From ONE Magazine

Focus on the world of CNEWA

We often describe our ministry at CNEWA as one of “accompaniment” of the Eastern Catholic churches on behalf of the Holy Father and in the name of the church. It is important we understand the breadth of this description and thus appreciate in a fuller way the importance of our “good works.”

Webster’s Dictionary tells us that to “accompany” means to “go somewhere as a companion or an escort.” For CNEWA, walking with others can take many forms. We offer guidance and support, expertise and insight, and always with a spirit of encouragement and love.

Some might think that our accompaniment only means financial support. Of course, our material support — thanks to your generosity — is critically important. In many instances, CNEWA is not just the primary source of financial support, but the only external benefactor. This is the case with hundreds of individual program pieces and institutional components.

But our commitment to this journey with the church takes many other forms besides financial subsidies or programmatic distributions.

Sometimes we are called to assist the local church in determining the priorities for addressing pastoral and material needs. Again, we draw on our broader experience from CNEWA’s world and are able to give helpful insights to church leaders about real priorities.

We accompany them.

I think of a number of instances where religious congregations, sometimes cloistered and out of the public eye, have come to our regional office seeking some technical assistance, perhaps looking for help with an emergency plumbing problem, a leaking roof or an electric malfunction. CNEWA, of course, is not in the contracting business or home repair business, but since we are on the ground for so many years and have established relationships with many service providers, we are able to offer immediate comfort and security, helping them to secure reputable and honest contractors, engineers or craftsmen.

We accompany them.

There have even been municipal zoning issues, permit concerns and operational matters that church leaders have brought to our attention. CNEWA assists in suggesting appropriate avenues to address professionally and legally. We do not pretend to be legal or operational experts, but we have garnered experience over the years, and we can share our knowledge with those who seek counsel from us.

We accompany them.

I have been blessed to work closely with a good number of bishops, religious superiors and lay leaders and have been honored in private visits and in formal meetings to respond to their requests for counsel about a myriad of concerns. As the president of CNEWA, I take this role very seriously — and as their brother and as a priest, I am privileged to offer them my spiritual, pastoral and emotional support. The greatest compliment I receive as the pope’s representative of CNEWA is when they refer to me as their “beloved brother.” They know and trust that CNEWA is walking with them.

We accompany them.

I have been invited personally to attend gatherings of bishops, episcopal conference meetings, religious congregation chapters and the like. On behalf of CNEWA, I’ve been privileged to extend a hand of support, offering them our insights and our counsel. They have always been grateful for this, as it brings before them the bigger picture of the universal church. They realize they are not alone.

We accompany them.

When we are invited to give our counsel — to share our experience or even to offer constructive criticism — CNEWA steps up and offers responses with a sense of fraternity and solidarity. We do not “impose” our thinking on any church, diocese, institution, project or individual. We offer advice, answer questions, make suggestions and join our prayers with theirs as they journey forward.

We accompany them.

Diocesan officials value greatly the counsel of our regional offices and actively seek our participation in developing new programs of religious education or evangelization; seminary pastoral outreach programs; and community faith development programs in cities, towns and rural villages. Besides the financial support, CNEWA often encourages the local church to reach out further in her ministry and service.

We are there to assist in whatever way we can.

We don’t impose; we accompany them. And you join us as we accompany them.

Your financial support to CNEWA translates to so many forms of accompaniment in our outreach in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. Besides our financial distributions, which are critically important, our prayers and our moral support make a real difference in the faith life of those whom we are privileged to serve.

Please continue your own personal “accompaniment” by remembering those in need in your prayers. God bless you.