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Twin Chaldean Bishops Dedicated Church Spur Twin Mass Celebrations
By Frank Dado :: Friday, June 26, 2009 :: 130373 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Thiruvananthapuram, INDIA – The impact of Chaldeans on the world are numerous and diverse.  Following the lead of St. Thomas, Chaldeans travelled the world sharing the miraculous conversion of the human of the psyche and soul. 

Evidence of their impact is being praised in a small church, whose history dates back to 826 AD.  The church originally named after Sapor and Prot, twin Chaldean bishops traveling from Syria, who helped Christians establish themselves on the Kerala coast of India in the ninth Century. 

What is unique about this small Catholic parish is that it is dedicated to the twin brothers and has been attracting scores of twins, including Hindus, for its annual feast.  St. Thomas, a twin himself, helped share the blessings of Christianity throughout the Middle East and Asia, while his brethren St. Peter journeyed to Rome. 

This year's June 19 feast day Mass at the Church in Kerala, southern India, was no different. It was attended by 151 twins and two sets of triplets. The parish church is in Kothanallur village and comes under the Palai diocese.

The church also goes by the name of Saints Gravasis and Prothasis.  In was in the 16th Century, when Portuguese missioners began to evangelize Kerala, and in an attempt to "Latinize" the church they renamed it after the martyr-saints Gravasis and Prothasis of Milan. 

Saints Gravasis and Prothasis grew up at a time when Christians were persecuted in the Roman Empire. They were martyred for refusing to give up their faith in Jesus Christ and worshiping the pagan gods of the Roman emperors.

In keeping with churches dedication, twin Fathers Joseph and Antony Kollaparambil, and Fathers Jose and Thomas Choolaparambil, led the June 19 celebration while twin Fathers Roy and Roby Kannanchira led a procession that followed the Mass.

Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Father Roy Kannanchira, said, "It was amazing. Even Hindus attended the feast and Mass and offered their prayers."

He said he learned the parish was planning to celebrate the feast "in a mega way" from next year onward.
Among the twins who attended the event, the oldest were 79-year-old Alexander and Cheriyan Kattakayam who traveled 47 kilometers to attend the feast. "If God permits, I will come next year also," Cheriyan said.

The church began organizing the annual celebration specially for twins in 2007, after several twins started attending feast day celebrations earlier, according to parish priest Father Joseph Puthenpura.

They believe that praying to the twin saints will help them progress in life and overcome difficulties, he said.
Only 35 pairs of twins attended the feast in 2007 but that number increased to 95 pairs last year. "It has further gone up this year to 151 twins, including six pairs of Hindus," said the 72-year-old priest.

Father Puthenpura said his parish has seen the birth of a total of 55 twins over recent years, an unusually large number for a parish with 702 families. He said many parishioners believe twins are a blessing of their patron Chaldean saints.

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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.