Msgr. Peter Vaccari Visits Middle East
In February, CNEWA’s vice president, Msgr. Peter Vaccari, visited Lebanon and Jordan. In addition to meeting CNEWA staff, the incoming president — who will succeed Msgr. John E. Kozar this summer — caught a firsthand glimpse at a number of the programs and projects CNEWA supports in the region. In Lebanon, for example, he celebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s Church with the Jesuit community and approximately 600 migrant workers, visited refugee camps and shared a meal at St. John the Merciful Table in Zahleh with poor Lebanese and Syrian families. His visit to Lebanon also included meetings with seminarians, formation faculty and rectors at both the Maronite and Melkite seminaries.
In Jordan, Msgr. Vaccari concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Ader. There he met Melkite and Latin priests, parishioners and religious sisters whose Bedouin ancestors were among the first to accept the Gospel. He also visited CNEWA-supported hospitals, clinics and community centers under the heroic care of women religious, including the Combonis, Dominicans and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Accompanied by CNEWA’s regional directors, Msgr. Vaccari expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to make these initial visits: “This was a great opportunity to see the wonderful work CNEWA’s donors are making possible,” he said. “It was a real blessing to meet those whose lives have been enriched because of CNEWA’s work in the region. I look forward to visiting more parts of CNEWA’s world in the months to come.” Visit CNEWA’s blog to learn more about the pastoral visit.
Sweeping Changes in India
With an unpredictable climate now affecting agriculture in India, and with wild elephants and boar damaging crops, some at-risk families are seeking other income sources — such as broom weaving. Brooms are among the most common and useful items in any Indian household, and the making of brooms by hand is a valuable skill for families who live in or near forests, where the grass needed for brooms is found everywhere.
To help indigenous families in Moolagangal, a forested region in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Palghat, CNEWA now supports an initiative offering instruction in weaving brooms. The local artisans can then sell them through a cooperative, thereby avoiding the fees they would have to pay to vendors. This project has been helping to create an important income stream for these vulnerable families.
Support in Syria
In late February, Michel Constantin, CNEWA’s regional director in Beirut responsible for the association’s activities in Syria, provided an update on the thousands of Syrian children who have received food, health care and warm clothing during the winter months. Religious congregations — including the Sisters of the Besançon Congregation, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Marist Brothers and the Sacred Heart Sisters, among others — have provided nourishment, education and warmth, all through the generosity of CNEWA’s benefactors.
Mr. Constantin wrote, “These projects remind us of CNEWA’s vital mission to aid the most vulnerable.”
As We Go to Press…
As we go to press, the world is coping with the effects of a growing pandemic. COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is changing our lives dramatically — and having a serious, and sometimes devastating, impact on the world CNEWA serves.
As this story continues to unfold, please check our blog regularly at cnewa.org for updates from the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe; we will post them as often as we are able as our team in New York is working remotely. Please know all of us at CNEWA are striving to maintain our service to those in need in whatever ways we can.
And know, too, that we are joined together in prayer around the world — praying for a swift end to this crisis and praying those most affected by this pandemic will be consoled, uplifted and healed.
May God bless you and those you love during this difficult time.
A Re-opening in Bethlehem
In January, the Pontifical Mission Education and Cultural Center at Bethlehem University was rededicated, with dignitaries including the university’s vice chancellor, Brother Peter Bray, F.S.C., and CNEWA’s regional director in Jerusalem, Joseph Hazboun, together cutting the ribbon.
CNEWA’s Pontifical Mission began the center as a library in 1970, and has evolved into a thriving community center contributing to the “educational, social and cultural growth” of the Palestinian community.
The Teresians, a secular institute of Catholic lay women, now help provide summer camps for youth, along with leadership classes, and various cultural, artistic and interreligious activities.
Winter Parish Outreach
CNEWA’s parish visitation team made several visits over the winter as part of its outreach program. Deacon Greg Kandra and members of the CNEWA team visited parishes in Florida and Minnesota, with the deacon preaching at Masses and introducing parishioners to CNEWA’s ministry with the Eastern churches. The team also met with local donors to express gratitude for their generosity, prayers and good will. If you would like CNEWA to bring its message of hope to your parish, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our contact page.