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The growth and decline of the Aramaic language
By Sabah Hajjar :: Thursday, September 12, 2013 :: 55065 Views :: Community & Culture, Chaldean Justice League

 

The Associated Press writes that the Syrian government sent reinforcements Friday to the ancient, predominantly Christian village of Maaloula, where rebels have battled regime troops this week. Maaloula, a scenic village of about 3,300 perched high in the mountains, is one of the few places in the world where residents still speak a version of Aramaic, the language of biblical times believed to have been used by Jesus.

A look at the growth and decline of the Aramaic language through the centuries:

ANCIENT ROOTS: Aramaic is part of the language family that includes Hebrew and was widely used during the time of Roman conquest in the Holy Land and, many scholars believe, likely the main language of Jesus Christ. Some parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are written in a form of Aramaic, which had many dialects.

DECLINE: Aramaic use began to fall off as other languages _ such as Arabic _ dominated with the spread of Islam beginning in the 8th century. Aramaic retained a role in the liturgies of some branches of Eastern Christianity.

CURRENT USE: Forms of Aramaic are used in small communities around the Middle East, including Assyrians and Chaldean Christians, but it is considered to be under threat because of emigration and the pressures from dominant languages such as Arabic and Turkish.

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.