“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me … See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.’ ” (Mt 18:1-5,10)
You are probably reading this column after the Christmas season, but the memories of our time spent in prayer and reflection on the mystery of the Incarnation during Advent and Christmas nevertheless remain vivid:
“The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14).
God entered the world he created, becoming one with it! As I have stated on many occasions, because of the Incarnation, our perspective, our work (often called our political theology, which is never to be confused with partisan politics) must always engage God’s grace in the transformation, elevation and restoration of God’s creation. CNEWA’s fundamental Gospel mandate, which we live out among the Eastern churches, seeks to accompany the local church and to respond to all human needs, especially in emergency situations.
As we reconsider the birth of Jesus, his childhood and his youth, let us consider CNEWA’s commitment to the care of children through a wide array of initiatives that have been integral to our mission for nearly a century. In the midst of a consumerist, throwaway culture, which at its extreme treats women and children as commodities to be trafficked — truly, a crime against humanity — CNEWA remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of all children and the promotion of the best conditions for their genuine growth within their families, the church and society.
This work is possible thanks to your prayers and your generosity. You have journeyed with us. You make this possible!
This edition of ONE features just a few examples of CNEWA’s abiding commitment to children. In late September, when I visited the Little Prince program for children in Artashat, Armenia, my colleagues and I experienced your support for our work through Caritas Armenia.
In Ukraine and neighboring countries, we work to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainian children who have fled war. At the Kidane Meheret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, CNEWA collaborates with the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus among poor and abandoned children, including those with H.I.V./AIDS. Just south of Addis Ababa, in Meki, the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians at Kidane Meheret Girls Hostel offer girls the opportunity to recover — physically, emotionally and spiritually — from horrific forms of abuse and to complete their education and prepare for the next chapter in their lives.
In Egypt, child care programs offered by the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Congregation of Jesus and Mary offer a sound education and a sure foundation for Christian and non-Christian children alike.
Beyond the magazine, as we anticipate our programs and budgets for 2023, our commitment to the care of children in need continues. This includes support for emergency supplementary food and sanitary supplies for children living in church-run facilities in Eritrea, which has now completed its nationalization of Catholic schools. Our support for emergency food programs, along with basic educational necessities, will increase in Ethiopia as it suffers food shortages due to the war in Ukraine, civil strife and drought.
In India, CNEWA remains committed to those young women and men in formation as novices and seminarians just as it remains in compliance with changes in Indian law.
In Jordan, we continue our support for Iraqi and Syrian refugee children — who with their families have fled their homelands for the security offered by the Hashemite Kingdom — as well as the health care of mothers and infants at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa. The child care initiatives of the church in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria remain central to our concerns. We visited a number of schools in northern Iraq last year reconstructed after the devastation incurred at the hands of ISIS.
And as always, CNEWA’s outreach to the children of Israel and Palestine — which includes support for those who cannot hear, enrolled at the Ephpheta Paul VI Institute in Bethlehem, as well as the mother and child clinics of the Near East Council of Churches in Gaza — remain dear.
The programs cited here all attest to CNEWA’s ongoing commitment to child care on multiple levels throughout the regions we serve with humility and gratitude. This is possible thanks to your desire and your willingness to journey with us in prayer, to be well informed, to give sacrificially and to share the CNEWA story in many ways.
Thank you for your prayers!
As we approach the end of the year, I appeal to you to do whatever is within your means to increase your sacrificial giving. Please! The demands on our budget are great. We would like to increase our assistance to the children, but we can only do this with your financial support. Permit me to invite you to a greater awareness of our mission and our work.
- Become more familiar with CNEWA’s website: www.cnewa.org.
- Watch our live monthly program, “Connections With Msgr. Peter.” Next shows: 11 January, 8 February and 8 March at 2 p.m. (ET).
Be assured of my prayers. Please pray for me and the mission of CNEWA. And thank you. Let us pray together that, as we reflect on the Incarnation, we will take to heart the message of Jesus, the child of Bethlehem, and “turn and become like children.” It is nothing less than the condition for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven!
With my gratitude and prayers,
Peter I. Vaccari