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Chaldeans Find Refuge in East Tennessee
By Rita Abro :: Monday, September 27, 2010 :: 61594 Views :: Community & Culture, Chaldean Churches

A group of religious refugees are finding a home in East Tennessee. Chaldean Catholics, native to Iraq, are fleeing their home country to avoid persecution.

Many Chaldeans are tortured, even murdered over their religious beliefs. There are an estimated 150,000 Chaldeans in the United States, including over 100 in East Tennessee. On Saturday, Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim of the St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Chaldean Diocese, which covers the Eastern US, said mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville to help teach local Catholics about the Chaldean's plight.

"Usually they believe that all Iraqis are Muslims, but no, we are Christians even from the beginning, before Islam was there, Christians were there," Bishop Ibrahim said.

Joining him are members of the newly formed organization "Iraqi Christians in Need".

"We're trying to raise awareness for what's going on in Iraq for these Christians, this is our launch of the organization," said ICIN board member Susan Dakak. "The fact that I can say there are Christians in Iraq is just unbelievable. It's such a foreign thing to people here and unless people have a constant reminder that there are Christians in Iraq, then people are not going to rise to help them."

Leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville hope to help them achieve their goal.

"We're hopeful here to establish a mission for the Chaldean community, that's the Iraqi Christians, so that community, especially those recently arrived immigrants, might gather together in worship and prayer to pray for peace and greater understanding in the world so that all people might be able to practice their faith and their freedom in security," said. Fr. David Boettner, Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Ibrahim hopes educating the public will provided much needed help for the religious refugees.

"Any immigrant without any resources needs the help of others," he said.

Members of ICIN said more Chaldean Catholics are expected to arrive in Knoxville soon.

comment @ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 6:38 PM
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comment @ Friday, June 7, 2013 10:42 AM
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comment @ Friday, June 7, 2013 10:42 AM
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comment @ Friday, June 7, 2013 10:42 AM
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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.