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Chaldean Teens Make A Big Difference in Helping Those in Need
By Brenda Hermiz :: Saturday, December 6, 2008 :: 55632 Views :: Article Rating :: Community & Culture

Massachusetts, USA – In a society where consumerism and the “me” driven commercialization of the holidays have driven most teens to think of only themselves.  However, there still shine beacons of light.  Out in wilderness of the teen jungle there are more teens than Disney and mainstream media give credit to for their maturity, concern, and activism in helping others. 

In Michigan a group of well coordinated Chaldean teens continue to make a big difference to those in need.  Better known as CT-Squared or Chaldean Teens Coming Together the group of teenagers put their faith into practice.  Unlike the stereotypical teens splashed across TV newscasts or written about in belittling terms, this group silently works to help others.  The group of middle and high school aged volunteers serve breakfast, help feed the hungry, collect food donations for food banks, organize family outings, fundraises for those in need, and actively serves the community.

Another sparkle of impressive deeds and godly light pours out across the great lakes.  Ashley Bolis, 17, a Junior at Lowell Catholic High School in Massachusetts is dedicated to keeping folks warm in the winter.   Bolis founded Project Warm & Fuzzy, a program where she collects new coats, hats, scarves, gloves, socks and baby items to donate to Lazarus House, a shelter for the homeless.

Bolis has been collecting clothing for the homeless since she was in middle school. Far from friends and never forgetting the lessons she learned about the rewards of helping others.  Bolis demonstrates that any person, young or old, can make a difference.  On Friday, Bolis received a Christ Our Servant Award for her contributions to the shelter in helping the homeless.  .

Project Warm & Fuzzy has already established impressive contracts with the Women of Riverside Assembly of God Church where they knit sweaters and jackets all year round.  Bolis has also recruited the help of a Brownie Troop at Timony School, a nearby elementary school to collect baby items. 

The young teen routinely makes announcements in her church and places reminders in the church bulletin.  Following a similar strategy as the Chaldean Teens Coming Together group Bolis places boxes in front of the church enterance where people can drop off their donations.

In the first year there Bolis collected 300 articles of clothing; the second year, 1,600; the third year was 3,000; and last year, 5,000. 

Many would agree that this is more than enough for a teenager.  Not Bolis. She says more can be done.  The young teen also makes time to serve food at the Good Shepherd Center, part of Lazarus House, with her mother and grandmother.  The family also helps out together at the Lazarus House food pantry.

When asked what she learned from being so involved and starting her Wram and Fuzzy program Bolis says, “I learned that anything that seems impossible, can be possible.”

When you ask parents of Chaldean teens what they find most impressive.  Many say the maturity, understanding, and responsibility shown by their teens after being involved in programs like Chaldean Teens Coming Together. 

The parents say programs like CT-Squared teach their kids that it is cool to help others and how important it is to make the right choices in life.  Parents relish the transformation of their young teens.  Parents are amazed at the difference a few summers can make to help shed off the notorious selfishness, egos, and attitudes of the common teen.  A gift, they say, the whole family enjoys. 

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.