Take Five: Five Inspirational Stories

Msgr. Kozar takes a stroll with a nun at the Atse Tekla Ghirogis School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)

Since becoming CNEWA’s president in September 2011, Msgr. John E. Kozar has traveled throughout the Middle East, Ethiopia and India, writing about his pastoral visits on CNEWA’s ONE-TO-ONE blog. Below, are five inspiring stories — a sample of CNEWA’s worldwide network of love.

  1. India. In his series, “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas,” Msgr. Kozar recounts his visit to St. Anthony’s Dayssadan, a home for children with physical disabilities run by the Preshitharam Sisters:

    “One boy of about 15 — whose arms, hands, legs and feet are horribly contorted — demonstrated mobility by rolling himself down the long corridor, then amazingly up a long flight of stairs, all the while with a smile from ear to ear. I was choked up by his display of determination. His climbing up the staircase defied gravity, but not his human spirit.”

  2. Ethiopia. In “An Ethiopian Odyssey,” we learn about the Godano complex:

    “Godano, which has received support from CNEWA for years, was first begun to welcome unwed mothers, many of whom had been abandoned on the streets, others had been victims of rape. Founded and directed by a layman, Mulatu Tefesse, this loving home offers a safe haven for not only these girls and their children after birth, but also for abandoned street children and unwanted babies. He also provides a kindergarten and skill training for girls, such as sewing and hair styling. The campus also includes housing for mothers and their children. He does not warehouse the mothers and their children, but always seeks to keep them together and to give them a modicum of confidence to move on to at least a minimally productive life.”

  3. Israel. Msgr. Kozar’s, “Journey to the Holy Land,” included a visit to the House of Grace, in the Israeli city of Haifa:

    “Today the house is truly a home, as those participating in the myriad of programs are all welcomed as family. There are currently 15 prisoners going through the program. There are also hundreds of families who participate in programs to improve their quality of life, programs for youth and social skills and educational programs that enhance the lives of many people.

    “While there, we visited with some of the successful beneficiaries — former prisoners who not only have gone on to renew their lives in a responsible and productive way, but continue to come back to their &ldsuo;family’ and offer their help to new ‘family members.’”

  4. Jordan. While in Jordan, Msgr. Kozar recounts his visit to the Our Lady of Peace Center:

    “We were warmly greeted by the founder of this facility, Bishop Selim Sayegh, Latin patriarchal vicar in Jordan and the spiritual and moral personality associated with this facility. Our Lady of Peace offers many programs for mentally and physically handicapped youths. …

    “A big highlight for them and for us was a visit from Santa Claus. The kids went wild when he came into the room, especially when the sisters approached with some big boxes of gifts. Each child came forward and received a gift. The children loved the attention, gifts and Santa, but they really loved Bishop Selim. In fact, the love that Bishop Selim Sayegh has for these special children cannot be contained. He smiles from ear to ear in their presence and many freely run to him to receive a big hug from him. This center has been a dream of his and now, as he approaches retirement after having served more than 30 years as vicar, he can enjoy the fruits of his labors, as reflected in the smiles of these precious little ones.”

  5. Lebanon. Finally, Msgr. Kozar’s visit to Lebanon included a trip to the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross:

    “Our most memorable visit was in an area for profoundly mentally challenged boys and men, some of whom have severely physical handicaps. There was a remarkable sister who had a God-given ability to discern in the moans, groans or unabashed sounds of these patients ranging in age from 6 to 45 years a need for some type of attention. She calmly reached out and gave them a little hug, a pat on the check, a little touch on the head, and their anxieties or fears went away. She did it so instinctively and so calmly it might not have been noticed — she did it with love.?

Did any of these stories touch your heart and move you? They definitely inspired me, reminding me of the inspirational work that CNEWA does everyday throughout the world. It is a blessing to be a small part of it. Join our network of love by praying for the work of these inspirational people, and by giving to CNEWA from the generosity of your hearts. Giving to CNEWA is one way to nurture your soul, and a way to reach out to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Christ.

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