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Chaldean Church in California Attacked by Vandals
By Rita Abro :: Thursday, July 16, 2009 :: 21252 Views :: Chaldean Churches

CALIFORNIA, USA — Chaldeans fled to the United States to escape Christian persecution by fanatics and anti-Christian zealots.  However, Chaldeans in Turlock, California awoke this past weekend to a frightening occurrence of vandalism and Christian hatred. 

Surveillance camera recorded three men destroying and then stealing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of the Our Lady of Turlock fountain outside St. Thomas Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church.

Parishioner David Yonan, 49, reported the vandalism when he arrived for Sunday morning prayers at 7 a.m. and noticed the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary missing.  According to the video’s time stamp the crime occurred Saturday at 11 p.m. in the evening. 

"It was devastating," Yonan told reporters. "All the ladies were sitting there crying. It looked like a funeral."

The surveillance video shows a man climbing the steps of the fountain, then throwing the $3,000, Italian-made statue to the ground. Another man comes and takes the damaged statue. All that was left were porcelain shards that once made up the back of the statue's head, Yonan said.

"The way he hits her, it's like he's mad at somebody," Yonan said of the man in the video. "Why would somebody want to do this?" Yonan said the third man watched the vandalism and left with the other two men.

Churchgoers at St. Thomas say they want to find the damaged statue and hope the surveillance video will help police find the suspects. In the meantime, a smaller statue of Mary has been put in the place where the stolen statue stood.

Anyone with information about this crime can call Sgt. Russ Holeman at 668-5550, ext. 6753, or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636.

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.