Current Issue
July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
2 May 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

A man sells bananas in his small shop in a camp for internally displaced families in Ain Kawa, in northern Iraq. Residents of the camp, mostly Christians, were displaced from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other communities in Iraq when ISIS swept through the area in 2014. Read more about the displaced Christians of Iraq, and efforts to assist them, in a web exclusive story in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)

Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees

2 May 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Palestinians stage a protest against Israeli siege over Palestinian lands and power cuts in Gaza City on 2 May 2017. (photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Catholic leaders urge Israel to meet Palestinian hunger strikers’ demands (CNS) Catholic leaders in the Holy Land urged Israel to concede to demands of Palestinian political prisoners on a hunger strike since 17 April. The prisoners are seeking an improvement in their prison conditions and an end to administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold prisoners almost indefinitely without having to charge them with a crime. The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said the prisoners are asking that their human rights and dignity be respected according to international law and the Geneva Convention…

Problems faced by Egypt’s Coptic Christians run far deeper than ISIS attacks (The Independent) As a minority (maybe 10 percent of Egyptians), Christians naturally need the regime to protect them. Their fear — that the government deliberately failed to guard their churches (untrue) and the ignorant attacks on them by equally untrained, untaught Muslim preachers in upper Egypt (sadly true) — drew them closer and closer to Sisi. They became associated with the regime itself…

Kurdish-Arab alliance advances against ISIS near Raqqa (AINA) U.S.-backed fighters have captured 80 percent of Syria’s Tabqa from ISIS, a monitor said on Monday, a week after they first entered the town. The Syrian Democratic Forces broke into Tabqa from the south last week and have steadily advanced north, cornering ISIS in three contiguous neighborhoods on the bank of the Euphrates River. The strategic town of Tabqa sits on a supply route about 35 miles west of Raqqa city, the de facto capital of ISIS territory in Syria…

Two million children forced to work in Turkey, including refugees (AsiaNews) About two million children work in Turkey, 78 percent of them without proper papers or health coverage. Officially, workplace accidents claimed the life of 56 of them in the past year, this according to a study released today by the DISK Genel-Is trade union confederation…

Iraq’s challenging path to reconciliation (Der Spiegel) Just outside recently liberated Mosul, two judges have been tasked with punishing Islamic State followers who committed crimes and helping victims find justice. But without any way to gather evidence, the process often verges on farce — and could lead to a new cycle of violence…

Middle East peace effort lacks progress on political front (U.N. News Center) The lack of progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is impeding Palestine’s development, according to a new United Nations report, which also reiterates the international community’s commitment to a two-state solution in the region…

Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Palestine Turkey

1 May 2017
Greg Kandra

In the video above, you can learn more about the remarkable fundraiser arranged by students in Westchester, New York last weekend — a benefit concert which netted more than $15,000, with all proceeds going to support CNEWA’s work among the people of Syria. (video: CNEWA)

It sounded like a nice idea that might raise a little money and get some attention.

It got a lot more than that.

Last Friday, a remarkable fundraiser by a group of New York teenagers known as Relief United drew a crowd of some 300 people to a park in Westchester, New York — and, at last count, raised more than $15,000 to support CNEWA’s work with the people of Syria.

This was beyond anything we expected. As I told someone Friday night: “This is incredible.” You can see a video report of the event above.

Local media turned out to cover the concert and talk with the kids behind it.


Really making a difference in the world is an ambitious idea seven teens from Westchester are truly committed to.

“Even the smallest person can make a change,” a teen said.

Motivated by the disturbing images and headlines coming from Syria, the longtime friends organized a picnic and benefit concert at Kingsland Point Park Friday to raise money for Syrian refugee families, hospitals, and schools.

“We look at it on TV and we talk about it, but what are we doing?” said Michal Kozlowski, a student. “So I got together with a bunch of my friends and this started with a little dance in a little church and it’s just expanded.”

“I don’t like to think of it as us helping Syrians, because that makes them seem so distant and far away from us,” said Gibran Mourani, a student. “I like to think of it as teenagers helping teenagers, families helping families.”

Some of the teenagers who supported the event pose for a snapshot with CNEWA development associate Phillip Eubanks and multimedia editor Greg Kandra, who are kneeling in the front.
(photo: Chris Kennedy)

As we first reported last month, the benefit began a long way from Westchester:

“It started at World Youth Day in Krakow,” says Michal Kozlowski, a junior at Regis High School in New York City. “One of my friends I met there is from Syria and he started telling me about his brother, who lives under ISIS. He was speaking from the heart about what he had to do just to survive. Then Pope Francis spoke to us and said, ‘The leaders of today dream in their comfy couches but they don’t get out of that couch and make that dream a reality.’ The crowd roared and I thought: ‘I’ve got to do something.”

