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g n i giv e d u t i t a & gr A C E L E B R AT I O N O F

We each have countless reasons to be thankful. And as we all extend a hand in the spirit of giving and gratitude to our neighbors at home and around the world, we at Kroger are reminded how joyful we are to serve this special community every day of the year. So on behalf of Kroger and all our associates, we wish your family a warm and blessed day of giving and thanks.

Š2017 The Kroger Co.



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on the cover


Talking about the sexual abuse crisis, the community and the church



departments 6


Don’t agree but respect the decision 8


Less acrimony, more dialogue needed 12










Giving thanks 34

Local student combats period poverty




‘After Saturday Comes Sunday’ examines religious persecution





Detroiter focusing on live-streaming and content creation

Middle Eastern fast casual finds its Pita Way 36






Whitmer and Schuette appeared separately for a discussion at Business Luncheon

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from the EDITOR


The Chaldean News, LLC

Don’t agree but respect the decision


Vanessa Denha Garmo MANAGING EDITORS

Denha Media Group Writers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Ashourina Slewo Halim Sheena Lisa Cipriano Stephen Jones Bianca Kasawdish Paul Natinsky Steve Stein


Alex Lumelsky with SKY Creative GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Zina Lumelsky with SKY Creative PHOTOGRAPHER

David Reed

OPERATIONS Interlink Media



Ashourina Slewo



Interlink Media Sana Navarrette MANAGERS

Vanessa Denha Garmo Martin Manna Michael Sarafa SUBSCRIPTIONS: $25 PER YEAR THE CHALDEAN NEWS 30095 NORTHWESTERN HWY, SUITE 101 FARMINGTON HILLS, MI 48334 WWW.CHALDEANNEWS.COM PHONE: (248) 851-8600 Publication: The Chaldean News (P-6); Published monthly; Issue Date: Month 2018 Subscriptions: 12 months, $25. Publication Address: 30095 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334; Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rates is Pending at Farmington Hills Post Office Postmaster: Send address changes to “The Chaldean News 30095 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334”

Tell them you saw it in the Chaldean News!



