Brisbane, AUSTRALIA – In the capital city of Australia, Brisbane priest Fr. Gerry Hefferan has begun a campaign to help the struggling Chaldeans of war-torn Iraq. Fr. Hefferan recently returned from Kurdistan and has organized a daily prayer roster with parishes from five major dioceses to pray for Chaldeans. The effort has been welcomed by Australian Catholics as parishioners have already filled the roster until November 2009.
The prayer roster is not the only effort Fr. Hefferan is undertaken on behalf of Chaldeans. The Grovely-based priest is also encouraging Catholics to share expertise in education and health with staff at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary in Iraq which has been relocated from Baghdad to Erbil in the Kurdistan north.
“This is because education and health are two major areas where the Muslim communities recognize Christian expertise,” Fr Hefferan said. “So this is one way to help bring peace to the area – it can help the Christians live more harmoniously with their Muslim neighbors.”
Fr. Hefferan said his visit to Iraq earlier this month had been to show his solidarity with the suffering Church there. “About one-third of the Catholic population in Iraq have now migrated, with the majority in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Turkey,” he said.
Pope Benedict tried to visit Iraq to boost morale there on his recent tour of the Middle East but was unable to get in. However, he did celebrate a Mass with First Communicants in Jordan as part of his outreach to Iraqi refugee children there.
“This turned out to be a real shot in the arm for the Church in Iraq ... Catholics in Kurdistan were on a real high throughout the time I spent there.” Fr Hefferan said “the danger now is that Iraq will become similar to Palestine where there are few Christians”.
While in Kurdistan, he stayed at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary.
Among events he attended were the graduation of Babel College students some of whom attend the seminary.
Fr. Hefferan was also present for the second anniversary of the murders of Fr. Ragheed Ranni and three deacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawed which had occurred at Mosul’s Holy Spirit Chaldean Church in June, 2007.
Fr. Hefferan said his visit to Iraq had made him more conscious of the urgent need to support Catholics there.
Those interested in assisting Fr Hefferan can contact him via email on email@example.com or on (043)777-5088.