Death of the Father of the Poor
Mar Joseph Kundukulam, 80, retired Syro-Malabar Archbishop of Trichur, Kerala, India, died on 25 April during a visit to a mission station of the Nirmala Dasi Sisters in Wamba, Kenya.
Known as the Father of the Poor because of his tireless efforts on their behalf, Mar Joseph founded the Nirmala Dasi (Servants of God) Sisters in 1971 to work with the poorest of the poor. Even in his retirement, Mar Joseph maintained an active ministry to those in need, setting up, for example, a home for persons with AIDS.
A prayerful man, Mar Joseph combined this active ministry with a contemplative life. Beloved by all the people of Kerala, he will be greatly missed.
A Step Forward
For decades India’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church has been divided over the issue of how best to restore its liturgy.
In mid-March, the church moved closer to autonomy when Pope John Paul II entrusted its synod of bishops with the authority to decide liturgical questions.
In a letter dated 14 March, the Pope told the bishops they were “the guardians of a heritage of faith and grace that precedes and accompanies us” and called on them to safeguard its tradition “in its wholeness and completeness,” so that “nothing, not even the slightest element, may be lost.”
In 1992, Pope John Paul elevated the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church to major archiepiscopal status; at that time, however, he reserved to the Holy See the authority to decide on the church’s liturgy and to appoint its bishops.
We Did It Again
On 5 June, Catholic Near East magazine received six awards at the annual meeting of the Catholic Press Association in New Orleans.
Noteworthy was a first place award for “Learning to Live Together,” an article about Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement appearing in the July-August 1997 issue.
A panel of 15 judges noted that the article was a “careful balance of the interests and positions of each side…a probing analysis of the challenges and opportunities faced by the people of Palestine.”
Other awards were received for best cover, both color and black and white, and for best photos originating with a magazine.
Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia
Meetings with Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim religious leaders and a review of CNEWA-sponsored projects were the focus of a late spring visit to Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia by Msgr. Stern and Msgr. Madden.
Highlights in Egypt included a meeting with the Catholic bishops, who discussed the status of Christians there. Although there are practical difficulties, Msgr. Stern reported, Christians are not persecuted in Egypt. The bishops urged CNEWA to call this fact to the attention of U.S. church and civic leaders. U.S.-proposed sanctions, the bishops stated, would hurt all Egyptians.
While in Egypt, Msgrs. Stern and Madden also met with Dr. Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Grand Mufti of Egypt and Sheik of Al Azhar, with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, Pope Shenouda III, and with Pope Petros VII, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.
Meetings in Eritrea and Ethiopia included those with the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Philipos, with the five Eastern Catholic bishops, with the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch, Abune Paulos, and with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S.
An Extra-Ordinary Man
Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Consider Dennis Manders, a postal worker from Milwaukee. For years, Mr. Manders has been supporting seminarians, novices and needy children. He has helped build churches and schools and has paid the tuition of countless schoolchildren.
When Mr. Manders runs out of projects, he sends CNEWA extra gifts “to be used where the need is greatest.”
Dennis Manders did not win the lottery. He did not inherit a fortune. He works double shifts to earn extra money to give to the poor, whom he considers his neighbors wherever they may be.
Malabar Missionary Brothers
On 19 May, the new Superior General of the Malabar Missionary Brothers, Brother Tom Alen, accompanied by Brother Edwin Kuttickl, visited CNEWA to discuss the community’s work with the poor of India.
For 50 years, this Syro-Malabar Catholic community of brothers has cared for orphans, taught catechism in remote villages, protected the elderly, trained mentally handicapped children and provided vocational training for youth.
Clinic Opens in Georgia
The dedication of Redemptor Hominis Outpatients’ Clinic, a new facility built by the Holy See in Tbilisi, Georgia, took place amid great jubilation on 5 April.
Funded by Caritas Italiana, with assistance from Misereor and CNEWA, the clinic will be staffed by the Camillian Fathers and the Daughters of St. Camillus.
Pope John Paul II said he hoped the clinic would be “a tangible sign of my closeness and affection” for the Georgian people.