This week on Register Radio Jeanette De Melo talks with the president of Catholic Relief Services, Dr. Carolyn Woo.  They’ll discuss how CRS is providing aid to persecuted Christians. And in the second half of the show Elena Rodriguez talks with Father Maurice Emelu about his new EWTN Television show "Word for the Wounded World" about the Church in Africa.

Dr. Carolyn Woo and Catholic Relief Services’ Aid to Persecuted Christians

Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo is President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Before coming to CRS in 2012, Dr. Woo served as dean of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.  She also serves on the International Policy Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“We’ve been working in Gaza for a while, and when the bombing began, we had to close our office, but our staff was still there,” Woo said. Every time there was a truce, they would begin distributing food and non-food items. They’re now back to operations in Gaza and Woo said there’s a need for supplies. Non-food supplies that are needed included propane stoves and daily provisions. The bishops and staff of CRS are scheduling a trip to Gaza in the near future.

Around two months ago, CRS opened an office in Ervil, Iraq, and they have been working closely there with Caritas of Iraq.

“Wherever we work, we work with our church partners,” Woo said. She added, “Some of our partners there, in Iraq, have become displaced refugees, and so they need to regroup.” She said that they will be going there very soon as well.

“We are very grateful for all the prayer services that have been offered for peace in the Middle East,” she said.

“We have been serving Syrian refugees now for three years. They just grow in number, but we just stay with them as much as we can. A lot of these refugees are outside of Syria now. American organizations are not allowed to be in Syria itself, but the Church is active and doing a lot,” she said, noting that CRS has focused on supporting their partners, doing capacity training, and offer them any resources they can.

Woo explained that the money CRS receives goes directly and very rapidly to people in the field, because of how they have partnered with the local Church organizations.

Advocacy “makes our voice known to say that peace must reign,” Woo said, and is an important part of the work CRS does. There is a lot of education that CRS does in the U.S. communities as well, so that they don’t just close their eyes and ignore what’s needed.

“In the end, we answer to God in terms of whether we have taken care of the people he has sent to us,” Woo said. “The service we provide is not just to give food and give stoves and give things. Our role is, in the end, through our service, to hold up the dignity of the individual.”

Listen to the entire interview here.

Fr. Maurice Emelu and the Church in Africa

Fr. Maurice Emelu is the founder and Chair of Gratia Vobis Ministries, Incorporated. A priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu in southeast of Nigeria, Father Maurice is a renowned Catholic Speaker and Retreat Preacher. 

He is the host of two TV shows on the EWTN Television, The Faith with Father Maurice and his new series Word for a Wounded World. 

He is also a journalist and an independent African content producer for television.  Father Maurice is the producer of Echoes From Africa and is currently working on a 12-part film documentary series on The Church in Africa, which is a first attempt to present a robust film production of Faith and Life in Africa, covering a span of over 2000 years.

“Jesus is our hope and he has given us the ultimate reconciliation when he reconciled us with God and has also commended us to be attendants of this reconciliation,” Fr. Emelu said. “But we have to do this by understanding some principles that help this reconciliation process.”

First, we have to forgive one another, Fr. Emelu said. We next have to appreciate people’s different backgrounds and show more empathy. This does not, Fr. Emelu pointed out, mean that we have to tolerate evil. Finally, we need to see others as brothers and sisters, and just as we reconcile with our siblings, we should reconcile with one another. 

Existential periphery is a term that Fr. Emelu credits to Pope Francis and which, he said, points us to those who lack basic amenities or are deprived of opportunities. More importantly, though, he explained that the mental periphery—the sense of value and meaning—needs our attention.

Speaking of the high number of people who struggle with depression and those who are tempted by suicide, Fr. Emelu said, “They need the word of God, the word of love, the word of healing that can draw them to the true meaning of life, because life with meaning is life that is enjoyable. Life without meaning is the most despicable and hopeless you can ever lead, so we need to share a shred of hope to the people in such situations.”

Each chapter of his book, Word for a Wounded World, focuses on one word and then the wounds relating to those. Fr. Emelu’s book Word for a Wounded World is available from the EWTN Religious Catalogue and from his website, gratiavobisministries.org

Watch the trailer for Fr. Emelu’s show.

Listen to this week’s show online or on your mp3 player.