ONE Magazine Autumn 2015

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Autumn 2015

God • World • Human Family • Church

Migration: Ethiopia Faces the Future India’s Persecuted Christians A Church Grows in Ukraine Iraqi Christians in Limbo in Lebanon

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Bright Lights, Big Problems Ethiopia’s churches face the challenges of urbanization by James Jeffrey with photographs by Petterik Wiggers



Out From Underground Seminarians help to revive a church by Mark Raczkiewycz with photographs by Oleg Grigoryev


‘There Will Be More Martyrs’ Christians endure widespread violence in India by Jose Kavi


A Letter From Ukraine by Olena Malchyn with photographs by John E. Kozar


In Limbo in Lebanon Iraqi Christian refugees struggle to stay afloat by Raed Rafei with photographs by Tamara Abdul Hadi

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DEPARTMENTS Connections to CNEWA’s world People Ani Kaloust by Don Duncan with photographs by Dalia Khamissy Focus on the world of CNEWA by John E. Kozar

t Iraqi refugees celebrate the Divine Liturgy in St. Elias Church in Beirut.



Volume 41 NUMBER 3



“For I was hungry and you gave me food.” Matthew 25:35 6 Front: Jerup, a girl from southern Sudan, visits the Jesuit Refugee Service compound in Addis Ababa. Back: Deaf culinary students enjoy the food they prepared at the Women’s Promotion Center in Addis Ababa. Photo Credits Front and back covers, pages 3 (far right), 28-31, 33-35, Petterik Wiggers; pages 2, 3 (lower right), 22-24, 26-27, Tamara Abdul Hadi; page 3 (upper left) CNS photo/Anindito Mukherjee, Reuters; page 3 (upper right), CNS photo/Jim Bourg, Reuters; pages 3 (lower left), 6, 9-11, Oleg Grigoryev; pages 4, 18-21, 39, John E. Kozar/ CNEWA; page 5, Graymoor Archives; page 12, Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/ZUMA Press/Corbis; pages 14-15: STR/epa/Corbis; pages 14-15 (inset), Jose Jacob; page 15 (upper), Saikat Paul/ Pacific Press/Alamy Live News; page 16, Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters/Corbis; page 17, Prabhat Kumar Verma/Pacific Press/Alamy Live News; pages 36-37, Dalia Khamissy; page 38, CNS photo/Craig Ruttle, pool. ONE is published quarterly. ISSN: 1552-2016 Publisher Msgr. John E. Kozar

22 Editorial Staff Paul Grillo Deacon Greg Kandra Michael J.L. La Civita Elias Mallon, S.A., Ph.D. J.D. Conor Mauro Timothy McCarthy CNEWA Founded by the Holy Father, CNEWA shares the love of Christ with the churches and peoples of the East. CNEWA works for, through and with the Eastern Catholic churches to identify needs and implement reasonable solutions. CNEWA connects you to your brothers and sisters in need. Together, we build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue — and inspire hope. Officers Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Chair and Treasurer Msgr. John E. Kozar, Secretary Editorial Office 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022-4195 1-212-826-1480 ©2015 Catholic Near East Welfare Association. All rights reserved. Member of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

Save a place for them at your table Please give today In the United States: 1-800-442-6392 In Canada: 1-866-322-4441


to CNEWA’s world

Updates on CNEWA’s Work in the Middle East

The last year has brought extraordinary challenges to the peoples of the Middle East, with daily headlines reporting the tragic toll of war, migration, poverty and persecution of minorities, including Christians. The need has been great and urgent. CNEWA has launched a number of critical programs to help our suffering brothers and sisters. From emergency relief, such as nursing formula and blankets and mattresses, to healthcare, education and counseling, CNEWA has been privileged — thanks to the generosity of our benefactors — to extend the love of the church to tens of thousands in need. Want to know more? Readers and donors can now find detailed reports of CNEWA’s latest activities in the Middle East online at

Partnership to Aid Syria In a new effort to support Christians in the Middle East, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in September announced a major “global initiative” — partnering with CNEWA — to provide muchneeded help for 6,000 families in Syria. The target is $2 million. The funds, which will be collected by CNEWA and distributed through the churches in Syria, will help keep families warm. With the freezing temperatures of winter fast approaching, many might not survive until spring. To support this important effort, visit this website:



Cremisan Family Fund Some 59 families have had their very livelihoods uprooted in the Palestinian Christian town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. In September, Israeli bulldozers uprooted their olive trees for the construction of the separation border that will be built through their olive groves in the Cremisan Valley. As a sign of solidarity, and to assist the families cope with the loss of their livelihoods, CNEWA has launched a Cremisan Family Fund, coordinating its efforts with the parishes ministering there to benefit the affected families. CNEWA has had a presence in the valley for decades, including support

for one of the most important and historically significant Catholic institutions in the area, the Salesian Sisters’ Laura Vicuna School. CNEWA renovated two classrooms, rehabilitated retaining walls and the adjacent playground, and has assisted with operating expenses, such as exorbitant heating costs. “The underlying message of these projects is one of hope and perseverance” writes CNEWA’s regional director in Jerusalem, Sami El-Yousef. CNEWA is proud of its work that assists the beleaguered Christian community in the Holy Land, especially in its support of church institutions that provide services that benefit all.”

OUR WEBSITE OUR BLOG Solar Power in Bethlehem This year, CNEWA provided $80,000 to help four kindergartens in the Bethlehem area: the Dominican Sisters’ Nursery, the Salesian Sisters’ Kindergarten in the Cremisan Valley, the Crèche of the Daughters of Charity, and the Hortus Conclusus Kindergarten of the Sisters of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Garden. CNEWA’s Jerusalem-based team — in collaboration with the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem — installed solar panel systems to help the kindergartens reduce reliance on the local electrical grid, saving thousands of dollars a year. Profiles of Eastern Churches ONE magazine’s series profiling each of the Eastern churches is now available on CNEWA’s website at These 47 features offer the reader an objective account on the course of each church’s development and utilize lavish images to illustrate their vitality. In addition, a new series that summarizes the development of each church is now on our blog. Short entries for quick reading are posted every Tuesday and Thursday. Check it out!

CNEWA Co-Founder on Path to Sainthood On 22 September 2015, in a moment rich with significance for CNEWA and for Christian unity, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York — and chair of CNEWA’s international board of trustees — formally opened the cause for canonization of CNEWA’s co-founder, the Rev. Paul Wattson, S.A., (1863-1940). Father Paul will now be formally known as “Servant of God,” and further investigation may begin into his life and work. Once his heroic virtues are established, he may be declared “venerable”; evidence of one miracle attributed to him can result in beatification; a second miracle may lead eventually to the pope declaring him, formally, a saint. This is the latest milestone in a long journey of faith that has left an enduring imprint on Christianity around the world. Long before Father Paul helped to found the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, he established the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement as champions of Christian unity and of the poor. CNEWA is proud that one of its founders is now continuing that journey — this time on the road to sainthood. We invite you to join us in praying that he will soon be raised to the altars and declared a saint — a patron, perhaps, for all those who pray fervently with Christ that “all may be one.” May his spirit continue to inspire the work we do on behalf of the poor and needy of all faiths around the world. You can read more about Father Paul’s life and work on our blog, ONE-TO-ONE: www.cnewablog. org/web/frpaul.

