Hard Choices in Iraq
Iraqis are facing some difficult choices following September’s referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which an overwhelming 92 percent of those casting ballots in the semiautonomous province voted for secession. We are now seeing firsthand how those results could impact Iraq’s Christians and other minorities, many of whom hailed from the Nineveh Plain and found refuge in the province when ISIS invaded northern Iraq in July 2014.
“Christians have very few choices,” said CNEWA’s Michel Constantin, who directs CNEWA’s emergency operations in the Middle East, “and all the choices are bad.” Those men who had returned to their villages to begin rebuilding their homes now find themselves separated from their families left behind in Iraqi Kurdistan because of the closed roads and borders. Airports remain closed to international traffic, too; neighboring countries, with the exception of Syria, are working to isolate Iraqi Kurdistan, Mr. Constantin said.
In this fluid theater — with a devastated infrastructure, economic uncertainty and insecurity as rival militias contend for power — CNEWA continues to provide support for the education of displaced children and the health care needs of the displaced who remain behind, even as it scales back its emergency operations in those areas where the displaced once found refuge and have left.
While working with local partners to assess needs and determine appropriate responses in the liberated areas — which are unstable and even volatile at times — CNEWA remains committed to outreach efforts, including support for catechetical activities of the churches as well as emergency relief for about 3,000 displaced families.
Murdered Nun Beatified
In November, thousands gathered in Indore, India, to celebrate the beatification of Sister Rani Maria, a Franciscan Clarist sister from Kerala who was stabbed to death in the state of Madhya Pradesh in 1995.
All four cardinals representing the Catholic churches of India took part in the beatification. Notably, Samander Singh, Sister Rani’s repentant murderer, also attended. Sister Rani’s family visited with Mr. Singh after he completed his jail term and forgave him.
The beatification means Sister Rani is now one step away from being officially declared a saint.
CNEWA on the Road
Over the past few months, members of CNEWA’s Development and Communications teams have been on the road, visiting schools and parishes in Greenwich, Connecticut; Overland Park, Kansas; Bloomfield and Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey; and Hampton Bays, New York, raising awareness of the peoples and churches of CNEWA.
Earlier in the autumn, CNEWA also met with catechists at the New York archdiocesan catechetical forums and with more than 600 teachers at a teachers’ in-service day for the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
If you would like to welcome CNEWA to your parish, or want more information about how we can bring CNEWA’s world to your corner of the world, please call us at: 1-800-442-6392 (Ext. 504).
Training Program in Ethiopia
Last year, the Rev. Misrak Tiyu of the Emdibir Eparchy in Ethiopia approached CNEWA with a pastoral plan that included training for catechists in the region that sprawls through much of southwest Ethiopia. Thanks to its generous donors, CNEWA is providing support for the program that, according to CNEWA’s regional director in Addis Ababa, Argaw Fantu, involves the training of nearly 70 catechists. During a recent visit, he noted, they were learning everything from how to share the Bible to how to teach the sacraments and basic Christian ethics.
Father Tiyu expressed his gratitude to CNEWA and pronounced the program a great success. “Without our unfailing supporters like CNEWA and its donors, our plans could hardly be implemented,” he said.
As one of the participants explained, “This is the greatest opportunity for us to be strong, well-prepared supporters of our priests, and to help lead our community.”
Father Tiyu assured Argaw Fantu of his prayers for CNEWA and its benefactors in his regular celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
Reaching India’s Poor
CNEWA’s regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, reported recently on work being done by the Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Manovikas Special School in Odisha, India. The sisters care for young girls who have special needs — including difficulties with speaking, hearing or learning.
With support from CNEWA’s benefactors, the sisters are able to provide special training for reading, writing and speech therapy; they also teach the children how to make jewelry and see to it that they receive regular medical care.
Sister Tesina, who heads the institution, expressed gratitude for the help provided by CNEWA’s generous supporters to help her care for these special girls, noting that each child is special in the eyes of God.
Youth Program in Georgia
A program for youth — the first of its kind in southern Georgia — was launched in late October in the remote Armenian Catholic village of Eshtia, funded by CNEWA and opened in conjunction with the Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe and Caritas Georgia. The center, based out of a renovated house near the parish church, will offer students from Eshtia and its surroundings classes in Georgian and English, computer programming, faith formation and continuing education in Armenian traditions, dance, folklore and customs.