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Volume 45, Number 3
20 July 2012
Erin Edwards

In this image from 2006, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip attend prayers during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

Today begins the official observance of Ramadan, the most important event of the year for Muslims — but what does that mean? Last year, Elias Mallon, CNEWA’s education and interreligious affairs officer, wrote an award-winning essay in ONE about Ramadan. Below, we have highlighted five interesting facts from his essay:

  1. The date when Ramadan begins is not set in stone.
    “The exact beginning of Ramadan depends on this sighting of the new moon, which occurs anytime within a two–day period. As a result it is never absolutely certain in any given year when Ramadan officially begins.

    “Similarly, because the Muslim year is lunar, i.e., calculated by the moon, it is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, which is familiar to most people. As a result, every year Ramadan is about 11 days “earlier” than the year before.”

  2. The United States Postal Service has issued several stamps related to Ramadan since 2001.
    “Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr, the feast ending it, have become increasingly visible in Europe and North America in the past two decades. Immigration has increased the number of Muslims in the West and more and more people are becoming aware of the monthlong fast and celebration.

    “In places where Muslims represent a religious minority, recognition of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr increasingly symbolizes a degree of social acceptance by the majority. In the United States, for instance, the postal service [has] issued [several] postage stamp[s] [across several years] for Eid ul Fitr. And more and more often, shops sell greeting cards for the holiday, and many non–Muslims now send or give them to their Muslim friends and neighbors.”

  3. While Ramadan has similarities to the Christian fasting season of Lent, it also has distinct differences.
    “More important, unlike Lent, Ramadan is not generally understood as an act of penance. Muslims rather consider Ramadan as an exercise in self–discipline, as purification and as a reminder of the believer’s dependence on the bounty of God…

    “One of the more striking aspects of Ramadan, particularly to Christians and Jews, is the joy with which Muslims anticipate and observe the month. Whereas Lent is a time of quiet, penitential reflection for Christians and Yom Kippur (or the Day of Atonement) is a solemn day for Jews, Ramadan is a time of spiritual and physical refreshment for Muslims. It is a time to put aside the burdens and cares of everyday life and to focus on what really matters. Whereas Christians created Fat Tuesday as the last celebration before Lent, Muslims see no need to “get it all in” before Ramadan. Ramadan is a celebration.”

  4. Can you imagine fasting — no food, no water — for over 15 hours?
    “Since the month of Ramadan moves “backward” through the solar year, it occurs at some point in every season of the year in any given location. In the summer in both northern and southern latitudes, days can be quite long and the fast can go on for more than 15 hours. If 15 hours without food is difficult, 15 hours in the summer without water is even more so.”

  5. In some communities, Ramadan helps to encourage interfaith dialogue.
    “A new and popular Ramadan tradition is for Muslims to invite their non–Muslims neighbors to take part in the iftar or Eid ul Fitr. In some communities in Europe and North America, where Muslims are a religious minority, the iftar has become an important interfaith celebration. What better way to promote interreligious understanding around the world than by sharing the joy of the iftar and Eid ul Fitr?”

Read more about the Muslim period of prayer and fasting in Ramadan Observed.

Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Muslim Islam Ramadan

13 July 2012
Melodie Gabriel

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.

Tags: CNEWA Msgr. John E. Kozar

6 July 2012
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

Mosques and churches dot the Soulimanya neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria.
(photo: Spencer Osberg)

At CNEWA, we throw around a lot of exotic words. Most can be looked up in a dictionary or style book. But a few require a little more digging. Here are five from the Middle East that required CNEWA’s resident biblical languages scholar, Atonement Friar Elias Mallon, to decipher.

al-quds — This word means, “The Holy,” in Arabic and is the Muslim name for Jerusalem, the city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jews and Christians refer to the city by its (very) ancient name, yɘrušalayim, from which the English word, Jerusalem, derives. Muslims give Jerusalem an honorific title, “the Holy,” much like Christians refer to Rome as “the eternal city.”

qurbana — This is the Syriac and Aramaic word for the Eucharist. The root meaning of the word is “to bring near (God); to offer.” Interestingly, the Aramaic word appears in Mark 7:11, where Jesus condemns it when an adult child does not support his parents because he declares his wealth as Corban, i.e. “offered to God.” In Matthew 15:6, in the same context, the evangelist uses “offered to God” in Greek rather than the Aramaic word.