Only on the Web


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There is more to discover about CNEWA’s world online: • Meet Bishop Milan Sasik of Mukacevo, Ukraine • Video: How Iraqi Christian refugees are faring in Lebanon • The latest news in the field reported by CNEWA’s regional offices





Accompanying the Church

Out From Underground Seminarians revive their church and their community by Mark Raczkiewycz with photographs by Oleg Grigoryev

A seminarian prays before the morning liturgy in Uzhorod, Ukraine. 6



ykhailo Dzhidzhina describes his least favorite part of the day: waking up at 6:15 a.m. “The after-lunch lesson is also tough,” the 21-year-old student adds — not because the course material is too difficult, but because it’s hard to stay awake after a heavy meal. Though he sounds like a typical university student, there is one difference: Mr. Dzhidzhina is preparing for the priesthood with some 80 others at the Uzhorod Greek Catholic Theological Academy of the Blessed Theodore Romzha, about three miles from Ukraine’s southwestern border with Slovakia. The education Mr. Dzhidzhina receives in the seven-year program includes philosophy, communications, music, intensive language studies in Latin and Ukrainian, and eparchial history. And what a history it is — one that has endured repeated turmoil over four centuries. Yet today, the faith and the seminary nurturing its future priests are not only surviving, but thriving. Just a few years ago, that would have been unthinkable. The seminary was first established in Uzhorod in 1740 within a 13thcentury castle. There in 1646, a number of Orthodox priests and monks entered into full communion with the Catholic Church even as they preserved their Byzantine rites and unique Rusyn traditions of the Carpathian Mountains. In 1771, to gather together this unique church of shepherds and peasants, Pope Clement XIV erected the Eparchy of Mukacevo, which today is the mother church for three ecclesiastic jurisdictions that comprise the diffuse Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic churches. Though scattered across Central Europe and even North America, Rusyn Greek Catholics — also called Ruthenians

— share the same origins, traditions and culture. Uzhorod’s seminary thrived until after World War II. In 1946, the Soviets occupied what had been eastern Czechoslovakia, annexed the Transcarpathian region to Ukraine, banned the Greek Catholic Church — forcing Rusyn Greek Catholics to choose between public worship in an Orthodox church of the Moscow Patriarchate or underground — and closed the doors of the seminary. The Soviets shuttered convents and monasteries, imprisoning 128 priests, 20 of whom would never return alive. The Soviets ordered the bishop, Theodore Romzha, to join the Moscow Patriarchate, which at the time was controlled by the Kremlin. Under Nikita Khrushchev’s order, Bishop Theodore was assassinated in Uzhorod in 1947 — poisoned by an agent of the N.K.V.D., the predecessor agency of the K.G.B., and given a pauper’s funeral. The new theological academy, completed in 2004, bears Bishop Theodore’s name as a tribute to his perseverance and faith, but also a reminder of the region’s painful past. The Rev. Petro Beresh, 37, the seminary’s rector, remembers how his mother cried in 1993 when he told her he wanted to enter the priesthood. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of an independent Ukraine, she worried repression could return at any moment: The situation was, and remains, fragile. “We used to joke that the biggest building in Uzhorod was the K.G.B. building, because you could end up in Siberia,” he says. But two decades later, those fears have largely vanished in a land where faith is flourishing. The atmosphere in the seminary is one rich with history and hope. Around campus, the air carries the faint hum of the unique liturgical

plainchant, or prostopinije, of the Rusyn Greek Catholic community in Transcarpathia. Indeed, in the chapel a short walk away, one can hear the same chant in all its glory, as a standing-room congregation of some 200 worshipers celebrates the Divine Liturgy. In much the same way, throughout the region, the faith Greek Catholics once handed down in whispers now booms from a growing chorus of aspiring priests.


aturally isolated from Ukraine proper by the Carpathian Mountains, the Eparchy of Mukacevo encompasses the province of Zakarpattia, where about a quarter of the 1.25 million residents are Greek Catholic. The region’s cultural features include Eastern Christian traditions and the Cyrillic alphabet introduced by the disciples of ninth-century sibling monks Cyril and Methodius. Over time, these attributes, along with the local eastern Slavic tongue and the unique wooden churches that dot the region, contributed to a distinctive Rusyn identity. It is an identity that survived decades of oppressive rule by Hungarian, Austrian or Polish masters — and, as a result, a variety of shifting nationalities. “One could have lived in four or five countries without ever leaving one’s home,” Father Beresh says. According to Slovak-native Bishop Milan Sasik, who has shepherded the Eparchy of Mukacevo since his appointment in 2002, the Rusyn cultural identity, though highly dominant in previous centuries, “took on less significance in the 20th century.” But while cultural identity faded, religious identity persisted — often in secret. Nearly everyone attending the liturgy at the seminary chapel prays and sings without the aid of books — a testament to their underground



The CNEWAConnection

CNEWA has been a constant source of pastoral support to

the Eastern churches of Ukraine since the country achieved its independence in 1991.

Among the many works supported by CNEWA is direct assistance to the Uzhorod Greek Catholic Theological Academy of the

Blessed Theodore Romzha,

providing funding for some 77

seminarians currently enrolled in its curriculum.

To help nurture the growth of Ukraine’s burgeoning priesthood, call:

1-800-442-6392 (United States) or 1-866-322-4441 (Canada).

roots. The faithful surreptitiously learned prayers by rote for more than 40 years. “I often attended ‘grandmother’s birthday,’ ” the Father Beresh says wryly of the code he used to denote attendance at an underground religious service. During perestroika, when certain restrictions were loosened in the late 1980’s, about 60 Rusyn Greek Catholic priests re-emerged in Zakarpattia, men who were known to many of their neighbors and friends as simple bus depot managers, mechanics, lumberjacks or taxi drivers. But they helped plant seeds of renewal, the beginning of what became a remarkable renaissance of Greek



Catholicism — a renaissance Bishop Milan has worked tirelessly to cultivate. To maintain continuity and institutional memory, Bishop Milan made the construction of the seminary a high priority. Today, young priests (their average age is 35) are beginning to staff the eparchy’s 430 parish churches — but the demands continue to grow: Some 35 churches are under construction; another 20 churches and chapels remain to be built; and there are not enough rectories to house parish priests and their families. At least 80 need to be acquired. Most of the parish communities are located in the rural, mountainous region, where the people and priests are intimately connected. Standards at the seminary, therefore, are high. “We ask: ‘Do they want to be beneficial or take advantage of society?” Father Beresh says of the vetting process for seminarians overseen by a commission appointed by the bishop. “Do they want to be with those who suffer, with those who are in need?’ ” Out of 30 candidates, fewer than half are accepted each year. This ensures a high graduation rate — up to 95 percent, according to Father Beresh. Some candidates are accepted after applying two or three times. Third-year seminarian Vyacheslav Holysh was not selected on his first try. He says he took his own bad behaviors — including foul language and alcohol abuse — too lightly. “I questioned God when I wasn’t accepted, but I realized God wanted better from me — a lesson I had to learn before I was ready to enter,” says the 21-year-old native of the rural farming village of Ivanivtsi. He worked to alter his behavior. “This helped me consciously change myself. I rejected this part of me until I was ready to join,” he

says. “Now I’m thankful, because this group of students is a great bunch.” Some prospective clergymen also face misunderstanding due to stereotypes held over from the Soviet era. “My parents approved of my choice, but others thought I was crazy,” says 20-year-old Pavlo Sosnytsky. “They thought I would be locked up, have my cell phone confiscated, and be given no internet access; that I wouldn’t be able to play soccer or get married; and that I’d grow a beard. They didn’t know that I would just lead a normal Christian life.”


he white chapel’s circular architecture draws the eye to the traditional iconostasis — a wall of icons that separates the sanctuary from the nave in a Catholic or Orthodox church of the Byzantine tradition. “It sums up the whole theology,” Father Beresh says. “The wall wants to unite us.” But unity doesn’t mean uniformity. Steeped in tradition, the Divine Liturgy is usually celebrated in Old Church Slavonic, but also periodically in Ukrainian, Romanian and Hungarian to serve the rich ethnic diversity of the region. “There is unity in difference; this unites our souls,” Father Beresh says, pointing out that since the seminarians follow both the Gregorian and Julian calendars, Christmas and Easter vacations are long enough to accommodate both traditions. “A normal Rusyn must celebrate two Christmases and two Easters,” he jokes. z The bells of Holy Cross Cathedral call together Uzhorod’s Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic community. u After the morning liturgy, a seminarian shares a biblical story with an aspiring scholar.

“I questioned God … but I realized God wanted better from me.”



Seminarians share duties in tending the greenhouse at the academy in Uzhorod.

When asked to elaborate on the identity of Rusyns in the region he says: “It is part of being a person of this land, our region. “To speak of being a local patriot,” he adds, “you will invariably insult somebody. I want to remain a Christian.” Traditions are a large part of why so many worshipers flock to the seminary. After attending the Divine Liturgy, Oleh Kolchar, 29, his wife and little daughter walk together to the gate. “My grandmother taught me to go to church. From her I felt the presence of God and through prayer,” he says. “It’s the same traditions that other Greek Catholics follow in other western regions of Ukraine. It is a tight community, and the priests are always the first people to be here.”



