Strengthening ecumenical ties, Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, presided at a ceremony on 24 March observing the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Mekhitarist Fathers.
Archbishop Nerses Der Nersessian, Apostolic Administrator of the Armenian Catholic Church in Armenia and Georgia, attended the ceremony, which took place in the Catholicos’s residence in Veharan.
The Mekhitarist Fathers, an Armenian Catholic religious community, was founded in Constantinople in 1701. The community transferred to the island of San Lazzaro, Venice, in 1717. In 1811 a second foundation of Mekhitarists wa s established in Vienna. These two communities are known for their scholarship in Europe and the Middle East.
Father Chacour Receives Prize
Father Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Melkite Greek Catholic priest who has worked for reconciliation among Jews and Palestinians, received the Buddhist Niwano Prize on 10 May from the Niwano Peace Foundation at a ceremony in Tokyo.Father Chacour founded the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Israel, which provide practical training for peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews, based on acceptance of religious pluralism and dialogue. Although his childhood was spent as a refugee in his homeland, Father Chacour is not vengeful. He understands the suffering of the Jews.
Nikkyo Niwano, a Japanese Buddhist and pioneer in interreligious dialogue who devoted his life to the cause of world peace, established the Niwano Peace Foundation in 1978.
Projects in Southern Lebanon
With the departure of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon last year, CNEWA has been able to embark on a program of relief and rehabilitation in that region.Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General, accompanied by Issam Bishara, Regional Director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, and Michel Constantin of CNEWA’s Beirut staff, visited our projects in the area. One focuses on the channeling of water from the Al Derdawa springs near the village of Al Khyam for irrigation of the El Merj plain. When completed, the project will benefit five villages in the area.
Three’s a Charm
For the third consecutive year, CNEWA’s bimonthly magazine received first place honors for General Excellence at the annual meeting of the Catholic Press Association in Dallas on 25 May. The judges noted that the magazine had a “well organized format. Clean, sharp contrast mix with copy and photo/art.”
Our magazine also received two awards for Best Cover while CNEWA’s Web site received honorable mention.
Msgr. Stern received an award for his article, “Religion, Politics and Jerusalem,” which appeared in the November-December 2000 issue.
“Good writing,” noted the judges. “A personal point of view with substance, this [article] has the potential to open readers’ eyes to the diversity of the Holy City… how religion and politics are intertwined.”
On 27 May, Msgr. Stern addressed the Southeastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem at the Lieutenancy’s annual meeting and investiture in New Orleans.
Regarding the tangled web of interests in the Middle East, Msgr. Stern stated that all of the nations involved, including the United States, were pursuing policies contrary to the self-interests of these governments despite available alternatives and other courses of action.
Msgr. Stern then invited the Lieutenancy to do what it can to influence the policies of government.
“Above all else,” he said, “we’re trying to promote understanding, understanding of the complexities, understanding of the pressures, understanding of the fears and understanding of the follies.”
CNEWA Beneficiaries Murdered
Anti-Christian violence in India hit home when two Salesian priests, who had once been sponsored as seminarians by generous CNEWA donors, were martyred in the tiny village of Ngarian, India.
Father Raphael Paliakara, 43, Novice Master of the Novitiate of the Salesians of Don Bosco, and Father Andreas Kindo, 32, Assistant Director of Novices, were shot on the night of 15 May, apparently by members of an underground separatist group. A Salesian Brother, Shinu Joseph Valliparampil, also died in the assault. Frightened novices ran across the fields to the neighboring parish at Yaripok, three miles away, to report the incident.
Daniel Baker of St. Paul, Minnesota, sponsored Father Paliakara, while Mrs. Sandra Brennan of Plano, Texas, and Mrs. Bobbi Roemen-Jorgensen of Dell Rapids, South Dakota, sponsored Father Kindo.
May our martyred friends rest in peace.
In late May, Amba Tadros, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Port Said, Egypt, discussed the needs of his eparchy with CNEWA’s senior staff in New York.
Archbishop Fares Makaroun, Melkite Greek Catholic Eparch of Nossa Senhora do Paraíso em São Paolo, Brazil, apprised CNEWA of his growing eparchy. While here, he toured the office and met CNEWA staff.
Two Syro-Malabar Catholic bishops, Mar Joseph Arackal of the Eparchy of Kanjirapally and Mar Dominic Kokkat, Bishop of Gorakhpur, spoke about the work of their dynamic church with senior staff members in late June.
Also in June, Mar Bawai Soro, Bishop of the Diocese of Western California of the Assyrian Church of the East, spoke of the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic and Assyrian churches.
Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Syro-Malabar Catholic Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, visited CNEWA on 27 June to update senior staff on the affairs of his dynamic church.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church includes 3,886,000 faithful, most of whom live in the southern Indian state of Kerala. There are also six Syro-Malabar Catholic communities in the United States and one in Canada. On 16 December 1992, Pope John Paul II raised this ancient church to Major Archepiscopal rank and appointed Antony Cardinal Padiyara of Ernakulam-Angamaly as the first Major Archbishop. Cardinal Vithayathil succeeded him in 1999.