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A Bereaved Community Mourns At The News
By Huda Metti :: Thursday, March 13, 2008 :: 98513 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Mosul, IRAQ – The Chaldean community around the world stand numb and in disbelief as news of Archbishop Bishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul is dead.

Outcry from world leaders swayed no influence as fanatical terrorists proved once more that no women, children, medical providers, and now spiritual leaders are safe from their killing spree.  “These are innocent people that want to help bring peace.  They kill them, because they are filled with hate.  These barbarians have no faith in anything, but their own rise to power,” said Omar Touma, a recent refugee and Chaldean parishioner of the Good Shepherd Chaldean Church in Canada.   

Text of the news, mournful cries, and prayer messages quickly traveled via e-mail and phone messaging reporting the sorrowful news.  Our Bishop is dead, decried one message as images of weeping families huddled together comforting one another. 

The kidnappers had been demanding a heavy ransom, Church officials say.  When requests were made to speak to the Archbishop the kidnappers replied that the archbishop was dead and gave gave instructions on how Church officials could recover the archbishop's body.

The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul had been dead for at least five days before his body was found this morning by some members of the Church, following information provided by the kidnappers themselves.  This timeline is provided by the autopsy conducted on the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, found in an abandoned area outside of the city, which is in part used as a trash dump. 

Archbishop Rahho was seized outside the Holy Spirit cathedral in Mosul after conducting a Stations of the Cross service on Friday, February 29. Three parishioners were killed by the gunmen who abducted the archbishop.

In the days since the kidnapping, Church leaders had pleaded in vain for some clear evidence that Archbishop Rahho was alive and well. The archbishop, who was 69, suffered from a serious heart condition and needed daily medication.

The identity of the kidnappers remains unknown. Although Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki had ordered an all-out effort to locate the archbishop and secure his release, troops were unsuccessful in their search around Mosul-- a city dominated by insurgents and terrorists.

While the kidnappers did ask for a large money ransom, they were evidently not motivated solely by the desire for financial gain. Church spokesmen said that their demands included political conditions-- an indication that the archbishop's abduction was arranged by a terrorist group rather than simply a criminal gang.

Mosul confirms its place as the most dangerous city for the Christian community, the presence of which has dropped by over 75% since 2003.   Christians remain the soft target for insurgents terrorists and criminal gangs to raise money and fund their ongoing operations. 

After the Iraqi government and coalition forces systematically began turning off funding sources for these militant and criminal groups, their focus turned towards Christians.  Iraqi Christians tend to be educated professionals and considered wealthy.  They also offer less of a risk in way of having a pro-Islamic police force aggressively peruse the crimes since the victims are Christians and maintain a dhimmi status under Islamic law. 

The attacks have created a brain-drain in Iraq as the professionals flee the country in large numbers.  Professors, doctors, scientists, and engineers have fled into neighboring regions or across the ocean seeking safe harbor. 

After Fr Ragheed Gani was slaughtered on June 3 information revealed that the terrorists were politically motivated to drive Christians out of Iraq.  Many consider the indigenous Iraqis that were able to maintain their Christian identity and keep from being converted or conquered by Muslim raiders in the early centuries a moderate balance to the region.  The belief is held strongly by fanatical Muslims who are systematicaly driving out the church in hopes of creating a more fundamental Islamic Iraq.  

The latest wave of violence against the church came from January 6-17, 2008, when a series of explosions struck the Chaldean Church of Mary Immaculate, the Chaldean Church of St Paul, which was almost destroyed, the entryway to the orphanage run by the Chaldean sisters in al Nour, a Nestorian church, and the convent of the Dominican sisters of Mosul Jadida.

“Our faith is in Jesus who died for the sins of humanity.  He will find favor in our Chaldean Martyr who offered nothing but peace, hope, and love,” says Touma.  “May bishop Raho rest in the arms of our Lord and may God show mercy on those that continue to hate.  They will not scatter the Chaldean flock because they have killed our shepherd.  Our faith will now grow even stronger.”

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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.