Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
27 November 2019

We at CNEWA want to wish you a blessed and happy Thanksgiving — and pray for safe travels for all those around the United States who are hitting the road this weekend.

As you count your blessings, we want to share with you some thoughts about one group of people, in particular, that we are thankful for. Check out the video from Msgr. Kozar below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tags: CNEWA Sisters

30 October 2019
Greg Kandra

CNEWA visited Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Parish in Middlesex, New Jersey, last weekend, helping to spread the word about the work of CNEWA around the world. (photo: CNEWA)

Last weekend, CNEWA paid a visit to Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Parish in Middlesex, New Jersey. It was a great opportunity for us to share “the church’s best kept secret” and spread the word about some of the work we’re doing around the world.

We were warmly welcomed by the OLMV administrator, the Rev. David Skobolow, my old friend Deacon Tom Sommero, and hundreds of members of the parish family.

Deacon Greg Kandra preached at four Masses at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin over the weekend. (photo: CNEWA)

I preached and served at four Masses over the weekend, linking CNEWA’s mission to the Gospel reading from St. Luke, about praying to God with humility. So many we serve have taught us about humility — but also about hope, perseverance and unwavering faith. As the reading from Sirach reminded us, “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” It’s a blessing and a privilege to pray with the poor, and walk with them on their journey.

We’re eager to continue spreading the word about CNEWA, so if you’d like us to visit your parish, please let us know!

For more information, write to us at

CNEWA development officer Christopher Kennedy; multimedia editor Deacon Greg Kandra; OLMV administrator the Rev. David Skobolow; and OLMV Deacon Tom Sommero. (photo: CNEWA)


25 October 2019
Greg Kandra

Our CNEWA team will be visiting Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Parish in Middlesex, New Jersey, on 26-27 October. (photo: OLMV website)

CNEWA will be on the road Saturday and Sunday. We’re heading to Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish in Middlesex, New Jersey. I’ll be the guest homilist this weekend, preaching at the Masses — not only proclaiming the Good News, but also sharing the good news about CNEWA’s work in the world.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello! We are eager to answer questions, share copies of our award-winning magazine and introduce more people to “the best kept secret of the Catholic Church.”

We’re hoping to make more visits like this one in the months to come, so if you’d like CNEWA to visit your parish, let us know.

Just drop us a line at

See you soon!


23 October 2019
M.L. Thomas

Flooding in parts of Kerala this month has been extreme. (video: CNEWA)

The video above shows the main city road (M.G. Road) of Ernakulam in Kerala, India — seriously flooded, due to heavy rain on Monday.

The flooding here is becoming worse every year due to climate change. It is still raining heavily as I write. From June to September, Kerala gets a monsoon, which makes up around 70 percent of the total average rainfall; the remaining 30 percent comes from another monsoon, which hits from October to December. However, the distribution pattern is causing the frequent floods.

We have been experiencing torrential rains for the last two years. Experts say climate change is having its worst impact on Kerala, because it is tucked between the Western Ghats on one side and the sea on the other.

Life in Ernakulam came to a standstill on Monday as the rains turned major roads into rivers. The streets were waterlogged. Residents were shocked as they were unable to get out of their houses, the water streaming into their homes.

The weather forecast predicts more rains in the coming days; people were told to take precautions to remain safe. More than 2,100 people have been evacuated to nine relief camps in the district.

Residents say the lack of proper maintenance of the roads and canals could also be contributing to the flooding, which affected shops and residents all along M.G. Road, Banerji Road and many other side roads in the city.

Please keep us in your prayers!

Tags: Kerala

22 October 2019

Msgr. Peter Vaccari, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Msgr. John E. Kozar. (photo: CNEWA)

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Chair and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Near East Welfare Association/Pontifical Mission for Palestine, has announced the Holy See has approved the nomination and election of Msgr. Peter Vaccari to succeed Msgr. John E. Kozar as president of CNEWA/PMP. Msgr. Vaccari will initiate the process of transition as vice president on January 1, 2020. At a date yet to be determined, but in the near future, Msgr. Kozar will retire and concurrently Msgr. Vaccari will assume his responsibilities as president of CNEWA/PMP.

