Sister Gracy Paulos, D.D.S., cares for elderly residents of Deivadan Home in the Idukki district of Kerala. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Enduring persecution and martyrdom, war and civil strife, the Church of Antioch stands as a testament to the resilience and faith of its people. Across the decades, CNEWA has endeavored to build on that faith, helping her grow and thrive, whether in the Middle East, India or beyond.
One critical way we have done this is through the formation of church leaders: priests, religious sisters and lay catechists. Generations of benefactors have nurtured Chaldean and Syriac seminarians and religious in Iraq; contributed to the education of Maronite and Melkite priests and sisters in Lebanon and Syria; and fostered vocations to the priesthood and religious life among the burgeoning Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches in India.
Building the Antiochene Church requires lay leadership, too, especially in areas where the presence of priests and religious sisters is not permitted, or even dangerous. CNEWA is there, supporting catechetical and formation programs for dedicated men and women eager to serve as pastoral associates. These and other initiatives have helped ensure the Gospel continues to be spread, heard, shared and lived.
And living the Gospel is key to one of our oldest mandates: the care of displaced and broken families. This has been a cornerstone of our mission from the very beginning 90 years ago — and it continues today, most prominently and dramatically in Iraqi Kurdistan. There CNEWA, working through local congregations and churches, is helping care for the spiritual, physical and humanitarian needs of tens of thousands of Christians who have fled ISIS since 2014. CNEWA has helped provide education, emergency aid and medical assistance to displaced families who have lost everything. Neighboring Lebanon and Jordan have absorbed waves of refugees, as well; to assist them, CNEWA has supported medical and humanitarian care at such institutions as the Italian Hospital in Amman and the Dbayeh Refugee Camp near Beirut.
CNEWA has also actively sought to bring dignity and justice to those on the margins, whether in remote villages or big cities. In India, that has meant collaborating with the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches to support schools, child care initiatives and social service works that uplift the poor — especially the Dalits, the so-called “untouchables” scorned by much of Indian society. CNEWA has also been able to provide assistance to numerous facilities that care for children — from orphanages that give security and love to the youngest infants, to homes that provide teenagers with training and skills to try and achieve a better life.
The challenges these churches face are daunting, but the steadfast devotion of the people — and of the innumerable lay and religious workers who serve them — continues to inspire. CNEWA is privileged to accompany these churches on their pilgrim journey.
To learn how you can help, call:
1-800-442-6392 (United States)