2 August 2016
The Rev. Jose Manjiyil, C.S.T., seen in this file photo from 1998, has worked for decades to give dignity to the poor in India. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
As a Catholic missionary, the Rev. Jose Manjiyil, C.S.T. spent 30 years of his priestly life in the mission territory of Gorakhpur-Nepal Province of Little Flower Congregation (known as the C.S.T. Fathers).
Ordained a priest in 1986, Father Jose is also a lawyer and educator; he holds a Ph.D. in civil law, along with degrees in Arts and Education.
Through the years, he has been a good companion of CNEWA. His relationship with CNEWA began in 1997, when we provided financial assistance for constructing Mount Carmel Church in Gorakhpur.
In the years that followed, St. Mary’s Primary School was upgraded to a Hindi medium school for the poor children of the villages recognized by the Uttar Pradesh Government, thanks to Father Jose’s hard work and the generosity of American donors through CNEWA.
But healing the sick in Gorakhpur was Father Jose’s main concern. CNEWA supported his mission — and he received acclaim for his efforts.
He was honored with the Best Social Worker award in 1998 by the District Collector and Magistrate of Gorakhypur, Uttar Pradesh, India. The same year, he was featured in our magazine, describing his efforts to help the poor:
“The problem we face is poverty,” says Father Jose. “You know it, but you don’t feel it. If you ask a mother to add just one more spoonful of medicine to help a child, she will answer, ‘How can I? Where should I get it?’
“You can feel that poverty when you go to the village. We say you have to do this or that to prevent a disease and, if the people are poor, we will give them the medicines. But you still have to get them to want to do it.”
Diocesan social workers go from village to village to offer health care and teach villagers basic hygiene. They teach mothers natural methods of family planning and administer immunization programs; the task is gargantuan and, at times, frustrating.
“Our goal is empowerment,” says Father Jose, “to teach people how to keep clean and treat problems at home.
Father Jose’s hard work has brought smiles to many who persevered in difficult moments of life. He has attracted a beautiful blend of young and old. He cherishes them all. To quote him, “Old is gold, youth is bold. When you put both together, products are sold.”
CNEWA continues its support in Gorakhpur today among the poor — providing faith formation, help with hygiene and sanitation, assistance with finances, and pastoral outreach programs.
Today, Father Jose is the Director of Educational Institutions under the Little Flower Congregation, which runs more than 60 schools, technical schools and colleges.
He has been a great asset to the Catholic Church in India — and is a true CNEWA hero.
28 July 2016
Sister Imre serves residents at the St. Macrina Home in Máriapócs, Hungary.
(photo: Tivadar Domaniczky)
Sister Imre Ágota is one of several tireless sisters who have worked to restore the faith in Hungary after the collapse of Communism:
In 1991, 14 surviving Basilian sisters — including Imre Ágota, now mother superior — returned to their monastery in Máriapócs. Today, only 7 remain, and of these only 4 are active.
The community, like other Hungarian Greek Catholic religious communities, has had difficulties recruiting novices. Several women have tried community life, but each one soon left. The sisters hope and pray for more novices, but if none enters, the simple passing of time will accomplish what 40 years of Communist anti-religious policy could not.
In recent years, Hungary’s declining birthrate and aging population have strained the economy, which is still recovering from the transition from a controlled to a free market system. With this in mind, the sisters have devoted themselves to caring for their peers — the elderly — who are poorly served by the state system.
Once they restored their monastery, the sisters went straight to work. In 1992, they bought a building behind the monastery and opened St. Macrina Nursing Home, a 25-room room facility for elderly women.
Despite challenges and setbacks, the sisters have remained hopeful.
“I’m a teacher,” Sister Imre Ágota said, “not an economist.” But, she continued, “we are optimistic because we have always received donations. Slowly, slowly money comes in and things get done.”
“I am retired,” Sister Imre Ágota laughed, describing her typical day of work and prayer, which begins at 5 a.m. and ends as late as 11 p.m.
