Friday, December 15, 2017
St. Thomas News & Information
Latest News & Information

Current Articles | Archives | Search

Keeper of Iraq’s Past and Caretaker of Iraq’s Christian Future Passes
By Rita Abro :: Monday, August 2, 2010 :: 35070 Views :: Chaldean Churches

Baghdad, IRAQ – Chaldean Bishop Andreas Abouna of Iraq died this past Tuesday, July 27th, 2010.  The 67 year old Bishop suffered from ongoing kidney complications and passed in an Erbil hospital located in northern Iraq.  Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, presided at Bishop Abouna’s funeral at St Joseph’s Cathedral, Ankawa, near Erbil.

The ailing Bishop was known for his peaceful calls, optimism, and concern for the youth of Iraq.  Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil described him as a pastor who was “always smiling, even in very difficult situations”.  Amid his increasing health problems, Bishop Abouna remained in war-torn Baghdad.  Without care for his own well-being the Bishop often held youth events and activities.  He counseled young Iraqis of all faiths as increasing horrific violence pervaded their daily lives.  The bishop also responded to a shortage of priests by serving at the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption, in the one of Iraq’s most dangerous city’s in the Al Mansour district.

Bishop Abouna was born on March 23, 1943 in the village of Bedar, outside the northern Iraqi town of Zakho.  At the age of 14, he joined St Peter’s Seminary, then based in the northern city of Mosul, and was ordained a priest for the Chaldean Catholic Church on June 5, 1966.

He was a parish priest in the diocese of Basra in southern Iraq from 1967 and four years later he was appointed parish priest of St Joseph the Worker’s Church, Baghdad, where he served for 20 years.  In 1989 he became personal secretary to Chaldean Catholic leader Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid of Baghdad.

In the early 90’s Abouna was then assigned to the town of Ealing in West London to care for the Chaldean Catholic Mission in England.  For eleven years he served in England and on November 11th, 2002 he was elected and named the Auxiliary Bishop of Bahdad and returned back to Iraq for service.  Shortly thereafter, Pope John Paul II ordained the Bishop to the episcopate in Rome. 

During the fall of Saddam Hussein Iraqi Christians fell victim to extreme violence and were among the worst to suffer.  Bishop Abouna sought to help the Iraqi people with consistent calls for peace and personally helped victims providing food, shelter, and at times sanctuary.  In the face of insurgent activity the Bishop was often threatened and his work targeted for attacks, including bomb attacks on churches and threats of violence against both Christian and non-Christian Iraqi people.
 
Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said: “Bishop Abouna was a very good and humble man, very open-minded. He really took care of each one of his priests and he always worked for the unity of the Church. I hope he can pray for us from heaven.”

Known as the keeper of Iraq’s past and caretaker of Iraq’s Christian future the Bishop had great concern for the priests and seminarians he was in charge of guiding.  Bishop Abouna’s led the effort to relocate St Peter’s Seminary away from Baghdad where the situation had become dangerous and dire.  The college housed centuries upon centuries of Iraqi history, reaching as far back as to the days of the Old Testament and were at immediate risk of being lost forever. 

Weeks prior to his passing flowers in the garden of Christian faith in Iraq were blooming.   Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, Msgr. Louis Sako, describes the ordination of two new priests held on July 16, in the cathedral of his diocese. It can be said that July saw a real flowering of priestly ordinations which have infused new life into the Christian community, prostrated by continuing sectarian violence and the political instability that plagues Iraq.

Together with the two priests, four permanent deacons were ordained today. Before them, on July 9, it was the turn of another priest consecrated July 9 in Dohok, in the north, while a fourth priest will be ordained on July 23 in Karamless in the diocese of Mosul. Even the Syro-Catholic Church of Bartella and Karakosh were gifted with new priests this month.

"It 's a sign of vitality and hope to see these young people consecrated to the Lord and to the service of their brothers living in great suffering, in this time of tribulation and darkness," said Msgr. Sako.

The mass celebrated by Msgr. Sako, was attended by many faithful, united in prayer and joy, "so that these new priests may bring the message of God who is love and peace to all without distinction" the prelate said. In his homily, the Archbishop reminded the new priests to live the gift of God as Mary did, as a personal relationship that changed her life: "Like Her, we must 'keep all these things, reflecting on them in our heart' (Lk 2 19:51). Prayer is a true shield of protection, provided that it is done in humility. Mary said, 'I am the handmaid of the Lord', we too are servants of the Lord. Prayer is the distinctive characteristic that allows people to see Christ in our apostolate".

Husam Hamammi says, “We mourn the passing of an Iraqi champion of Christian faith who taught us that true Christians are called to serve the needs of others.  He has now gone to heaven to look over all of us.  He was at peace.  Seeing new priests and deacons being ordained gave him great rest and hope for Iraq.”

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.