Middle East Synod
From 10 to 24 October, Pope Benedict XVI convened in Rome a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The assembly marked the first time the pope brought together patriarchs, bishops, religious superiors and others involved with the Middle East to address the issues and concerns of the regions Christian communities.
The pope named CNEWAs Msgr. Robert Stern as one of the synods 185 voting members. This meeting addressed many of the concerns affecting the Middle Easts Christians, ranging from the emigration of Christians from their historic churches to the immigration of Christians from India and the Philippines to the Arabian Peninsula, said Msgr. Stern.
The synod focused on the communion and witness of the Middle East Christians.
Middle East Immersion
CNEWAs vice president for communications, Michael La Civita, led two immersion programs to the Middle East for media professionals in North America. The program included visits to Jordan, Palestine and Israel from 16 to 25 September and Lebanon from 4 to 12 November.
The immersion program gave participants firsthand experience with the region and its economic, political and social challenges. Designed to raise awareness within the media about the regions Christian communities, the program offered journalists opportunities to meet with church and community leaders and visit Christian-run social service institutions.
Drawn from radio, television and print media, journalists also became acquainted with CNEWAs work in the region through its operating agency, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.
The immersion program was funded in part by a generous grant from the Catholic Communication Campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
To review the stories from the program, visit cnewa.org/web/immersion.
Iraqi Christian Campaign
CNEWAs Canada office has launched anational campaign to assist Middle East Christians, focusing on those from Iraq. As part of the effort, the office has organized activities in ten dioceses across Canada to raise awareness among Catholics about the current Iraqi refugee crisis. In September, National Director Carl Hétu spoke on the issue to clergy in the archdioceses of Toronto and Kingston.
The campaign is the latest of CNEWA Canadas ongoing efforts to aid Iraqs Christians. In July, the office assisted Martin Marc, who directs the office for refugee services in the Archdiocese of Toronto, to organize a trip to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, where he identified more than 200 Iraqi Christians families seeking refugee status in Canada. Mr. Marc is currently recruiting diocesan and parish sponsors to resettle them.
Ninety-eight-year old Cecilia has been a generous friend to CNEWA for most of her life. Her parents were among its original supporters: Their membership card from 1926, the year CNEWA was founded by Pope Pius XI, is safely preserved in the agencys archives.
Cecilia and her sister, Catherine, shared their parents passion and as adults carried on generously supporting the work of the agency. Especially concerned with the poorest of the poor, Cecilia and her husband, Frank, until his recent death, supported numerous clean water and food projects in Ethiopia and India. They also sponsored dozens of children, novices and seminarians over the years.
CNEWAs longest living friend today, Cecilia remains as enthusiastic as ever about the agency. The money I have is a loan from the Lord and I have to give it back, she says of her charitable giving.
Many years, Cecilia!
American Syro-Malankara Bishop
On 3 October, Thomas Mar Eusebius was installed as the first bishop of the newly established exarchate for Syro-Malankara Catholics in the United States. More than a thousand people gathered at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, New York, for the ceremony, including Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis, Syro-Malankara Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre.
From New Hyde Park, New York, Bishop Thomas will shepherd some 10,000 Syro-Malankara Catholics living throughout North America.
Catholica Unio President
In October, the prefect of the Holy Sees Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, announced the popes appointment of Archbishop Alois Kothgasser of Salzburg, Austria, as general president of Catholica Unio, a movement for the union of the Catholic and Orthodox churches that began in Vienna in 1921.
Representatives from Catholica Unios national offices in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, joined by CNEWAs executive vice president, Father Guido Gockel, M.H.M., welcomed the archbishop during their annual meeting held at the Mariastein Abbey in Switzerland from 27 to 30 October.
Together with Catholica Unios secretary general, Father Kilian Karrer, O.S.B., Archbishop Kothgasser will coordinate the work of the agencys national secretariats and nurture partnerships with similar charitable organizations.
Catholica Unio Deutschland works closely with CNEWA to develop its planning and promotional activities, including the publication of the German-language edition of ONE.