“It’s just that as mother superior, I’m now busier than I’ve ever been.”
Still, she is already thinking about another project: returning to teaching. “My heart beats for it,” she said.
That tireless spirit of hope renews so many who live and work in CNEWA’s world — and it’s one reason why Sister Imre is a CNEWA hero.
26 July 2016
Archbishop Michel Sabbah served as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1987 to 2008, working tirelessly to promote peace and justice in the Holy Land. (photo: CNEWA archives)
When he was named Archbishop and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1987, Michel Sabbah made history. He was the first non-Italian to hold the position. But he knew the region intimately, growing up in a Palestinian Christian family in the hometown of Jesus, Nazareth.
He became a tireless advocate for peace, reconciliation and justice in the Holy Land — themes he echoed in 1989 when, breaking from tradition, he delivered a stirring and eloquent homily during Midnight Mass in Bethlehem:
We pray for peace and justice in our Holy Land which has been bathed in the blood and the torment of its children for many years, but particularly in these last two years.
First, we address our children in Bethlehem — all the Palestinian people. We say to them: We are living your ordeal and we understand your torment. We understand why you ask us how it is that we can celebrate Christmas, its joy, its message of salvation, in the midst of this humiliating ordeal, of ransacked homes, of children who are killed and imprisoned?
To you we say: In spite of this ordeal, your dark night, and in fact because of it, we will continue to announce to you the joy of the Savior who has been born for the salvation of all.
We invite you to contemplate the Savior to reflect on God and his eternal Word. We invite you to gaze upon the spirit, which is the revelation of the kindness and love of God, in order to renew your faith in God and in mankind. In spite of all misfortune which surrounds you, there are men of goodwill, there is goodness in humanity and in all people. This goodness will finally overcome evil.
We also say to you who are suffering this ordeal and this dark night, to prepare yourselves for love and for forgiveness.
The love in your hearts will save you and render you just — the love for God and for those who cause you torment. For it is when each one discovers the face of God in his adversary that justice and peace will be established.
During his years as patriarch, he served for a time as International President of Pax Christi, spoke out in support of Palestinian rights and called for an end to Israeli occupation. His efforts on behalf of peace and justice in the Holy Land have continued after his retirement in 2008. He works closely with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and in 2009 launched Kairo Palestine, a movement advocating for the end of Israeli occupation and a just solution to the crisis in his homeland.
His concern and love for all those who suffer in the land we call “holy” marks Michel Sabbah as a kindred spirit and close collaborator of CNEWA — and, indeed, one of our heroes.
19 July 2016
The Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., lights a candle during a baptism ceremony at Mass for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. (photo: CNS/courtesy www.catholic.co.il)
The Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., oversees one of the more unusual flocks in Israel, Hebrew-speaking Catholics:
With just 500 active members, including children, Israel’s Hebrew-speaking Catholic community is so small that many Catholics around the world, and most Israelis, do not know of its existence. It endures as a vibrant contradistinction: Catholics celebrating their faith in a country that is overwhelmingly Jewish, worshiping in Hebrew, marking Jewish feasts and traditions, and honoring many local customs. Yet they are undeniably, proudly Catholic.
Father Neuhaus is the Latin patriarchal vicar for this group. He was born in South Africa to German Jewish parents and converted to Catholicism at the age of 26. Now he works to continue passing on the faith:
One of the challenges is to continue making the faith resonate, especially among the young. In most Catholic communities around the world, “even the children who stop coming to church return to get married and to baptize their children,” Father Neuhaus notes.
“With us, it’s completely different. Once our children stop coming to church, we never see them again.
“The church,” he adds, “becomes invisible in their lives.”
And that’s not all. He is also working to make the church visible in the lives of the immigrant population. In the Summer 2016 edition of ONE, Diane Handel looks at how Father Neuhaus ministers to migrants in Israel. Together with CNEWA and a number of mostly European Catholic donors, he has founded child care centers to serve Israel’s marginalized communities, especially asylum seekers and migrant workers.