That planted the seed, which eventually grew into Friday’s event:

“Hopefully,” Michal says, “this can have an impact similar to what I had at World Youth Day. We want to organize energetic youth under a common, good goal to do something good.”

“This is something we feel passionate about,” adds Nick Sinopoli, another junior from Regis working with Michal on the project. “It’s something we can do to make a real difference in the world.”

In addition to music and food, the fundraiser offered opportunities to write notes to Syrian refugees, provided information about CNEWA and our work in the region, and even gave kids a chance to have their names tattooed on their arms (with a Sharpie) in Arabic.

Teenagers who attended had a chance to have their names written on their arm in Arabic.
(photo: Chris Kennedy)

It was something all of us who were there will remember for a long time. And we remain both humbled and grateful to the hardworking kids (and their parents and teachers!) who made this event possible — and all those who took part, who will be making such a difference in the lives of so many in Syria.

Our thanks go out to Michal Kozlowski, Lilly McHale, Nick Sinopoli, Michael Gauguin, Gibran Mourani, Jane Singman and Joe Gullotta, and to their supportive parents.

Michal Kozlowski, joined by some of the teenagers who helped organize the Relief United benefit concert, speaks to the hundreds of friends and supporters who attended the event in Westchester on 29 April. (photo: Greg Kandra)

Tags: CNEWA Middle East Christians

1 May 2017
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis’s visit last weekend to Egypt — where he was joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew of Constantinople — brought together for the first time the heads of the churches of Rome and Constantinople with the leaders of the church founded in Egypt by St. Mark the Evangelist: Theodoros II, Orthodox pope and patriarch of Alexandria; Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox pope and patriarch of Alexandria; and Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Tags: Egypt Ecumenism Africa Eastern Christianity Egypt's Christians

1 May 2017
Greg Kandra

In the video above, Pope Francis speaks to Egyptian Catholics during Mass on Saturday 29 April.
(video: CNS)

True faith means loving others to the extreme, pope tells Egypt’s Catholics (CNS) The only kind of fanaticism that is acceptable to God is being fanatical about loving and helping others, Pope Francis said on his final day in Egypt. “True faith,” he told Catholics, “makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane. It moves our hearts to love everyone without counting the cost...”

Pope to Egypt’s priests and seminarians: be sowers of hope and dialogue (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday told Egypt’s priests, religious and seminarians to be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue, despite the many difficulties they face...

Pope in Egypt: Catholics and Copts recognize shared baptism (Vatican Radio) In a common declaration, signed by Pope Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, Catholics and Copts declare for the first time that they will recognise each other’s sacrament of baptism...

Turkey sacks 4,000 more officials in crackdown (BBC) The Turkish government has sacked almost 4,000 more public officials in what appears to be the latest purge related to a failed coup last July. They include more than 1,000 justice ministry workers, a similar number of army staff and more than 100 air force pilots, officials said. In a separate decree, Turkey banned TV dating shows — a move previously mooted by the government. Earlier on Saturday, Turkey blocked the online encyclopedia Wikipedia...

Caritas India helps farmers avoid migration (Vatican Radio) Caritas India has started the Agrarian Prosperity Program (APP) in several northern Indian villages to provide the villagers with alternative sources of income and to check economic migration. Caritas introduced farmers to new techniques such as organic farming, a system to preserve indigenous seeds besides intensifying activities to save water such as renovation and construction of check dams, ponds, tanks and wells...

Student-run Relief United raises funds for Syria (WABC) Really making a difference in the world is an ambitious idea seven teens from Westchester are truly committed to. “Even the smallest person can make a change,” a teen said. Motivated by the disturbing images and headlines coming from Syria, the longtime friends organized a picnic and benefit concert at Kingsland Point Park Friday to raise money for Syrian refugee families, hospitals, and schools...

New York high school students raise $15,000 for CNEWA’s work in Syria ( Seven school students brought the community together Friday night in Sleepy Hollow to raise money for people struggling throughout Syria. As more than 300 people came out to support, the students say they well exceeded their goal of $5,000 in donations, crossing $15,000 in eight months...

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