ONE @ 50: The Call of the East

In honor of ONE magazine’s 50th-anniversary year, the CNEWA blog is launching a new series, ONE @ 50: From the Vault, to revive and explore the wealth of articles published in ONE magazine throughout its history. Our launch date marks the 98th anniversary of the founding of CNEWA, so to kick things off, we are featuring an article about CNEWA in its earliest days, originally published in October 1991.

Read an excerpt from “The Call of the East” below, then read the full story.

Catholic Near East Welfare Association was established on March 11, 1926, by Pope Pius XI. He decided to unite into one organization and administration all the American associations working for assistance to Russia and the Near East.

This new pontifical organization was called “Catholic Near East Welfare Association” and was placed under the immediate direction of the archbishop of New York.

Two groups recognized by the pope were joined in this new association: the Catholic Union, and the new association’s prototype, “The Catholic Near East Welfare Association.” Founded by Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle in 1924, its foundation is a fascinating tale of colorful personalities and intrigue.

The chaos following World War I provoked the largest population upheaval in the history of the planet. More than a million Greeks, their homesteads plundered and raped by Turks, swarmed Istanbul, then known as Constantinople. Fleeing the excesses of the Bolsheviks, 100,000 penniless and devastated Russians engulfed the former Byzantine capital. Scores of Armenians, Assyrians and Chaldeans fled their homelands during and after the war; many more died in the struggle to defend them.

Once within the confines of Constantinople’s walls, disease swept the city, killing the weak and disabled. The human response to these tragedies was immediate. Relief workers, representing many nations and organizations, poured into the jammed city.

A Carnegie Hall program from 16 April 1924 features Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle’s presentation, “The Call of the East,” which filled Carnegie Hall that day. (photo: courtesy of Carnegie Hall Rose Archives)

Unfortunately, very few accounts profiling these events have survived. Those stories have resembled novels, not historical narratives. But the historical antecedents of Catholic Near East Welfare Association’s foundation feature real people with strengths and weaknesses.

The story of the Association’s roots is not unique in the history of the church. Many of the church’s great innovators, prophets and saints – whether lay, religious or priestly – fell from favor and died forgotten. Their accomplishments remain, however, as a testimony of faith.

Read more.

Michael J.L. La Civita is CNEWA’s director of communications.

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