Posts Tagged ‘Archdiocese of New York’

Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East urgently need our help

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

In the endless struggles between Jews and Muslims in Israel and the West Bank, in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and other places where they are a minority population, Christians are suffering terribly. They are in a no-win situation. Politically, they don’t count to the powers-that-be; economically, they are in dire straits. In some places, they are not even allowed to self-identify as Christian. This is a source of deep concern to Pope Benedict XIV and should be to us as well.

The internal resources of the Eastern churches themselves are not able to keep up with the pastoral, educational and social services needs of their people, especially in the places that are experiencing violence. The Eastern churches need our assistance.

Fortunately, there is a way for us to help: the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a pontifical agency established in 1926 in Rome by Pope Pius XI with administrative offices here in New York City at the Catholic Center. Its mission is to assist the Eastern Churches, to work for church unity, and to raise consciousness here in the West about the churches and peoples of the East. CNEWA works with the local churches to address their needs. This is how CNEWA describes its activities.

“From training priests to serve the people of God in India to providing clean water systems to war-damaged villages in Lebanon – from providing job opportunities to unemployed Palestinians to caring for orphaned children in Ethiopia – from providing health care to the poor in Iraq to awarding scholarships for Orthodox priests to study in Catholic universities in Rome, CNEWA connects generous North Americans with those in need living in some of the remotest parts of the world.”

So what can we as individuals, as parishes or as parish-based religious education programs do through CNEWA? We can sponsor a child’s future, help a man answer God’s call to priesthood, help men and women who wish to join religious life. And more. It is so easy.

For example, just $28 dollars per month (you can send a check or have the money charged automatically to a credit card) will make you as an individual or a team of people the sponsor of a boy’s or girl’s room, board, health care and education. The sponsor(s) receives a profile and a photo of his, her or their child annually along with a progress report. Sponsors may even write to their children. $28.00. That’s fewer than three movie tickets, about half of what it costs to fill a gas tank…but for a child in a country served by CNEWA it goes so very, very far. By the way, you’ll be interested to know that your money goes through the Church’s own diplomatic channels. Local Governments have no access to those funds.

When you join with CNEWA, you also receive a wonderful magazine, One. There’s also a terrific on-line newsletter for all to read and learn from.

Most of us Christians trace our faith to Rome. However, there are the great ancient Churches: the churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. These Eastern churches are found in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, parts of India and also Western Europe. Of course, the mother church of us all is Jerusalem, as Pope Paul VI stated. So we truly are brothers and sisters to these Eastern churches. What we do for them through CNEWA is all in the family.

Advent for overwrought, overworked, over-pressured believers

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

It has long struck me that the season of Advent doesn’t always get our full attention. But that’s no anyone’s fault. Here in the Mid-Atlantic States, the leaves are just falling and the weather is still fairly balmy. Even though the clocks have gone back, we haven’t yet reached the days when it’s pitch dark at 5:00 p.m. So it’s hard to get into the Advent mood and ponder phrases like “In the bleak midwinter” and “Silent Night.” (In Manhattan, where I live, there’s no such thing as a silent night any time of year.)

Then there is the fact that we Americans have to jump the hurdle that is the national Thanksgiving Day, followed by Black Friday and the  shopping season. For catechists and parish directors or coordinators of religious education, Advent also means preparing not only their own families, but yours and mine as well, for Christmas. And then there’s the Christmas pageant with all the drama onstage and back stage.

I for one will never be co that Catholics and other Christians don’t want to prepare spiritually for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Savior. It’s just that life is always hectic and time slips away.

So here is my contribution toward making Advent a little easier to keep for over-worked, over-wrought, over-pressured believers. These resources are all online.  Some are multi-lingual, others multi-generational. Try them and let me know what you think of them.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is an online Advent calendar plus prayer and information about the season, the meaning of its name, and more.

Creighton University Online Ministries. Among the many resources are online retreats in several languages.

ETWN’s Holy Season of Advent. Another informative Advent Calendar

Loyola Press’ Interactive Advent Retreats. Actually, this site is great all year around. Family Advent. Here you will find family resources plus a rather intriguing feature titled “Got a Faith Question? Ask St. Peter.” I didn’t know he had an e-mail account.  See? You learn something new every day.

Sacred Space. Daily prayer in 21 languages.  Another year ’round treasure.

Have you some favorite online resources for the season? Do send them to me.

Blessed Advent!

Thank you, Archbishop Dolan

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Did you see Archbishop Dolan’s column in the most recent Catholic New York? It’s a strong reminder for all Catholics that our formal faith formation doesn’t end the day we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Actually, ongoing discovery of the Catholic faith and how to live as true disciples is our baptismal right and our duty. The Church is bound to make faith formation available to all of us. Canon Law codifies this in articles 773 through 780. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also affirms this in articles number 4 through 7, right at the very beginning of the catechism.

Every parish is the place where catechesis (faith formation’s formal name) should be offered locally.  Just last Saturday, more than 1,000 parish catechetical leaders and catechists came together at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx for the “CatSkills Forum.” This gathering offered courses  in theology, liturgy, and methodology for teaching Catholics of all ages.

Just as importantly, the Forum enabled catechists to consult with one another on the best ways of providing religious education to adults, youth, children and people of all ages with special needs in their parishes. Happily, the Archbishop was with us for the Eucharistic Liturgy, thanking everyone and reflecting on the passage from Matthew 28: 16-20, which concludes with those wonderful words “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

On Saturday, Oct. 23, there will be another chance to brush up on one’s catechetical skills (that’s where the word CatSkills came from) at the next CatSkills Forum at Sacred Heart Parish in Monroe, N.Y.  Here are all the details. Msgr. Edward Weber, vicar of Rockland County and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack, will preside at the Liturgy and we hope that many pastors from our upper counties will be there, too.

Are you interested in learning more about the faith and sharing it with other adults? Would you like to be part of your parish’s ministry to youth? Would you like to become a catechist for children? If you are thinking about this, talk to your pastor and your parish director or coordinator of religious education. Chances are they will be happy to know of your interest in helping them.

After all, more than 100,000 children and youth, plus countless adults, are being formed in the faith through our parish catechetical programs. There’s always a need for more catechists.

And be sure to visit our Archdiocesan Catechetical Office website for all the formation opportunities and events taking place for those who are called to hand on the Faith.  That’s you!