The challenges in his corner of the world are significant. As we noted three years ago:
The Arab Christian community “is a traumatized community” because of the displacement of so many Palestinians, Father Neuhaus notes. “We live in a country full of friction, we on the Israeli Jewish side and many of our Catholic brothers and sisters on the Palestinian side, so this friction is present in the church as well. “The challenge,” he concludes, “is to live the unity of the Body of Christ despite the divisions of politics, violence and war.”
That heroic spirit helps carry on part of CNEWA’s mission: to affirm human dignity, encourage dialogue and inspire hope. Want to keep that spirit alive and growing? Visit this link to learn how you can help.
14 July 2016
In this photo from 2005, Sister Winifred Doherty enjoys lunch with children at Good Shepherd School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
For 16 years, Sister Winifred Doherty of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd — informally known as the Good Shepherd Sisters — ministered to the poor in Ethiopia.
In 2012, citing dwindling vocations, the congregation suspended its work in the country. But we can’t forget the tremendous good work that Sister Winifred accomplished — work that is, in every sense, heroic.
Much of her ministry was devoted to helping those who had become victims of trafficking:
“While our ministry as Good Shepherd Sisters always had women in prostitution in mind,” says Sister Winifred, “we took a more direct approach in October 1994.
“The distresses of these women are many: poverty, depression, unwanted pregnancy, homelessness, the threat of AIDS, the distress of working on the streets — they face these things every day. But we listen to them and invite them into friendship.
“A novice and I used to venture out two nights a week to meet these women,” she continues. “I remember those nights when we walked the roads beside our house. There was some initial nervousness, but soon these feelings disappeared.
“I recall one woman who was out on the road only two nights after giving birth by Caesarean section. Immediately we drove this woman to her house outside the city where her little baby lay alone. The woman had no money for food, the rent was due and there were no social services available! Ongoing support for this woman meant teaching her rudimentary baby care, buying milk for the baby and providing financial support when she or the baby got sick or the rent was due. We were ready to help.
“My direct street ministry with these women only lasted seven months, but the friendships have continued. Today these women are involved in various training programs and income-generating activities such as card-making, cosmetology, catering, bamboo crafts, weaving and others.”
In 2012, as she embarked on a new chapter in her life, she looked back with fondness at her time in Ethiopia, and her congregation’s efforts to bring dignity to the poor and marginalized:
The work of the Good Shepherd congregation is about compassion and reconciliation. It is identifying and wanting to be close to and in solidarity with people who have been excluded — especially women and girls — and the most excluded groups are people living in poverty, women who have been forced into prostitution and, today, women and girls, boys and men, who have been trafficked. So I am energized by the work that we do. …
The one thing that always stood out for me was the spirit of the people, their sense of hope in the midst of desperate situations. I often think of them. Even when I was there, I remarked on their richness of spirit. Despite dire circumstances — horrible poverty and often threatening environments — they continue to give freely, share rich relationships with one another and seek to live in peace. That always impressed me and, of course, that was informed by their faith in God and their great prayer lives.
You can view a video interview with Sister Winifred below.
12 July 2016
Tags: Ethiopia Sisters human trafficking
Sister Nabila Saleh serves as principal of the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza, helping children trying to heal from the wounds of war. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Sister Nabila Saleh has been working on behalf of young people for whom war, tragically, is just another way of life: the children of Gaza. The world they are living in was thrown into turmoil during the summer of 2014, when a seven-week-long war left much of the area devastated:
A report published in 2012 by the United Nations notes the Gaza Strip has “one of the youngest populations worldwide,” with about 51 percent of the population under 18 years of age.That same report predicted the Gaza Strip could become virtually unlivable by 2020, according to available trend data for access to food, drinking water, electricity, sanitation infrastructure, health care and schooling. A shortage of clean water alone could create a crisis as early as 2016, due to the accelerating depletion of groundwater wells and inadequate sewage systems.
Additionally, the Palestinian Ministry of Education lists hundreds of schools as damaged, and dozens destroyed entirely. The scope of the devastation is vast.