To the outsider accustomed to the Latin-rite Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, the Divine Liturgy in Transcarpathia might seem “chaotic,” Father Beresh says. “There is constant movement during the liturgy. People light candles to the left and right, there is singing, doors opening at the iconostasis, the sound of chains clinking on the censer,” he says. “The Eastern rite envelops the person, all of the senses: scent from the incense, flesh through the icons, speech in prayer and chanting.” That spirit extends beyond the church building. The seminary’s design provides an abundance of open space that encourages both contemplation and conversation. Solar panels attached to the roof power the boiler, while the thick walls provide plenty of insulation to keep temperatures cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Natural light pours through the skylight of the building that houses the classrooms, dormitories, rectory and kitchen. Even the kitchen helps to proclaim the Gospel; a painting of Jesus at the Sea of Galilee adorns the wall.


etween time for study and prayer, the seminarians are also given time to relax. Many tend to the vegetable garden and greenhouses that grow onions, bell peppers, cabbages and varieties of tomatoes. The manicured lawns on the small estate are also home to juniper, walnut, cherry, beech and almond trees, along with tall rose bushes. In true European fashion, there is also a soccer field — a reminder, perhaps, that in this far corner of Ukraine, many feel the nation should strengthen its identity as a part of Europe. The issue of Ukraine’s identity, however, lies at

Keep faith and compassion alive in Ukraine Please give today

the very heart of the current conflict embroiling the country. By any measure, the effects of the war have been devastating. According to the United Nations, from April 2014 to July 2015, nearly 7,000 people died in the war zone. At least 2.2 million people have been uprooted from their homes — the worst displacement of Europeans since World War II. Industrial production has fallen by about 20 percent and the hryvnia, Ukraine’s currency, has depreciated by 61 percent since the start of 2014. This weighs heavily upon a depressed region, such as Zakarpattia, where the average monthly salary is around $100. Against this, the seminary’s peaceful grounds have become a center for spiritual guidance to parishes that have suffered from the upheaval and economic collapse. “War isn’t normal, it is abnormal,” Father Beresh says. “Yesterday’s

brother is today’s enemy. We’ve felt the war; we have buried people who died. It is a catastrophe. We have our own share of refugees.” Father Beresh says that the cadre of new priests must “turn our face toward the people.” And the young priests they train are prepared to minister selflessly in this time of great hardship. Seminarian Sosnytsky says he has been ready to face the world since he was 14 years old, when he became an altar server and began learning about the priesthood. He is considering continuing his studies in Rome once he graduates. “But,” he says, “I will go where I am needed.” Mark Raczkiewycz is editor at large for the Kiev Post in Ukraine. His work has appeared in the The Financial Times, The Irish Times and Jane’s Intelligence.




 __ __ __ __ __


Accompanying the Church

‘There Will Be More Martyrs’ Christians in India endure widespread violence by Jose Kavi




n 27 August 2008, Kanaka Rekha Nayak fled home with her family, driven out by a violent mob. While she and her two young children managed to hide, the horde caught her husband, Parikhit, and demanded he renounce his Christian faith and become a Hindu. He refused. From their hiding place, Mrs. Nayak and her two young children could only watch as the rioters stabbed him to death, hacked at his limbs and finally burned his remains. Seven years later, Mrs. Nayak, now in her 30’s, still trembles recalling the scene. Her husband was among more than 90 people killed in Odisha’s Kandhamal district, in what is considered to be the worst episode of anti-Christian violence India has ever witnessed. The attacks rattled Kandhamal for four months, triggered by the 24 August 2008 assassination of Lakshmanananda Saraswati, a nonagenarian Hindu religious leader, and his four associates in another part of Kandhamal. Mr. Saraswati, a member of the World Hindu Council, had denounced the work of Christians among tribal and Dalit (members of the “untouchable” caste) villagers in Kandhamal. Although Maoist guerillas opposed to the government of India had claimed responsibility for the murder, Hindu radical groups nevertheless scapegoated Christians and embarked on a campaign of terror against the minority community. Frenzied mobs looted and burned more than 6,500 Christian houses — leaving 56,000 homeless — torched 395 churches and shrines, and destroyed 35 schools and social service institutions. The violence z Demonstrators in Bangladesh protest anti-Christian assaults throughout the Indian subcontinent.

disrupted studies of some 10,000 students. Attackers sexually assaulted women, including a Catholic nun who was raped by a gang of men while nearby police did nothing to intervene. With that violence — and with the horror of her husband’s killing still haunting her — Kanaka Rekha Nayak traveled to New Delhi in early September, seeking justice from the central government after having little success in her native state of Odisha. When she arrived in the Indian capital, she did not come alone, but as part of a delegation seeking to draw the nation’s attention to the plight of Kandhamal survivors. Members shared their pain with President Pranab Mukherjee and journalists from national and international media, discussing both the events of 2008 and their legacy today. Some 10,000 people, including Mrs. Nayak, remain afraid to return to their villages — their attackers remain at large and still pose a threat. The Indian capital also recently hosted thousands of Christians from various northern Indian states, who held a demonstration on an artery road leading to India’s Parliament House. “The protest rally,” wrote a group of Christian community leaders, including the Roman Catholic archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, in a statement to the Indian government, “[expresses] our collective frustration, deep sorrow and mounting anguish at the government’s cynicism and apathy to stop the targeted violence against us.” Among those who addressed the demonstrators was a Protestant pastor who had been beaten by Hindu radicals a few days earlier for praying inside his house with some members of his congregation. When he went to the local police station to complain, law enforcers

thrashed him for praying in his house without a license. A.C. Michael, a Catholic lay leader at the demonstration, says Delhi’s lieutenant governor had told a Christian delegation that no one requires a license to pray inside one’s house. Events such as these, the demonstrators cite, prompted them to petition the prime minister, noting that Christians, who make up only 2.3 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people, face a systematic targeting by Hindu radical groups.


s general secretary of the All India Christian Council, John Dayal keeps a record of attacks on religious minority groups in India. He says the country witnessed at least 43 deaths in more than 600 cases of violence against Christians and Muslims in the first year under the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Modi belongs to the B.J.P., or Bharatiya Janata Party (“Indian People’s Party”), which espouses Hindutva — the ideology of Hindu nationalism — and is considered the political arm of groups trying to change India into a Hindu theocratic state. Mr. Dayal says the number of such attacks may actually be higher, since the police do not record many crimes. Moreover, he adds, victims are often coerced into silence. Msgr. John Kochuthundil, who coordinates a core team that advises the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (C.B.C.I.) on national issues, says the attacks against Christians and other religious minority groups are determined, planned and systematic. Besides the attacks on churches, schools, sisters and pastors, he says, Hindutva leaders indulge in hate speech against Christians. “They have slandered even Blessed Mother Teresa, an international icon of Christian



The CNEWAConnection

India’s churches have served the region for nearly two millennia.

And since its founding, CNEWA

has strived to support this small but significant part of India’s population.

Widespread violence against Indian Christians is a matter of great

urgency, but one that demands care. Though India’s prime minister has publicly expressed concerns on

behalf of India’s Christian citizens, the ruling party promotes an

ideology hostile to non-Hindu

citizens. India’s churches have

chosen to work for their people

within the legal framework where

they can, wary of drawing too much

attention in the current atmosphere. Yet, this does not deter them from working on behalf of the poor and the marginalized segments of

India’s highly stratified society. CNEWA supports many of the

initiatives of the Syro-Malabar and

Syro-Malankara Catholic churches that empower the poor, advance their concerns and offer

opportunities to grow and flourish as members of Indian society. To give your support to the church in India, call:

1-800-442-6392 (United States) or 1-866-322-4441 (Canada).



charity, saying she was interested only in converting Hindus,” says Msgr. Kochuthundil, who is also the vicar general of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of Gurgaon. Mr. Dayal says Hindutva mouthpieces such as Organiser, a weekly periodical, often carry pictures of the famed Missionaries of Charity founder while criticizing Christian humanitarian works as a façade for converting poor or gullible Hindus. Msgr. Joseph Chinnayyan, deputy secretary general of the C.B.C.I., says Christians in India had experienced sporadic violence even before Mr. Modi came to power. However, there has since been “an unexpected increase” in attacks

p Parish members inspect the damage after unidentified vandals attacked St. Mary’s Church in Agra. z INSET Abraham Mathew heads the repair of St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden.

since the formation of the Modi government. Msgr. Chinnayyan says Catholic sisters have faced violence — including sexual assault and murder — across the nation. In the past three decades, attacks have been reported in regions such as Gajraula, some 75 miles northeast of New Delhi; in Mumbai, in western India; in Kariyal and Almoh, cities in the northern Indian state of Punjab; in

battered and slain Christians, destroyed churches and chapels, and the fear felt by those in some central Indian villages who cannot invite priests to conduct prayers, says Mr. Dayal. The 65-year-old lay leader has himself received hate mail, including threats to his wife, daughter and son should he continue to protest anti-Christian violence on television and other media.


