Archive for July, 2011

After decades of high emigration, Christians are staying in the Holy Land.  That’s according to CNEWA’s regional director for Israel and Palestine, in a recent interview:

“In recent years I think we have not witnessed any waves of emigration out of the Holy Land,” Sami El-Yousef told EWTN News while on a visit to Rome.


“The youth have a greater affinity to the land than older generations,” said El-Yousef, highlighting research carried out last year on Christian Palestinians’ attitudes on life and the future.

“Emigration is not something that is on their mind.  But they say to us: ‘Give us the tools of survival; help me to get a decent education, decent housing and a job.’ So it’s our job not to disappoint the Christian youth.”

Read the rest of the interview here.  And then give Holy Land Christians “the tools of survival” by clicking here and here.  You don’t need a tool belt to help!


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Bad Habits

Have you ever loved someone so much that you’d give up everything good in your life for their sake?

I want to share a story with you. It starts on a street corner in Gyurmi, Armenia — one of the places CNEWA serves. This story is about a little boy with a great big selfless heart, a boy whom I’ll call Abel.

Abel is twelve years old, but he has man-sized problems. Abel’s mother is a prostitute. She “works” from the tiny apartment that she shares with her only child. Every time she sees a “client,” she forces Abel to leave their home. The boy sits on the corner and watches life go by. He wishes time would travel fast so he can be with his mom again. But the seconds move like minutes and the minutes move like hours.

Abel dreams of a normal life. Of family dinners, games on the living room floor and doing homework at the kitchen table. Instead, he sits on the familiar corner, his sneakers in the dirt and his head holding up a head weighed down by heavy thoughts. At times Abel wants to cry, like a boy should, but he has no more tears.

Abel has spent his days on the corner for longer than he can remember — except for one brief period of time. One day when Abel was nine, he was sitting on the corner when a religious sister in a black veil came and sat down beside him. She introduced herself as Sister Arousiag. And she explained that Abel would be coming to live with her at the Our Lady of Armenia Orphanage.

I wonder how Abel felt that day. Relieved? Scared for his mom? Angry that she threw him out — permanently? I doubt the boy knew what to feel.

But the two years and nine months that Abel spent at the orphanage were doubtlessly the best days of his young life. Sister Arousiag says he flourished. After years of skipping classes, Abel found school engaging again. He loved playing soccer with the other kids. And with three meals a day, he was healthy. It’s like Abel had a second chance at childhood.

Then one morning last April, Sister Arousiag found Abel’s bed empty. On his pillow was this note:

Sister, thank you for everything you have done for me.  I love you and I love my friends here.  I have to go back to my mother now.  I have to stop her bad habit.

Today Abel is back on the street corner in Gyurmi. His mom hasn’t stopped her “bad habit,” but he keeps trying. And Sister Arousiag hasn’t forgotten the boy — she looks after him, encourages him to stay in school and helps as much as possible with food and clothes. She keeps the child and his mother in her prayers.

I’m sharing this story so you can understand the kind of children that you help through CNEWA. I want you to see what your trying to save them from — poverty, “bad habits” and despair. And I want to assure you that you’re making a genuine difference in their lives. You and I can’t save every little one, but we are accomplishing something, and it is important and good. May God bless and reward you!

Do you sponsor a needy child?  Click here to start!

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I’m on the Radio!

Many thanks to Scot Landry for inviting on his radio show, “The Good Catholic Life.” We talked about the Eastern Catholic Churches and, of course, the good work of CNEWA. Scot and his co-host for the episode, Father Matt Williams, were gracious interviewers. I had tons of fun.

“The Good Catholic Life” is broadcast from Boston on WQOM 1060AM and The Station of the Cross network.  But you can listen to yesterday’s episode here.

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Last month, Pope Benedict convened a meeting of Catholic agencies that serve the Eastern Churches. Several folks from CNEWA attended, including Msgr. Stern and me. When I had the opportunity to personally speak with the Holy Father, I said, “Your Holiness, I bring you the prayers and best wishes of the benefactors of CNEWA.” The pope asked me to tell you, “Thank you very much.”

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