I would like to start off humbly, by giving thanks to our Creator, God Almighty, Jesus Christ our Savior, who taught us how to serve Him, by serving each other, and how to love each other unconditionally, because He loved us unconditionally!!!
Surely the Chaldean faithful were very blessed to begin the 2014 new year with good news announced by Vatican Radio on Saturday, the 11th of January, that the Holy Father Pope Francis granted his consent to the episcopal appointments made by the Chaldean Synod of Bishops, by appointing three new bishops to serve the Chaldean Church in Iraq. Another announcement was that Pope Francis also assigned the Titular See of Foraziana to Bishop Bawai Soro, in pastoral service in the Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego, CA, USA.
This approval was long awaited, and it is now achieved perhaps to become the soul that will shake the grounds to undertake the decades’ prolonged issue toward finding a path to UNITY between our two churches of the East, the Chaldean Church & the Assyrian Church.
Amidst this jubilant atmosphere, I would like to share with you my personal testimonial experience, living through that culmination of faith and spirituality that took place in my parish on the morning of Sunday January 12th at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in San Diego, CA. With the presence of hundreds of faithful, and the presence of our Shepherd, His Excellency, Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, and Archdeacon Sabri Kejbo, and Fr. Michael Bazzi, Fr. Polis Khammi, and Fr. Noel Gorgis, that manifestation of love gracefully came true at homily time during the Divine Liturgy, celebrated by His Excellency, Bishop Bawai Soro himself, when he stood at the pulpit offering his deep gratitude to all those individuals who had helped him with this eight-year-long process in which he is recieved in the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Mar Bawai Soro first thanked Pope Francis who approved his request since it was first appealed to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He also thanked our Chaldean Patriarch Emeritus Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly who was supportive and submitted the letter to Rome. Mar Bawai also thanked our current Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako for his leadership and understanding. He aslo thanked Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim of the St. Thomas Chaldean Diocese in Michigan for his stand and the role he took regarding the parishes in Chicago, likewise he thanked Bishop Gabriel Kassab for the role he took with the parishes in Australia. Mar Bawai aslo thanked Archdeacon Sabri Kejbo pastor of St. Michael Chaldean Church and Father Michael Bazzi pastor of St. Peter Chaldean Cathedral for their amazing support and respect through all these years.
Most of all, Mar Bawai thanked Eparch Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, who was the gear that initiated this movement by recieving Bishop (Ashur) Bawai Soro in his diocese of St. Peter the Apostle, ministering to Chaldeans & Assyrians in western USA. Bishop Soro spoke so genuinely about the action of value and regard that Bishop Jammo treated him with, something that he had never seen happen in any other church!!! He aslo explained how much knowledge and answers Mar Sarhad has enriched him with through his life and until this day.
Mar Bawai affirmed his Assyrian identity, and his love and belonging to his people despite the disagreements, yet he carries high regards to the priests and faithful who joined him through his struggle, but, Bishop Soro was so moved & pleased when he spoke about his true love and relation that he felt toward the Chaldean Church and people since his early days.
To top all that, our Eparch, Bishop Sarhad Yawsip, standing at the pulpit so shiny, spoke eloquently about the spiritual jubilation and the ecclesial significance this great day of joy brought for our Chaldean Church, in particular for our Diocese. He remembered the circumstances that brought them closer together and how they both felt the work of the Holy Spirit guiding them to where they are today, two brothers, serving ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
At the end of the Holy Mass, the parish council president congratulated Mar Bawai Soro, representing our parish and all the faithful who happily cheered for these great news, because this man of God, Mar Bawai Soro has really touched their lives!
Back to my joyful experience, I believe that UNITY is not a dream anymore, and these two pillars of the Christian Catholic Faith in our Diocese, Mar Sarhad with Mar Bawai, are truely a blessing from heaven, leading our souls to Christ!
Lastly but not least, that spiritual unity was elegantly expressed with an open reception for everyone, on Tuesday January 14, 2014 from 6:00- 9:00pm at St. Peter’s Hall, held by our Eparch Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo in honor of the newly assigned Bishop Mar Bawai Soro. It was really an evening of rejoicing and celebration!
Parishioner, St. Peter Chaldean Cathedral