‘īsā — The name of Jesus in the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, and the name used by Muslims, who revere Jesus as a great prophet and Mary as his virgin mother. Muslims do not believe Jesus is divine nor do they believe that Jesus was crucified (Qur’an 4:158); rather, they believe Jesus is in heaven waiting to return at the end of time.

yasu‘ — The name for Jesus used by Arabic-speaking Christians; the different names of Jesus used by Muslims and Christians are reminders that the two communities understand the person and role of Jesus very differently.

allah — The word used for God by Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews. The Syriac and Aramaic word for God is alah. Although Arabic-speaking Jews, Christians and Muslims use the same Arabic word for God, they use slightly different words in Syriac and Hebrew. Nevertheless, all three words come from the same root and are closely related.

Tags: Middle East Muslim Islam Christian

29 June 2012
Melodie Gabriel

A sister tends to a patient at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Where is CNEWA? We just might be closer than you think — and we might even be in your own backyard.

We work closely with local church leaders to identify the crucial needs of their communities and to find and implement sustainable solutions. So, for this week’s “Take Five,” here are five regions where CNEWA has an impact:

  1. Middle East. In this volatile region, the churches and peoples in Jordan and Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and Palestine and Israel are in great need of assistance. CNEWA comes to their aid through its offices in Amman, Beirut and Jerusalem. One example of our work is the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. Specializing in prenatal and postnatal care, the clinic offers impoverished mothers and babies health care for free.

  2. Northeast Africa. CNEWA supports a variety of programs in Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea. While political instability dominates the headlines, poverty and hunger — especially in the Horn of Africa — are always a concern. CNEWA works primarily with children in need throughout the region. Thanks to our person-to-person sponsorship program, children go to school, where they are nourished, body, mind and soul.

  3. India. CNEWA’s work is mainly in the state of Kerala, which has a significant population of Christians. According to ancient tradition, St. Thomas the Apostle (a.k.a. “Doubting Thomas”) brought the faith there and was martyred in the year 72. One CNEWA project in India reaches out to the so-called “untouchables” or Dalits, a caste of people living in abject poverty. One of the ways we help restore their dignity is by providing them with a modest house to call home.

  4. Eastern Europe. It is a region of the world still struggling with the legacy of Communism. CNEWA has been serving the churches and peoples primarily in Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. The elderly were especially affected by poverty in Georgia, and were largely forgotten. Caritas Georgia, one of CNEWA’s partners, gives much-needed assistance to the vulnerable elderly through its soup kitchens — providing them with at least one good meal a day — and by nursing the sick.

  5. North America. You can find CNEWA offices in New York City in the United States and in Ottawa in Canada. Acting like a bridge, CNEWA connects generous North Americans with those in need living in remote parts of the world, educating them about the Eastern churches and cultures through ONE magazine, processing their gifts, keeping financial accounts and updating the website and blog with news and stories, to name a few.

Those are just a few ways CNEWA helps others to help themselves in some corners of the world. You can discover more at our website, in the pages of our award-winning magazine ONE, and here on this blog.

Together with your help, we build the church, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue, affirm human dignity and inspire hope. Although each region is unique, they are united through CNEWA to fulfill Christ’s prayer “that all may be one.”

Tags: India CNEWA Middle East Eastern Europe Northeast Africa

22 June 2012
Erin Edwards

Left to right, Aleena Gichie, Eileen Fay, Janet Pascual, Teresa Cardone and Beth Clausnitzer of Donor Services pose for a portrait. (photo: Erin Edwards)

If you have ever had a question or concern about the many ways in which CNEWA helps those in need, you may have spoken to one of five fabulous ladies in Donor Services. This Friday, they were kind enough to open up to us and answer some questions we had for them:

Eileen – Donor Services Representative

What do you do at CNEWA?
Well, I’ve worked here going on 51 years — I like to tell people I was born here! I take care of donors when they call the office by answering their questions. I also acknowledge and thank them for their donations with letters. Sometimes people will ask for Mass cards and I’ll put those together — odds and ends.

What is the best thing about your job?
I enjoy talking to donors when they call. Sometimes we make small talk and I’ll ask them “How’s the weather?” wherever they are calling from. Sometimes donors will tell me they like my [New York] “accent.” It’s pretty funny.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of CNEWA?
I really enjoy dining out, mostly food from Spain or Italy.

Aleena – Charitable Giving Advisor

What do you do at CNEWA?
I answer donors’ questions — primarily questions about Charitable Gift Annuities. I recruit new annuities, maintain and process the current annuities. When a caller wants to learn more about CNEWA, I’ll mail them a packet containing our magazine and annual report among other informational materials.

What is the best thing about working for CNEWA?
Knowing that we help people in need — like children, novices and seminarians. It helps me get through the day. It makes me feel good.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
In 2006 I won Miss Tropical Paradise, a beauty pageant in Jamaica. I still hold the crown! Winning that pageant actually led me to meeting my husband and ultimately having our two beautiful babies whom I love spending time with.

