Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like to pay tribute to an honored friend, a true American, and a global citizen who passed away on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. He was 77 years old. Fr. Cannon Drew Christiansen, S.J. Among his many wonderful deeds, he was the co-founder of HCEF. It is difficult to put into words what Abouna Drew meant to HCEF as well as to the Palestinian Christians and the Holy Land.
Following prayer and deep reflection upon the words of our Lord and Savior, I was graced to understand that Abouna Drew is not truly gone, for he lives in the good works he accomplished here on Earth. One essay or speech can never do justice to all that he did, all the friendships he formed, and all the lives he left forever changed for the better. I hope to pay homage to this gracious man whom I was honored to call a friend.
Fr. Drew was Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Development in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and co-director of the Program on the Church and the World at the Berkley Center, where he is a senior research fellow. A former editor of the Jesuit weekly America and director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, he has also taught social ethics and peace studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and the University of Notre Dame, where he was a founding staff member of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
Active in ecumenical and interfaith affairs, Christiansen has been a member of the USCCB’s Catholic-Jewish Dialogue, served on the U.S. seventh round of the Catholic-United Methodist Dialogue on Eucharist and Creation, and as a member of the first International Catholic-Mennonite Dialogue, which issued the ground-breaking report “Called Together to Be Peacemakers.” Fr. Drew received his undergraduate degree from Fordham University, M.Div. and S.T.M. from Woodstock Theological College, and Ph.D. from Yale University.
Abouna Drew was the true force behind HCEF. He brought a depth of experience in both religious matters and Middle East Affairs. He opened the doors wide for the Catholic Church to support HCEF and the Palestinian Christians. I can never thank him enough. His experience truly guided us in those first days. His charisma helped us grow. He was so personable that we have him to thank for our volunteer and support base. He was unwavering for justice and peace in the Middle East, especially for the Palestinian people. His steadfast commitment led many people to recognize the plight of the Palestinians.
He encouraged us all to believe that one day justice would prevail. He co-edited Patriarch Michel Sabbah’s Faithful Witness: On Reconciliation and Peace in the Holy Land, as well as authored the chapter, “Weeping for Jerusalem: A Theological Meditation” in What Jerusalem Means to Us: Christian Perspectives and Reflections.
I like thinking of us sitting together like in days of old, talking, laughing, and reminiscing about all the good times we had together. And may the justice that Abouna Drew so fervently believed in come to pass for the Palestinians and all people of the Holy Land.
With true brotherly love and gratitude, I am ever yours,
Rateb Y. Rabie, KCHS