Friday, October 24, 2014
St. Joseph News & Information
Latest News & Information

Current Articles | Archives | Search

Australian Priest Begins Campaign to Help Chaldeans
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, June 26, 2009 :: 31604 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA – In the capital city of Australia, Brisbane priest Fr. Gerry Hefferan has begun a campaign to help the struggling Chaldeans of war-torn Iraq.  Fr. Hefferan recently returned from Kurdistan and has organized a daily prayer roster with parishes from five major dioceses to pray for Chaldeans.  The effort has been welcomed by Australian Catholics as parishioners have already filled the roster until November 2009. 

The prayer roster is not the only effort Fr. Hefferan is undertaken on behalf of Chaldeans.  The Grovely-based priest is also encouraging Catholics to share expertise in education and health with staff at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary in Iraq which has been relocated from Baghdad to Erbil in the Kurdistan north.

“This is because education and health are two major areas where the Muslim communities recognize Christian expertise,” Fr Hefferan said. “So this is one way to help bring peace to the area – it can help the Christians live more harmoniously with their Muslim neighbors.”

Fr. Hefferan said his visit to Iraq earlier this month had been to show his solidarity with the suffering Church there.  “About one-third of the Catholic population in Iraq have now migrated, with the majority in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Turkey,” he said. 

Pope Benedict tried to visit Iraq to boost morale there on his recent tour of the Middle East but was unable to get in. However, he did celebrate a Mass with First Communicants in Jordan as part of his outreach to Iraqi refugee children there.

“This turned out to be a real shot in the arm for the Church in Iraq ... Catholics in Kurdistan were on a real high throughout the time I spent there.”  Fr Hefferan said “the danger now is that Iraq will become similar to Palestine where there are few Christians”.

While in Kurdistan, he stayed at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary.

Among events he attended were the graduation of Babel College students some of whom attend the seminary.

Fr. Hefferan was also present for the second anniversary of the murders of Fr. Ragheed Ranni and three deacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawed which had occurred at Mosul’s Holy Spirit Chaldean Church in June, 2007.

Fr. Hefferan said his visit to Iraq had made him more conscious of the urgent need to support Catholics there.

Those interested in assisting Fr Hefferan can contact him via email on hefferang@bne.catholic.net.au or on (043)777-5088.

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.