Many Catholics today are surprised when they hear that their Church is made up of a myriad of ancient rites and not just the Latin one.
these 22 rites stem directly from the lands where Jesus lived.
Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) is trying to raise
awareness among the faithful that the Church’s rich tapestry of eastern
traditions is an historically important source of strength for the
Universal Church. But, these ancient churches need our help.
why the President of CNEWA, Monsignor John Kozar is co-hosting with the
Pontifical Congregation for Eastern Churches a special event and
pilgrimage in Rome this week. He and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect
of the Congregation, are hoping to introduce Italians, mostly Catholics,
to the reality of the eastern rite churches.
They’re doing so
with the help of the Kights of the Holy Sepulchre who have a long
tradition of cooperation with the churches in the Holy Land. The
Knights will be hosting a get-to-know each other event Wednesday January
16th in their Grand Hall here in Rome.
of this is at the fullest level of cooperation with the Congregation
for Eastern Churches which really excites me because we have a great
partnership,” Msgr Kozar says. “I’d like to say it in these terms:
together, the Holy Father invites us, of course the congregation is his
main outreach in service to the eastern churches – but, he invites us in
partnership with them to extend the reach.”
from the political, civic and social spheres are expected to attend next
Wednesday’s event. The directors of CNEWA offices in Amman, Beirut and
Jerusalem will also mingle with guests and share their experiences
working among the poor, and especially among the hundreds of thousands
of refugees flooding over Syria’s borders.
A suffering Eastern Church
want to open a little door,” explains Msgr Kozar, “to share with
Italians (this little known segment of the Universal Church). You know,
there’s a great family at work and we’d like you to learn a little bit
about this eastern Catholic family. It’s part of the universal Catholic
family. And we’re given a special privilege of serving them because
although they’re very historic and they’re in the original lands of
Jesus, they suffer greatly because in those lands they lack a lot of
“We want to share (with Italians) both the great good
news of this heritage…but at the same time these tremendous needs and
how we’re very honoured to respond. And just maybe, they might want to
become part of the CNEWA family too, to help us reach out.”
of the refugee crisis from the conflict in Syria, Msgr Kozar explains
that his organization is focusing primarily on the displaced in Syria.
The association’s funds are insufficient to offer major help, but CNEWA
is able to provide some of the basics like clothing, bedding and food to
some 500 – 1000 families, he says.
All is delivered by “our
hands-on agents, part of our family,” says Kozar who assures donors in
this way “that it’s not going to the wrong places or it’s not being
used for something else.”
Besides its offices in the Middle East
and Egypt, CNEWA is present in India and Eastern Europe with healthcare
and schools "as a sign of solidarity with the local population." Msgr
Kozar says that’s a significant part of CNEWA’s mission: “our presence.”
can’t pretend to match what huge government aid agencies can and should
do,” he says. “ We help with humanitarian aid of course…health care
aid, but I think we’re best at maintaining the presence, the face of
Christ: priests, sisters, lay people, catechists, formators…even though
our numbers are very small, we try to keep an abiding presence.”