Pastoral Care of Migrants
Responding to the call of Pope Francis to “help those who … are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families,” CNEWA has expanded its outreach to migrant workers in the Middle East. Partnering with the Teresians (a secular institute of the church), CNEWA has recently developed a program to help the thousands of Filipinos who live in Jordan, working as nurses, caregivers and domestics.
Several times each month, the Teresians host gatherings at the CNEWA-Pontifical Mission Community Center — which the Teresians administer — for workshops that range from catechesis and preparation for the reception of the sacraments to open discussions addressing social and family problems.
The response thus far has been very enthusiastic, says CNEWA’s regional director for Jordan and Iraq, Ra’ed Bahou. “Hundreds participate in the meetings, liturgies and excursions, strengthening the relationships within the community,” he says, noting that for many, the gatherings are the only opportunities for the migrants to rest and socialize outside of work.
Bread in Lebanon
“Lebanon is now witnessing a growing phenomenon,” writes Michel Constantin, CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon. According to the sisters who run the Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary north of Beirut, “families and the elderly are approaching the dispensary for bread.”
“‘I just came back from the dispensary in Naba’a … to follow up on the health project CNEWA has been supporting,’” Mr. Constantin quotes a staff member in his letter. “‘I was shocked at the sight of elderly women and men as well as families approaching the center asking for bread. Many well-known workshops in the area of Naba’a and Bourj Hammoud are closing down and laying off workers. It is forcing families — who were barely able to cover their living expenses — to seek bread.’”
The sisters first became aware of the problem a few years ago, and turned to CNEWA for assistance. “For the last two years,” Mr. Constantin continued, “CNEWA has supported the poor of the area with food and medical aid. In 2018, 309 families were provided with nourishment for five months.”
Mr. Constantin described the situation of one family in particular. Mr. Hanna Issa lost his job when the shoe workshop where he worked went into bankruptcy. He approached the dispensary to help him feed his wife and 13-year-old daughter. “Thanks to CNEWA,” Mr. Constantin wrote, “Hanna and others supported by CNEWA are not drowning in despair.”
Year of Hope for Ephpheta
We received an inspiring year-end report from the Paul VI Ephpheta Institute for the Deaf in Bethlehem, which CNEWA has supported since its foundation by St. Pope Paul VI more than 50 years ago. Among the highlights: At last count, there were 182 students at the institute; several initiatives were begun, including classes in dance and cooking; students learned how to express themselves with art; and both teachers and parents took part in workshops designed to raise awareness and enhance understanding of the needs of deaf children, offering them support encouragement. All in all, it was a fruitful and promising year.
“All operators, teachers, speech therapists and specialists,” the report concluded, “continue to demonstrate commitment in carrying out their role with the aim to accompany and help students toward a positive assimilation into Palestinian society.”
Improving Ethiopia’s Schools
With a $68,000 grant from generous CNEWA donors, the lives of 4,653 children in Ethiopia have been significantly impacted by the education offered at their local Catholic schools, notes CNEWA’s regional director for Ethiopia, Argaw Fantu. In particular, he reports, seven schools in six eparchies of the church have benefited with the installation of new furniture and desks, a refurbished science lab, the provision of school uniforms, additional reference books and stationary supplies, among other things.
As Sister Askalemariam of St. Markos Catholic School in Emdibir, central Ethiopia, put it: “In gratitude, we offer many prayers for the blessings of our Lord to you, CNEWA.”
Training Women in India
“The Catholic Church, a pioneer of educating the young, has helped bring revolutionary changes to India by providing basic education to the poor and to Dalit children,” writes CNEWA’s M.L. Thomas, regional director in India. “CNEWA has helped thousands of young women in their studies … giving them a secure footing for the future and helping them support their families.”
In one program alone, Mr. Thomas reported that last year, some 352 women benefited from job training skills that included computer course work, nursing classes and commercial sewing.
Terra Sancta Renewed
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation of Eastern Churches, visited the Holy Land recently. While in the Old City of Jerusalem, he blessed the refurbished rooms of Terra Sancta High School. Generous grants from CNEWA and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Holland enabled the Franciscan friars to replace the old and well-worn furniture with hundreds of new desks, teachers’ tables and chairs.
The grant enabled the school to improve its facilities and support individual and group efforts to benefit the students. The vast majority of those who study at Terra Sancta enter universities from the Holy Land to abroad for further study.
From Paris to Philadelphia
In February, Pope Francis named Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Paris-based Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great as metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
A native of Syracuse, New York, the new archbishop had chaired the Greek Catholic commission in 1993 to re-establish the Lviv Theological Academy in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, which the Soviets had shuttered when they repressed the Greek Catholic Church in 1946. As its first vice rector and later its rector, he transformed the noted theological academy into Ukraine’s first Catholic university. From its beginnings, CNEWA has supported this fine institution established to build a modern and open Ukraine.
In 2014, Archbishop Gudziak wrote an award-winning essay for this publication, “Prayer and Protest,” about his experience in Kiev during the violent uprising at the Maidan, a square of the city. He wrote, “I trust in the Lord’s presence and work amid these long-suffering people and in their witness to the world.”