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Chaldean Leaders and ROTC Together See a Brighter Future for Chaldean Students
By CE&CC :: Thursday, October 1, 2009 :: 67353 Views :: Career & Education

Michigan, USA - With the help of Chaldean leaders, a Michigan University adds a new home for the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).  “The committed support by the College and its patriotic effort to help the United States find the best and brightest is inspirational,” says Randy Zeer.  “I am glad they are here on my campus.  After talking to a professor friend of mine who helped make all this happen, I am thinking of joining ROTC myself.”

Wayne State's College of Engineering is host to the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.  ROTC’s mission is to train students, build character and provide leadership experience, says Capt. Charles Caruana, assistant professor of military science, and recruiter and commander of the Wayne State unit.

Jonathan Yono joined the ROTC last January. He is a junior at Wayne State double-majoring in French and Arabic with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. He explains how his experience will be utilized later on. “Officers must have university education (at least a bachelor’s degree). What we study is up to us, but we bring different things to the Army. ROTC is designed to find people with different skills and train officers to use these skills to the benefit of the country.”

Being a cadet carries a lot of responsibility. “As a cadet I am sacrificing a lot more time than the average student, many weekends and time to do the training. But it’s worth it to have the chances and the opportunities I have on campus,” says Yono.

Caruana says ROTC cadets do not have to join the Army. “You’re not obligated to the Army until you raise your right hand.” He adds though that by the third year, the Army asks students to make a commitment and sign a contract.

“The cadets only have to repay their scholarship if they breach the contract they sign to get it. Breaching their contract is usually done by failing to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, failing to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) after several attempts, or failing to maintain their weight within the Army's height and weight standards consistently after several weigh-ins. We do our best to keep the cadets from failing the APFT or height and weight. The GPA is all on the cadet. All I can do is provide study time, tutoring, and/or moral support to help with that,” says Caruana.

Caruana is an Army officer who likens leadership to a fireman going toward the fire that people are running away from. “I call it the art of getting somebody to do something they normally wouldn’t want to do,” he says.

Yono welcomes the leadership role. “We train to become leaders in the Army. Everything we do revolves around leadership. Before that, we learn to become good followers and carry out orders,” he says.

ROTC is a serious program. “Some people joined and were not expecting it to be as demanding as it is,” says Yono. “They might have joined the JROTC [Junior ROTC], but this is a completely different story. This is more Army training, builds character, enables you. You have to be able to deal with anything that’s thrown at you.”

Yono hopes to achieve a commission and branch into military intelligence. “I would really like to serve my country. It would actually be an excellent opportunity to go abroad. Once you’re in and around others who have served, it’s quite an experience. It’s been empowering.”

If students are thinking about joining the ROTC, Yono has some advice: “If they are interested and are serious, sign up.” But, “if they’re not serious and they can’t commit, don’t bother.”

He says a typical ROTC schedule includes: physical training at 0630 hours (or 6:30 a.m.); classroom training in military science, listening to speakers, simulated combat exercises, combat-water-survival training, repelling, basic rifle marksmanship, extra curricular activities, color guard, and MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) exercises.

Chirio says ROTC is a great opportunity and an experience that is different from anything else on campus. “We get to go on field exercise trainings, shoot weapons, and have formal balls. As cadets we have awesome opportunities to attend Army schools such as Airborne, Air Assault, and go on internships in countries like, Morocco, Japan, Argentina, Spain and many others.”

The following story written by Derrick Bean was produced by the Wayne State University College of Engineering Public Affairs Office.

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.