27 April 2016
CNEWA’s Director of Development Norma Intriago speaks to the Rosary Altar Society at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey last weekend. (photo: CNEWA)
The closer you get to the Jersey Shore, the more idyllic everything seems. If it’s not the cedar shake siding on the quaint homes, it’s the little ice cream shops or perhaps even the way the pine trees could almost masquerade as palm trees as they sway with the wind.
A recent visit to Point Pleasant Beach, in fact, sent us from New York down the parkway and into the heart of this idyllic community. Norma Intriago, CNEWA’s Director of Development, and I were privileged to offer a presentation to the Rosary Altar Society at St. Peter’s Catholic Church — a bedrock of the Point Pleasant community and a beautiful church and school at that.
Our presentation highlighted the suffering and the hope of the people of Iraq who have fled ISIS — often not just once, but two or three times as the terrorist group gained territory, forcing migration farther east across the Nineveh Plain. Not all who have fled to places like Erbil made it there safely, such as the Yazidi father and son who are now without mother and wife, daughter and sister. Their stories have become important, but difficult for us to hear and share.
That said, while much can and should be told of the tragedy these Iraqis are facing, our work there for, with, and through people such as the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena means that we can focus on sharing stories of faith and hope. They are stories about the start of a makeshift school that sees 500 eager students daily. They are stories of clinics and pharmacies offering much-needed healthcare. They are stories that would never have been told had the people here not been connected with the people there.
Bringing our program to the parish level is, for me, all about supporting those connections and saying, “This is what’s happening; these are the brothers and sisters it’s happening to, and here’s the hope you’re bringing them.” The people of the Point Pleasant community so understood and appreciated that message and they were eager to be even more connected.
Indeed, at the end of our presentation, a kind gentleman in the audience shared that his young daughter had brought home a flier about our event. He knew he had to come, he said. After all, he’s a Christian from Baghdad who knew well the plight his people are facing. And this work is so very important to him. Norma and I couldn't have been more thankful for our time there and for the people we met.
If you’re interested in having CNEWA visit your parish and spread our mission of hope, please do not hesitate to contact Norma Intriago, Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philip W. Eubanks is a Development Associate for CNEWA in New York City.