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Fashion Leaders Help Raise Awareness for ALS
By Vivian Dabbish :: Sunday, April 12, 2009 :: 69950 Views :: Living & Lifestyle, Community & Culture

Massachusetts, USA – Chaldeans are well known as compassionate fighters against injustice.  Many help feed refugees, run for cancer, care for the sick, and offer aid to the needy.  “It is because of our faith,” says Ann Kajy.  “As Christians we are taught to use our talents to help lift the burden of others.” 

Talented and famous Boston designer Denise Hajjar is helping to lift the burden of those suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The disease is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and weakens the brain and spinal cord.

Hajjar showed her spring and summer line at a fashion show benefiting the Massachusetts chapter of the ALS Association. Before the event kicked off, Hajjar said she planned to show 56 different looks in lots of cheerful colors: oranges, yellows, blues, and pinks. "The dress is back in a big, big way," she promised. "Women are embracing it again." And in recognition of the current economic, uh, constraints many shoppers are under, she kept her frocks in the $200 range and created bags for less than $100. "We really worked hard at that," she said.

Hajjar is well known for her elegant styles and custom look.  “She knows exactly how to fit the right fashion to the right person,” says Kajy.  “I have long been a fan of her styles and have a wardrobe filled of her inspired designs.”

Hajjar introduced her visions for fall, but wasn’t looking to convert anyone’s style.  She wants to balance the personality with the fantasy and have the wardrobe bring it all out.  The notion is a bit romantic. Guests say Hajjar’s talent is inspirational.  She is a designer that makes someone fall in love with an outfit and feel complete.  A sentiment expressed by any shopper who has ever fawned over a shirt or high heeled shoe is grateful that a brash designer somewhere embarked on such an improbable idea.

Bravado is required to be a fashion designer. Clothing is an intimate second skin, so it's a challenge to design for strangers.  Designers need to understand the culture, needs, wants, and desires of their market.  Beyond that, the industry is about as competitive as professional sports, so only the tenacious need apply.

You'd think that having an economy caught in a tailspin and consumers putting their credit cards in the freezer would scare those wading into the fashion profession. But, instead, this population of at-risk professionals aren't fazed.  “So much of what you wear communicates who you are,” says Michelle Hanna of Michigan.  “We have a community fashion show each year where over 500 women attend to see the latest styles in wedding gowns, evening dresses, professional outfits, and more.” 

Hanna is referring to the annual Mother Daughter Fashion Show Gala organized by the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Michigan.  The event raises funds to support women causes in the community.   

“We not only enjoy a parade of wearable art, but we also get chance to share a common interest with our mothers.  It has become a right of passage.  A balance between what to wear that allows Chaldean women to be fashionable and respectable,” says Lisa Mukhtar of Sterling Heights.  “This will be my third time attending with my aunts and mom.  I am very excited.”  The fashion show event in Michigan is planned for early May. 

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.