Fourteen years ago, a friend persuaded CNEWA volunteer Elizabeth Weese to join our Seminarian Sponsorship Program and sponsor an Indian seminarian, Shaji Mekkara. Today, Father Mekkara, Novice Master of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart in Kottayam, Kerala, calls her “Grandma.”
Last autumn Father Mekkara spent three weeks in the United States visiting Ms. Weese, who showed him about New York and Washington, D.C.
“I cried when he left,” recalled Ms. Weese.
Armenian Patriarch Mourned
Retired Armenian Catholic Patriarch Hemaiagh, Patriarch Emeritus of Cilicia of the Armenians, died on 28 November at the age of 93.
From his patriarchal see in Beirut, Patriarch Hemaiagh led his flock during the worst years of civil strife in Lebanon.
In a telegram to the present Armenian Catholic Patriarch, Jean Pierre XVIII, Pope John Paul II praised the late Patriarch for his “intense spiritual life” and the “missionary ardor that he transmitted to the Armenian community.”
CNEWA Assists Ukrainian Seminary
The desperate financial straits of Lviv Theological Academy, a Ukrainian Catholic seminary located in Lviv, Ukraine, were the topic of discussion at a meeting with Ukrainian Catholic educators and CNEWA executives on 9 December. The seminary, our executive staff learned, was in disrepair and lacked heat and essential educational materials, including books.
Seminarian officials had earlier apprised John Cardinal O’Connor, President of CNEWA, and Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General, of the bleak situation.
In response, Msgr. Stern authorized a grant to meet the most pressing needs of the Academy and accepted its seminarians into our Seminarian Sponsorship Program.
Partners in Faith
In an exemplary ecumenical act, the First Presbyterian Church of Houston established in December a ministry partnership with St. Michael’s Latin Catholic Church in the village of Smakieh, Jordan. As its first gift, First Presbyterian donated $10,000 to build a new kindergarten for St. Michael’s.
Three teams will travel this summer to Smakieh to assist Father Rif’at Badr, Smakieh’s Latin pastor, with his summer youth camps. Father Rif’at and members of the Houston church are now exploring future medical and economic partnerships.
Pope Expresses Communion
In welcoming the newly elected Syrian Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Ignace Moussa I, on 16 December, Pope John Paul II set a precedent when he substituted the celebration of the Eucharist for the presentation of the pallium, which symbolizes the authority of a metropolitan over bishops and communion with Rome.
Stressing the dignity of the patriarchal office, the Pope declared that “the Eucharist is by nature the symbol that best expresses full communion of which it is at the same time the inexhaustible source.” This gesture will be repeated whenever a new Eastern Catholic patriarch first visits the pontiff.
Water in Arid Eritrea
Water is in short supply in Keren, Eritrea. Abuna Tesfamariam, Eparch of Keren, was purchasing water at a premium price from a local supplier for the minor seminary.
When CNEWA officials heard of this situation, they offered to buy a used water tanker for the seminary. The offer was happily accepted, and today the seminary stores its own water and earns extra funds delivering water for the local supplier.
Brother Vincent Pelletier, F.S.C., Director of our program in Eritrea, visited the “new” large water tanker and reported, “I was really pleased that CNEWA was able to assist the seminary so successfully in obtaining an affordable water supply.”