CNEWA — A Lifeline in the Middle East
On a pastoral visit to Lebanon in January, CNEWA’s Msgr. John Kozar traveled to the city of Zahleh, a predominantly Melkite Greek Catholic city in the Bekaa Valley. Strategically located near the highway linking Beirut and Damascus, Zahleh is now home to thousands of Syrian refugees from all faith communities. To assist the refugees, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Issam John Darwich, B.S., of Zahleh established an emergency committee. However, the influx of Syrian refugees, many of whom are unskilled laborers, has devastated the city’s indigenous work force, many of whom labor in the agricultural sector, harvesting produce and processing and canning food items.
With funds from CNEWA’s benefactors, including voluntary collections taken up in parishes across the United States, the emergency committee is reaching out to working families, such as this family pictured with Msgr. Kozar, who are now deprived of work and income. To learn more about CNEWA’s work with refugees in the Middle East, visit: www.cnewa.org/web/mideastreport.
Cisterns in Jerusalem
With technical support from members of CNEWA’s Jerusalem office, the Benedictine Sisters on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem are rehabilitating five abandoned cisterns within the monastery walls. Once complete, almost 50,000 gallons of free, potable water will be available for cooking, cleaning and washing, decreasing the monastery’s monthly water bill.
More than a century ago, the monastery’s four acres served as a sustainable food resource, having been planted with groves of fruit trees as well as herb and vegetable gardens. A rainwater collection network was installed to direct the rainwater into some 26 water cisterns where it could be collected. But once the city’s water network extended to the monastery, the cisterns were largely abandoned.
A deepening water crisis in the Middle East and the high cost of water in Jerusalem has many institutions returning to the “old way” to reduce costs.
CNEWA Visits New Jersey
In January, members of CNEWA’s fundraising team visited the Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Warmly welcomed by the Rev. Bob Stagg, pastor, and Kay Furlani of the parish’s social justice ministry group, Multimedia Editor Deacon Greg Kandra preached at all the Masses, speaking of CNEWA’s involvement in supporting the people and churches of the Middle East.
If you would like CNEWA to visit your parish, drop us a line. We are always eager to share the good news of CNEWA and our efforts to uplift the poor and needy around the world. Contact our development director, Norma Intriago, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Letter of Thanks
“May I express our sincere thanks and great appreciation to all of you at CNEWA and to all our beloved benefactors for being such a source of help and inspiration,” writes the Rev. Abraham Kannampala, C.M.I., who directs a home for tribal children, Chavara Balbhavan, in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Jagdalpur in India.
“Without the support of all of you at CNEWA, I cannot imagine running this wonderful institution. Your support has been fabulous. On behalf of all our students and their parents, I express my sincere thanks and appreciation for your support.”
We are humbled to play some small part in helping these children — whose families live on the margins of India’s highly stratified society — and remain grateful to all those who make this work possible.
Outreach to Refugee Camp
Members of CNEWA’s team based in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa visited the Hitsats refugee camp, one of four camps located in the Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat earlier this winter. Home to nearly 20,000 refugees — families, unaccompanied minors, elderly women, men, even soldiers who had fled the military — all hail from neighboring Eritrea.
Many have a strong faith foundation, and CNEWA seeks to support them in whatever ways we can. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, a modest chapel has been erected on the site and CNEWA has helped to furnish it with vestments, altar cloths and a pulpit to support those who serve the community.
The Rev. Ghiday Alema expressed profound gratitude and promised prayers for all those sharing the spiritual burdens of his homeless parishioners.
CNEWA Commemorates 90 Years of Service
In March, CNEWA began observations marking its 90th anniversary as an expression of the popes’ concern for the peoples and churches of the East.
On 11 March 1926, Pope Pius XI founded the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Placing it under the direction of the archbishop of New York, the pope founded CNEWA to support the activities of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches — the Holy See’s congregation concerned for the Catholic Eastern churches and the peoples served by them.
In the last 90 years, as the circumstances of these churches and the needs of the people served by them have changed, so, too, has CNEWA. Instability and conflict in the Middle East keeps us focused on the needs of the displaced. Explosive growth and dire poverty in northeast Africa demand our attention for the marginalized. The ever-dynamic churches of India and Eastern Europe challenge us to strive harder in building the church.
“In CNEWA’s world,” says Msgr. Kozar, “we are blessed with an army of ambassadors of Christ who live out mercy and compassion, which lie at the heart of the Gospel, and are at the core of CNEWA’s mandate.” Visit our ONE-TO-ONE blog for updates and features to commemorate this anniversary, including profiles of these men and women who every day, in their good works and in their prayerful lives, serve the people of God with mercy, compassion and love.