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Archive for December, 2010

I’ve always been fascinated by nativity scenes from countries far away from my own.

I must have been 5 or 6 years old. I remember going to a nativity exhibition and staring at a Joseph wearing a colorful poncho and at a Mary wearing a floral kimono.

Christmas is often associated with home, family, celebration, and joy. Have you ever wondered how it is there, where being home for Christmas means silence, secret, even fear?

Former director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Fr. Guido Gockel is now the Executive Vice President at CNEWA. On behalf of the organization, this Christmas he travelled to Bethlehem to represent all CNEWA donors at Christmas Midnight Mass at the Basilica of the Nativity.

The catholic magazine America asked him in a personal interview how Christmas is where all started. Where joy and celebration coexist with trying to flee a country where peace is in a state of siege. And where parents’ wish is for their children not to be home for Christmas, but to stay abroad to get a good education and be safe. 

An article that appeared in The New York Times on the situation of Christians in Iraq made me think of how much we take for granted at our Christmas table and how easily we forget about less festive ones. Empty churches, spare Christmas trees, and curtailed services on Christmas Eve in Baghdad for fear of new attacks against Catholic churches. And as the most classic paradox, where the sense of Christmas seems crushed and lost, there faith regains its strength in the simple and almost heroic gesture of going to church to remember what Christmas is really all about.

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Although my family lives in Staten Island, we sometimes go to St.Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Archbishop Timothy Dolan celebrates Mass at St.Patrick’s. Archbishop Dolan knows me through his work as the President of CNEWA. Twice now, during the opening procession, he has stopped where my family was sitting, leaned over to my 10-year-old son and whispered in Alessandro’s ear, “Young man, one day you’ll be a fine priest!”

“Dad, why is he picking on me?” asked Alessandro after the second time. “Don’t you want to be a priest?” I said. “No way!” he answered without hesitation. “I don’t want to work on Sundays!”

In the lands where CNEWA works, many seminarians want to work on Sundays – and every day – as priests. They want to serve God and minister to the needs of their people. And you’re helping them become priests. If Archbishop Dolan whispered in their ear, they’d answer, “Yes! Thanks to a generous CNEWA donor!”

Do you wish to sponsor a seminarian? You are just a click away.

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