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To Be or Not To Be Chaldean - That is the Question
By Ray Yono :: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 :: 50709 Views :: Article Rating :: Opinion and Editorials

California, USA - A greater threat than persecution and exile looms upon the horizon for the Chaldean community.  This evil threat reaches across the ocean and mingles plainly and openly in sight.  It has succeeded in destroying most every culture that has forgotten from whence they came.  Its weapons are subtle and will surely devastate the Chaldean community if not addressed.  The threat can be best expressed by Gilbert Chesterton, perhaps one of the western world’s most thoughtful writers of the 20th century, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

As Chaldeans absorb into their new lands, the challenge becomes to seize the greatness of our host country while cuddling the beauty of the Chaldean way.   Failing to do so will make us ungrateful and vulnerable.  To take being Chaldean for granted is just another way of being conquered and converted.  One evil is by the sword and fueled by an intense fire of hatred while the other is a slow boil of indifference, deceit, and arrogance.  Both conquer and convert the weak placing the entire community at risk of loss.

On the other hand, the strong remain steadfast.  They gain strength from their roots and help feed the Chaldean community by participating and being involved.  You know them, you see them, and you admire their strength in faith and passion for their community.  They celebrate, join, and lead the events that are uniquely Chaldean.   They are involved in helping to strengthen Chaldean churches, Chaldean organizations, Chaldean events, Chaldean businesses, and the Chaldean way of life.  

For anyone that calls themselves Chaldean they must acknowledge it is because of these leaders, volunteers, and community minded Chaldean citizens.  We owe them a debt of gratitude for being involved and allowing us to proudly call ourselves Chaldean.

In contrast, the weak clothed in low self-esteem and confidence of any culture are filled with self-hate and detest their roots.  They condemn, criticize, and besmirch their cultural way of life.  Be it Jew, Arab, Italian, Irish, or Chaldean they would rather curse the darkness than light a candle for the community.  They attempt to justify their actions, but the bottom line is they reject the teachings and wisdom of the Chaldean way.  We only need to paraphrase Chesterton, “The Chaldean ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”  There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about what it means to be Chaldean; what it means to be Catholic

For anyone to say they love Chaldean must first understand that, “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”  And then involve themselves in saving it. 

Ray Yono is a Ph.D. candidate from Stanford University studying philosophy and mathematics.  His thought provoking ideas in predictive social behavior modeled mathematically have earned him a fellowship in Europe.  Some of his more current work is being used in software games and virtual simulations to model intelligent characters that act more like humans.  Questions or comments regarding his article can be sent to with an attention to Ray Yono.

St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  

Rev. Frank Kalabat

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.


Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.