Against this backdrop, we visited Sister Nabila in 2014:
According to a UNICEF report, about 373,000 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip — or 35 percent of the children there — require psychological intervention after the summer’s war.
...At one of the institutions CNEWA supports, the Rosary Sisters School, the scene looks markedly different than other places. The students are playing, drawing and dancing, expressing and discussing their summer.
Sister Nabila Saleh, the school’s principal, noticed a difference in the students’ behavior when they returned to school. The children were tense, and became more violent with one another on the playground.
“It was obvious the war had a bad impact on the children, and for that reason we decided to dedicate the first week to stress release by playing, drawing, dancing and writing — in cooperation with specialists,” Sister Nabila says.
“Most of the children responded positively during the social activities. Some students profoundly need additional treatment — especially those who lost loved ones, or those whose homes were completely demolished.”
Bit by bit, child by child, Sister Nabila is working to rebuild shattered young lives. Some deep wounds do not heal easily. But as she put it last year:
“I have hope; as long as there is life there is hope, hope to build. This hope fills the hearts of our students. They want to be doctors, lawyers ... All this means that they can build our country.”
To help support that hope in Sister Nabila’s corner of the world, visit this link.
7 July 2016
Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle was the founder of “The Catholic Near East Welfare Association,” which in 1926 merged with the Catholic Union to become what we now know as CNEWA.
No salute to the heroes of CNEWA would be complete without paying tribute to one of its earliest champions, Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle, a colorful character in his own right, and a passionate advocate for the poor and suffering of the Near East.
In 1924, Msgr. Barry-Doyle founded “The Catholic Near East Welfare Association,” one of the American associations working to assist Russia and the Near East in the aftermath of World War I. Pope Pius XI combined it with a similar group, the Catholic Union, in 1926 to form what we now know as CNEWA.
As Michael J.L. La Civita wrote several years ago:
We know very little about the life of Barry-Doyle. The biographical data that exists can be found in a few newspaper clippings and letters housed in the Association’s archives at Graymoor. These morsels of information, recorded by the monsignor himself, are often erratic. It is evident, at least, that Barry-Doyle was an adventurer and a romantic, a dashing military officer and pious priest.
Barry-Doyle was born in 1878 in County Wexford, Ireland. Two family relations of the Irish-born priest figured prominently in his life: Commodore John Barry, the father of the United States Navy, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. To honor his American ancestor, the monsignor hyphenated “Barry” to his family name.
Ordained in 1900, he left his parish in the middle of the night during Passiontide — why, records do not show. He turned up in England several years later as rector of a Yorkshire parish, then left to serve as an army chaplain during World War I.
According to Barry-Doyle, he was on every front of the war from France to the Gaza campaign in Palestine. He was also listed as killed, and while the Armistice was signed, he “hovered between life and death” in an English hospital. By 1922, the much-decorated priest had been recognized by the pope and the Russian Jewish community for his refugee work in Constantinople.
He went on to gain fame as a public speaker and fundraiser:
Barry-Doyle began a speaking tour that he described as “more in the form of an entertainment than a lecture.” Barry-Doyle’s “Call of the East” packed movie and opera houses up and down the east coast. On 16 April 1924, the “famous World War chaplain” filled Carnegie Hall. An excerpt illustrates its dynamism:
Here [Smyrna, Turkey] misery and want stalked the streets in the skin and bones of thousands of refugee children...I have seen their little bodies lying in the Thracian wayside where they had died of hunger and typhus...I have seen the children on the streets of Constantinople and Athens eating the heads of fish thrown out from houses...I have seen the death carts roll through the streets, piled high with bodies of little boys and girls, who were taken to be buried in one common grave outside the city, without a mother’s tears, nor flowers, nor any of the symbols of mourning, nor any mark to show their final resting place.
Though maudlin and theatrical for modern tastes, “The Call of the East” was very effective. Americans craved European news in the wake of the Great War and they responded generously.
