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Twin Chaldean Bishops Dedicated Church Spur Twin Mass Celebrations
By Frank Dado :: Friday, June 26, 2009 :: 53774 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Thiruvananthapuram, INDIA – The impact of Chaldeans on the world are numerous and diverse.  Following the lead of St. Thomas, Chaldeans travelled the world sharing the miraculous conversion of the human of the psyche and soul. 

Evidence of their impact is being praised in a small church, whose history dates back to 826 AD.  The church originally named after Sapor and Prot, twin Chaldean bishops traveling from Syria, who helped Christians establish themselves on the Kerala coast of India in the ninth Century. 

What is unique about this small Catholic parish is that it is dedicated to the twin brothers and has been attracting scores of twins, including Hindus, for its annual feast.  St. Thomas, a twin himself, helped share the blessings of Christianity throughout the Middle East and Asia, while his brethren St. Peter journeyed to Rome. 

This year's June 19 feast day Mass at the Church in Kerala, southern India, was no different. It was attended by 151 twins and two sets of triplets. The parish church is in Kothanallur village and comes under the Palai diocese.

The church also goes by the name of Saints Gravasis and Prothasis.  In was in the 16th Century, when Portuguese missioners began to evangelize Kerala, and in an attempt to "Latinize" the church they renamed it after the martyr-saints Gravasis and Prothasis of Milan. 

Saints Gravasis and Prothasis grew up at a time when Christians were persecuted in the Roman Empire. They were martyred for refusing to give up their faith in Jesus Christ and worshiping the pagan gods of the Roman emperors.

In keeping with churches dedication, twin Fathers Joseph and Antony Kollaparambil, and Fathers Jose and Thomas Choolaparambil, led the June 19 celebration while twin Fathers Roy and Roby Kannanchira led a procession that followed the Mass.

Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Father Roy Kannanchira, said, "It was amazing. Even Hindus attended the feast and Mass and offered their prayers."

He said he learned the parish was planning to celebrate the feast "in a mega way" from next year onward.
Among the twins who attended the event, the oldest were 79-year-old Alexander and Cheriyan Kattakayam who traveled 47 kilometers to attend the feast. "If God permits, I will come next year also," Cheriyan said.

The church began organizing the annual celebration specially for twins in 2007, after several twins started attending feast day celebrations earlier, according to parish priest Father Joseph Puthenpura.

They believe that praying to the twin saints will help them progress in life and overcome difficulties, he said.
Only 35 pairs of twins attended the feast in 2007 but that number increased to 95 pairs last year. "It has further gone up this year to 151 twins, including six pairs of Hindus," said the 72-year-old priest.

Father Puthenpura said his parish has seen the birth of a total of 55 twins over recent years, an unusually large number for a parish with 702 families. He said many parishioners believe twins are a blessing of their patron Chaldean saints.

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.