“Each time I see the church, I feel a great loss.” Indore, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh; and in Jharkhand, eastern India. Some attacks have been rooted in class or caste conflicts, according to some observers, rather than for differences of religious identity. In 1995, landlords hired a man to kill Franciscan Clarist Sister Rani Maria Vattalil in response to her work to empower the poor through rights education and community organization. In late 2011, a group of assailants murdered Sister Valsa John of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, who had been helping the populations of more than 30 tribal villages to fight against displacement, exploitation and pollution by a coal-mining enterprise.

Places of worship are also targeted. In particular, the Indian capital has recently witnessed unprecedented attacks on Catholic churches, starting with a mysterious fire that gutted St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden, an eastern suburb, on 1 December 2014. Within the next three months, five more churches and a Catholic school in New Delhi were vandalized. The Rev. Savarimuthu Sankar, public relations officer of the Catholic Archdiocese of Delhi, says authorities often dismiss attacks as stray incidents or the work of disturbed individuals, ignoring their systemic character. The manifestations of antiChristian violence are the bodies of

he shriek of a car alarm woke the Rev. Eugene Moon Lazarus, parish priest of St. Mary’s Church in Agra — the city famous for the Taj Mahal — on the night of 16 April. With two other priests, he checked the grounds and found several statues broken. A large Marian statue inside the front garden had been knocked down with a dog chain. They also found marks on the church’s main door indicating attempts to break it open. After two days, the police produced as the culprit a Muslim youth, believed to be the jilted lover of a Catholic girl, lashing out for having been spurned. “We knew it was a cooked-up story, but could do nothing. There was no girl with that name in our parish,” says Father Lazarus. “When we expressed our doubts, the police said in that case we should know the culprits, and demanded that we reveal their identities.” The youth was released after a month, when no evidence surfaced against him. “That was the end of the case,” Father Lazarus says, adding that the parish repaired the damages and carried on. Renovation efforts are also in full swing at St. Sebastian’s in Dilshad Garden. Sitting between a Hindu temple and an Orthodox church, the Catholic sanctuary was used by both Latin and Syro-Malabar Catholics since it was erected in 2001.



Walk beside India’s poor and use your kindness to ease their need Please give today Christians and others had suspected foul play in the fire but the municipal administration dismissed it as the result of short circuit. K. A. Thomas, a parish trustee, says he never imagined this for their church. “It was shocking and sad to look at the charred crucifix at the altar.” The retired federal employee says they had waited eight months for the government to fulfill its promise to restore the church. Repairs finally began in July, although the works were sponsored by the archdiocese. Abraham Mathew, a parishioner and director of the company conducting the repairs, says the work will take at least one year and will cost be around $150,000. He says he was involved when the church was built and it was difficult for him to accept, after it had been torched. “Each time I see the church I feel a deep loss,” he says, adding that




the incident has been hard on the entire community. Six days after the Dilshad Garden fire, unidentified vandals threw stones at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Jasola, a south Delhi suburb, a parish of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad. Some 200 Catholics were attending the Divine Liturgy in the year-old church when the stones crashed through the window, landing near the altar. The vicar general, the Rev. Sebastian Vadakkumpadan, says the church decided to ignore the incident, as the administration provided police security to all churches in the national capital. He adds that the prime minister himself sought to reassure the community by promising, at an eparchial celebration, to uphold India’s secular status and deal firmly with those spreading sectarian violence in the country. Msgr. Chinnayyan says he has seen a decline in the attacks in the past few

months, perhaps due to international pressure on the government. Mr. Michael, a former member of the Delhi state government’s Minority Commission, argues otherwise. The violence, he says, has only shifted from mainstream churches in cities to rural areas. There, he says, attacks on Christians “are increasing day by day.” When the B.J.P. came to power, the main force behind the party, the radical R.S.S., or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (“National Volunteers’ Corps”), seized the occasion to push its main agenda of “saffronization” — turning India into a Hindu country. Christians represent an obstacle to their plan, Msgr. Chinnayyan says, and thus attackers aim to instill fear. “We are not frightened; every day we remember a martyr or saint who stood for faith,” he says. “The church began in suffering and we are told there will be persecution until the end of time.”

p The Christian community of Allahbad, Uttar Pradesh, holds a protest rally on 16 March 2015, after the rape of a 72-year-old sister by a group of about a dozen assailants.

Msgr. Kochuthundil says the right-wing ideologues resent Christians for helping poor tribal and Dalit groups to advance in life. Christians teach that all people are children of God and therefore equal in the eyes of the Creator. The Indian constitution also regards every citizen as equal. However, this goes against India’s ancient caste system, which determines a person’s status at birth — a system Hindu radicals wish to return to prominence. “Our attackers hate us because we propagate moral values, uphold human rights and promote secular India. We teach the poor to demand their just wages and right to a dignified life,” Msgr. Kochuthundil says.

Christians in India, he says, cherish the secularism enshrined in the country’s constitution. “After the Bible, we consider the constitution the most important document.”


sgr. Chinnayyan says attacks have awoken Christians to the need to be vigilant, and to live Christ’s teachings to the fullest, placing trust in the good will of the Hindu population, most of which is tolerant and similarly in favor of a secular state. Archbishop Anil Couto believes Christians should build a fraternal and peaceful community and turn their works in health, education and social fields into expressions of God’s love. “This is what God expects of us by being salt and light in the world,” he told the sit-in demonstration at Parliament Street.

Meanwhile, Kanaka Rekha Nayak now lives in a hut in a slum some 150 miles east of her home in Kandhamal, where she gets by as a housekeeper. She waits for the day the country’s highest authorities will take decisive action, and make it safe for her to return to her village and resume life on her farm. Until then, says Msgr. Chinnayyan, “there will be more martyrs.” Jose Kavi writes about social and religious issues in India from New Delhi.


__ __ __ __ __ persecution



Accompanying the Church

A letter from


by Olena Malchyn with photographs by John E. Kozar



Olena Malchyn is the wife of the Rev. Volodymyr Malchyn, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest who serves as the vice chancellor of the curia of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk. They live on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital of Kiev with their two young daughters, Marichka and Anastasia.



“I would say that this is the main role of a priest’s wife — to understand and to share her husband’s priestly and family obligations.”

p Priests of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church hear confessions outdoors in Zarvanytsia, Ukraine. 20



was born in the Ukrainian region of Podillia. My mother is a nurse who worked all her adult life in a hospital. My father was an organizer of cultural events — a specialization very valued during Soviet times. Even though my parents were not practicing Christians, I was baptized in an underground Orthodox church. When I was six years old my family moved to central Ukraine, but each year I continued spending summers with my grandparents, who lived in a small village. My grandparents belonged to a Baptist church and in their house they hosted meetings of the local Baptist community. Even though I formally did not belong to this church, I nevertheless grew up with an understanding of faith, surrounded by people who showed respect and love to each other. I rediscovered the depths of my Eastern Christian roots when I met my future husband, Volodymyr. When I was a third-year student at the Kiev-Mohyla University I had a chance to attend an ecumenical Taizé Community youth gathering in Milan, Italy. Volodymyr, who was studying as a seminarian in Rome, also came to Milan for the gathering. We found each other walking on the street among 60,000 young Christians. After that we kept in touch on the internet. The following summer we had volunteered together at a Christian summer camp for children in Ukraine, organized by a Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish. At this camp I had an opportunity to learn more about Volodymyr and the Greek Catholic Church. I fell in love with both of them. I had plenty of time to adjust to my husband’s role as an ordained minister because he was ordained a deacon in the third year of our marriage, and then a priest a year later. Still, at first it was quite challenging. After ordination, my husband was able to spend much

less time with our family than before. Once he became a priest he devoted much time in the evenings ministering to youth groups. Also, besides his pastoral work during the day he lectured at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Kiev, and accumulated administrative responsibilities as a vice chancellor of the Archeparchy of Kiev. At that time I felt quite stressed because I had to take care of two young children who did not see their father much; he would leave early in the morning and would come back late at night. I would say that this is the main role of a priest’s wife — to understand and to share her husband’s priestly and family obligations. You have to be ready to support your husband in his ministry and to be ready to go with him wherever the church sends him. In central Ukraine, in comparison to the western regions of the country, the priest’s wife traditionally does not enjoy any special social status. Thus, her reputation is built solely by her work and by daily interaction with people around her. Personally, I am not involved on a regular basis in any parishcentered ministry. I help in areas where my help is most useful. For

p Father Volodymyr Malchyn sits with his daughters, Marichka and Anastasia, in their home.