The “Children’s Crusader,” as Barry-Doyle was now called, raised more than $4,000 from his first audience, the prestigious Converts’ League in New York. In Indianapolis, the Knights of Columbus pledged more than $5,000.
He traveled the world with missionary zeal. A newspaper account of his travels in Australia from 1927 quotes this passionate appeal for funds to feed the hungry:
“Bread, bread, bread…the real call of the East is a call for sympathy, help and bread.”
The report concluded:
Monsignor Barry-Doyle is not only an eloquent pleader for orphan children, but he is much more — he is an eloquent pleader for religious tolerance and for the brotherhood of man in the proper sense of the word. It is but true to say that for over an hour he held his great audience fascinated by the power of his eloquence, and by his great font of practical and natural wisdom, saturated here and there with acute and heartfelt emotion.
Learn how you can continue his mission here.
5 July 2016
The Rev. Mikael Khachkalian chats with a member of his congregation at the
Armenian Catholic Center. (photo: Molly Corso)
The Rev. Mikael Khachkalian does some amazing work in a far-flung corner of Georgia — and he does it virtually on his own. He’s the only Catholic Armenian priest serving in the capital, Tbilisi — long one of the centers for Armenian Catholics in the country.
He is one busy priest:
Father Khachkalian ministers to his people by both preaching the faith and preserving a culture. From celebrating the liturgy every morning in Armenian to Saturday language lessons with the youth, he is a full-time advocate for Armenian identity in Georgia.
After daily liturgies in the Armenian Catholic Center near downtown Tbilisi, the faithful explore the language of the liturgy as much as its meaning, sounding out unfamiliar Armenian words and practicing the proper pronunciation with the young priest and an assistant.
For Father Khachkalian, learning the language is paramount to understanding the faith, preserving the community’s Armenian Catholic identity and encouraging its growth for the future. But these evangelical efforts are facing stiff headwinds in a country experiencing a revival in Georgian nationalism and Georgian Orthodox Christianity.
...Father Khachkalian believes that 90 percent of self-identified Latin Catholics in Tbilisi are Catholic Armenians. Despite their numbers, however, there is no official Armenian Catholic church in Tbilisi — or anywhere in Georgia outside of the small village parishes in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
In a recent report, the priest outlined the need for a separate Armenian Catholic church in Tbilisi.
“The Armenian Catholic community in Tbilisi is going through difficult times,” he writes. “It’s divided and weakened.” He highlights that the parish center needs “major repairs” and is not big enough for the entire community to meet at one time and celebrate their faith.
“It is also a problem for us to build a church. We have not seriously tried yet, but I think we will have problems,” he adds. While Georgian law nominally does not prohibit Armenian Catholics — or any other faith — from building a church, in reality, it is very controversial.
“Discrimination — if you start to do something, then you feel it.”
...From morning until night, Father Khachkalian witnesses to the faith and culture that make Armenian Catholics a unique part of the universal Catholic faith.
The people are both dedicated and devout, as we noted in 2014:
To spend time with Georgia’s Armenian Catholics is to rediscover the deep reservoirs of piety and purpose — and a remarkable strength of character — that have defined them for generations.
It is also to realize, above all, that the story of Georgia’s Armenian Catholics is one of unwavering faith.
Read more about the Armenian Catholic community in A Firm Faith. And discover the heroic work of Father Khachkalian in this profile.
30 June 2016
Sister Wardeh Kayrouz, right, works in Lebanon, offering support to refugees who have fled
Iraq and Syria. (photo: Amal Morcos)
For decades, Sister Wardeh Kayrouz has been a voice for the voiceless — offering hope and help to countless refugees seeking sanctuary. She began her long relationship with CNEWA working in our Amman regional office. Today, she continues to partner with CNEWA in Lebanon, aiding so many who are fleeing violence, terror and war.
From a 2008 profile:
Sister Wardeh and her community, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, have dedicated their lives to helping families secure food, housing, work and other basics. In 2002 the sisters stepped up their efforts and forged a partnership with CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission.
