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Are Those Who Remain Silent and Uninvolved Faithful?
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, September 26, 2008 :: 149776 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, Government & Society, Chaldean Churches

Mosul, IRAQ – “If the condemnation by their Imams of the kidnapping and murder of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho was not enough, what will stop them,” says Eddie Gulli.  The Archbishop left big shoes to fill after his disgraceful execution.  “Our people have been able to survive because of faith.  They know this and that is why they attack our church.  They know if you attack our faith you will ultimately kill all of us.”

Gulli’s comments ring true to many Iraqi Christian leaders.  The continuous attacks against the passive church seem to only get worse.  “It seems the more humble and forgiving the church, the angrier these crazy people become,” Gulli comments while shaking his head dumbfounded. 

As soon as a new priest, Fr. Bassman Fatoohey was assigned to replace the Archbishop in Mosul the threats against his life began.  "I recently received a letter at the presbytery. Inside was a bullet. I knew at once what it meant," he says: "I was a marked man,” Fr. Fatoohey tells the Catholic Herald. 

As Fr. Fatoohey speaks a young man behind the priest time and again dashes looks around the area.  The twenty-something fellow has volunteered to be the priest’s bodyguard.  Surprisingly the guard carries no weapon, but is prepared to sacrifice his life to give the priest a chance to run should they come under attack.    

The priest continues, "There's no point," says Fr Bassman. "Any attacks against us are so well organized that if it happens, we know there's nothing we can do to stop it."

More amazing to the Herald reporter is the eternal optimism and strength of faith the Chaldeans maintain in the plausible reality of extinction.  One such remarkable testmant to faith is Sr Hayat, who the Herald reporter also interviewed in a village outside Mosul. The 25-year-old nun, said that since 2004 several bombs had gone off close to the convent. Bravely, she said: "There is no need for an alarm clock; we wake to the sound of bombs."  The young nun narrowly escaped death when a man standing near her was killed. Her clothes were splattered with blood. "If you want to see blood," she said trying to smile, "come to Mosul."

A fraction of the Christians remain in Mosul.  Unlike the more peaceful territories of Iraq, Mosul remains under the control of Islamist fanatics that look to interrupt the lives of Christians as much as possible.  

Many have fled to a life of forced squalor in neighboring Turkey or Syria. Families forced to live in 8 by 8 square feet size rooms shared by six people or more.  No running water and little food.  Many of the emigrant refugees are not allowed to seek jobs or send their children to school.  The refugees remain in the shadows scratching out a living in hopes of securing a visa to a country offering more humane opportunities.  

Chaldean church leaders fight to persuade Christians to remain in Iraq.  However, with little money and support the indigenous and once resurgent Church of the East is fast dwindling. 
Some organizations are heading the call to help Christians in Iraq in the communities darkest hour.  In the UK the Aid to the Church in Need is hosting an event at Westminster Cathedral this Saturday, September 27, to focus on Iraq, where Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad will be principal celebrant at the 10.30am Mass. For more information visit
www.acnuk.org

Those who are prepared to answer the call to save the dying community are encouraged to contact any of the remaining Chaldeans churches to discuss how resources to aid Iraqi Christians can be made.  Chaldean churches outside of Iraq in countries like Jordon, Sweden, Canada, Russia, and the United States are also able to help direct whatever support being offered.

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.