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Reach Out and Touch…

Besides caring for the spiritual life of his people, the priest in the Near East must often work as a farmer, teacher or laborer to keep himself alive.

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They are male and female, Christian and non-Christian, black, brown and white. They are poor, and often desperate, but they have one thing in common – they all have been touched by generous hearts which have helped brighten their dismal lives. They are the orphans and the young men and women with religious vocations who have been “adopted” by concerned American Catholics through CNEWA’s sponsorship program.

Since its inception the three-pronged program has given over 9,000 homeless orphans a new lease on life, and enabled more than 5,000 native seminarians and 7,900 local novices to receive training in their vocations.

Orphans

War, drought, and the world food crisis have immersed more and more already underprivileged people in poverty and misery. Throughout the Near East – as in other undeveloped and developing areas – millions of children are suffering the effects of hunger or malnutrition. Small children in India are often abandoned by their disheartened parents. In Ethiopia, where a war and drought are ravaging the countryside, the number of orphaned children is on the increase. Throughout the Near East infants with swollen stomachs, shrunken limbs and diseases are a common sight. Unless such children are given proper medical attention, a nutritious diet, and affection, they will probably die.

Through the CNEWA sponsorship program, married, single and widowed Americans “adopt” their own orphan child. For a small support fee each month, a homeless child from the Near East, the Holy Land, India or Ethiopia can be rescued from hunger and the streets, and be given a warm home as well as a chance to grow, learn and love as a human being.

Sponsors receive a photo of the child they adopt, as well as a history of the child’s life. Many sponsors write to their “adopted” child, and receive letters in return. Warm relationships develop across the seas, and last for years.

Seminarians

India and the Near East have a great and growing need for priests. In some areas, there is only one priest for every half million people. Yet, many vocations are lost because the people cannot afford to support their local seminarians as is the case in the U.S. Without help from someone many young men cannot follow what they believe to be their calling.

Priests in the Near East and India live usually no better than the poor with whom they work. Often the priest is a doctor, farmer, carpenter, teacher or laborer, as well as the pastor of the spiritual lives of his people. It is a life of hardship and sacrifice, yet one which is a much desired impossible dream for many poor young men.

Novices

The crying needs of people in the Near East have long been ministered to by the services of women who have dedicated their lives to serving God’s people. However, as with many aspiring seminarians, hundreds of these young women will be turned away from novitiate doors because the means to support themselves throughout the training program are simply not available. The tragedy of a vocation lost for lack of financial means cannot be measured by human calculations.

Fortunately for many children and religious and priestly aspirants in the Near East, there are people in America today making investments that are yielding huge dividends in the lives of their brothers and sisters overseas.

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