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Are Those Who Remain Silent and Uninvolved Faithful?
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, September 26, 2008 :: 32053 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, Government & Society, Chaldean Churches

Mosul, IRAQ – “If the condemnation by their Imams of the kidnapping and murder of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho was not enough, what will stop them,” says Eddie Gulli.  The Archbishop left big shoes to fill after his disgraceful execution.  “Our people have been able to survive because of faith.  They know this and that is why they attack our church.  They know if you attack our faith you will ultimately kill all of us.”

Gulli’s comments ring true to many Iraqi Christian leaders.  The continuous attacks against the passive church seem to only get worse.  “It seems the more humble and forgiving the church, the angrier these crazy people become,” Gulli comments while shaking his head dumbfounded. 

As soon as a new priest, Fr. Bassman Fatoohey was assigned to replace the Archbishop in Mosul the threats against his life began.  "I recently received a letter at the presbytery. Inside was a bullet. I knew at once what it meant," he says: "I was a marked man,” Fr. Fatoohey tells the Catholic Herald. 

As Fr. Fatoohey speaks a young man behind the priest time and again dashes looks around the area.  The twenty-something fellow has volunteered to be the priest’s bodyguard.  Surprisingly the guard carries no weapon, but is prepared to sacrifice his life to give the priest a chance to run should they come under attack.    

The priest continues, "There's no point," says Fr Bassman. "Any attacks against us are so well organized that if it happens, we know there's nothing we can do to stop it."

More amazing to the Herald reporter is the eternal optimism and strength of faith the Chaldeans maintain in the plausible reality of extinction.  One such remarkable testmant to faith is Sr Hayat, who the Herald reporter also interviewed in a village outside Mosul. The 25-year-old nun, said that since 2004 several bombs had gone off close to the convent. Bravely, she said: "There is no need for an alarm clock; we wake to the sound of bombs."  The young nun narrowly escaped death when a man standing near her was killed. Her clothes were splattered with blood. "If you want to see blood," she said trying to smile, "come to Mosul."

A fraction of the Christians remain in Mosul.  Unlike the more peaceful territories of Iraq, Mosul remains under the control of Islamist fanatics that look to interrupt the lives of Christians as much as possible.  

Many have fled to a life of forced squalor in neighboring Turkey or Syria. Families forced to live in 8 by 8 square feet size rooms shared by six people or more.  No running water and little food.  Many of the emigrant refugees are not allowed to seek jobs or send their children to school.  The refugees remain in the shadows scratching out a living in hopes of securing a visa to a country offering more humane opportunities.  

Chaldean church leaders fight to persuade Christians to remain in Iraq.  However, with little money and support the indigenous and once resurgent Church of the East is fast dwindling. 
Some organizations are heading the call to help Christians in Iraq in the communities darkest hour.  In the UK the Aid to the Church in Need is hosting an event at Westminster Cathedral this Saturday, September 27, to focus on Iraq, where Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad will be principal celebrant at the 10.30am Mass. For more information visit
www.acnuk.org

Those who are prepared to answer the call to save the dying community are encouraged to contact any of the remaining Chaldeans churches to discuss how resources to aid Iraqi Christians can be made.  Chaldean churches outside of Iraq in countries like Jordon, Sweden, Canada, Russia, and the United States are also able to help direct whatever support being offered.

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.