Quietly and without fanfare the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) marked it Golden Jubilee at the end of 1974. Its dynamic National Secretary Monsignor John G. Nolan, observed the occasion in a characteristic way. He and his Associates launched this new publication, Catholic Near East Magazine. It aims, as you know, to cultivate among our readers a deeper understanding of the progress of the Church and its people in the lands of the Middle East.
The CNEWA Story
It was Pope Pius XI who encouraged the foundation of CNEWA in 1924. In the wake of World War I the Holy Father was overwhelmed by requests for charitable assistance from Eastern Europe and Asia. He asked us American Catholics to come to their aid.
Under the direction of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and the auspices of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental (Eastern) Churches, the work has prospered. Timely assistance has been rendered; constant concern continues to be given the needs of the Church as it exists in multi-varied lands.
The influence of CNEWA over these 50 years has extended across a wide area, 18 countries at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. The homelands of the Christians of the Oriental rites stretch from the coastline of Palestine eastward through Iran and Afghanistan to southern India, south to Egypt and Ethiopia, and north trom the Holy Land to Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece and its Islands as far as Albania and into the Balkans.
Pontifical Mission for Palestine
It was a new Pope, Pius XII, whose foresight resulted in establishment of CNEWAs sister organization, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine (PMP), which in reality is the Vaticans relief operation to the Palestine Refugees. This new foundation occurred in 1949 as CNEWA was marking its 25th anniversary. Our present Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, who was intimately involved in setting up the PMP, recalled the occasion in a recent letter sent to Monsignor Nolan in his capacity as the President of the Pontifical Mission. As he noted the 25 years of service rendered by the Mission, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude and appreciation for all the PMP had accomplished in assisting the refugees. The Popes very personal interest in the Holy Land is all the more urgent since his visit to the Near East in 1964.
We exhort you, Pope Paul wrote in his jubilee letter, to become the voice of those who are suffering and to urge Christians to be generous witnesses of charity towards their Palestinian brethren and to intensify their efforts for the worthy cause of assistance and development.
What Has CNEWA Done?
Because of the generosity of American Catholics CNEWA has built over a thousand churches, 32 complete parish plants, 91 schools, 26 convents, 11 hospitals and clinics, 107 orphanages and three leprosaria. Even more noteworthy, over 5,000 native priests and 7,900 native sisters have been trained and educated. Presently, over 6,000 orphans are benefiting from the CNEWA Needy Child Program. The Pontifical Mission for Palestine with offices in Beirut, Jerusalem, and Amman in Jordan dispenses its care on the basis of need not creed. In excess of $100,000,000 in supplies, services, and cash has been expended to assist some 1,500,000 refugees. Its activities include education, medical care, shelter, clothing, and food. PMP owns no properties itself, its funds go entirely for relief, rehabilitation and development.
A Cooperative Effort
CNEWA works closely with the Congregation for Oriental Churches in Rome, and with the Patriarchs, local Bishops and clergy in the entire area. PMP efforts are coordinated with those of Catholic Relief Services and of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Millions of disadvantaged and suffering people continue, even after half a century, to look to CNEWA and to PMP for help.
Your Generosity Makes It Possible
Your sacrifices, given in a generous, prayerful spirit have made each of the past 50 years golden; you have made the great work possible. Your continuing, unstinting support makes Christ present and visible not only in the lands He knew during his life on earth but in other nearby lands beyond to which His Apostles brought the faith.