Michigan, USA - Faithful Chaldean pilgrims are concerned over Carey, Ohio’s Feast of the Assumption gathering at Our Lady of Consolation Shrine this year. For years a radical evangelical group, by the name of The Street Preachers Fellowship congregate to disrupt the Assumption procession of Catholics. One confrontation practically ended up as a riot in 2006 raising the attention of the federal government.
“With numerous eye witness accounts of the evangelical’s group intimidating, threatening, and ruckus behavior Carey’s Chief of Police, Dennis Yingling turns a blind eye,” says attorney Bobby Kassab. “We have spoken with the federal authorities who have hinted that the FBI might be present since the intimidation and threats can be construed as hate crimes.”
Chief Yingling is on record blaming young Chaldeans. Fr. Hadnagy of Our Lady of Consolation Shrine is shocked at the Chief’s stance. “Was he even there? I find it incredible that a police chief doesn't understand that when a band of people [The Street Preachers Fellowship], who admit they want trouble, start trouble that they're not to blame," said Father Hadnagy.
Angela Keldu says, “The Street Preachers Fellowship website shows their state of mind. They are an aggressive and controversial group. They train their people to be overly aggressive and how to deal with police. They even teach how to disobey an officer’s order. They carry signs that instigate and offend people. That is their motus operendi”
Keldu continues, “ Chaldeans are better off attending the Feast of the Assumption at Camp Chaldean, instead of dealing with the headache of Carey, Ohio police who obviously don’t want Catholics there. The community campground is private, the community is protected, and it is a fraction of the distance it takes to get to Ohio. Our community is safer when driving, and when they arrive. Why put up with the hassle of Chief Yingling and others.”
Christopher Zebari disagrees. “Angela makes a great point, but I just don’t think it is a good idea for Chaldeans to just abandon Carey, Ohio. We should get the FBI involved and have them take video tape what this radical group does. My grandmother was yelled at and shoved while she was trying to buy candles and I would like to see people who do things like that arrested.”
Speaking to David Harline of the Catholic Report, Brother Jeffrey Hinez of the Our Lady of Consolation Basilica said, “First of all with my own eyes I watched the Street Preachers Fellowship interfere with the procession. They got off the street corner and marched along side the procession saying vile things. With my own ears, I heard a member of the Street Preacher Fellowship call the Virgin Mary a 'whore'!" He pointed at me and told me I was going to hell because I was leading so many people to hell. They intimidated the Chaldeans and then tried to goad them into a fight."
Brother Hinez added that, “the Chaldeans can't catch a break. They escape Saddam Hussein in Iraq, their relatives they left behind in Iraq are terrorized by Al Qaeda, and now they get verbally abused in a religious procession.” Hinez continued, “Haven't these Chaldean people been through enough? These Chaldean people have been celebrating this feast of the Assumption since the early Christian age; their ancestors could have interacted with the Apostles and Our Lady. Yet, some group calls her a whore. How would they like it if someone called their mother a whore."
Concerned church leaders have sped-up Camp Chaldean improvement efforts. “We want to meet the needs of Chaldean pilgrims who prefer to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption at the campground resort,” says camp director Steve Sitto. “We have removed over hundreds of trees to give easier access to the lake, we have remodeled three bungalows, and just added a two ton prayer center to help visitors meditate and pray.”
Sam Herfy, Parish Council president of St. George in Shelby Township, the largest Chaldean Church in America adds, “His Excellency Ibrahim Ibrahim, the Bishop of St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese of America will be leading the Mass after the evening procession.”
“We will also be freely offering food, drinks, candles, nature rides, and electric hook-ups for campers,” said Raad Kashat, Parish Council president of Our Lady of Chaldeans Cathedral.
“We open the camp for community guests on August 13 and 14. Our closing ceremony will include a candle light procession and Evening Mass. Since we are only 45 minutes away from the furthest Chaldean church in our diocese, the following Friday on August 15, Chaldeans are able to join their local parish for Mass and a candle procession in their local town,” said Sitto.