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Chaldean Church in California Attacked by Vandals
By Rita Abro :: Thursday, July 16, 2009 :: 37413 Views :: Chaldean Churches

CALIFORNIA, USA — Chaldeans fled to the United States to escape Christian persecution by fanatics and anti-Christian zealots.  However, Chaldeans in Turlock, California awoke this past weekend to a frightening occurrence of vandalism and Christian hatred. 

Surveillance camera recorded three men destroying and then stealing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of the Our Lady of Turlock fountain outside St. Thomas Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church.

Parishioner David Yonan, 49, reported the vandalism when he arrived for Sunday morning prayers at 7 a.m. and noticed the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary missing.  According to the video’s time stamp the crime occurred Saturday at 11 p.m. in the evening. 

"It was devastating," Yonan told reporters. "All the ladies were sitting there crying. It looked like a funeral."

The surveillance video shows a man climbing the steps of the fountain, then throwing the $3,000, Italian-made statue to the ground. Another man comes and takes the damaged statue. All that was left were porcelain shards that once made up the back of the statue's head, Yonan said.

"The way he hits her, it's like he's mad at somebody," Yonan said of the man in the video. "Why would somebody want to do this?" Yonan said the third man watched the vandalism and left with the other two men.

Churchgoers at St. Thomas say they want to find the damaged statue and hope the surveillance video will help police find the suspects. In the meantime, a smaller statue of Mary has been put in the place where the stolen statue stood.

Anyone with information about this crime can call Sgt. Russ Holeman at 668-5550, ext. 6753, or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636.

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.