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Chaldeans Take to the Frigid Cold Streets to Offer Women Hope
By Sam Yousif :: Friday, March 28, 2008 :: 50424 Views :: Community & Culture, Chaldean Churches

Michigan, USA - “Despite bone-chilling temperatures and biting winds, Chaldeans turned out to pray and help young mothers reconsider killing their baby,” says Chaldeans-4-Life president Ban Gorges of Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church in Oak Park.  “Big business makes them believe that murder is a choice and scares them with doom, gloom, and hopelessness.  We are there to say there is hope, there is love, and there is an alternative to killing for convenience.”

Hope is what the Chaldean vigil group offered to mothers and single women  pressured to end the life of their unborn child.  Gorges led a group of Chaldeans to join the 40 Days for Life campaign holding prayer vigils for 40 days straight, 24 hours per day, out in front of the abortuary located in Southfield, Michigan. 

Refusing to let the frigid cold stop them the sidewalk counselors ranging in age of 24 to 75 years old marched in front of the center sharing with women life-saving alternatives.  “This is the fruit of a generation of people who refuse to accept personal responsibility.  They have created a culture of death and disregard for anyone, young or old, who they consider inconvenient or a burden,” says Ronny Memmo, a Chaldean-4-Life supporter.  “Today it is the unborn and infirm.  Tomorrow it will be drug addicts and homeless. It did not stop in Nazi Germany.  Will we close our eyes to the slaughter of innocents today.” 

The 40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program:  (1) Prayer and fasting; (2) Constant vigil, (3) Community outreach

The organizations website states that 40 Days for Life takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. It puts into action a desire to cooperate with God in the carrying out of His plan for the end of abortion in America.

The 40-day campaign tracks Biblical history, where God used 40-day periods to transform individuals, communities ... and the entire world. From Noah in the flood to Moses on the mountain to the disciples after Christ's resurrection, it is clear that God sees the transformative value of His people accepting and meeting a 40-day challenge.

The appreciation dinner featured an eclectic food buffet.  Chaldean, American, African, Italian, Mexican and Irish food portrayed the international unity of the members with a common bond of rescuing mothers and their babies .  Fr. Stephan Kallabat along with Mar Addai parish council leaders Steve Jajoni and Carl Barash congratulated the organizers for their passionate work.  The faithful group enjoyed dinner, conversation, and were treated to inspirational member testimonials by those who walked the cold street 24 hours a day reaching out to help those in need.  

Chaldean health administrator Amanda Foumia says during her testimonial, “God is using us.”   Foumia recalls the afternoon when she received a call from a lady worried and afraid.  After speaking with her she realized the woman was pregnant and afraid of bringing a child into the world.  The woman had had very little and was single without family and barely making ends meet for herself.  “She was considering an abortion,” Foumia says.  “I listened.  I prayed. I thought to myself what could I do.”  Foumia did do something.  She gave her hope.  Shared with her resources and opportunities she could turn to that would help her make ends meet and spare the life of the child.  “Ever since then I knew I needed to be more involved.”

Since then Amanda Foumia has been active in the Chaldeans-4-Life movement.  “I find clever ways to give women hope,” she says.  “I wear shirts or buttons that send a clear message of hope and love for the mother and her child.”

Suham Youkhanna and Latifa Mikha applaud Amanda as she shares her testimonial at an appreciation dinner held by Mar Addai Church in Oak Park for the sidewalk counselors, prayer walkers, and organizers of the 40 Days for Life campaign. 

Mar Addai parish council leader Steve Jajoni shares his respect and admiration for his good friend Mike Elia who shyly remains seated.  Elia attended the prayer vigil every Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m. in the morning.  “This was a man who loves to sleep.  On his own wedding day he slept in,” adds Jajoni as the audience breaks into laughter, “If that is not a miracle I don’t know what is,” Jajoni smiles.   

The group leaders also shared ways members can remain active and involved in the fight against abortion.  Suggestions included holding prayer meetings at home, taking courses in sidewalk counseling, volunteering at the Mother and Unborn Baby Care’s Crisis Pregnancy Center, inviting others to join the effort, and collecting baby goods for mothers in need of clothing and baby equipment. 

The Chaldean-4-Life group decided to sponsor two tables at the upcoming Baby Care’s Annual Spring Dinner at the San Marino Club in Troy on April 10.   The event features renowned Endocrinologist Dr. Joel Brind who will discuss the links of breast cancer to abortion.  Dr. Brind is the lading expert on the abortion-breast cancer link.  Dr. Brind has discussed this issue on CNN, CBS, CBC, NPR, and ABC, as well as in major publications like The New York Times, The Wall Stret Journal, Time, and Newsweek Magazines. 

The dinner promises to bring hundreds of pro-life supporters to network and share resources.  The dinner will also raise funds to purchase supplies and services for mothers who spare the life of their unborn children. Tickets are only $60 for the event  

Chaldeans wishing to attend the event can contact Ban Gorges at Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church. 

For more information on the 40 Days for Life campaign, visit www.40daysforlife.com

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.