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Australian Priest Begins Campaign to Help Chaldeans
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, June 26, 2009 :: 74617 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA – In the capital city of Australia, Brisbane priest Fr. Gerry Hefferan has begun a campaign to help the struggling Chaldeans of war-torn Iraq.  Fr. Hefferan recently returned from Kurdistan and has organized a daily prayer roster with parishes from five major dioceses to pray for Chaldeans.  The effort has been welcomed by Australian Catholics as parishioners have already filled the roster until November 2009. 

The prayer roster is not the only effort Fr. Hefferan is undertaken on behalf of Chaldeans.  The Grovely-based priest is also encouraging Catholics to share expertise in education and health with staff at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary in Iraq which has been relocated from Baghdad to Erbil in the Kurdistan north.

“This is because education and health are two major areas where the Muslim communities recognize Christian expertise,” Fr Hefferan said. “So this is one way to help bring peace to the area – it can help the Christians live more harmoniously with their Muslim neighbors.”

Fr. Hefferan said his visit to Iraq earlier this month had been to show his solidarity with the suffering Church there.  “About one-third of the Catholic population in Iraq have now migrated, with the majority in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Turkey,” he said. 

Pope Benedict tried to visit Iraq to boost morale there on his recent tour of the Middle East but was unable to get in. However, he did celebrate a Mass with First Communicants in Jordan as part of his outreach to Iraqi refugee children there.

“This turned out to be a real shot in the arm for the Church in Iraq ... Catholics in Kurdistan were on a real high throughout the time I spent there.”  Fr Hefferan said “the danger now is that Iraq will become similar to Palestine where there are few Christians”.

While in Kurdistan, he stayed at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary.

Among events he attended were the graduation of Babel College students some of whom attend the seminary.

Fr. Hefferan was also present for the second anniversary of the murders of Fr. Ragheed Ranni and three deacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawed which had occurred at Mosul’s Holy Spirit Chaldean Church in June, 2007.

Fr. Hefferan said his visit to Iraq had made him more conscious of the urgent need to support Catholics there.

Those interested in assisting Fr Hefferan can contact him via email on hefferang@bne.catholic.net.au or on (043)777-5088.

Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA

 

Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.