MOSAIC Fall 2015 - Page 34

The opportunity for freedom and security, however, did not overshadow the Chaldean focus on community and family. “The early Chaldeans who came to the United States thrived,” Bishop Francis explains, “but they did not forget their families back home in Iraq. The Chaldeans have always worked to provide for their family members still living in Iraq.” The vital family connection for Chaldeans goes beyond the United States. Chaldeans are connected to each other and to the Church through immediate and extended families that span the entire globe. “We all seem to be one person away from knowing each other. You will always find someone who will know someone who will know me,” Bishop Francis explains. “It’s because Chaldeans never had a country of our own. We are a minority in Iraq and we are a minority here. We have been hot-wired to stay close and remain close. We create community wherever we go.” The Family Grows The patriarchal seat of the worldwide Chaldean Catholic Church is in Baghdad, Iraq. The seat created the Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle in 1982 and appointed Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim to lead the Chaldeans in the United States. Bishop Kalabat assumed leadership of the eparchy from Bishop Emeritus Ibrahim in June 2014. Another American eparchy was created in 2002, St. Peter the Apostle, for Chaldean Catholics living in the western states. In 1989, the Chaldean extended family grew to include Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Bishop Ibrahim could have sent his men to the seminary in Iraq, but he wanted them to be close to their parishes and communities. Since the largest number of Chaldeans in the U.S. lives in metro Detroit, Sacred Heart was the closest choice. Location was important, but Bishop Ibrahim also wanted theological study and spiritual formation of high quality, and proper liturgical training. After thoroughly researching the seminary, he became impressed with Sacred Heart’s commitment to all three. The willingness of Sacred Heart to expand its focus to include Eastern Rite traditions made the seminary the right choice for the eparchy. “I asked the Archdiocese of Detroit if we could enroll students there. They were very welcoming,” Bishop Ibrahim says. “I sent the first seminarian in 1989. I was able to 32 1. see in the life of this seminarian that Sacred Heart was a good place for priests. Now we have twelve seminarians. I ordained fourteen priests during my tenure.” Bishop Kalabat was the second Chaldean seminarian to attend Sacred Heart. “When I started, I was the only one,” he says. “We were more trailblazers of sorts. The seminarians are doing things now that I wish I had the opportunity to experience.” Adapting to Special Requirements There are many benefits to studying here at Sacred Heart,” says Chaldean seminarian Rodney Abasso, who began his first year of graduate theology in September. “First, it’s close to home and to all of the Chaldean parishes here in Michigan. Also, there are many brilliant professors here who want to help us to succeed in the mission that God has for us.” Chaldean seminarians study alongside Sacred Heart Major Seminary | Mosaic | Fall 2015 their Latin Rite brothers, but Sacred Heart offers education and training in areas specific to the requirements of the eparchy. “It’s important that we listen to what the bishop needs,” says Monsignor Lajiness. “We have all these different doorways to help people with their discipleship.” Fr. Daniel Jones is director of graduate seminarians at Sacred Heart. Instead of the requirement of Latin studies, he explains, Chaldean seminarians engage in Aramaic grammar, Chaldean spirituality, and Chaldean Rite liturgical training. The Registrar’s Office provides a time for the Chaldean men to take these classes. Instructors are usually priests from the Eparchy of St. Thomas, some of whom studied at Sacred Heart. Upon entering the Theologate, the Chaldean men are assigned to a local Chaldean parish on weekends to immerse themselves in the community and liturgy, Father Jones