example, I take care of organizational work on youth pilgrimages — planning routes, resolving logistical issues. I also accompany the youth during these pilgrimages and help them to see the beauty of the Christian way of life. I think ideally a priest’s wife should be a model Christian. She needs to know church teaching, must be able to convey it to others, and be able to lead by example. From time to time we meet with other priests’ families to pray and socialize together. But most of the time we keep in touch by internet or phone. In the Kiev region, there are not that many Ukrainian Greek Catholic parishes; most priestly families are separated by large distances. However, we are happy to share every moment we can with our friends. I would advise a young woman planning to marry a priest to listen well to what your heart tells you and prepare yourself for the life of service. It is a life of modesty, suffering, love and ministry to others, but one that nonetheless gives a lot of fulfillment and brings true joy into your life.



Care for Marginalized

In Limbo in Lebanon

Iraqi Christian refugees struggle to stay afloat BY RAED RAFEI WITH PHOTOGRAPHS BY TAMARA ABDUL HADI




anaa al Kass Elia flips through her son’s wedding album, eyes twinkling as she identifies those pictured. On the page, cheerful women in makeup and colorful gowns pose before a backdrop of ornate furniture. Her plain black dress and the drabness of her Beirut-area apartment — bare but for couches and a television — starkly contrast with the liveliness of the photographs. Soon, she pauses, holding back tears. “This was my sister,” Mrs. Elia says finally, pointing at a woman in her 30’s with a tranquil gaze and styled hair. “She was beautiful.” Mrs. Elia, 46, fled to Lebanon last August to escape ISIS’s brutal takeover of Qaraqosh, a oncethriving Christian city in Iraq with monasteries, schools and hospitals. As with thousands of Christian families who lived for centuries in the fertile Nineveh Plain, she left her home in the night with her husband and children, taking nothing but a few garments and some money. As it had ended, so that day had begun with tragedy. Mrs. Elia’s sister, Enaam, was sitting in her orchard when a sudden shelling killed her instantly. As her family mourned, they heard calls through megaphones from the church, urging everyone to evacuate the city. “There was a general state of panic and chaos,” says the Rev. Yousif Yaqoob Sakat, who, a few weeks before fleeing Qaraqosh, had to escape Al Khidhir — another Iraqi town captured by ISIS. There, Father Sakat had headed the Monastery of Mar Behnam, which dates to the fourth century. For weeks, he struggled with life under ISIS rule. Militants wrote Quranic verses on the monastery’s z Hanaa Elia and her husband, Georges Habbash, sit in their home in Jdeideh, Lebanon, a year after fleeing the Nineveh Plain.

walls and hurled stones at the building. Women were forced to wear veils and schools were suspended. Mosques began issuing denunciations of Christians. Holed up in the monastery, Father Sakat left only in disguise to procure food from the market. One day, armed men entered the monastery and threatened the priests, finally forcing them to leave. The priests were able to reach Qaraqosh, where they remained until that fateful night of 6 August. “There were children still barefoot in pajamas. Many people forgot their money, their jewelry and even their official documents out of panic,” Father Sakat says. The takeover of Mosul and northern Iraq, in addition to Hassake and other parts of northeastern Syria, has led to a mass exodus of Christians: men and women who identify themselves as Assyro-Chaldeans belonging to the Syriac Catholic or Orthodox churches or members of the Church of the East or its Catholic sister, the Chaldean Church. These communities have had a presence in the region since the faith’s earliest days, and speak Syriac, a language derived from Aramaic, the primary tongue of Jesus. Tens of thousands fled in their cars to nearby Kurdistan. While most have found refuge in Erbil and other Kurdish towns — with some going as far as Turkey — others, such as Mrs. Elia and her family, preferred to travel to Lebanon. From there, they hoped to emigrate and take up residence in a Western country where they could lead secure, stable lives. An estimated 1.5 million refugees, mainly from Syria, reside in Lebanon today, placing a tremendous strain on the country’s infrastructure, as well as its delicate social and political balances. A funding crisis among United Nations aid programs has led to a



“The challenges are very big. The number of beneficiaries is constantly increasing.”



significant decrease in the level of assistance that refugees receive in the country. And recent popular unrest threatens to make living conditions even worse. “It’s very hard for Iraqi refugees here,” says Michel Constantin, CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. “Their options are very limited.” Speaking from the organization’s Beirut office, Mr. Constantin says about 3,000 Iraqi Christian families, most from the Chaldean and Syriac communities, have come to Lebanon since August 2014. Most of these refugees now struggle with high costs of living, few opportunities and uncertain prospects. Through these hardships, churches and church institutions have been a constant source of comfort and material aid, accompanying displaced families through the most difficult time of their lives.


n Lebanon, the prospects for permanent residency for refugees are almost nonexistent. Jobs are scarce. Few have the opportunity to attend public universities. Immigration to Western countries remains an unrealistic dream for the vast majority; relatively few have been taken in by the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. And returning to their homes in Iraq could take many years. “We are in a state of limbo,” says Adel Nouh, 71. “Our only hope is to go to the United States or Canada.” Mr. Nouh lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife, two sons and daughter-in-law. His sons work z Iraqi youth attend summer camp in the mountain village of Qartaba. t Angela Yaacoub, a 60-year-old widow from Mosul, visits St. Anthony’s Dispensary in Beirut.

odd jobs in construction but their salaries barely cover the rent. They rely on food donations from churches. Complicating matters further, Mr. Nouh suffers from diabetes and other chronic illnesses. In a country where medical care is prohibitively expensive, health care centers such as St. Anthony’s Dispensary, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters in the low-income northern Beirut neighborhood of Rouweissat Jdeideh, is a lifeline to vulnerable populations. “The challenges are very big,” says Sister Hannane Youssef, who administers the medical facility. “The number of beneficiaries is constantly increasing.” Due to the influx of refugees to the country, the number of people seeking their assistance jumped from an average of 800 to 2,000 per month, reports Sister Hannane. Approximately 40 percent of those treated at the dispensary today are Iraqi Christian refugees. They receive free medication and consultations with specialized physicians. The medical center also offers counseling and trauma therapy. Churches and religious congregations have taken on a central role in the provision of health care among refugees, through facilities all over the country, including dispensaries, clinics and hospitals. Many organizations have rushed to provide assistance with funding and administration, including CNEWA, Caritas and the Howard Karagheusian Foundation, which also runs a medical center in Bourj Hammoud. “We see a lot of cases of depression,” says Venecia al Hajjeh, a social worker with the International Medical Corps. Many refugees suffer from posttraumatic stress, which can also exacerbate existing conditions such as schizophrenia.

Because of their difficult economic situation and the loss of their homes and jobs, many refugees suffer from insomnia, nightmares, loss of appetite, anxiety and feelings of isolation, Ms. Al Hajjeh says. In extreme cases, she adds, this can lead victims to commit suicide. Ms. Al Hajjeh says she had witnessed four such cases among refugees in the two weeks prior. Despite their hardships, many Christian refugees say they are relieved to be in Lebanon because they feel embraced by a larger Christian community. Here, there are large areas inhabited by Christians where churches and visible Christian symbols — such as statues of the Virgin Mary and shrines dedicated to saints — are abundant. “I can wear my cross without fear here,” says Angela Yaacoub, a 60-year-old widow who came from Mosul to Lebanon with her three children. “In Iraq, we were persecuted because of our faith. When we went out we had to wear a headscarf like Muslim women. We felt invisible,” she says. In an attempt to bring together their enlarged community, the Syriac Catholic Archeparchy of Beirut uses another church in the suburbs of Beirut every Sunday to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. It is an occasion to offer solace in the face of immense material loss, and place their collective suffering into a broader, spiritual context. Outside the church, traditional Iraqi bread and second-hand clothes are distributed. The church also organizes outings to monasteries in the Lebanese mountains and other tourist attractions to help lift spirits. Many cannot afford to go out at their own expense. In nearby Sed el Baouchrieh, another community of refugees seeks spiritual guidance. At the



The CNEWAConnection

Always, CNEWA has been a lifeline to the poor and disadvantaged people of Lebanon — working

through Lebanon’s many churchaffiliated efforts that benefit all,

regardless of nationality, ethnicity, color or creed.

