Patriarch Sabbah in New York
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, spoke out for the rights of Palestinians on an extended visit to the United States. He denounced terrorism and the killing of innocent persons and said the “road map” for peace in the Middle East is an indication of the willingness of both the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a settlement. Visiting Msgr. Robert L. Stern at CNEWA’s Manhattan office during his late summer visit, the Patriarch also discussed the status of the church in the Holy Land.
President of Pax Christi International, the Latin Patriarch was in New York to deliver the keynote address before the national meeting of the Catholic peace movement. “Recognizing the terrible plight of the Palestinian people is a necessity as much as recognizing the necessity of security for Israelis,” he told his audience.
Indian Churches Draw Faithful
The Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches held assemblies that attracted thousands of North Americans who explored their Indian heritage while deepening their faith.
Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and leader of 3.9 million Syro-Malabar Catholics worldwide, addressed both gatherings. At the Syro-Malabar Catholic convention in East Brunswick, New Jersey, he emphasized unity and reiterated that both churches share similar origins.
At the July meeting of Syro-Malankara Catholics in Melville, New York, Cardinal Varkey urged Syro-Malankara Catholics to further their evangelization efforts in the U.S. and Canada.
Bishop Isaac Mar Cleemis, Apostolic Visitor for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in the United States and Canada, said the Long Island convention was a “sign of our growth in the United States.”
Rising From the Rubble
Two and a half years after a devastating earthquake struck the state of Gujarat in northwest India, Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop Gregory Karotemprel of Rajkot has reported that reconstruction and rehabilitation are restoring community life, thanks to generous support from CNEWA and other donors.
Adopt-a-village programs are especially effective in revitalizing the stricken area, Bishop Gregory explained. This locally staffed effort rebuilds houses, schools and social service centers and creates jobs to keep people in their villages instead of moving to cities in search of work.
Some 13,000 people were killed and more than 300,00 dwellings and other buildings were destroyed or severely damaged in the earthquake that struck on 26 January 2001.
Aid for Iraq
CNEWA was awarded two grants to support its program to aid needy Iraqis. Catholic Relief Services, the overseas aid agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has donated $100,000, which CNEWA has earmarked for medicines and medical supplies. The German Catholic agency Missio-Aachen has contributed 100,000 euros, which will be utilized for general emergency relief.
CNEWA’s efforts to aid needy Iraqis were in danger of being interrupted due to a shortage of funds, reported Ra’ed Bahou, Regional Director for Jordan and Iraq.
Coordinating its efforts with the local church, particularly the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, CNEWA has been sending convoys of food, medicine and medical supplies to the country on a biweekly basis since the fall of the former regime.
Cleaning Up in Lebanon
The United States Agency for International Development has awarded CNEWA a grant of $4.8 million for its waste management and sewage treatment program in rural Lebanon. More than 153,00 Lebanese in 97 villages and towns will benefit.
Funds will further village redevelopment and revitalization efforts initiated by CNEWA which began immediately after Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.
The solid and water waste management program provides cost-effective solutions to pollution endemic in rural areas throughout the Middle Eastern country. The grant will also create permanent as well as temporary jobs.
By training local officials and increasing public awareness, the program will empower local governments to manage these waste facilities by themselves.
My Summer Vacation
One of CNEWA’s favorite projects is providing scholarships for Ukrainian students – many from the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv – to attend summer school at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies in Ottawa.
This year the program, held at the Monastery of the Holy Theotokos in Orangeville, Ontario, included courses in the Byzantine Lectionary and canon law. Outside the classroom, the students enriched their spiritual lives by attending liturgies at Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.
“Life in the monastery was practical theology,” said Mariana Kaprapinka, a graduate of UCU. “One who prays is a theologian and a theologian is one who prays.”