CNEWA Canada celebrates its 12th anniversary this year and Carl Hétu, pictured, has been with the organization since it's conception. Register file photo

CNEWA celebrates 12 years in Canada

  • March 29, 2017

OTTAWA – As the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) marks its 90th anniversary this year, CNEWA Canada celebrates 12 years.

CNEWA Canada came into existence Feb. 12, 2005, said Carl Hétu, its national director, and since then the Holy See charity has seen “an increased trust from Canadian Catholics towards our agency.

“We are transparent and we deliver on our mission,” he said. “We’re good at delivering on what we say we’re going to do.

“Our niche is always to work with the Church, wherever the Church is present. If you want to reach out to Christians, whether persecuted or not, to the Church that cares for the poor and the marginalized, CNEWA is very strong in working with the local Church in providing social service support.”

Pope Pius XI founded CNEWA in 1926 to support members of the Eastern Catholic Churches in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, India and Ethiopia plagued by conflict, poverty and natural disasters. Hétu pointed out the needs in these parts of the world remain strong.

Over the past year, 4,500 Canadians have contributed $4.3 million to CNEWA Canada to help local Churches provide food, shelter, education and health care.

With the ongoing crisis in Iraq and Syria, CNEWA has added aid to refugees and displaced persons to its programming, Hétu said. CNEWA has also maintained a focus on the Horn of Africa afflicted by a major drought.

It also supports churches in Ukraine where there is “great tension between pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine confronting the Ukrainian government,” he said.

Canadians donated $991,141 towards projects in the Middle East; $277,583 to projects in Africa, primarily the Horn of Africa; $500,000 to projects in Ukraine; and $700,000 towards spiritual formation, training, and humanitarian programs in Armenia, Georgia, Egypt and India.

Hétu said on the surface the situation may seem bleak, but the projects help the churches build bridges, serve the vulnerable and defend against hate.

“This is precisely what Pope Francis calls us to do and the opportunity around which Canadians are rallying.”

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