Iraqi and Syrian refugee Christians make up a growing portion of

Lebanon’s population, with a sharp influx since the summer of 2014.

CNEWA seeks to ease the transition of these families through sustaining the efforts of clinics, dispensaries

and relief programs of the Armenian

and Syriac Catholic patriarchates as well as more tailored initiatives

through various communities of sisters and groups such as the Karagheusian Center.

In particular, CNEWA has opened

a school for more than 500 Iraqis, coordinating with the Iraqi

government to ensure its curriculum would count back at home.

The Iraqi minister of education has agreed to visit to oversee final

exams. CNEWA also administers an active summer camp program

in scenic Mount Lebanon, offering children a play-focused outlet. To join CNEWA in its many efforts in Lebanon, call:

1-800-442-6392 (United States) or 1-866-322-4441 (Canada).



church that dominates the neighborhood that has long been home to Assyrian Christians, the premises are packed with refugees who arrived from Syrian villages earlier this year following violent raids by Islamic extremist forces. Samir Brikha, 50, escaped his village of Tel Talaa in northeast Syria with his three children and wife. He says that with hundreds of other villagers, they fled on foot one early morning in February, crossing a wide river to save their lives. “The river was full of discarded suitcases,” Mr. Brikha says. “People were throwing the few belongings they had carried with them because they wanted to save their lives first,” he says, adding that he saw some Good Shepherd Sister Hannane Youssef administers St. Anthony’s Dispensary, a lifeline for refugees.

elderly people being carried on the backs of younger men. Although in the past year the Lebanese government has toughened the procedures for the entry of Syrian refugees into the country, exceptions were made in March to allow for the arrival of Christian minorities — mainly members of the Church of the East. “The church took a large number of new refugees under its wing,” says Chorbishop Yatron Koliana of the Church of the East. Today, there are 1,400 Assyrian refugee families in Lebanon; around 600 of those arrived this spring, he says. Even though the parish tries to assist refugees with basic food and job opportunities, the challenges are staggering, especially in the

fields of education and medical assistance. Chorbishop Koliana says that a private Lebanese hospital recently refused to deliver the body of an Assyrian refugee girl who died from cancer, as her family was unable to pay her medical bill. His church had to intervene and pay an “exorbitant” sum of money so her family could grant her the dignity of a burial.


hough the life of a refugee in Lebanon is difficult, many Christian refugees interviewed say they would not return to their towns and villages after witnessing the systematic destruction of their homes and churches; even the crosses in their cemeteries were demolished. ISIS has also destroyed many lammasu statues — an important pre-Christian Assyrian cultural symbol similar in appearance to a sphinx. Many speak of feelings of betrayal from their Muslim neighbors and say they believe there is an attempt to uproot Christians from the whole region. Mr. Brikha looks with sorrow at a picture of a wrecked church found on the internet and saved on his mobile phone. The Church of Virgin Mary in a village near his home was a place he often attended for religious ceremonies. “We are faithful people. My son had a rash once, so I took him to this church to receive the blessings of St. John the Baptist. A few days later, he was miraculously cured,” he says, magnifying the image on his phone and pointing to the ruins of the shrine. Much to his consternation, Mr. Brikha says he is forced to send his two boys — one is 14 and the other 17 — to find work. The salary of $650 he makes from working at a clothing shop and factory is not enough to cover the family’s daily expenses. He worries they will not be able to return to school any time soon.

Give refugee families in Lebanon the gift called hope Please give today

For those assisting refugee populations, education remains a pressing concern. Michel Constantin reports that CNEWA has opened a school in Erbil for about 550 Iraqi Christian students, but, he adds, he is awaiting approval from Iraqi education officials so classes given there would be validated in Iraq. In August, CNEWA supported an afternoon summer school in the Don Bosco Monastery, nestled in the lush greenery of Mount Lebanon. “These children are deprived of many things,” says the Rev. Aisen Elia, a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco, who use a style of teaching emphasizing love and honest exchange over punishment to develop values. In this captivating natural setting, children played basketball, danced, sang and learned about Christian values through classic stories such as “Pinocchio.” Smiles were everywhere. “We want them to know the joys of life again.” Raed Rafei is a Beirut-based journalist and independent filmmaker whose writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Forbes Arabia and The Lebanese Daily Star.




u web/inlimbovideo



Care for Marginalized



Bright Lights Big Problems Ethiopia’s churches grapple with a rapidly changing landscape by James Jeffrey with photographs by Petterik Wiggers




he knife blurs in the young woman’s hands as she quickly slices a green-striped zucchini into thin strips. At another table in the sunlit kitchen, other women — identically attired in crisp chef whites set off by black trim and black aprons — finish seasoning the zucchini spaghetti, making meatballs and tossing the salad. Ursuline Sister Abrehet Tesfaye wanders among the dozen aspiring chefs, communicating through sign language with those who are deaf, who make up about half the class. As the lesson draws to a close, the students arrange their food on plates and, finally, the time has come to take a fork and judge the results.



In the heart of the Italian-inspired Piazza neighborhood of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, the Women’s Promotion Center runs vocational training courses to enable young Ethiopians — mostly women — to find employment. Many students are not from Addis Ababa, but have come to the city from the nation’s vast interior rural regions. “I came to Addis Ababa when my husband, a soldier, was assigned to the city,” says Selam, 24, during a lull in the kitchen. She originally lived in the city of Adigrat, in the Tigray region far to Ethiopia’s north, close to the border with Eritrea. “This training will help me cook better for my family and help me get a job, I

hope. My husband’s salary is not enough for us.” But most women who come to Addis Ababa from Tigray are not as fortunate as Selam. During the day and late into the night the streets of the capital are dotted with women who came in the hope of finding work — their distinctive Tigrayan hairstyles and clothes denoting their origins. Some are reduced to begging for money to feed their children. Others resort to prostitution. They come from all over Ethiopia because the young think Addis Ababa is the best place to live, says Sister Abrehet. “But that isn’t the reality. They think they can change their lives, especially the women. Some are fleeing a difficult marriage.


4 Some want to go to an Arab country. Often they run out of money; they can’t return home because of shame.” Once a woman has a child, it becomes even harder to work. Sister Abrehet remembers a woman who suddenly went into labor as a crowd gathered around her — alone, terrified and unsure what to do. Among migrants, these feelings are all too common. In the face of this growing problem, church-sponsored initiatives, such as the Women’s Promotion Center, strive to help.


n the women’s center, students attend a clothing design course. On the walls are illustrations of mannequins and body outlines partitioned into geometric sections.

Sewing machines sit atop the tables, beside piles of cloth ready to be transformed into garments. “I came to the city to look for a means of living,” says 18-year-old Alemu, originally from Arsi, about 170 miles southeast, as he stitches a priest’s vestment. “When I finish the course I would like to go home to start a clothing business there.” Sister Abrehet explains how she first encountered Alemu shining shoes on the busy streets near the city’s Catholic cathedral, which houses the center. Two other young men worked alongside him, but they chose to continue shining shoes. In the afternoons Alemu goes back to work with them, although his preference is clear.

1. Christina from southern Sudan visits Jesuit Refugee Service. 2. Meron Getachew learns tailoring at a church-run training course. 3. Addisu Shibiru, Degnet Tilahun and Deresse Demissie work on a site for the city’s new light rail. 4. Sister Abrehet Tesfaye, director of the Women’s Promotion Center, leads a culinary class.

“This is much better. My favorite clothes to make are trousers; I’ve always been interested in them since childhood.” “That’s vocational!” Sister Abrehet exclaims in response, smiling at Alumu.



