Iraq’s Sister Diana: “We need to gain back our humanity”

I got to meet the now-legendary Sister Diana Momeka this morning and wrote about it over at CNEWA’s blog:   The first thing that struck me about the veiled woman in white standing in our reception area was: “She’s so little.” The petite Dominican sister with the piercing eyes and dark hair didn’t look like someone [Read More…]

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Iraqi Christians speak: “They wanted us to know they were believers”

I spent last evening at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York with some of my colleagues from CNEWA, hearing a first-hand account of life in Iraq, from someone who was jus there. It was a great evening:     When CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar looked at those gathered around the room Wednesday, he [Read More…]

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Words the world needs to hear

  They are the words of a 12-year-old Iraqi refugee named Tamara in Ankawa, Iraq, as reported by CNS, and they are beautiful: “ISIS took everything,” she said,  “but we still have our faith in Jesus Christ, and they will never take it.”   CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar, meeting these extraordinary people while [Read More…]

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New Yorkers, take note: an upcoming event to raise awareness and support for persecuted Christians

Mark your calendar: Msgr. John E. Kozar, president of CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) will be making a pastoral visit to Iraq and Egypt next month to see first-hand some of the challenges facing Christians fleeing persecution in that troubled part of the world. Just days after his return, Msgr. Kozar will share his insights [Read More…]

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“Catholics appalled by what is happening in the Middle East do not have to feel powerless”

From John Allen in Crux comes this excellent glimpse into the work of Catholic Near East Welfare Agency (CNEWA), where I work: Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA is an agency of the Vatican sustained primarily by the Church in the United States and Canada. Its first president was a legendary American Jesuit [Read More…]

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Journey to Jordan: a refugee who fled ISIS tells me his story

Saturday morning brought an emotional encounter with a man who has fled evil, and whose face tells the story. His name is Agnan Adnidihad, a 62-year-old repairman from Mosul who barely escaped the horrors of ISIS last year. Now he is living in Amman—one of tens of thousands of refugees who are crowding into Jordan [Read More…]

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Journey to Jordan: meet the mayor of Amman, in the “land of the sunrise of faith”

If you were looking for a figure representing the diversity and religious harmony of Jordan, you couldn’t do much better than a man who was born in Gaza, was raised a Quaker, married a Muslim, and now serves as the mayor of the capital city of Amman. Meet Mayor Akel Biltaji. Read the rest over [Read More…]

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Another pretty church: Our Holy Redeemer on Long Island

I spent the weekend giving pulpit talks on behalf of CNEWA at Our Holy Redeemer parish in Freeport, Long Island. I served and preached at three Masses; my colleague Norma Intriago, the director of development, spoke at the two Hispanic Masses. What a pretty, old-fashioned kind of church. As I joked to the pastor at the beginning [Read More…]

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Waves of destruction: remembering the tsunami, 10 years later

Photo: Peter Lemieux / CNEWA Hard to believe it, but today marks the 10-year anniversary of the devastating tsunami that swept over Indonesia—one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history. CNEWA’s blog features a poignant remembrance of that awful day from someone who was there. Check it out.  And the BBC offers an overview [Read More…]

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Hitting the road: The Bench and CNEWA visit Long Island

The past couple of days I found myself on a rare weekend away from my home parish, giving talks at Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Merrick, New York.  I was there with two of my colleagues from CNEWA, Norma Intriago and Chris Kennedy, to raise awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians and enlist support [Read More…]

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