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Catholic Near East Welfare Association

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Briefs from the world of CNEWA

Maronite Patriarch Visits

On 20 October, the head of the world’s Maronite Catholics, Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai of Antioch, held a press conference at CNEWA’s administrative center in New York as part of his first pastoral visit to the United States since his election in Lebanon last March.

During the hour-long briefing, the patriarch spoke of his desire for dialogue and consensus with other religions, and expressed his hope that the “Arab Spring” will be “a real spring … that will lead to greater freedom and democracy.

“We want to see a Middle East renewed in its respect of human rights and dignity, especially for minorities … It is important to point out the role Christians played in upholding democratic principles, freedoms and human rights in the Middle East.

“This is why a Christian presence there should be safeguarded and the role of Christians strengthened.”

To read the full text of the patriarch’s remarks and watch the video, visit us online at

Rest in Peace

A member of the CNEWA family, Brother Donald Mansir, F.S.C., died on 8 October in Walnut Creek, California, at the age of 62.

A member of the De La Salle Brothers of the Christian Schools and a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Brother Donald joined CNEWA in 1989 as the field projects coordinator for the Pontifical Mission’s Jerusalem office. In 1993, he succeeded Sister Maureen Grady, C.S.C., as chief operating officer and vice president of the Pontifical Mission.

Brother Donald played an important role in the restoration of the dome of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Working with CNEWA’s Msgr. Robert Stern and then Father Denis Madden, he helped bring together the shrine’s Armenian Apostolic, Greek Orthodox and Latin Catholic custodians with donors in the United States anxious about the dome’s structural integrity.

May the Lord reward Brother Donald for the souls he touched with dignity, grace and love.

Symposium on Middle East Christians

On 21-22 October, CNEWA and the Sheptytsky Institute for Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa sponsored a symposium on the future of Christianity in the Middle East.

The two-day event featured panels that addressed the current crises affecting the Middle East’s Christian minorities and the responsibilities of Canadians to Christians and all minorities in the region.

Among the guests was keynote-speaker Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Elias Chacour of Akka, Haifa, Nazareth and Galilee. The recipient of many honorary doctorates and peace awards, including three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, Archbishop Chacour has dedicated his ministry to peace-building, specifically among Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

New Home for Jordan’s Syriacs

On 20 October, the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, dedicated a new cathedral in Amman.

The cathedral and community center, the construction of which was funded in part by a grant from CNEWA, will serve as the spiritual home for the parish, which includes many Iraqi Christian refugees living in and around the capital. The community center will also function as a public space, open to other Christian and Muslim communities for religious conferences and social, cultural and sporting activities.

Teresians’ Centennial

In October, the Teresian Association, a religious and lay institute of men and women, celebrated its centennial anniversary. For decades, Teresians have run CNEWA’s Pontifical Mission libraries in Amman and Bethlehem. Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, attended the celebrations in Jerusalem on 15 October.

CNEWA Visitors

The head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Major Archbishop George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, visited CNEWA’s New York offices on 25 October as part of his first pastoral visit to the United States since his election in India in May. The 66-year-old major archbishop leads nearly four million Syro-Malabar Catholics around the world, including 75,000 in the United States.

On 24 October, Vincent Mar Paulos, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Bishop of Marthandam in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, met with CNEWA&#146s president, Msgr. John Kozar, in New York. The jovial, 48 year-old bishop is himself a beneficiary of CNEWA&#146s seminarian sponsorship program.

And in September, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, paid a visit to meet the staff and regional directors. Cardinal O’Malley serves as a member of CNEWA’s board of directors.

Ephpheta Institute at 40

The Paul VI Ephpheta Institute, a school for hearing-impaired children in Bethlehem, celebrated its 40th anniversary on 22 October.

The school, which CNEWA has subsidized since its establishment by Pope Paul VI, is the only one of its kind in the region.

It provides children — almost all of whom are Muslim — with a high quality education from preschool through the tenth grade and boasts state-of-the-art equipment and techniques.

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