Janet - Donor Services Representative

What do you do at CNEWA?
I have worked here for 29 years now! Once a donor’s gift is processed, I receive their information and send out a letter acknowledging their donation. Every year, CNEWA receives 9 percent of the “Mission Sunday” collection from archdioceses all over the United States. I send out letters, which are signed by Msgr. Kozar [CNEWA’s president], to each archdiocese thanking them.

What is the best thing about working for CNEWA?
I really enjoy working with my sister, Eileen. I enjoy helping donors and having the opportunity to talk to so many people from all over the country.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of CNEWA?
Spending time with my family. My husband died 11 years ago and as a result I grew much closer to our two children and now our 8 and a half (very important to mention the half!) year old granddaughter whom my husband never met.

(photo: Erin Edwards)

Teresa – Charitable Giving Advisor

What do you do at CNEWA?
I answer donors’ questions and concerns — primarily questions about our sponsorships. I also fundraise over the phone, reaching out to donors for assistance with current appeals and projects.

What is the best thing about working for CNEWA?
The mission. I also enjoy helping people who help other people. I am the channel between those in need and the people who want to help them. I also enjoy talking to donors and answering their questions about what we do and how their money is used.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of CNEWA?
I love cinematography and movies in general. Historical films are some of my favorites, like Schindler’s List and Braveheart. I also really enjoy spending time with my 16-month-old son.

Beth - Director of Donor Services

What do you do at CNEWA?
Everyone is familiar with the concept of customer service. At CNEWA we don’t have “customers;” we have donors. Donor Services provides individualized assistance, as requested, regarding the many ways our donors can assist the good works of our agency — by developing and maintaining positive and trusting relationships that, for some, have endured for decades. We ensure our donors’ confidence in CNEWA’s stewardship of their loving generosity.

What is your favorite thing about working for CNEWA?
Knowing that I’m doing something to help others — something bigger than me. I’m not just pushing papers — I’m helping people.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I’m really active, not athletic in the least. I enjoy scuba diving the most. I lived in Florida for 25 years and didn’t become certified until I moved to New York City. I always had fears about it. But once I did it, it was so freeing, peaceful and beautiful underwater. On my very first dive in Mexico, I did two reef dives and two cave dives.

Give us a call sometime!

Tags: CNEWA Donors

15 June 2012

A resident of the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, studies.
(photo: John E. Kozar)

It’s a fair question any donor might ask: “Where does my money go?” Well, this Friday, we offer a few answers. Here are five things that happen when you give to CNEWA:

  1. Your gift ends up on the table of a family fleeing the violence of Syria.
    About 240 Christian families have fled the embattled city of Homs, as the situation deteriorates by the day. A parish priest and religious sisters are sheltering them away from the violence. But for as little as $108, you can give a month’s worth of lifesaving aid to one family — aid that offers food and medicine to people in dire need right now.

  2. It ends up helping support a sister in India.
    Maybe she’s a novice, prayerfully awaiting her final vows. Maybe she’s working with orphans and needs textbooks or supplies. A gift from you will go into her hands, and be an investment in a more hope-filled future. In 2011, your generous gifts sponsored the formation of 507 novices studying in India! And for the next 60 days, one of our benefactors has agreed to match any gifts to sisters, dollar-for-dollar, up to $50,000. Such a deal!

  3. It will give schoolbooks and a warm meal to a child orphaned by AIDS.
    Countless children have been left abandoned or alone by disease or war. CNEWA helps provide them with hope, and a future. Maybe it’s medical care. Maybe it’s food or shelter. Whatever the circumstances, your sponsorship invests in their future — and invests, really, in our future, too.

  4. It helps bring an end to conflict by actually getting people to talk to one another.
    Part of CNEWA’s mandate by the Holy Father is to encourage ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Your gift can support local churches in CNEWA’s world, bolstering their good works, building bridges and fostering understanding and closer ties with all believers.

  5. Maybe best of all: somebody, somewhere, will pray for you.
    And who doesn’t need prayers? All the people you help, and even the Holy Father himself, will raise grateful prayers to God for you. Also, on Christmas Eve, Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, will travel to Bethlehem on your behalf and celebrate Midnight Mass at the Basilica of the Nativity for your special intentions.

Giving to CNEWA is an investment in a better, more peaceful world. We connect you to your brothers and sisters in need. Together, we build the church, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue, affirm human dignity and inspire hope.

Tags: CNEWA Children Africa Donors Sponsorship

1 June 2012

Those who like to follow events in the world of CNEWA can find frequent updates here at ONE-TO-ONE, on our website and in the online edition of our award-winning magazine ONE.

