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Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church Grotto Unveiled
By Rita Abro :: Monday, August 26, 2013 :: 26822 Views :: Chaldean Churches

In 2011, Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church was re-located to 2700 Willow Road in Northbrook, on the corner of Pfingsten and Willow Roads. The sprawling 10 acre landscape has supported the resplendent parish adding an activity hall, small school, and rectory to a picturesque and easily accessible campus.
 
In September 2012, Fr. Fawaz Kako,C.Ss.R. and myself, along with fellow parishioner Salem Estefan, discussed building a proper grotto (maghara) for the existing Mother Mary statue residing at the front entrance of the church. I welcomed the responsibility and pursuit of such a significant shrine as a gift from the Hikmat Yacu family to our church and all of its faithful parishioners.
 
Additionally, the grotto would honor and celebrate the first Chaldean Bishop in the United States, his Excellency, Mar Ibrahim, as well as recognize Fr. Fawaz for his devotion and passionate dedication to the community. This extraordinary grotto was a long lasting aspiration of mine to commemorate my parents, Aziz and Warina Yacu, devoted and faithful all their lives to the Chaldean Church and its people. It is in remembrance of them that this project was conceived and will stand as an exceptional landmark for our church and the community.
 
Building this unique monument proved to be quite difficult and tedious. After identifying a grotto image and developing an engineering sketch, an extensive search was conducted for a qualified builder. As very few grottos exist in the Chicago area, the search was prolonged until a proficient and capable builder was selected to execute the unique design. Along with the builder, a local architect was chosen to assist in the laborious task of designing and engineering the project. With the help of our blessed Mother Mary, after many months of collaboration and obtaining proper permits it was finally time to begin construction.
 
Unfortunately for our project, Mother Nature had other ideas. The rain and thunderstorms in early June 2013 halted our construction for 12 days until at last, sunshine and clear skies allowed a solid concrete foundation to be laid in mid-June. Shortly thereafter, a beautiful structure began to take shape with the formation of the stone walls and magnificent dome framework.
 
From the very conception, this monument was destined to be spectacular and unprecedented. I was honored and delighted when Mart Mariam selected the main entrance of its grounds as the setting for this meaningful Shrine. The position of the grotto will allow unobstructed views to its brilliance and purity all the way from Willow Road around Pfingsten corner. Both Northbrook and Glenview townships bordering Willow Road will have breathtaking views and a beautiful panorama of this one of a kind grotto.

The project is near completion, with a grand opening scheduled for Thursday, August 15.

The grand unveiling date was chosen for its significance as the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This annual celebration commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven. The Chaldean Catholics rejoice this day with a Grand Holy Mass followed by a special dinner for all who attend services.

A very important event in the church, this great feast is typically attended by over 1,000 people and will likely exceed that number this year, with the addition of the grotto dedication. This year will be of even greater magnitude, as our Bishop, his Excellency Mar Ibrahim from the Detroit dioceses, has agreed to bless us with his presence for the grotto ribbon cutting ceremony and prayers, as well as officiate mass the evening of the Feast.
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.