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New Chaldean Priest Ordained in Michigan
By Neda Ayar :: Monday, July 20, 2009 :: 63628 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, Community & Culture, Chaldean Churches

Michigan, USA – The Chaldean community welcomes their newest Catholic priest, Fr. Rudy Zoma, 28, of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle.  On Saturday, July 4th, Chaldeans from all over joined the ordination Mass of the new priest.  Guests, seminarians, and visiting clergy from across the globe participated in the celebration.

Fr. Rudy is the third American Chaldean priest with five other American born seminarians to soon graduate and join the prestigious rank of priestly vocation among Chaldeans. 

“Fr. Rudy is an incredible person,” says Britney Allos.  “He really is involved with the younger generation and is a great speaker.  He can be serious and he can be funny.”  Fr. Rudy Zoma helped establish an English youth bible study at Mother of God Parish and was instrumental in helping the Chaldean parish soccer team repeatedly win the indoor Catholic College classic championship over Ave Maria, St. Mary MTS, and the other college teams.   “The amount of guests who arrived to his ordination celebration is a testament to his leadership and community support,” said Anthony Sako, parishioner of Mother of God parish. 

[Photos at the end of the article]

During the ceremony Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim announced that Fr. Rudy would be assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Troy, Michigan and invited him to speak directly to the congregation.  Fr. Rudy thanked the guests for their support and in his sermon reminded parishioners that his vocation is a witness to the church of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives since Christ walked the Earth proclaiming the Good News.  “For 2,000 years we have been killed for our faith in Jesus.  Yet we multiply and spread throughout the world,” Fr. Rudy said. 

The newly ordained priest went on to passionately proclaim the need for persecuted Christians to share their love of Christ, without fear in Iraq and without Shame in America. 

Following the ordination were numerous parties and gatherings including the Chaldean Diocese hosting an outdoor community congratulatory gathering.  Desserts and refreshing drinks were given to thousands of guests as folks mingled, received “First Blessings”, and congratulated Fr. Rudy.  (For photos of the congratulatory gathering readers are asked to click on the hyperlink at the end of the article.)

Becoming a Catholic priest is much like studying for any other vocation. Participation in studies to become a priest does not obligate one to finally be a priest any more than going to law school means one must become a lawyer. Usually to become a priest, one must fulfill many requirements.

How does one become a priest?

There are two defining steps to becoming a priest, and both of them are very important.

Step #1: Internal Discernment

This part may involve many years. Some people think about priesthood for a long time - even from youth. Some, after discovering the call, act on it right away. Others discover this call only later in life (for some, much later). Here some of the ways that often help to bring one’s call into focus: Reflection, prayer, and listening to God.

•    Being involved in one’s parish
•    Going to Mass regularly
•    Receiving the sacraments
•    Getting involved in some type of Christian or community service
•    Trying to live a good Christian moral life

The Director of Vocations (at the Chaldean Diocese of St. Thomas the Director of Vocations is Fr. Frank) directly facilitates the on-going discernment process for individuals interested in becoming candidates for priestly formation.
 
Step #2: Priestly Preparation

Programs to assist Chaldeans interested in the diocesan priesthood include:

The Affiliate Program - This program is primarily for men 18-40, and is designed for those potential candidates in the early discernment stages of their call to priesthood. Interested men meet monthly for discussion, support and prayer. This program is for potential candidates who are open to the possibility of priesthood.

Seminary Program - If you are accepted by the Vocation Office as a Chaldean diocesan priesthood candidate, then you will attend a seminary. The seminary program will focus on: your formation as a priesthood candidate, theological studies, and your spiritual journey. Candidates usually have to take one or two years of philosophy studies in addition to theological studies, prior to graduate-level theology.

Chaldeans interested in a priestly vocation can contact St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Parish at

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd. West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460

Photos of Fr. Rudy’s Ordination Part I

Photos of Fr. Rudy's Ordination Part II

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.