The Maronite bishop of Deir El Ahmar, Semaan Atallah, inaugurated the creation of an irrigation lake in northern Lebanon in early September. The lake was created by lining a vast area with an artificial membrane, which seals the soil and collects water from rainfall and melting snow. Tucked in the hills of Deir El Ahmar — a poor region whose residents depend entirely on agriculture to earn a living — the lake is the second such project engineered by CNEWA’s Beirut office.
In other news from Lebanon, the United States Agency for International Development has awarded CNEWA’s Beirut office a grant of $100,000 to assist local efforts to reforest areas in the Chouf and Mount Lebanon damaged by wildfires in October.
New Romanian Orthodox Patriarch
In a secret ballot, the electoral college of the Orthodox Church of Romania elected Metropolitan Daniel Ciobotea of Moldova and Bucovina as Archbishop of Bucharest, Metropolitan of Muntenia and Dobrogea and Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church on 12 September.
The new patriarch studied under the renowned theologian Dumitru Staniloae and has considerable ecumenical experience, having taught at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, from 1980 to 1988, and having served at the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Patriarch Daniel succeeds the long-serving Patriarch Teoctist, who died in July at the age of 92. Some 87 percent of Romania’s population, or roughly 19 million people, belong to the Orthodox Church of Romania.
Hilton Head Hospitality
Senior staff members Chorbishop John D. Faris and Gabriele Delmonaco were welcomed by the Catholic community in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in October.
The team met with the principal of St. Francis by the Sea School, who is interested in the work of the Dominican sisters in the Middle East; met with priests serving in the area; lunched with the Angelo Carrabba family, who are good friends of CNEWA; and briefed benefactors about the work of the agency. In addition, Chorbishop Faris preached at three Masses at Holy Family Church, which received him generously.
Forming Knights and Ladies
CNEWA continues its ongoing program to assist in the formation and education of members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which is charged by the Holy See for supporting the Christian presence in the Holy Land.
In the past few months, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Chorbishop Faris and Brother David Carroll, F.S.C., addressed the members of the U.S. Eastern, Middle Atlantic, Northern, Southeastern and Southwestern lieutenancies.
Bienvenue, Oeuvre d’Orient
Members of CNEWA’s senior staff met with the leadership of Oeuvre d’Orient — a Paris-based agency founded in 1856 — to discuss how the two agencies can collaborate further to support the Eastern churches, including the development of French-language materials for French Canadians and deepening relations with Catholica Unio.
Msgr. Philippe Brizard, director general, was accompanied by communications officer Catherine Baumont for the meetings held on 24-26 September in New York.
To learn more about Oeuvre d’Orient, visit its web site at www.oeuvre-orient.fr.
Happy New Year!
Church leaders from India to Russia joined Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, in commemorating the feast of Meskel, the finding of the true cross. This year the liturgical feast, which is the first in Ethiopia’s calendar year, also coincided with Ethiopia’s millennial celebrations; Ethiopia follows its own calendar, which is seven years behind the Gregorian calendar used by most churches.
Leaders of the Oriental Orthodox family of churches Armenian Apostolic, Coptic, Syriac and Malankara Syriac Orthodox were joined by distinguished guests of the Byzantine Orthodox family of churches, led by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, in observing the feast and in participating in an international peace conference called by Abune Paulos. Conference discussions in late September focused on AIDS, climate change, poverty, social justice, terrorism and war.