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Shayota's 10 Tips on Voiceing Your Concern
By Huda Metti :: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 :: 85075 Views :: Government & Society, Opinion and Editorials

California, USA –  “We should be more active,” says Jonathan Shayota.  “We need to knock on doors, get petitions signed, lobby our government, and be more involved in voicing our issues.”  Shayota’s passion is contagious.  A group of college students nod in passionate agreement with what he is saying.  “If we don’t voice our opposition, then remaining silent means you agree with them,” Shayota adds.

The political science major is active in local California politics and is helping other Chaldeans learn how to take a stand.   His fervent effort to protect marriage between one man and one woman won over his local parish into helping to get signatures signed by committed voters to help defeat the California gay marriage court intervention.  “Most tech savvy people don’t bother with the paper any longer.  They use the internet,” Shayota says. “However, papers still offer Chaldeans an opportunity to voice their concern and most professional publications have invested heavily in their online presence as well.  You are still going to have to write to the editors to set the record straight and if they refuse to listen, then share your feelings with their advertisers.”   

Shayota shares his ten tips on how to write a letter and ensure it has the best chance of being published.  Included in Shayota’s example is a submission by Rafah Odish of Farmington Hills, Michigan.  “Odish writes about her support for Congressman Knollenberg and his active involvement in helping Chaldeans. Her masterful piece found its way into the local paper in her city showcasing the gratitude of the Chaldean community and the good work of congressman Knollenberg.  This is a wonderful example of how to get your piece printed.”

Odish writes:

“Keep Knollenberg

The Iraqi Christian community throughout the United States has come together in support of our friends and relatives still living in Iraq.

Iraq's religious minorities are in trouble and their homeland is unsafe. As a community, we have taken our cause to Congress, and there is no one more receptive than our very own congressman, Joe Knollenberg.

Through his career, Joe Knollenberg has always been there for the Chaldean community. But when times got tough and we really needed people to step up and defend Iraq's religious minorities there was no one more willing than Joe. In fact, Congressman Knollenberg recently helped secure $10 million in funding to aid religious minorities in Iraq.

Joe has stood with the Chaldean community during the good times and the not so good times. That is what we need in a member of Congress and that is why Congressman Knollenberg should be re-elected in November.”

Shayota says, if you want to get published keep it short, keep it focused and keep it within the bounds of good taste.

The bigger the circulation of the publication, the more competition you face in having your letter selected. The editor may have hundreds of choices each.  Unlike the new media of the Internet, old media still has to contend with space and printing costs.  So to make sure your letter is compelling enough for the editor be sure to follow Shayota’s tips:

1. Include your contact information:
Put your full first and last name, address, phone and/or fax numbers (day and evening) and your e-mail address at the top of the letter. Most publications will want to call the writer to confirm authenticity: (i.e. that you are using your correct name -- not a phony name -- and that you did in fact write the letter).

2. Identify the article you are referring to:
If you are referring to a previously published letter, a news story or column, identify it by its headline and the date it was published (Re: Chaldeans are against gay marriage, Aug. 17). This enables the editor to quickly check the original item to verify any references you have made to it (i.e. quotes, statistics, etc.).

3. Get to the point.
You don't need a long, rambling introduction to your subject. Just focus on one or two key points that you want to make.

4. Keep it short.
Write short, punchy sentences, grouped in two or three paragraphs.

5. Be witty.
Let your sense of humor and irony shine through. You can even be a little wicked, as long as you don't cross the line of good taste.

6. Avoid clichés and weak puns.

7. If you are responding to a columnist's views (or any other opinion piece), don't launch a personal attack on the columnist -- attack his/her views. Offer a countervailing opinion. Try to advance the debate so that other readers might join in the discussion in subsequent letters.

8.  Add a personal twist.
If you have read a news story or feature article that relates to something you've experienced, respond by putting your own personal twist on the subject.

9.  Keep it unique.
Don't send copies of your letter to a whole host of publications. Make it an original to the publication. If you don't get a confirmation call within a week, then try submitting it elsewhere.

10. Do more than just write.
If the editor goes too far in what or how something is covered, a letter may not be enough.  Consider writing to the owners, advertisers, their competitors, or become their competitors.

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.