trapped by the war, despite an expired deadline imposed on Syria’s government to allow unfettered humanitarian access by land. United Nations officials said the World Food Program, its anti-hunger agency, had no imminent plans for airdrops even though the organization had known for more than two weeks about the deadline, which expired on Wednesday…

Syria’s Roma refugees find tenuous sanctuary in an Istanbul ghetto (The Guardian) On the north-western corner of Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square, a small gang of children dart through the traffic, tapping on car windows and trying to catch the attention of passers-by to sell bottles of water. These Syrian Roma children from a community known as the Dom are in many ways the forgotten faces of the Middle East crisis, which has left an estimated 26,000 refugee children homeless across Europe. The Dom speak a separate language which traces back to the Indian subcontinent; even in times of peace they have always existed on the fringes of society, and are used to facing almost universal discrimination…

Syrian refugees help bail out German towns amid massive flooding (Christian Science Monitor) As floodwaters sweep through Europe, some refugees are pitching in to help with the disaster relief efforts. “We know what it means to live in a crisis area and to lose your home,” Syrian Naja al Hassas told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, as he assisted with clean-up in the German town of Simbach am Inn…

More shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim migrants’ lives, spur recriminations (Washington Post) The death toll from a week of migrant-smuggling disasters in the Mediterranean spiked Friday with the discovery of more than 100 drowning victims off the Libyan coast amid searches for survivors of at least two other stricken boats in waters off Crete and Egypt…

Bulgarian Orthodox Church withdraws from Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete (Sofia Globe) The governing body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod, signaled on 1 June its withdrawal from the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church to be held in Crete from 16 to 26 June. Strictly speaking, the Holy Synod demanded the postponement of the council unless its various demands were met, but given that this is unlikely to happen, the Synod’s decision effectively amounts to withdrawal. The Pan-Orthodox Council has been planned as the first such gathering in about 1000 years…

How one Jerusalem neighborhood has been left to fend for itself (Al Monitor) Kufr Aqab, an area of the Jerusalem municipality that is situated beyond the wall, is in “no-man’s-land.” The Israelis who hold sovereignty here fail to take their responsibility to provide services to the area and its residents, and the Palestinian Authority is not allowed to enter the area, leaving it unregulated with garbage often uncollected and water filling the streets…

Tags: Syria Jerusalem Migrants Bulgarian Orthodox Church Roma

2 June 2016
Greg Kandra

Sister Ayelech Gebeyehu helps administer a church-funded school food program for children who lack the means for daily lunch. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

If you want to find a real CNEWA hero, consider looking in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, where a woman named Sister Ayelech Gebeyehu oversees nearly 1,000 children at the Blessed Gebremichael Catholic School.

A member of the Daughters of Charity, Sister Ayelech has a special mission to “serve the poorest of the poor.” This includes making regular visits to 30 poor families, whose children attend the school. Some of the parents have tested positive for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

She told us some of her story several months ago:

My work brings me satisfaction. The children continue studying, and some of them go to university. But it is first the will of God that is most important to me. God is very good to me. He made so many things happen to me in my life, so many things that I couldn’t have done by myself. God is always with me. Every day, he is with me.

I think God has given me the gift to lead. But I have struggled to lead, to reach this place. I have made a lot of mistakes, many times. Every day is a struggle. Every day we are trying to change. We are trying to live for God. We fail on a daily basis. We argue with the sisters. We argue with people in the work place. In spite of all this, forgiveness is there — we forgive each other. We are trying to do our work for God. We try to help each other in our spiritual life and in community life, too.

Her commitment and love for the people she serves is heroic — and, we think, even holy.

To help support Sister Ayelech, visit this link. And please keep her and her people in your prayers.

Tags: Ethiopia Children Sisters Catholic education

2 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Iraqi Assyro-Chaldean refugees celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Mar Elias Church in Beirut. To learn more about Iraqi Christians in Lebanon and the challenges they face, read In Limbo in Lebanon from the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)

Tags: Lebanon Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees Chaldean Church

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