Bishop Emanuel Shaleta
|Ed Langlois, From the Catholic Sentinel
On Boxing Day, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Portland will host a Mass according to the Chaldean rite, one of the oldest forms of worship in Christianity. Bishop Emanuel Shaleta of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter, based in California, will preside.
The Catholic Church has many rites, the Roman rite being the most important. Chaldean Catholics find their roots in apostolic influences in Iraq, southern Turkey and Syria. They were part of a somewhat unified Christianity at first, then for a time lost contact with papal authority due to the long distances involved. In 1552, the Chaldeans officially returned to full communion with Rome.
“Chaldean” is an ancient word for the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, the region of present-day Iraq where the first civilizations are said to have started.
Chaldean Catholics have faced centuries of persecution. Persians, Mongols, Ottomans and Arab Muslims have all targeted the group. After World War I, Chaldean Catholics were caught up in the Armenian Genocide. More recently, the Chaldeans have borne the brunt of ISIS’s persecution. Over the years, such situations have prompted many Chaldeans to immigrate to countries like Europe, Australia, and the United States. There are approximately 250,000 to 400,000 Chaldean Catholics in the United States.
Bishop Shaleta’s diocese, headquartered in San Diego, is made up of the western half of the United States, with small communities of Chaldeans widely spread. Larger groups live in Texas and California. Bishop Shaleta heads 20 priests. The eastern diocese has larger populations, primarily in Michigan.
The number of known Chaldean Catholics in Portland stands at around 20 households, said Dr Saad Jazrawi, an Iraqi-born member of St. Mary’s Cathedral parish. Chaldean immigrants, who do not have a parish with their rite, tend to worship in Roman rite Catholic parishes and therefore can be difficult to identify.
“A lot of us felt far from our roots,” Jazrawi said. “Now we want to create a community. Some want to bring back a part of the life they had in their country of origin.
Jazrawi said everyone is invited to mass. He thinks it is healthy for Roman Catholics to experience the other rites of the church. Mass will be celebrated in English, Syriac and Arabic.
The Chaldean Mass in Portland could become periodic, several times a year, Jazrawi said.
Ephrem, the newborn son of Jazrawi and his wife Grace, also a doctor, will be baptized during the Chaldean mass.
Bishop Alexander Sample will welcome Bishop Shaleta, 65, who studied at the seminary in Mosul, Iraq, before being sent to Rome to the Pontifical Urban University. Young Father Shaleta was ordained a priest by Saint John Paul II in 1984. He holds a doctorate in biblical theology. In 1987, he came to serve the Chaldeans in the United States, stationed in California and then in Michigan. He was ordained bishop in 2015, and Pope Francis appointed him head of the diocese of Saint-Pierre in 2017.
Submit a comment
Please complete the form below to submit a comment.
* indicates a required field
A comment must be approved by our staff before it is posted on the website.