ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church


from the world of CNEWA

Pontifical Mission at 60

Celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine were held at the Notre Dame Centre in Jerusalem on 25 November. After an anniversary Mass offered by Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, our Jerusalem staff presented an audiovisual history of the work of the Pontifical Mission made with the help of Bethlehem University’s Media Center.

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef, made a brief address and hosted a reception that included heads and representatives of all the churches active in the region; ministers and other officials from the Palestinian Authority; representatives from the governments of Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States; and other partners and beneficiaries.

Founded in 1949 by Pope Pius XII, the Pontifical Mission functions as CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East and has offices in Amman, Beirut, Jerusalem and Rome.

Middle East Christians

CNEWA’s campaign on behalf of the Middle East’s Christian community anticipates the upcoming Middle East synod called by Pope Benedict XVI. Scheduled for October, the synod will mark the first time the Holy Father has convoked such a meeting of Middle East Christian hierarchs and religious superiors. He will address the vital role the Christian community plays in the region as well as the issues related to its dwindling size.

CNEWA launched the campaign to galvanize support for the churches and peoples of the Middle East. The effort calls on North Americans to help the many apostolic activities that sustain the churches of the Middle East and to assist the region’s refugees – a disproportionate number of whom are Christian, particularly those from Iraq and Palestine.

Gaza Update

Thanks to the generosity of CNEWA’s benefactors, the mother and child clinic in Shija’ia, Gaza, which was destroyed last year, has reopened at a different location in the same town. The new facility occupies a ground floor space, which has been entirely remodeled, furnished and equipped with medical machinery and supplies.

The clinic has resumed most of the services it offered before being leveled during the January 2009 war between Hamas and Israel. Though no one was injured, the Near East Council of Churches facility was completely destroyed. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment was ruined.

In the spring, CNEWA’s Jerusalem staff, in cooperation with major international donor agencies, including Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Luxembourg, Secours Catholique, Kinderhilfe Bethlehem and Manos Unidas, began the work of rebuilding Gaza’s church– sponsored charities, clinics and schools damaged or destroyed in the crossfire.

As part of this effort, CNEWA also covered the cost of desperately needed maintenance work on the Missionaries of Charity Home. Founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the facility houses a kindergarten and convent, whose nuns care for mentally and physically disabled children.

India Visit

Visiting child care facilities is an important endeavor for CNEWA’s regional director for India, Thomas Varghese. Just before Christmas, he drove by car for 15 hours through jungle and sparsely settled areas to visit St. Antony Balabahavan, an orphanage and school located in a remote and almost inaccessible corner of the southwestern state of Karnataka.

Mr. Varghese arrived during a power outage that lasted 12 days in a part of the state that lacks even the basics of infrastructure. The children were disappointed because they could not perform the dances and skits they had prepared to welcome their guest.

“The children, who are not accustomed to visitors, were so glum,” Mr. Varghese said. “So we used our car’s lights to illuminate the stage. The children were delighted after all to be able to perform for us.”

Administered by the Syro–Malabar Catholic Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Antony’s is home to 221 children, all of whom live and attend school there. CNEWA’s generous donors support 47 of these children through its child sponsorship program.

Celebrating Christmas in the Holy Land


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