An energetic woman with large, round wire-rimmed spectacles, she counsels a growing number of Iraqi families, administers a convent school and teaches catechism classes.
“When they live the word of God, they strengthen their faith, helping them better handle the bad situations they have here,” Sister Wardeh said.
...A social worker by training, Sister Wardeh counsels families struggling with domestic violence and the pain associated with it. Families have come to trust her and rely on her for guidance. She often finds herself at their homes, listening to their fears, holding their hands and helping them cope with their situations.
“Poverty brings out every type of problem between children and their parents. They have no money to go anywhere or do anything. There is no work. Women and their husbands argue over whether they should have left Iraq. They are home all day long, all the time,” Sister Wardeh said.
We revisited her two years ago, for a fresh look at Sister Wardeh’s world, and reported on retreats she is offering for refugees as a way to help them heal from the wounds of war:
It was her own experience with war in Lebanon that led her to her vocation. Born and reared in the town of Bcharri, the legendary mountainous stronghold of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics, she completed a degree in sociology and became a teacher and a principal in her village.
In 1976, just as Lebanon’s civil war set in, Bcharri became a flash point for fighting between Maronite and Palestinian militias. During the war she met a religious sister named Beatrice who transported the dead and wounded with her car.
“Sister Beatrice used to say, ‘It is not I who am doing this, but God is doing it through me,’ and I was greatly affected by this.” Sister Wardeh eventually took her vows at age 27.
“My family lost everything in the war,” she says.
“My father and mother used to pray and they came back to the church and were able to cope with their loss and move on with their lives.
“The disaster did not tear us apart, it united us,” she continues. “I want everyone to know that you can lose everything, but you can still have hope in life.”
To lend your support to the heroic work of Sister Wardeh and others in Jordan, visit this giving page.
28 June 2016
Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, the Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, has been an outspoken advocate for reconciliation in his homeland. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During a time of turmoil and violence in his homeland, Lebanon’s Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai — Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch — has been a heroic voice calling for reconciliation. It was a subject he addressed during his visit to CNEWA yesterday, and it’s one he’s made a hallmark of his ministry to the people of Lebanon.
He was enthroned as Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on 25 March 2011, the Feast of the Annunciation. Fittingly, his name “Bechara” means “annunciation.” That day, he served as a kind of herald to the people of Lebanon, both Christian and Muslim, announcing a message of “communion and love,” the very words he chose for his patriarchal motto.
In his homily, the patriarch did something bold for a Catholic leader, quoting from the Quran and its account of the annunciation. He noted the esteem in which Muslims hold Mary, and he sought common ground:
For the sake of “communion and love” we work together in the countries of the Middle East and with you the representatives of the leaders of our brother and sister countries, and we work to preserve and strengthen our relations of solidarity with the Arab world, and to establish a sincere and complete dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters and build together a future in common life and cooperation. For one single destiny links Muslims and Christians in Lebanon and the countries of the region in which, a culture particular to all of us, was built up by the diverse civilizations which passed one after another in our lands and thus we have a common patrimony in which we all shared in its creation and now work at its cultural development. We accompany with anxiety the uprisings and protests which are taking place here and there in our Arab countries. We regret the victims and the wounded and we pray for stability and peace.
As an emissary of hope and healing in the world CNEWA serves, the patriarch has been a great supporter of our shared mission to uplift those who are suffering and to accompany those in need. In Lebanon today, that includes an overwhelming number of refugees, many fleeing war and terror in Iraq and Syria; they now make up roughly half the country’s population.
Visting Syria three years ago, the patriarch issued a passionate plea for peace:
“Here in Damascus we say together: ’Enough of war and violence! Enough of the killing and destruction of homes and landmarks! Enough uprooting and suffering inflicted on innocent citizens! … We preach together the Gospel of peace, we work hand in hand for reconciliation, the promotion of human rights and dignity. … Every drop of innocent blood that is shed is a tear from the eyes of Christ.”
To assist the patriarch and support the work of CNEWA in Lebanon, visit this page.