In a staff meeting in New York on Tuesday announcing the move, Cardinal Dolan said that Msgr. Kozar had approached him nearly a year ago to discuss a successor, noting he was going to be turning 75 in 2020 and wanted a smooth transition.

The cardinal expressed his gratitude to Msgr. Kozar for initiating the process — and also expressed his personal affection for him and the work he has done with CNEWA/PMP over the last eight years. The cardinal reminded the CNEWA family of his high regard for the agency and its work since his days serving the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C., then led by Archbishop Pio Laghi. Archbishop Laghi served in Jerusalem under St. Paul VI and was a great supporter of CNEWA and its work in the Middle East.

A priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Msgr. Vaccari, 67, will conclude his term as Rector of Saint Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York, on 31 December. Ordained a priest in 1977, he has served as a parish priest, seminary professor, Chaplain with the Air Force Reserve, and Rector of Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington before becoming Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary in 2012.

Msgr. Kozar, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, began his tenure as president of CNEWA/PMP in September 2011, after having served as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for ten years. “A diocesan priest on loan to the missions,” Msgr. Kozar has encouraged the Eastern Catholic churches — which CNEWA is privileged to serve — as these communities continue in their renewal called for by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

”As I travel throughout CNEWA’s world, the men and women of these rich communities of faith demonstrate the church at her best, whether by wiping tears from the eyes of abandoned pensioners or in offering the Bread of Life to refugees in a camp.”

Msgr. Kozar and Msgr. Vaccari reminded the CNEWA staff that they share a deep and long-lasting friendship, built over many years of traveling together to the Middle East on pilgrimage, and they look forward to working together during this period of transition of leadership.

Tags: CNEWA Msgr. John E. Kozar Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

21 October 2019
Raed Rafei

Members of the Habib family stand outside a store they have recently rebuilt in Qaraqosh.
(photo: Raed Rafei)

In the current edition of ONE, reporter Raed Rafei revisits Iraq, two years after the defeat of ISIS, and writes of how Iraqi Christians are facing the future with Resolve. He has some additional reflections on the people he met:

It was a blazing hot August Sunday. The streets of Qaraqosh, the largest Christian enclave in Northern Iraq, were mostly empty. Compared to my last trip two years ago, there were some repaired and freshly painted homes here and there. But overall, despite the signs of improvement, heavy destruction caused by the liberation war from ISIS almost three years ago was still visible. Pockmarked walls, collapsed ceilings, piles of rubble, scorched buildings were common sights across this once thriving town.

The people I talked to during my visit to Iraq as a reporter were generally relieved to be back to their homes and felt relatively safe, but the weight of the economic crisis and uncertainties about the future were noticeable in their worried faces and resonated during the silent moments of our conversations.

As the sun started to set, I could see groups of people of all ages flocking to the Church of Saints Behnam and Sarah. Despite the difficult circumstances, it was heartwarming to see how elegantly dressed the men and women of Qaraqosh were for the Sunday Mass. To secure the area, the streets around the church were blocked for vehicles by the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, a Christian Assyrian military organization formed after the invasion by ISIS. The service was being held in a makeshift tent in the church’s courtyard because the main hall was still under reconstruction. The fallen bell tower was a stark reminder of the recent tragedy of displacement. Nevertheless, I felt a sense of hope witnessing how packed the area was and the disarming simplicity of returnees resuming age-old cultural traditions.

The next morning, reality hit again. Members of a Shiite militia supported by Iran had blocked roads leading to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, to protest attempts by the government to integrate them into the Iraqi army. This was a testimony to the fragility of the situation. A vibrant, well-built local man in his late 20’s came in his gym apparel to the monastery where I had spent the night. He was going to drive me out of Qaraqosh. On the road, he told me about his taxi business and a restaurant he owned and managed. Despite economic difficulties, he said he was trying hard since his return to Qaraqosh to rebuild a life for his wife and his young daughter. I was impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit in a country where most people rely on governmental jobs.

After driving for two hours under an intense sun through alternative dirt roads to bypass the blocked highway, I was able to reach my hotel in Erbil. That night, I received a call from my driver. With a desperate voice, he asked me if I could help him find work as a concierge in Lebanon. He said he wanted to apply from there for asylum in Australia where some of his family resides. I was surprised and perplexed by his unexpected call. Compared to all the people I had talked to, he seemed to be doing well.

