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Fashion Leaders Help Raise Awareness for ALS
By Vivian Dabbish :: Sunday, April 12, 2009 :: 86107 Views :: Article Rating :: Living & Lifestyle, Community & Culture

Massachusetts, USA – Chaldeans are well known as compassionate fighters against injustice.  Many help feed refugees, run for cancer, care for the sick, and offer aid to the needy.  “It is because of our faith,” says Ann Kajy.  “As Christians we are taught to use our talents to help lift the burden of others.” 

Talented and famous Boston designer Denise Hajjar is helping to lift the burden of those suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The disease is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and weakens the brain and spinal cord.

Hajjar showed her spring and summer line at a fashion show benefiting the Massachusetts chapter of the ALS Association. Before the event kicked off, Hajjar said she planned to show 56 different looks in lots of cheerful colors: oranges, yellows, blues, and pinks. "The dress is back in a big, big way," she promised. "Women are embracing it again." And in recognition of the current economic, uh, constraints many shoppers are under, she kept her frocks in the $200 range and created bags for less than $100. "We really worked hard at that," she said.

Hajjar is well known for her elegant styles and custom look.  “She knows exactly how to fit the right fashion to the right person,” says Kajy.  “I have long been a fan of her styles and have a wardrobe filled of her inspired designs.”

Hajjar introduced her visions for fall, but wasn’t looking to convert anyone’s style.  She wants to balance the personality with the fantasy and have the wardrobe bring it all out.  The notion is a bit romantic. Guests say Hajjar’s talent is inspirational.  She is a designer that makes someone fall in love with an outfit and feel complete.  A sentiment expressed by any shopper who has ever fawned over a shirt or high heeled shoe is grateful that a brash designer somewhere embarked on such an improbable idea.

Bravado is required to be a fashion designer. Clothing is an intimate second skin, so it's a challenge to design for strangers.  Designers need to understand the culture, needs, wants, and desires of their market.  Beyond that, the industry is about as competitive as professional sports, so only the tenacious need apply.

You'd think that having an economy caught in a tailspin and consumers putting their credit cards in the freezer would scare those wading into the fashion profession. But, instead, this population of at-risk professionals aren't fazed.  “So much of what you wear communicates who you are,” says Michelle Hanna of Michigan.  “We have a community fashion show each year where over 500 women attend to see the latest styles in wedding gowns, evening dresses, professional outfits, and more.” 

Hanna is referring to the annual Mother Daughter Fashion Show Gala organized by the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Michigan.  The event raises funds to support women causes in the community.   

“We not only enjoy a parade of wearable art, but we also get chance to share a common interest with our mothers.  It has become a right of passage.  A balance between what to wear that allows Chaldean women to be fashionable and respectable,” says Lisa Mukhtar of Sterling Heights.  “This will be my third time attending with my aunts and mom.  I am very excited.”  The fashion show event in Michigan is planned for early May. 

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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.