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Chaldean Family in Michigan Harrassed by Their Homeowner Association for Having Virgin Mary Statue
By Huda Metti :: Friday, March 20, 2009 :: 113834 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, Chaldean Justice League

Michigan, USA – “In Iraq if you show any Christian religious symbol in front of your home they send you a letter or take you to court.  How is this management company any different than those that threaten and oppress Christians in third world, communist, and fascist countries,” says Andrew Abdel.

Abdel is incensed at the Tolgate Woods Homeowners association in Novi who has sent a letter asking the Samona family to remove a virgin statue from their front lawn.  A statue that has adorned the home since 2004.  The Samona family is well known in the Chaldean community.  Farouk Samona is a deacon (Shamasha) at the Chaldean Cathedral in Michigan and both his wife and son are active parishioners in women and youth ministry. 

This is the second time the family has been harassed by the homeowner association for their faith.  The first time was back in 2004 during Christmas when the family was sent a letter demanding the removal of their nativity scene. 

The homeowners association and their management company have not returned calls explaining their position and motive regarding this issue.  The association uses Professional Association Management, inc (248-374-9375) to do their dirty work says Abdel.  “If any other homeowner association uses this company they should fire them immediately.  This is a company that does not know how to manage and keep their customers, the homeowners, safe and comfortable.  This company and the bigoted board are the ones that make Christian homeowners feel unsafe and unwelcome.

The Samona family vow to fight the threatening letter with a lawsuit.  They have hired attorney Lawerence Lieb to defend their constitutional rights.   Major media outlets have also covered the story throughout metro-Detroit receiving hundreds of calls and comments encouraging the family to continue the fight.  

“There are seven houses that they have statues on their street.  None of them have received letters asking them to remove their statues. Something is not right with the board people on Tolgate Woods.  They seem to hate Christians.  In my opinion this is a hate crime,” says Abdel.

Doug Koester, president of the association, refuses to say why the letter was sent and the motive behind the threatening letter.   The Samona family has contacted Novi police department and asking them to be on alert should trespassers harm their property. 

In an e-mail interview, Jospeh Samona, the son of the family that is helping to spearhead the defense effort writes, “This is a mater that we take very seriously and will not back down from. This is our faith. I am not trying to make anyone believe my faith all that matters is I know my faith and I know I love the Virgin Mary.  All this has done is make my family stronger.”

The passionate family is taking the threat very seriously and tired of the continual harassment of their faith by the association.  Joseph adds, “Anyone wishing to harass us in this matter is not welcomed on our property. I have contacted the Novi police and have let them know that anyone who comes on our property as a form of harassment will have criminal charges against them for trespassing. This is no joke.”

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.