I answered him, reluctantly, “I will see what I can do but I can’t make any promises.” I wanted to help but with Lebanon’s ailing economy overburdened by a large number of refugees, it would be very difficult for him to find a job there.

He said that sadly, no matter how successful he was, he felt that as a young Christian man, there was no future for him and his small family in Iraq.

Read more about the plight of Iraqi Christians in the September 2019 edition of ONE.

Tags: Iraqi Christians

11 October 2019

Children enjoyed fun and games and much more at an annual summer camp in Armenia.
(photo: Catholic Ordinariate of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe)

While much of the world is getting ready for winter, some of our friends in Armenia this week shared with us this glimpse of summer.

Below is a video showing highlights of a summer camp that was supported, in part, by CNEWA.

As a report from the church puts it:

From June to August 2019, the Armenian Catholic Ordinariate of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe hosted about 833 participants in “Aghajanyan” Summer Camp in a wonderful campsite of Torosgyugh. The children come from Catholic communities of both Armenia and Georgia.

The report goes on to say the camp also welcomed children with disabilities. Daily activities included catechism classes, to “provide children with a solid foundation in a rapidly changing world of values and morals.” The camp also featured dance, handicrafts, language clubs and games.

The report explains just how important this project has become:

Every summer, our participants are living the dream of a place where everyone belongs and knows each other; becoming more self-confidence and reinventing themselves in new situations; feeling included with their peers in a caring community; lasting friendships and endless fun; trying new things and exploring new talents; and making forever memories.

CNEWA is proud to support this venture — and we’re pleased to share this video of highlights from a summer many young people will never forget.

Tags: Armenia

7 October 2019
Greg Kandra

In the current edition of ONE, CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, offers some thoughts on how so many of those we serve see the church as their family:

Having visited many Christian villages, refugee and displacement camps and isolated settlements in the Middle East, in relatively good times and in the worst of times, I have noted three very intertwined threads of daily life: one’s faith, one’s family and the local church. And each fortifies the other.

When times have been fairly stable and there was no war, oppression or persecution, the faithful found the church to offer the fullest level of comfort and security to the individual and to the family. The church was “family” to all. And the highest expression of being family was in the celebration of the Eucharist.

There’s much more in his essay. Read it all. And check out the video below for even more.

Tags: Iraq CNEWA ONE magazine

24 September 2019

The September 2019 edition of ONE focuses on stories of home and family.

The familiar saying tells us “there’s no place like home” — and the new edition of ONE magazine, now online, brings that message beautifully alive.

In the September issue, you will discover how so many of those we serve seek to find a home — often, after fleeing war or persecution — and how they are able to find it. You will learn how Filipino migrants are finding a sense of welcome and family in Lebanon, thanks to a group of Jesuit priests. You will meet Iraqi Christians returning to their homeland, with renewed resolve and a sense of purpose. And CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, offers some thoughts on how the ultimate home, and ultimate family, for so many of those we serve is the church.

We invite you to check out those stories and much more in ONE. Meantime, check out a special preview below, from Msgr. Kozar.


23 September 2019
M.L. Thomas

A project CNEWA supports in India seeks to educate the slum children in Pune along with their parents, offering classes in everything from hygiene to moral values. (photo: CNEWA)

One of the many projects CNEWA has supported in the central Indian state of Maharashtra is helping to educate the slum children of Khadki in Pune.

This project has benefited 229 children. They belong to the migrant workers and slum dwellers. These children are less privileged and are also quite vulnerable. As Kofi Annan put it, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” But some situations prevent the slum children from this hope of education. Many of these children, because of their parents’ circumstances, are not enrolled in the schools.

The SEVA Social Service Society, under the Syro-Malankara Exarchate of Pune, has focused on these children to provide at least some schooling.

Under this program, the Exarchate provides basic education, nutritious food, vaccinations, and classes to help build character and values. The project has also helped the parents, by conducting classes for them on health and hygiene and making visits to their homes.

In this way, the church extends a hand to help the poor, downtrodden and the marginalized without regard to caste, creed, religion or gender.

CNEWA is privileged to be a part of this project and gratified to see so many children and families benefiting.

We remain deeply grateful to our donors for generously supporting these and so many other good works!

Tags: India

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