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Chaldean Leaders around the World Gather in California
By Sam Yousif :: Friday, April 1, 2011 :: 87805 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, Chaldean American Professionals

Californai, USA - Chaldean leaders from around the world recently met in Rancho San Diego, California to discuss the ongoing challenges the Christians of Iraq continue to face.  Frustrated over the lack of support and reluctance to support Christians of the Middle East, the representatives gathered to discuss options.  Chaldean leaders from as far as Australia, Canada, UK, Syria, Jordon, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Mexico, Norway, and the US made up over 15 countries of delegates.  A historic gathering they called it. The first of its kind -- at least in modern memory, they said.

More than 300 people attended the local conference, which took place March 30 and April 1.  Including Ambassador Peter Bodde, assistant chief with the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, spoke at the conference.  Bodde told the group that the U.S. government is working to safeguard Chaldeans and other minority communities in Iraq. A U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state also attended, telling the group that the Obama administration has requested funds from Congress to promote the safety of Christians in Iraq.

To many of the attendees the words ring hollow as more and more Christians around the world desperately call for support.   The peaceful Christians refuse to form a military or take up arms, the leaders say it is not their way.  However, some felt it may be necessary that a Christian Arab nation be formed.  While others fear that such a move would only polarize the region and edge the world closer to a world war of religions.
 
Christians of antiquity have been systematically attacked throughout Africa and Middle East.  Catholics, Coptics, and Protestants alike have undergone aberrant treatment, torture, and murder.  In Iraq, millions have fled into refugee camps and nearby countries forced to live in squalor and oppression.  The unrest in Egypt continues to force thousands of Coptics to hide in fear as Islamic members of the Muslim Brotherhood have turned their attention to attacking their churches and church leaders.  In Pakistan assassinations of government officials courageously willing to question the need for just and humane treatment of Christians have been ignored. 

World organizations remain limp and uninterested in safeguarding the native minorities.  Moderate Muslim leaders refuse to comment or assist in any organized or significant protection of the indigenous groups.  “What we see now is beginning of the end for Christians in the Middle East and Africa,” says Abid Maloof, an Egyptian Coptic living in San Diego, California.  “We know what is happening.  Muslims know what is happening.  The world knows what is happening.  We are too weak to do anything. Muslims by their silence support what is happening.  The world does not care.  The World will pay for their ignorance, just like they failed to see Germany build its army and unify its people.  The radical Muslims of the world are building their army. 

Chaldeans, the Christians of Iraq have been struggling to find support.  Most organizations and world leaders are afraid to assist.  They fear that Muslims will misinterpret the humane assistance as evidence of Christian alignment Maloof said.    
Chaldean attorney Steven Yonan, a lead organizer of the event from San Diego said that something has to be done to help the desperate situation that Chaldeans face in their ancestral homeland.   “Today the number of Chaldeans living outside Iraq outnumber those living inside Iraq,” Yonan said.

Participants said the three-day conference held at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral underscored the horrible conditions Christians have to endure worldwide.  The participants voted to create the Chaldean International Congress that will represent Chaldean interests and lobby the World government worldwide.

Noori Barka, who runs a biotech company in Spring Valley, said it will allow his people to present a united front as they deal with refugee settlement issues and the ongoing tumult in Iraq.  Barka said many have fled Iraq for Syria, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries.  Most of them end up in the United States, Europe and Australia. 
Once a thriving minority in the capital of Baghdad, where they were part of the merchant class, Chaldeans and other Iraqi Christians were persecuted during the rule of President Saddam Hussein. Today, they’re targeted by terrorists in the Muslim-dominated nation.

A band of militants last fall shot and killed at least 58 people, including two priests, at a Baghdad church that is well known among many Chaldeans in the El Cajon area.

The massacre prompted calls on the Iraqi government to crack down on anti-Christian violence. Barka said the new congress would press the issue with Baghdad authorities.

Iraq’s Chaldean community goes back centuries. As of two decades ago, an estimated 1.8 million Chaldeans lived in that country. That number has dropped to less than 500,000.

The group also celebrated the Chaldean New Year. Under their calendar, it’s the year 7311.

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comment @ Friday, July 13, 2012 2:07 AM
Comments from the following blog entry: http://janeltaylor.shikshik.org/2012/07/13/chaldean-leaders/

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.