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Chaldeans Take to the Frigid Cold Streets to Offer Women Hope
By Sam Yousif :: Friday, March 28, 2008 :: 102098 Views :: Article Rating :: Community & Culture, Chaldean Churches

Michigan, USA - “Despite bone-chilling temperatures and biting winds, Chaldeans turned out to pray and help young mothers reconsider killing their baby,” says Chaldeans-4-Life president Ban Gorges of Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church in Oak Park.  “Big business makes them believe that murder is a choice and scares them with doom, gloom, and hopelessness.  We are there to say there is hope, there is love, and there is an alternative to killing for convenience.”

Hope is what the Chaldean vigil group offered to mothers and single women  pressured to end the life of their unborn child.  Gorges led a group of Chaldeans to join the 40 Days for Life campaign holding prayer vigils for 40 days straight, 24 hours per day, out in front of the abortuary located in Southfield, Michigan. 

Refusing to let the frigid cold stop them the sidewalk counselors ranging in age of 24 to 75 years old marched in front of the center sharing with women life-saving alternatives.  “This is the fruit of a generation of people who refuse to accept personal responsibility.  They have created a culture of death and disregard for anyone, young or old, who they consider inconvenient or a burden,” says Ronny Memmo, a Chaldean-4-Life supporter.  “Today it is the unborn and infirm.  Tomorrow it will be drug addicts and homeless. It did not stop in Nazi Germany.  Will we close our eyes to the slaughter of innocents today.” 

The 40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program:  (1) Prayer and fasting; (2) Constant vigil, (3) Community outreach

The organizations website states that 40 Days for Life takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. It puts into action a desire to cooperate with God in the carrying out of His plan for the end of abortion in America.

The 40-day campaign tracks Biblical history, where God used 40-day periods to transform individuals, communities ... and the entire world. From Noah in the flood to Moses on the mountain to the disciples after Christ's resurrection, it is clear that God sees the transformative value of His people accepting and meeting a 40-day challenge.

The appreciation dinner featured an eclectic food buffet.  Chaldean, American, African, Italian, Mexican and Irish food portrayed the international unity of the members with a common bond of rescuing mothers and their babies .  Fr. Stephan Kallabat along with Mar Addai parish council leaders Steve Jajoni and Carl Barash congratulated the organizers for their passionate work.  The faithful group enjoyed dinner, conversation, and were treated to inspirational member testimonials by those who walked the cold street 24 hours a day reaching out to help those in need.  

Chaldean health administrator Amanda Foumia says during her testimonial, “God is using us.”   Foumia recalls the afternoon when she received a call from a lady worried and afraid.  After speaking with her she realized the woman was pregnant and afraid of bringing a child into the world.  The woman had had very little and was single without family and barely making ends meet for herself.  “She was considering an abortion,” Foumia says.  “I listened.  I prayed. I thought to myself what could I do.”  Foumia did do something.  She gave her hope.  Shared with her resources and opportunities she could turn to that would help her make ends meet and spare the life of the child.  “Ever since then I knew I needed to be more involved.”

Since then Amanda Foumia has been active in the Chaldeans-4-Life movement.  “I find clever ways to give women hope,” she says.  “I wear shirts or buttons that send a clear message of hope and love for the mother and her child.”

Suham Youkhanna and Latifa Mikha applaud Amanda as she shares her testimonial at an appreciation dinner held by Mar Addai Church in Oak Park for the sidewalk counselors, prayer walkers, and organizers of the 40 Days for Life campaign. 

Mar Addai parish council leader Steve Jajoni shares his respect and admiration for his good friend Mike Elia who shyly remains seated.  Elia attended the prayer vigil every Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m. in the morning.  “This was a man who loves to sleep.  On his own wedding day he slept in,” adds Jajoni as the audience breaks into laughter, “If that is not a miracle I don’t know what is,” Jajoni smiles.   

The group leaders also shared ways members can remain active and involved in the fight against abortion.  Suggestions included holding prayer meetings at home, taking courses in sidewalk counseling, volunteering at the Mother and Unborn Baby Care’s Crisis Pregnancy Center, inviting others to join the effort, and collecting baby goods for mothers in need of clothing and baby equipment. 

The Chaldean-4-Life group decided to sponsor two tables at the upcoming Baby Care’s Annual Spring Dinner at the San Marino Club in Troy on April 10.   The event features renowned Endocrinologist Dr. Joel Brind who will discuss the links of breast cancer to abortion.  Dr. Brind is the lading expert on the abortion-breast cancer link.  Dr. Brind has discussed this issue on CNN, CBS, CBC, NPR, and ABC, as well as in major publications like The New York Times, The Wall Stret Journal, Time, and Newsweek Magazines. 

The dinner promises to bring hundreds of pro-life supporters to network and share resources.  The dinner will also raise funds to purchase supplies and services for mothers who spare the life of their unborn children. Tickets are only $60 for the event  

Chaldeans wishing to attend the event can contact Ban Gorges at Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church. 

For more information on the 40 Days for Life campaign, visit www.40daysforlife.com

Rating
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.