In April, CNEWA launched an emergency appeal to help Syrians displaced by the civil war, among them some 2,000 Christian families. These refugees live in fear and lack many of the basics, including sufficient food, water, clothing and housing.
Since then, CNEWA has raised more than a half million dollars. In June, CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission, began disbursement of the funds in the form of food, clothing and other basics and school supplies for children. Already, $97,080 has been sent to aid the families, especially those in Lebanon. In October and November, CNEWA plans to deliver more aid to the families in the form of winter survival kits, which include enough warm clothing and heating fuel to last through the cold winter months.
CNEWA has sought funding from major donor agencies as well as from generous benefactors. To help, please visit us online at: cnewa.org/web/syriaupdate.
Birthday Blessings for a Benefactor
In mid-August, lifelong CNEWA benefactor Cecilia Mazzoni celebrated her 100th birthday. CNEWA’s vice president for development, Gabriel Delmonaco, attended a party for her at the assisted living facility in Sun City West, Arizona, where she resides. He presented her with an Apostolic Blessing, signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See’s secretary of state.
Her parents were among CNEWA’s original supporters: Their membership card from 1926, the year CNEWA was founded by Pope Pius XI, is safely preserved in the agency’s archives.
Cecilia and her sister, Catherine, shared their parents’ passion and as adults carried on generously supporting CNEWA’s work. Especially concerned with “the poorest of the poor,” Cecilia and her late husband, Frank, supported numerous clean water and food projects in Ethiopia and India. They also sponsored dozens of children, novices and seminarians over the years. When Cecilia’s sister died unexpectedly, the Mazzoni family built a church in India in her memory.
CNEWA’s longest living friend today, Cecilia remains as enthusiastic as ever about the agency. “The money I have is a loan from the Lord and I have to give it back,” she says of her charitable giving.
Many years, Cecilia!
Catholic Women’s League
From 12 to 15 August, CNEWA Canada’s national director, Carl Hétu, attended the Canadian Catholic Women’s League (C.W.L.) annual national convention in Edmonton, Alberta. While there, he addressed the 950 delegates on the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
In May, CNEWA and C.W.L. established a partnership, named “Velma’s Dream,” to aid Christians in the Holy Land. The joint venture now sponsors a program at the Infant Welfare Center in Jerusalem for youth who have dropped out of school. Currently, it is raising funds to help support the Beit Sahour Cooperative Society for Health in Palestine, which provides health care to poor pregnant women and their children through its Shepherds Field Hospital.
To get involved with Velma’s Dream, please visit us online at: cnewa.ca/web/cwl.
Rest in Peace
The patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, died on 17 August in Addis Ababa at the age of 76.
A close friend of CNEWA, the patriarch was a leader in the worldwide ecumenical movement.
“Social work is the meaning of apostleship. Apostleship is the root of real and compassionate social work,” he told the special Synod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican in 2009.
Born in Adwa in Tigray Province of the northern part of the country, the patriarch studied at the Theological College of the Holy Trinity in Addis Ababa. After his ordination as a priest, he continued his studies at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, New York. Imprisoned for several years by Ethiopia’s Communist regime, he was released in 1983. He later earned a doctoral degree from Princeton. He was elected patriarch in 1992.
Pope’s Visit to Lebanon
As this issue of the magazine goes to press, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to make a highly anticipated trip to Lebanon, where he will present a document addressing the church’s concern for the Christians of the Middle East. To read the full document, click here. We will have more on that “apostolic exhortation” in the November issue of ONE. In the meantime, Father Elias Mallon offers some background on the papal visit, along with context and analysis.
Christians Trapped in Rableh
In late August, it was reported that some 12,000 Christians were trapped in Rableh, Syria, a village south of Homs. Some 5,000 Christians from the nearby town of Kusayr sought refuge in the entirely Christian village after armed opposition leaders ordered them to leave Kusayr.
Currently, Rableh is under siege as government and opposition forces battle over its control. Residents and refugees face a serious shortage of food and medical supplies.
The Greek Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch requested emergency assistance from CNEWA’s operating agency in the region, Pontifical Mission. At last report, local church leaders had brokered a deal to allow passage of the Pontifical Mission’s emergency food rations.
Visitors from India
Over the summer, CNEWA welcomed to its offices in New York two leading figures from India, both of whom are trustees of the CNEWA board.
In July, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, visited while making a pastoral trip to the United States. The four-million-strong Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 22 Eastern churches in full communion with Rome and, said the engaging prelate, is “a church that goes out” to preach the Good News.
“A church that does not preach, teach and baptize in the name of the Father will be dormant and will eventually die,” he said. We must not be afraid of temporary failures, he continued. “Not even St. Paul was always successful. But if the church lives the Gospel as Christ intended, we will attract even those who hate us.”
A native of Kerala, the cardinal met with CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, and CNEWA’s New York-based staff. He spoke eloquently about the growth of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in its heartland of southern India, but also throughout the subcontinent and beyond.
In August, Major Archbishop Baselios Mar Cleemis of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church he paid a visit to CNEWA.
Accompanied by the exarch for Syro-Malankara Catholics in North America and Europe, Bishop Thomas Mar Eusebius, the major archbishop shared some of his thoughts about his country, its people and the vibrant faith they have brought to North America. During a conversation in our staff conference room, he spoke passionately and eloquently about “witnessing” to the faith — through acts of compassion, charity and simple piety.
“We do that,” he said, “through education, through health care, through caring for those with H.I.V. and leprosy. It has to do with human dignity. I am proud and happy of how our people give witness with how they live.”
Born and educated in Kerala, the major archbishop also underscored the universality of the Catholic Church.
“Catholicity,” he noted, “is not uniformity, but diversity.” And he said that the Syro-Malankara Church could make its own unique contribution to “bring a new dimension to the Catholic Church.”