The CNEWAConnection

Long before the founding of its Addis Ababa office in 1986,

CNEWA was involved in efforts to improve lives in Ethiopia through the works of the local churches. The phenomenon of mass

urbanization in Ethiopia is a new one, and priority over limited resources is often given to

programs focusing on urgent

matters, such as human trafficking. However, CNEWA is analyzing ways to expand its operations in response to this population shift — including supporting

educational programs and training centers, and expanding support for church and church-affiliated institutions that work to raise

quality of life, promote intercultural dialogue and fill other key service gaps.

To join this process, call:

1-800-442-6392 (United States) or 1-866-322-4441 (Canada).

“There was work at home, but the work in Addis is better,” says Abeba Shifrew, 29, with a tape measurer dangled around her neck and the sleeve of a blue work shirt under her hands. Born in the town of Debre Birhan, about 75 miles to the northwest, she came to live with relatives in the city, where she learned of the center through her



aunt. Having completed the 11-month training course, Ms. Shifrew now pursues more advanced work experience at the center. “Afterwards, if I can afford it, I’d like to buy my own sewing machine,” she says. “So many other women face problems; even if they came to join relatives, life can still be uncomfortable. I was lucky with my aunt.” Historically, rural-to-urban migration in Ethiopia has been driven by various economic, climatic and political factors: drought, war, forced migrations and poverty — the last of which remains a main driver. Today about 29 percent of Ethiopia’s population still lives on less than $2 a day. A 2014 study of southern Ethiopia’s rural population estimated that between 2007 and 2013, 14.8 percent of the area’s youth and adolescents — aged from 10 to 30 — migrated to cities. Many of these migrants encounter harsh working conditions, low pay and sexual exploitation. Underpinning this is the youthfulness of Ethiopia’s population, coupled with high population growth. In a nation of approximately 92 million people, nearly half is under the age of 15, and up to three-quarters is under 30. The overall population could exceed 127 million by 2037, according to the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency. Based on these and other factors, some project Addis Ababa’s population to double in the next 20 years. A common issue among the students, Sister Abrehet says, is that they dropped out of school, which greatly reduces the willingness of employers to hire them. Yet at the same time, there is a limit to the opportunities the traditional education system can unlock. “Providing education is not enough; there must be job-creating

opportunities also,” says Argaw Fantu, regional director in Ethiopia for CNEWA. “Internal migration is a relatively new phenomenon and so it is a new need for the church to tackle,” Mr. Fantu adds. As ever, he says, the crux of the problem is limited resources. Meanwhile, urbanization continues apace, driving increasing demand for domestic workers, which in turn fuels problems from human trafficking to sexual abuse. “Unmet needs are always increasing,” Mr. Fantu says. “This has to be looked at by the church, by CNEWA, by everyone, to find solutions.”


ot far from the cathedral, the streets are full of rubble piles and metal girders taking shape to eventually support an overpass for the city’s new light rail system. Amid the detritus are scores of construction workers, primarily young men. “I got a diploma at college and wanted to get a job based on my qualifications. I couldn’t find one, so I came to Addis Ababa,” says Addisu Shibiru, 21, during his lunch break from his construction job. He only started work four days ago, having recently arrived in the city. Back in his home of Aleta Wondo, 200 miles to the south, he sold mobile phones and took a second, seasonal job selling coffee before making the decision to head north. So far, construction is the only work he has found. Two colleagues — 18-year-old Degnet Tilahun and 19-year-old Deresse Demissie, who also herald from Ethiopia’s south — have worked in construction for two years and receive a higher daily wage of about $4. “I’ve saved about $400, which I sent back to my father, who bought three cows on my behalf,” says

“It’s better here, as there’s so much construction — you can always find a job.”

Workers erect roads and apartment buildings in Bole Bulbula, a new neighborhood in Addis Ababa.



Help Ethiopia’s young people learn new skills for a better future Please give today


Mr. Tilahun, who plans to return home if construction work dries up. All three say they would advise friends back home to come to Addis Ababa for the work, even though they miss their families and the culture of the south. They also describe sacrifices of a more practical nature. “If we were living at home at least we could wash regularly in the river, but here we have to pay for a bucket of water, so we don’t wash for several days usually,” Mr. Demissie says. The three share a small shelter with five others in a nearby workers’ camp with no washing facilities. Despite the challenges, they do not regret the decision to move to the city. “I came here to get money and only had a low education beforehand, so overall I’m happy with how things turned out,” Mr. Tilahun drawls. “It’s better here, as there’s so much construction — you can always find a job.” Indeed, Addis Ababa has grown geographically by more than 80 percent in the last 20 years. For some who come to Addis Ababa, especially women working as domestic help, the intention is to earn enough to finance a further move: emigration to places like



Dubai, where wages are usually much higher. As a result, rural-tourban migration is intrinsically linked to the wider issue of international migration, a major focus of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (E.C.S.), which facilitates and coordinates the social and pastoral activities of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia. “I wouldn’t say we are not focusing on rural-to-urban migration, rather we are addressing it through another way,” says Woldamlak Abera, E.C.S. department head for migration, internally displaced persons and refugee affairs. “Some of those traveling outside the country are being tortured, so that calls for urgent attention right now.” Human traffickers working the northern migration route through North Africa toward Europe often sell migrants to gangs operating in the Egyptian Sinai. The telephoned cries of tortured migrants are used to convince families abroad to pay steep ransoms. “We run a number of programs but they affect very little, as migration touches so much,” Mr. Abera says.


or a better understanding of international migration, which in Ethiopia compounds the

rural-to-urban movement, the Jesuit Refugee Service (J.R.S.), which has operated in the city for 19 years, offers some insight. Its compound is alive with activity, ranging from an energetic game of volleyball to people sending emails from more than a dozen computer terminals. The grounds resemble a microcosm of Africa’s troubles, hosting refugees from South Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Burundi and more. “This is a welcoming center where we provide three main services in the form of education, community and emergency support,” says Hanna Petros, the center’s director. “There are all types of refugees here, those who’ve suffered political and religious persecution, and economic migrants. Our target is to assist 1,700 people in 2015.” To place that figure in context, Ethiopia hosts about 680,000 refugees, the largest number of any African country. Inside the office for emergency support sits James from South Sudan, who holds a sheet of paper containing passport-sized photos of his family. Next to him sits his wife. “I hadn’t seen my family for over a year,” James says. “I thought they had all been killed. I made it to Ethiopia while they managed to escape to Kenya, where we were just reunited before I brought them to Ethiopia. Now I’m trying to get them processed.” He slowly exhales, eyes wide below his forehead, marked with ceremonial tribal scarring. “I can’t find the words to describe the relief,” he says. “J.R.S. has been tremendous, and I’m not just saying that because they are here.” Others in the center echo this praise, although such compliments are not so forthcoming when it comes to the state-run Administration for Refugee and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) and the

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “All they care about is their budgets; they don’t care about the refugees,” says a 33-year-old man from Kinshasa in Congo, who fled to Ethiopia five years ago to escape the fighting and government persecution of his minority Banyamulenge tribe. “It’s a form of psychological killing, living here, because we aren’t allowed to work,” he says, referring to the laws governing refugees. “We are hopeless. But at J.R.S. at least we can discuss things, which helps mentally.” Guilain, 35, from Guinea, has lived in Ethiopia for 11 years and has formed a seven-member band of fellow Guineans who practice in the center’s music room. Two years ago his wife and daughter managed to immigrate to the United States, where he hopes to join them. “I miss them, but I must keep my heart intact, so I can’t think about it too much,” he says. “The music gives me hope. I am happy when I

come here; you see people enjoying themselves — it helps you to forget.” In a corner of the compound is a small café staffed by the indomitable Wube, who has one of her four grandchildren strapped to her back as she cooks lunch. Nearby, one of her eight children, 29-year-old Ababa, makes traditional Ethiopian coffee. “I still want to go to America for the sake of my children,” says Wube, an Ethiopian who married a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her husband died after 40 years in Ethiopia, waiting in vain to be resettled. Through her marriage, Wube and her children are classed as refugees and therefore cannot find employment. This conundrum is just one example from the labyrinthine bureaucracy that refugees must navigate. Helping hands and sympathetic counsel are available through Jesuit Refugee Service. But according to those involved, current

Refugees from Eritrea study with a music teacher at the Jesuit Refugee Service center.

provisions are simply not enough to match the scale of the problem. Yet, those intimately involved with this important work refuse to give in to despair. “Our strongest weapon is prayer,” CNEWA’s Argaw Fantu says. “We must pray continuously for a better future.” James Jeffrey is a business journalist based in Addis Ababa. His work has appeared in African Business magazine and the Austin Business Journal.


