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Baghdad Santa Returns to visit the kids in one Small Town in Iraq
By Guest Reporter :: Tuesday, December 25, 2007 :: 58743 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Baghdad, IRAQ - Here's what Karrar Haider, a 10-year-old Shi'ite boy at a school in eastern Baghdad, told Santa he wants this year for the holidays:  "I have one wish to ask Santa Claus. Please bring peace to my country. Stop the bombs so I can play with my friends again."

Santa - who spends the rest of the year disguised as a 48-year-old Chaldean Christian monastery administrator named Jalal Hourmoz - said he was delighted to spread joy after two years when sectarian violence made a merry Christmas impossible.

"I stopped wearing the costume for two years. I was afraid of death. But this year it's a bit safer. So I'm back, to celebrate both Christmas and Eid," he said of the Christian and Muslim holidays that this year fall less than a week apart.

"I feel so happy to bring a smile to the faces of the children. They've suffered a lot and they deserve more than a guy wearing a Santa Claus costume with some simple gifts.

"I want to tell the world that Christians and Muslims in Iraq are brothers as we used to be before."

During the darkest days of Iraq's sectarian conflict, teaching respect for all faiths was a dangerous business. But at the al-Abtikar school in eastern Baghdad, it is a way of life.

The school is run by nuns from Iraq's small Chaldean Christian community, but most of its pupils are Muslims, a mixture of Shi'ites and Sunnis.

The nuns managed to keep the arrival of Santa Claus a secret from the 2,800 pupils until he showed up in his red suit and white shaggy beard, ringing a bell and passing out small toys.

Pupils ran outside, screaming with joy.

"We never differentiate between the students: Christians, Sunnis and Shi'ites are all equal. Our message is to offer education for all, with no exception," said Sister Ghufran Nayif, the school's principal.

To her, the coincidence that the Christian and Muslim holidays fall at the same time this year is a blessing.

"It's a sign from the holy God that we are all his creation, we should hold fast and nothing should divide us." she said.

"Children are living through daily suffering of violence, and we celebrate both happy occasions to draw a smile to their faces and tell them there is still hope in this life."

Or, as Rusul Mohammed, 14, a Muslim girl, explained the school's philosophy: "Today we are celebrating with our Christian brothers both Christmas and Muslim Eid.

"My wish is to live in peace all together," she said.

Mother of God Church, MI USA

 

Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church
25585 Berg Road
Southfield, MI 48033
Tel: (248) 356-0565
Fax: (248) 356-5235
Email:
MotherOfGodChurch@yahoo.com

Founding Pastor:
Msgr. Geroge Garmo in 1972
The current church building
was completed in 1980.

Pastor:
Rev.  Manuel Yousif Boji

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Wisam Matti
 


 MASS SCHEDULE
Daily:  10:00 AM Chaldean
Tuesdays:  5:30 PM Chaldean/English 
Saturdays:  Ramsha 4:45-5:20 PM; Mass 5:30 PM Chaldean   
Sundays:  8:30 AM Arabic, 10:00 AM English, 12:00 PM Chaldean

 1st Friday, Sodality Prayers 11 AM – 12 PM
1st Saturday, Immaculate Heart Sodality Prayers 4:00 PM

TEAM NAME:
Mother of God Guardian Angels

SERVICES:
Communion & Catechism School
Chaldean Language School
Hall Rental
Wedding Services
Baptism Services
Funeral Services

CHURCH GROUPS:
Monday: Family Bible Study 8:00 P.M. Upper Hall
Friday: Young Adult English Bible Study 7:30 P.M. Lower Hall
Wednesday: Young Adult Arabic Bible Study 7:30 P.M. Lower Hall
Prayer Groups
Our Lady Social
Ur of the Chaldees
Knights of Columbus
Mass Servers
Youth Choir
Adult Choir
Family Fun Friday
Friday Friends
Communications Ministry
Chaldean Teens Coming Together
Performance Ministry
Gift Store
Library and Research
Social Ministry & Support
Chaldean Language Classes
Fishers of Men
 


 Rev. Manuel Yousif Boji

Fr. Manuel was born in Telkaif in the suburbs of Nineveh, Iraq in 1946.   Reverend Manuel Boji entered the Chaldean Seminary in Mousl in 1958 and was ordained a priest in Baghdad in 1968.  His first assignment was in Telkaif where he served for 19 years.  In July 1987, Fr. Manuel was assigned  to the United States  where he assisted Mar Addai Parish in Oak Park, Michigan for six months.  From March 1988 until April 1990, he was administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  Fr. Manuel completed his Masters and Doctorate work from both U of D Mercy and Wayne State University while assigned to the United States.  In May 1990, Fr. Manuel was assigned to Mother of God Parish and is currently serving there as Rector of the Cathedral. 

Parochial Vicar: Rev. Wisam Matti

Fr. Wisam was born in Basrah, Iraq on October 30, 1971. Completing his education in Iraq and serving in the military Fr. Wisam then entered the Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad in 1984.  He was ordained a priest in Karemlees a suburb of Nineveh on July 4th 1997.  His first assignment was in Mosul where he served for five years.  On January 21, 2002, Fr. Wisam was transferred to the Unites States and was assigned to Mother of God Parish where he is currently serving as parochial vicar.  Fr. Wisam, earned his Master in Pastoral Theology on April 28, 2007 from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. 

PARISH COUNCIL: