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Chaldean Thanksgiving is All About Giving
By Rita Abro :: Thursday, November 27, 2008 :: 113254 Views :: Article Rating :: Living & Lifestyle, Community & Culture, Government & Society

Michigan, USA – On this day of gratitude, commonly referred to as Thanksgiving, Chaldeans help show the spirit of good will and giving.  Chaldeans throughout the metro-Detroit area are once again out in full force helping their neighbors this thanksgiving.  Chaldean churches, businesses, and Chaldean charity organizations will be giving out well over a thousand turkeys and side foods to needy families.  Chaldean churches and groups like the Chaldean American Ladies of Charity, Chaldean Teens Coming Together, and Chaldean American Professionals plan on distributing thanksgiving meals and turkeys. 

Other Chaldean charity groups like UR of the Chaldees are buying grocery for seniors who live alone. Adopt-A-Refugee-Family is raising funds to help needy refugee families scattered throughout the world.  The Newcomers group is taking underprivileged youth out on field trips.  Chaldean grocery stores and restaurants are also helping. 

Danny Yono, owner of J's Kabob restaurant will provide free Thanksgiving feasts for anyone who can’t afford a meal with the trimmings or doesn’t want to eat alone.  From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, J’s Kabob, 2941 Coolidge, Berkley, will host its second annual free Thanksgiving Day dinner. Anyone can get a carryout of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and rolls.

Owner Danny Yono sets up a tent for his holiday diners to eat outside. He served 300 people last year.  “They were all ages from single people to whole families,” Yono said. “One 77-year-old man was planning to eat macaroni and cheese by himself until one of my customers told him about the dinner.”

Yono won’t say how much he spends to give away hundreds of meals. “I don’t keep track,” he said. “I can tell you the experience is priceless for me. It’s a good feeling.” Yono doesn’t even want a simple thank you for all the shopping and cooking.  “I tell people, ‘Don’t thank me. Thank God. Without him I couldn’t do it.’”

Talal Tooma of Starlight Liquor and Deli in Detroit is giving away free turkey sub sandwiches to his neighbors in need.  “We are in a very poor section of Detroit.  Some of the families are only able to eat one meal a day if their lucky.  We work with the local Catholic Church and donate food from the deli during the year.  On Thanksgiving we make over a thousand free lunch bags for our neighbors.  We include an 8” gourmet deli sub, a side of mash potatoes, coleslaw, pickle, and drink,” says Tooma. 

Sandy Shammas of Gold N Crust bakery in Sterling Heights donates hundreds and hundreds of loaves of bread to soup kitchens, Churches, and Michigan food pantry.  “God has blessed us and we have to show our appreciation by helping others.  We give away fresh baked bread to help those who are feeding God’s children.  We just delivered about a hundred loaves to a church who will use the bread during their thanksgiving meals for the needy.”

Economic estimates place charitable giving by Chaldeans in the multiple millions annually to local neighborhoods, schools, churches, and charities.  “It is part of our culture, our faith, our people,” says Sam Sesi, Detroit school teacher.  “The kids in my class did not have school supplies.  I mentioned how hard it was to some of my friends.  The following weekend a handful of my friends brought me ten boxes of school supplies for the children in my class.  It is just the way we are.”

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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.