Iraqi Christians Flee
The escalation of violence directed against Iraqs Christian minority has forced an estimated 50,000 Iraqi Christians to flee to neighboring Syria and Jordan since last August.
This further erosion of the community follows systematic attacks on Christian-owned businesses, the kidnapping of Christian professionals and a wave of bombings that have destroyed a number of churches, most recently on 7 December, when insurgents targeted two Catholic churches in the northern city of Mosul, one Armenian and one Chaldean.
Iraqs Christians once accounted for more than 3 percent of the countrys population of 24 million and have historically lived in harmony with their Muslim neighbors.
Caritas Georgia has brought water to some 22 villages in mountainous central Georgia.
With funding from CNEWA, Caritas Georgia supervised the project, which began in 2003, enlisting the full support of the communities involved. Villagers worked together to build access roads, dig trenches, lay piping and install water storage basins. Though villagers had to leave periodically to tend crops and livestock, the project remained on course as temporary workers were hired to fill the gap.
In addition to providing most of the labor, villagers agreed to pay a tax to help offset costs incurred by Caritas Georgia. For the next three years each villager must donate about 20 pounds of potatoes from his fields to help support Caritas Georgias soup kitchens.
Tsunami Emergency Relief
The church in India responded rapidly after the 26 December tsunami that ravaged much of Southeast Asia. The Latin Diocese of Kottar, near the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, sheltered survivors in its schools and churches. Kottar Bishop Leon Tharmaraj is working closely with his Syro-Malabar neighbor, Bishop George Allencherry of Thuckalay, who dispatched priests and social workers to assist Bishop Leon in his efforts. Future plans call for the rehabilitation of fishing villages, including the reconstruction of houses and the purchase of boats and nets.
The Malankara Social Service Society (MSSS), administered by the Syro-Malankara Archdiocese of Trivandrum, has set up 94 refugee camps, housing some 100,000 people. MSSS Director Father Jose Kizhakedath has indicated that food, water, clothes and medicines will be needed for at least three months. Counseling has also begun and, under the care of the Bethany Sisters, a program is planned to care for the homeless, the destitute and the orphaned.
CNEWA has launched an emergency appeal to raise funds to support these efforts.
University Looks Ahead
Success has overwhelmed the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, said Father Borys Gudziak, rector.
The school has increased its staff and faculty, student enrollment is growing, more degrees are being granted and the state has recognized the excellence of the university, reported Father Gudziak, on a recent visit to CNEWA, a generous donor to the university.
Aside from additional classrooms for the schools expanding curriculum, dormitories are planned that will enable the university to admit foreign students.
Father Gudziak, New York-born and Harvard educated, would like to see the university establish an endowment, explaining that the school at present has funds to plan only three to four months ahead.
Honoring the Memory
Supporting needy children has always been a priority for John and Margaret Koenreich of Austin, Texas. Ive lost count of how many children weve helped through CNEWA, said Mrs. Koenreich. But weve always had six at a time.
We were introduced to CNEWA by Bishop Nolan, she said, referring to the late Bishop John G. Nolan, who led CNEWA from 1965 to 1986, and initiated CNEWAs person-to-person sponsorship programs for needy children, seminarians and women religious.
John was working with Aramco in Saudi Arabia and the bishop often passed through on his tours of the Middle East, said Mrs. Koenreich. We became great friends.
When Mr. Koenreich died, Mrs. Koenreich asked CNEWA to be sure that all her needy children came from the Middle East.
Patriarch Honors Msgr. Stern
In recognition of the work of CNEWA and the Pontifical Mission, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III conferred the honor of Mitered Grand Archimandrite upon Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General of CNEWA and President of the Pontifical Mission, at a 19 December Divine Liturgy in the patriarchal cathedral in Damascus, Syria.
During the solemn liturgy, the patriarch cited both agencies consistent support for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the church in general throughout the Middle East.
Afterward the patriarch, assisted by Archimandrite Stern, blessed the new youth center at the patriarchate funded by the Pontifical Mission.