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Chaldeans in Baghdad Celebrate The First Ever Public Christmas Event
By Neda Ayar :: Monday, December 22, 2008 :: 49922 Views :: Government & Society

Baghdad, IRAQ – “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet,” says Nadine Hemra, of Chicago Illinois. The light at the end of Iraq’s tunnel seems to be getting brighter.  Hemra is delighted at the news that the Iraqi death toll has dropped below pre-Saddam era, income for professionals has increased 400 times, utility services are becoming more reliable, and non-Muslim religious tolerance is growing. 

When challenged as to why her friends were unwilling to give Iraq a chance Hemra says, “My friends are weak and afraid of having to sacrifice for the good of others or the future.  The media has led them to believe there was no hope in Iraq.  I believe Iraq will rebuild itself into one of the strongest nations in the Middle East.  Then my friends will have to admit Bush did the right thing in liberating the country.  America lost many good people in the fight to be free from England.  Wouldn’t you say, as the benefactor of the revolution that the fight was worth it?”

It would have been unfathomable only a few months earlier.  However, this past Saturday floating in the sky above Baghdad glides along a huge multi-colored hot-air balloon bearing a large poster of Jesus Christ. Below it, an Iraqi flag.

Santa and his helpers stand under palm trees at Baghdad's first public Christmas festival.

CNN is in Iraq reporting on the first-ever public Christmas celebration in Baghdad, held Saturday and sponsored by the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

The event takes place in a public park in eastern Baghdad.  The festive event included a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel; a red-costumed Santa Claus waving to the crowd, and an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders. 

In the center of the celebration is a large stage where children dressed in costumes representing Iraq's many ethnic and religious groups hold their hands and sing "We are building Iraq!"

Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf greets CNN reporters with a big smile. "All Iraqis are Christian today!" he says.

Khalaf says sectarian and ethnic violence killed thousands of Iraqis. "Now that we have crossed that hurdle and destroyed the incubators of terrorism," he says, "and the security situation is good, we have to go back and strengthen community ties."

Father Saad Sirop Hanna, a Chaldean Christian priest who was kidnapped by militants in 2006 and held for 28 days celebrates the event with friends, family, and neighbors. He knows firsthand how difficult the lot of Christians in Iraq is but, he tells CNN reporter, "We are just attesting that things are changing in Baghdad, slowly, but we hope that this change actually is real. We will wait for the future to tell us the truth about this."

Fr. Hanna just returned from Rome. "I came back to Iraq because I believe that we can live here," he says. "I have so many [Muslim] friends and we are so happy they started to think about things from another point of view and we want to help them."

The Christmas celebration has tables loaded with cookies and cakes. Families fill plates and chat in the warm winter sun. Santa balloons hang from trees. An artist uses oil paint to create a portrait of Jesus.

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: