Connections With Msgr. Peter: Care for Thy Neighbor

The Good Samaritan is the “icon” for CNEWA and other Catholic aid organizations in their work among those most in need in a suffering world, said Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari in his monthly webinar for July.

During his third “Connections With Msgr. Peter” on 13 July, CNEWA’s president shared the message Pope Francis communicated to these Catholic agencies during a private audience at the Vatican on 23 June.

This coalition of organizations, coordinated by the Dicastery for Eastern Churches and known by its Italian acronym, ROACO, had gathered for its annual plenary in Rome.

The pope “invited us to look at that icon and to think about the connection between the mission that each of our agencies has and the work of the Good Samaritan,” said Msgr. Vaccari.

“We’re all called to be involved in responding to our neighbor, the one who has been cast off to the side, the one who is in need,” he added.

The pope underlined the urgency to “pay attention” to the dire situations in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Eritrea and of “the martyred people of Ukraine,” he said.

“It was a challenging meeting with Pope Francis, but it was one that was important for us, to listen to Pope Francis express his concerns, share his support and express his gratitude for the generosity of people like yourselves, who are working with us,” CNEWA’s president continued.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych also addressed the plenary from Kyiv. He spoke of the current hardships in Ukraine and those anticipated with the severe winter ahead.

Msgr. Vaccari noted that the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine, due to the blockade on exports, has spread to other parts of the world, particularly to the world’s poorest countries.

In Ethiopia, already shaken by domestic strife and violence and dependent on grain exports from Ukraine, the people are facing severe hunger, he explained.

Msgr. Vaccari said he is planning a pastoral visit of the region with CNEWA’s staff in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt in November.

He also provided updates on the situation in Lebanon, where he visited CNEWA staff and programs last month and where CNEWA continues to support hospitals, Catholic education, food assistance and psychosocial programs.

Mariana Tanios, a teacher at Our Lady of Lebanon School in Rmeish, Lebanon.

Msgr. Vaccari highlighted the importance of CNEWA’s partnerships with other church organizations, such as Caritas, the Knights of Columbus and the Order of Malta, in being effective in its mission and witnessing to the oneness of the church in the countries where it works.

“That sense of partnering with other people, in itself, is a tremendous sign of the kind of solidarity that Pope Francis calls us to,” said Msgr. Vaccari. “To build cultures of encounter … cultures of listening to the other, cultures of prayer with the other.”

In view of advancing CNEWA’s mission, Msgr. Vaccari announced the agency’s first fundraising gala dinner to be held in Manhattan on 13 December, as well as a golf outing next spring. The dinner will honor Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chair of CNEWA’s board.

Msgr. Vaccari said he looks forward to these opportunities to gather with CNEWA’s longtime benefactors and friends and to meet new donors.

He also announced the imminent reopening of CNEWA’s office in Rome, which will focus on fundraising and promoting the agency’s work in Europe.

He expressed his gratitude to supporters for their prayers and generosity and for the monthly webinar series as an opportunity to offer updates, “show a greater transparency and … a greater accountability of the work you have entrusted to CNEWA to carry out.”

“Connections With Msgr. Peter” air on the second Wednesday of each month. The next program is scheduled for 10 August. Sign up for CNEWA’s digital newsletter at for registration information.

To inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the fundraising dinner, contact

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