CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar welcomed a visitor from Rome to our offices in New York this week: the Rev. Flavio Pace. Father Pace works as the personal administrative secretary to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Eastern Churches.
It was a happy reunion for the two men, who recently saw each other in Iraq during the historic pastoral visit of Cardinal Sandri to the country. During that trip, Msgr. Kozar and leaders of other Catholic aid agencies saw first hand the profound faith and resilience of the country’s Christians, many of whom have been displaced and continue to face persecution from ISIS. CNEWA has been working tirelessly to support these Iraqis, and has been able to make a profound difference in the lives of thousands of desperate people.
It’s a mission Father Pace spoke of with gratitude.
“That trip to Iraq,” he said yesterday, “that visit was so important because of the special support of the CNEWA offices there. It was the first time a cardinal prefect had visited, and it was possible because of CNEWA.”
He explained what he called the “special link” of CNEWA to the Congregation for Eastern Churches:
“For the congregation, it was important to have the help offered by CNEWA. The idea was to visit pastorally, with the heart of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to allow people to feel the closeness of the church and the affection of Pope Francis. Thanks be to God, CNEWA’s local offices, the regional offices, are a blessing to us. They know the realities and can help us understand the situation before a project is undertaken.”
The local offices, he said, can do what the nuncio, the Vatican’s representative in a country, can’t — being aware of particular needs in particular areas.
“The nuncio,” Father Pace went on, “is in Baghad, not Erbil. Thanks be to God, the regional office of CNEWA knows what is needed, can establish relationships, can know what skills are required for projects. I remember very well visiting a clinic in Dohuk operated by CNEWA. The cardinal came away with such a good impression of this work. He felt a closeness to the people as a pastor, as a priest, not in a generic way, but in a Christian attitude. It was a way to serve and meet the people. For the congregation, it is very important to have the kind of support, the help, that CNEWA offers. It helps assist in the life of the Eastern churches.”
Father Pace was ordained as a priest for Milan in 2002. His work now takes him far beyond Italy, to the many places Eastern Churches have deep roots — and to the many places where those roots have spread, with diaspora who now worship all over the world. Most recently, he found himself with Cardinal Sandri in California, as the cardinal dedicated a new cathedral (old/broken link: https://www.news.va/en/news/cardinal-sandri-dedicates-new-cathedral-for-armeni). But Father Pace hopes to make it back to New York someday soon to visit Msgr. Kozar and CNEWA, maybe even with Cardinal Sandri.
“I offer personal greetings on behalf of his eminence,” he said with a smile. “CNEWA has a special relationship, a special link, to the congregation. So much of what we do is possible, because of CNEWA.”