Hunger in Eritrea
CNEWA is feeding families affected by acute malnutrition in Eritrea. While reliable statistics are unavailable, sources in the country indicate a significant portion of Eritreas 3.5 to 4.8 million people are undernourished, especially children, women of childbearing age and the elderly.
In the best of times, this small state in northeast Africa can barely produce enough food to meet its requirements. This year, with late and meager rainfall after consecutive years of drought, military conflict and economic crises, the situation is worse.
Rationing has become the norm and what food is available on the market is imported and far too expensive for most families.
The immediate and generous response of benefactors have enabled CNEWA to rush an initial installment of $100,000 to feed 1,000 families for three months.
CNEWA in India
How to serve better the needs of Indias dynamic Eastern churches, updates on CNEWAs activities and ecumenical and priestly formation concerns were among the topics CNEWAs secretary general, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, discussed in late August with the synods of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches as well as with the head of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Catholicos Mar Baselios Thomas I.
While in Kerala, Msgr. Stern visited St. Josephs Pontifical Seminary in Alwaye, St. Marys Major Seminary in Trivandrum and St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary in Kottayam, where spoke to the seminarians, spiritual directors and rectors about the sacrifices made on their behalf by generous benefactors in North America.
CNEWAs work in India is the single largest national program of the agency. It includes support for 339 child care institutions, 100 novitiates for religious sisters and brothers and 42 major seminaries all endeavors of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches.
New Face in Jerusalem
On 1 September, Sami El-Yousef began his tenure with CNEWA and the Pontifical Mission as regional director for Palestine and Israel.
As part of his orientation and formation, Msgr. Stern introduced Mr. El-Yousef to ecclesial and lay authorities, including the patriarchs and bishops of the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land.
The former vice president for finance and planning at Bethlehem University, Mr. El-Yousef leads an active team involved in numerous programs and projects in the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Israel, such as labor intensive and community redevelopment works, childhood development, education and health care.
The major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Mar Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal of Trivandrum, recently completed a pastoral visit to North America, where he was warmly welcomed by the Syro-Malankara community, which includes an estimated 10,000 people in the United States and another few thousand in Canada.
Mar Baselios Cleemis also visited CNEWAs administrative headquarters in New York City on 13 August. There, he visited with Msgr. Stern and discussed the pastoral and humanitarian priorities of his church, which now numbers more than 500,000 people worldwide.
Though the youngest of the 21 Catholic Eastern churches founded in southwestern India in 1930 the roots of this community stretch through nearly two millennia of Indian history and culture.
Patricia Molloy, who retired on 31 July after 30 years of service to the Vatican office of CNEWA and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, received the prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, awarded Ms. Molloy the cross at a ceremony in late June in Rome on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.
At an audience with the Holy Father, Msgr. Stern spoke to him of the dedication of the Galway, Ireland, native, praising her work with CNEWA as the culmination of a lifetime of service to the church.
The award, For the Church and the Pontiff, was established in 1888 on the occasion of the golden jubilee of Pope Leo XIII.
Commitment to Ethiopia Deepens
CNEWAs U.S. national secretary, Gabriel Delmonaco, led a group of benefactors and friends to Ethiopia in early August.
During the 9-day trip, the group met with religious leaders and visited agency-supported institutions in and around Addis Ababa and in the northwestern region of Amhara.
Al Lagan and his daughter, Mary ORiordan, were deeply impressed with the success of clergy and religious in improving the lives of thousands of needy children, despite the lack of supplies, water and electricity.
Ive seen poverty, said Mrs. ORiordan, but nothing prepared me for what we encountered in Ethiopia.
Msgr. Michael Becker of St. Michael, Pa., was inspired to encourage his parish to support a parish school in Bahir Dar. This will really deepen our sense of the global dimension of the church, he said.