But if you want the full ONE experience, you really need to subscribe. Here are five great reasons to do that:

  1. Looks great on your coffee table! Our covers are the envy of the industry (kudos to graphic designer Daria Erdosy) and will impress anyone who might be sipping sherry in your living room — or, perhaps, biding time in your waiting room. If you’re a dermatologist or a dentist, why bore your patients with back issues of TV Guide, Field & Stream or Bicuspids Monthly? Let ONE enliven your coffee table.

  2. The print edition is conveniently portable! Unlike a computer, laptop or tablet, it can fold! In a pinch, it can also be used as a placemat or drink coaster. You can also use it to swat flies or discipline the dog. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

  3. No batteries required! Or electrical outlets. How much more convenient could that be?

  4. It’s made for easy sharing! Rip out pages, clip them, fold over corners into dog ears — you can do all that and more, and help spread the good news of the work that CNEWA is doing.

  5. Nothing beats reading it in print! You get the dramatic layouts, the eye-popping pictures, the gripping graphics, the acclaimed writing— all in one complete package that flows from page to page. No nettlesome clicking, scrolling or surfing. You can browse, revisit, highlight, make notes and then save the magazine for future reference or just pass it on.

But here’s the best part: a subscription to ONE helps support CNEWA and, every eight weeks, that support brings to your home stories that enlighten, inspire, uplift and inform. You’ll feel yourself drawn into the lives of those who are making a difference in places like India, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Eastern Europe. Share the prayerful life of a seminarian in Jerusalem, walk the alleyways with a sister in Mumbai orspend time with doctors caring for the poorest children in the Horn of Africa. Learn about the history and cultures of our brothers and sisters in the Eastern churches, and discover for yourself the ties that bind together all Christians into one church, one world, one human family, worshiping one God.

A subscription costs just $24 a year. Visit this link to start your subscription and start welcoming CNEWA’s world into yours.

Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine

11 May 2012

One of the leather-bound volumes of meeting minutes housed in our extensive archive.
(photo: Erin Edwards )

Annie Grunow is CNEWA's archivist.

Wait a second… what exactly is an archive, anyway? The Society of American Archivists defines an archive as “the non-current records of individuals, groups, institutions and governments that contain information of enduring value.” The CNEWA archive contains correspondence between offices and with partner organizations, along with financial records, meeting minutes, photographs and more.

As CNEWA’s archivist, I have the responsibility to care for the records generated by our organization over the course of its 86-year history. So... here are five quick highlights that I thought you might find interesting. (Well, I found these interesting, anyway… )

  1. Our earliest record on file dates back to the inception of the agency.
    With a history stretching back to 1924, CNEWA has acquired quite a collection of material documenting its history. Our earliest record is the application for a charter submitted on 30 September 1924. So it really does go back all the way to the very beginning!

  2. We have almost 60 years worth of meeting minutes from the early days of the agency.
    If anyone ever wants to know every tiny detail, it’s all there. We have two leather-bound volumes of meeting minutes that cover the years 1924 to 1979. The minutes are still in good condition and tell us a lot about the agency’s early years.

  3. What did CNEWA publish before ONE? Glad you asked. We have the first publication on file, too.
    In the early days of the agency, CNEWA published a periodical called The Papal Annual. The Annual began publication in 1928. Staying true to the agency’s mandate to educate, it featured articles and illustrations publicizing the achievements of the church in international affairs not covered by the Propagation of the Faith. The Annual never really got off the ground, however, and the 1928 edition was the only one ever published. Today we have ONE, our bimonthly magazine, which you can check out on our website.

  4. At times, it seems like we have more letters than the post office. We even have some letters from sponsored children to donors.
    You might have read Beth Clausnitzer’s blog entry about the letters from children to their sponsors that were recently sent to CNEWA anonymously. The letters are now safely stored in the CNEWA archive. They serve as an example of our donors’ generosity and the good works that CNEWA has performed with the support of our donors.

  5. Someone who had early ties to CNEWA was a future saint.
    Blessed Mother Teresa had a strong connection to CNEWA. We have letters written between Mother Teresa and late Bishop John G. Nolan, former Secretary General of CNEWA (a post in which he served for 21 years), about the collaboration of the Missionaries of Charity with CNEWA. Mother Teresa even visited our New York headquarters back in October of 1970!

Here at CNEWA, we celebrate our long history and wish to share it with our friends and donors as we continue to work together to serve those in need. If you have any questions about the CNEWA archives, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll respond as soon as I can! For detailed inquiries, please call our New York office.


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