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Are Those Who Remain Silent and Uninvolved Faithful?
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, September 26, 2008 :: 78626 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, Government & Society, Chaldean Churches

Mosul, IRAQ – “If the condemnation by their Imams of the kidnapping and murder of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho was not enough, what will stop them,” says Eddie Gulli.  The Archbishop left big shoes to fill after his disgraceful execution.  “Our people have been able to survive because of faith.  They know this and that is why they attack our church.  They know if you attack our faith you will ultimately kill all of us.”

Gulli’s comments ring true to many Iraqi Christian leaders.  The continuous attacks against the passive church seem to only get worse.  “It seems the more humble and forgiving the church, the angrier these crazy people become,” Gulli comments while shaking his head dumbfounded. 

As soon as a new priest, Fr. Bassman Fatoohey was assigned to replace the Archbishop in Mosul the threats against his life began.  "I recently received a letter at the presbytery. Inside was a bullet. I knew at once what it meant," he says: "I was a marked man,” Fr. Fatoohey tells the Catholic Herald. 

As Fr. Fatoohey speaks a young man behind the priest time and again dashes looks around the area.  The twenty-something fellow has volunteered to be the priest’s bodyguard.  Surprisingly the guard carries no weapon, but is prepared to sacrifice his life to give the priest a chance to run should they come under attack.    

The priest continues, "There's no point," says Fr Bassman. "Any attacks against us are so well organized that if it happens, we know there's nothing we can do to stop it."

More amazing to the Herald reporter is the eternal optimism and strength of faith the Chaldeans maintain in the plausible reality of extinction.  One such remarkable testmant to faith is Sr Hayat, who the Herald reporter also interviewed in a village outside Mosul. The 25-year-old nun, said that since 2004 several bombs had gone off close to the convent. Bravely, she said: "There is no need for an alarm clock; we wake to the sound of bombs."  The young nun narrowly escaped death when a man standing near her was killed. Her clothes were splattered with blood. "If you want to see blood," she said trying to smile, "come to Mosul."

A fraction of the Christians remain in Mosul.  Unlike the more peaceful territories of Iraq, Mosul remains under the control of Islamist fanatics that look to interrupt the lives of Christians as much as possible.  

Many have fled to a life of forced squalor in neighboring Turkey or Syria. Families forced to live in 8 by 8 square feet size rooms shared by six people or more.  No running water and little food.  Many of the emigrant refugees are not allowed to seek jobs or send their children to school.  The refugees remain in the shadows scratching out a living in hopes of securing a visa to a country offering more humane opportunities.  

Chaldean church leaders fight to persuade Christians to remain in Iraq.  However, with little money and support the indigenous and once resurgent Church of the East is fast dwindling. 
Some organizations are heading the call to help Christians in Iraq in the communities darkest hour.  In the UK the Aid to the Church in Need is hosting an event at Westminster Cathedral this Saturday, September 27, to focus on Iraq, where Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad will be principal celebrant at the 10.30am Mass. For more information visit
www.acnuk.org

Those who are prepared to answer the call to save the dying community are encouraged to contact any of the remaining Chaldeans churches to discuss how resources to aid Iraqi Christians can be made.  Chaldean churches outside of Iraq in countries like Jordon, Sweden, Canada, Russia, and the United States are also able to help direct whatever support being offered.

Mar Addai Church, MI USA

Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church
24010 Coolidge Hwy.
Oak Park, MI 48237
Tel: (248) 547-4648
Fax: (248) 399-9089

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Founding Pastor:
Rev. Stephen Kallabat

Current Pastor:
Rev. Stephan Kallabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Sulemina Denha
 


 

Rev. Stephen Kallabat


Fr. Stephan Kallabat was born in Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing seven years of scholarly work for the priesthood in Mosul, Iraq Fr. Kallabat was accepted at the prestigious university in Rome.  There he spent six additional years of scholarly work in the areas of philosophy and theology and an additional four years in scriptural studies. 

Ordained a priest in 1966 by Pope Paul VI he returned to Iraq to serve the Holy Family parish until his departure to Michigan, U.S. in 1979 to serve the growing population of Chaldeans.  Fr. Kallabat was appointed assistant pastor, then pastor of Mar Addai Parish in Oak Park, Michigan. 

Hitting the ground running, Fr. Kallabat is credited with raising the necessary funds to provide Chaldeans in the local area a church and community center of their own.  Fr. Kallabat continues to serve the parish and Chaldean community as their pastor.   

Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf

Fr. Fadi Habib Khalaf was born in Baghdad May 10, 1974.  Fr. Khalaf graduated from Baghdad University in 1997 and soon after joined the Chaldean seminary in Baghdad.  While there Fr. Khalaf earned a scholarship to attend the Urbanian Pontifical University in Rome.  There he earned another bachelor’s degree in theology and was ordained deacon in Rome on May 8, 2004. 

Fr. Khalaf then returned to Baghdad where he was officially ordained as a priest.  Afterward Fr. Khalaf returned to Rome to further his studies.  In 2006 Fr. Khalaf was appointed to serve Chaldeans in the United States.  

In the summer of 2006 he arrived to the Chaldean diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle and was cardinated into the Diocese and elected to serve at Mar Addai parish on March 15, 2007 as the Parochial Vicar.

Rev. Suleiman Denha

Rev. Suleiman Denha was born in Telkaif, Iraq.  He began his priestly studies in 1951 in Mosul, Iraq and was ordained in 1959.  Fr. Denha taught in Telkaif until 1961, when he was appointed pastor in Basra, Iraq in 1966. 

After immigrating to the Unite States in 1979, he was appointed to serve the Chaldean community in Virginia.  A year later, Fr. Denha was recruited to assist the much larger population of Chaldeans in Detroit. 

Upon his arrival Fr. Denha assisted Fr. Yasso at Sacred Heart Church.  In 1982 he was asked to temporally assist St. Joseph Church in Troy, returning a year later Sacred Heart. 

In 1991, he was appointed to Mar Addai Church in Oak Park, Michigan as the Parochial Vicar, where he still serves the community today.