__ __ __ __ __ urbanization



from our world

Ani Kaloust by Don Duncan with photographs by Dalia Khamissy

ONE magazine’s Don Duncan sat down not long ago to talk with Ani Kaloust, a 65-year-old Lebanese Armenian Catholic who lives in the eastern Beirut neighborhood of Geitawi. ONE: I have heard you work long days. Could you tell me how? Ani Kaloust: Well, I work mainly with Caritas [the charity of the Lebanese Catholic churches and a partner of CNEWA] and with the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in Bourj Hammoud, an Armenian neighborhood in eastern Beirut. I have been with Caritas for more than 25 years, working in Geitawi, receiving and helping families in need. We give them money and food aid. Besides that, we have families struggling with illness — even cancer. We help them however we can. My other job is with the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate, as a member



of their charity arm. I’ve been with them for 40 years. In order to help the people of the area, you need to have someone who knows the families, right? Well, I know all the families in this community: rich, middle class and the poor. In the patriarchate, when people come knocking on the door asking for help, they say: “Go see Madam Ani.” I do a little interview to see what they need, and the patriarchate helps them if able. ONE: I see in the room next to ours, there is a group of women working around a table preparing food. Is that one of your projects? AK: Yes, this has been going on for 20 years. We sell baked goods to supermarkets. Eleven women work in the collective — widows and women in need. We make a range of savory biscuits, thyme biscuits with nuts, sweet biscuits, and more. For the women working here, we pay

Women prepare sweets as part of an income-generating program.

their travel, their salary and their social security. We distribute to most of the Lebanese supermarkets, as well as to Saudi Arabia, Dubai and France. For Caritas, it’s a self-financing activity. With the current funding model, where there is less and less money coming from outside, we are obliged to do self-sustaining activities, so selling these biscuits helps us fund our other activities. ONE: What other activities do you do with Caritas? AK: For the past 19 years, we’ve been visiting prisoners. We help people who don’t have family visiting them. We talk with them. If they need clothes, medication, food or drink, we provide that for them.

Some families who won’t come to visit have given up; their child has messed up to a point where the family rejects him. Others may not be able to afford to visit. The prison is at Roumieh, about 12 miles from Beirut, so if a family wants to visit their child, they need at least $50 to go, come back and bring provisions to their child. ONE: I’ve heard the conditions are poor. AK: Yes, they are awful. ONE: Can you describe them? AK: No. It’s atrocious — the dirt, the terrible conditions. In Roumieh there are 4,600 prisoners and we can’t help them all. We have people who come to us to register the names of people saying they need our help, or need to talk with us. We listen to them and sometimes we visit their families to see why they don’t come to visit and help their children. Up to now, we have managed to convince only three families to come visit their child but we usually don’t succeed. It’s very difficult. ONE: How does your work at the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate help the refugees fleeing the war in Syria? AK: When the Syrians started to come, the patriarch said: “We can’t refuse them; we must welcome them.” So, Syrians seeking help come to me and I do interviews: where they came from, where they live now, how many people are living where they reside, etc. Initially, we assisted Syrian Armenian Catholic families, and then we began to help everyone, regardless of ethnicity or religion. We went to CNEWA for money to buy them heaters, blankets and towels. We then made an agreement with the Armenian Apostolic bishop and with the Karagheusian Center [a CNEWA partner] to start giving children

“When the Syrians started to come, the patriarch said: ‘We can’t refuse them; we must welcome them.’”

pillows, towels, pajamas, underwear and socks. Currently, we are helping some 1,100 families in Bourj Hammoud — about 4,000 people. Everyone helps now, even the people who resent Syrians for the occupation of Lebanon. In 1978, we were stuck for ten days and nights in shelters. It was awful; you can’t imagine ten days of bombs falling on you. But now people say: “It’s not the people’s fault — we must help them.” ONE: How did you become so deeply involved in charity work? Isn’t it all overwhelming? AK: Since my childhood, I liked to help people. I was small and I worked in a dispensary beside our house. I liked that. I was in my 20’s during the civil war here in Lebanon and I helped everyone. I spent the whole war in this neighborhood. I didn’t leave it even for one day. I am no longer a young girl, but I work more than a young girl does! And people say: “Oh, I’m tired.” Me, I can’t say that; I don’t get tired!

that I was going to give birth. I couldn’t breathe. I said I must go to the hospital, or will I have to give birth before 400 people! My brother came to take me there, and I was sure either I’d die or my baby would. I went to the hospital in a car of a Christian militiaman. I arrived with the baby’s head already coming out and I gave birth on the bathroom floor in about five minutes. Then a sister said: “You must leave. The hospital is burning.” I took my baby and she was black from the dirt. There was no water. About 10 or 15 minutes after having given birth, I was running through the streets with the baby to get back to the shelter. I arrived and could see my husband and kids across the street, but couldn’t cross because the bombs were falling so heavily. Finally, I got back to safety. Two hours later, there was a cease-fire. ONE: Did such experiences — or indeed, does your charitable work — change you spiritually?

ONE: I have heard many personal stories here in Lebanon from the war years and I am sure the war made you very busy helping people. But surely there were moments where you had to help yourself?

AK: No. I was a student of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and I have had my faith since I was a child. Every day, when I wake up, before leaving the house, I have a picture of Jesus and I say to him: “I am leaving the house and I leave it to you. It’s up to you to decide if I make mistakes or not and you’ll always be with me.”

AK: Oh, I have a story for you. In 1978, when the Syrians attacked us with the bombs, I was pregnant. I was taking shelter in the basement under our building and I could feel

But prayers help me when life is tough. Without prayers, how do you live? Prayers are our protection. God stays with us when we pray and he doesn’t let us go astray.




on the world of CNEWA


he recent visit of Pope Francis to the United States produced vivid memories. We cherish his loving embraces of God’s little ones, his infectious smiles, his words of encouragement, his paternal affection to all as his children, his teaching on family values and so many more recollections. There were consistent themes in his presentations and in his manner: mercy to all, forgiveness from God and to one other, and especially the love God has for all his people. The pope did not come to our shores to judge us, but to uplift us in the embrace of our Father in heaven. As a papal agency, CNEWA is honored and privileged to serve our Holy Father in accompanying local Eastern Catholic churches in many troubled areas of the world. In the Holy Father’s name, we humbly strive to be agents of peace, reconciliation and, especially, love of God for all. I cherish the many such opportunities I have personally experienced on my pastoral visits to faraway places. In areas of extreme conflict, persecution and poverty, the love of God — as witnessed by the faith of those who suffer so much — rises above the dark clouds of so many ugly realities. As with Pope Francis in his pastoral visit here, the local church in those parts of the world we serve brings hope to so many souls. And CNEWA is privileged to walk with the church in the name of our Holy Father. My memory bank from my own pastoral visits is also very rich: the



smiles of children; mothers who find comfort in the loving and gentle hands of religious sisters; the elderly “orphans” adopted by the church; refugees who gather for holy Mass in an open field or a tent; children seated on a dirt floor, hungry to learn; and countless other images. For me, there is a direct link between the message our Holy Father has brought to us in the Americas and what CNEWA tries to do in his name in many remote and challenging areas of the world. And you are very much an extension of both the messenger and especially the message of God’s love for all. By your prayerful support and your generous gifts, the CNEWA family brings peace, hope and love to the poor in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe.

p Pope Francis blesses a Catholic school student at John F. Kennedy International Airport. u A Franciscan sister of the Cross greets a child in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon.

As you savor fond memories of Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, remember also how he has been vicariously present to millions of poor people whom CNEWA serves — and how his message of God’s love is shared with all. May God bless Pope Francis and may he bless the poor we humbly serve.

Msgr. John E. Kozar



CNEWA a papal agency for humanitarian and pastoral support 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022-4195 • 1-212-826-1480 • 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K9 • 1-866-322-4441 •

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