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Several of our AmericanCatholic.org editors recently traveled to Middle East. Here you will find their reports and resources from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Synod news from Catholic News Service, photos, videos, interviews and coverage from St. Anthony Messenger magazine. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

Special Features
Christians in the Middle East

On Location Reports
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(CNS/Paul Haring)
Christianity in the Middle East, the Holy Land, once thriving, is diminishing rapidly. The land of Jews, Muslims and Christians is changing, at least due to the Israel/Palestine impasse, along with the growth of Islam. Pope Benedict XVI called a Special Synod on the Middle East not only for the Catholic Church, but also for all Christian Churches to understand the problem of declining Catholics, Christians in the land of Jesus and the Apostles, and how to address it.

Several of our AmericanCatholic.org editors recently traveled to Middle East. Here you will find their reports and resources from the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Synod news from Catholic News Service, photos, videos, interviews and coverage from St. Anthony Messenger magazine. The feature will grow in the coming months, in the wake of the Synod for the Middle East.

The map below shows the stops on the first of the two-part tour of the Middle East, sponsored by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Click on each balloon for a brief summary of the people and places visited at each location.


View ACO in the Middle East in a larger map

Here is the map from Jennifer Scroggins' trip to Lebanon in November 2011


View ACO in Lebanon in a larger map

Click on each blue marker on the map to see the location and description.

On Location Reports

John Feister, AmericanCatholic.org editor, provided daily reports from his 10-day trip to Jordan, Palestine and Israel.




Video Features

We have a wide variety of video reports from the Middle East, including both candid conversations and interviews. Below is a clip from a dinner discussion with Bishop Salim Sayegh on the expectations his people have for the Bishops' Synod on the Middle East.

Click here for our Video Gallery




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Josephine Bakhita: For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed. 
<p>Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of seven, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means <i>fortunate</i>. She was re-sold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan. </p><p>Two years later he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice's Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine. </p><p>When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine's behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885. </p><p>Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters' school and the local citizens. She once said, "Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!" </p><p>The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.</p> American Catholic Blog St. Paul talks about the Christian life as a race, and encourages us to run so as to win. So it’s not just OK, it’s commanded to be competitive, to strive to excel. But true greatness consists in sharing in the sacrificial love of Christ, who comes to serve rather than to be served. That means that this race St. Paul is talking about is a race to the bottom.


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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
St. Josephine Bakhita
Today we honor the first saint from the Sudan, who was a model of piety and humility.

National Marriage Week
During this week especially tell each other how much your marriage means to you.

St. Valentine's Day
Schedule one or more e-cards today to be sent next Sunday.

Carnival
Create a festive atmosphere and invite friends over for one last party before the Lenten fast.

Catholic Schools Week
In the Catholic schools, parents know that their children are being formed as well as informed.



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