MONTH 2018


e are near the end of our 15th year as a given them a platform. In addition, Fr. Matthew monthly magazine. I sometimes can’t was not properly quoted, which is another issue. believe it myself. At the start, I never Our faith and the church have always been a really thought about the paper’s longevity. We foundational focal point of the community even have gone through challenges and triumphs in though it is believed that less than 20 percent of the world and inside our own business. During community members attend church. that time, my life has changed so much over the It is mind boggling and disheartening when years. people decide not to share stories in this publicaThose who know me, know how much I love tion because they don’t agree with everything we VANESSA this magazine. I birthed it and it has very much write. So, would you not tell your story or evanDENHA-GARMO gelize the faith in the Detroit Free Press, USA been like a child to me. So, when I have been attacked, talked about EDITOR IN CHIEF Today, New York Times, CNN or other secular CO-PUBLISHER and targeted by a few people, it has drained me media outlets if you had the opportunity? at times. It hasn’t and will NEVER break me, It’s a worthy debate. A question we posed to however. Bishop Francis for this month’s cover story. I know there are “haters” as much I am not a fan of The Pope, Bishops and other religious leaders have that term and perhaps people who just don’t like me. I done stories in all kinds of publications around the world remind myself that it’s really none of my business what that publish stories in complete opposition of the faith. people think of me. It’s between them and God. Did Jesus not come for the tax collectors and sinners? I have to admit, I was insulted when there have been I have had this discussion with other religious writers concerted efforts to minimize or completely delete my and speakers over the years. Some of my colleagues in the contributions to this magazine. Books were written about religious media have been tapped to appear on Oprah or the community and everyone worthy of being noted was The View but because of what those programs have feanoted for his or her contributions except me. Somehow, I tured and highlighted over the years, they hesitated. The was conveniently eliminated by name as a founder of the View, for instance, gives conservatives very little air time Chaldean News. or opportunity to speak truth. They just scream over them I have my suspicions as to who was behind those tacor at them. That is worth taking into consideration. tics but I will let God deal with them. I know it may sound One of the most far left papers – The New York Times petty but at the end of the day, it’s about respect. You don’t – publishes a column from a Catholic columnist. Cathohave to like me, but I can’t tolerate being disrespected. lic radio says on their website, “Ross Douthat is one of the Looking back over the years, I realize I may be a little brightest Catholic columnists in America.” too attached to this “thing.” Years ago, a friend and former colleague in the meIt’s not my Savior and it’s not even my child. Regarddia called me because her husband had an opportunity to less of the credit I get or not, I know that I have done my work at the New York Times. As devout Catholics, she best to do the right thing when it comes to producing this was concerned. I told her if he could do good and be “the paper. I am a journalist by trade and someone trained to voice of contradiction” as I have been challenged to do seek truth. I take it seriously despite where the media is by my spiritual advisor, then he should go for it. If his intoday. I feel I have a huge responsibility with this paper. tegrity or faith is ever compromised, then he should chalI thought about this the other day during a homily at St. lenge them or leave. Fabian. The guest priest talked about people who are in Unlike other media outlets, The Chaldean News has the spotlight or in what are considered “prestigious” posidedicated hundreds of pages on the church. We have feations. The outside world sees the glory but they never see tured faith stories on the cover and throughout the magathe struggle that comes with it. zine. There are days I wish I flew under the radar and lived All three publishers, Mike, Martin and I have volunmy life in my own little world with no one knowing me teered our time in various ways for the church and comat all. I am far from “famous” but when your name is atmunity because we believe it’s the right thing to do. tached to anything in the public eye, you are automatiI respect people’s personal decisions and viewpoints. It cally up for scrutiny. That includes something as simple as is my understanding that some believe being in our paper having a Facebook page. is somehow endorsing us and all of our content. I don’t I have always tried to honor the church and my faith agree with that opinion, but I respect the decision. on these pages, even though this paper is NOT a religious publication. It is very much, however, a community paper. We have made mistakes along the way – like all humans do – and we have published pieces that we all don’t agree with in terms of opinion. Alaha Imid Koullen Although I have already made note of this in a previ(God Be With Us All) ous issue, my biggest regret thus far was publishing the arVanessa Denha-Garmo ticle about the gay twin brothers, not because of the issue of homosexuality but because of their ongoing social meFollow her on Twitter @vanessadenha dia posts that are not only risqué, but completely offensive Follow Chaldean News on Twitter @chaldeannews to the church. If properly vetted prior, we would not have

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CHALDEAN 7/20/18 NEWS 10:22 AM7

in my VIEW

Less acrimony, more dialogue needed


wice in recent current pope and a profesmonths, Chaldean sor at Sacred Heart Major priests refused to Seminary. All those pieces cooperate with Chaldean reflected nothing more News coverage of their than my own views on own events. One was an various topics. ordination; the other a But other than these arnew (additional) assignticles, the Chaldean News, ment. Seemingly, they, for 15 years, has covered MICHAEL G. and others around them, the Chaldean Church in SARAFA take issue with some of the overwhelmingly positive SPECIAL TO THE stories the Chaldean News terms. Every major event CHALDEAN NEWS has covered in the past. in the life of the Chaldean The August issue covered two Church in the United States and Chaldean brothers who are gay. abroad, under both of our Bishops, What we didn’t know at the time has been covered in glowing terms. was the offensive nature of their soMany Church figures have writcial media profiles. Nonetheless, our ten original pieces or responses to coverage was not an endorsement previous Chaldean News stories or of them, their lifestyles or anything opinions. Those have always been else. It was just a story. and will continue to be welcome. In some of my columns, I have We need in the community to also been critical of various church learn how to agreeably disagree. figures, including the previous pope, We’re bad at that and I would argue an American cardinal opposed to the that some priests and seminarians are



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very bad at it. Apparently, among some, there is an unofficial boycott of the Chaldean news. If this is true, I would say it’s unfortunate. Putting aside our values as a liberal, democratic republic and the first amendment, it seems the better approach for those that disagree with the Chaldean News from time to time would be to dialogue. It is important to note that the Chaldean News strives to be a community paper with potential reach to the approximately 180,000 Chaldeans in southeast Michigan. While we do cover the Chaldean Church extensively, our paper was not designed to cater exclusively to the 10,000 – 15,000 weekly church goers. In fact, one might argue that the paper could be used as a vehicle to reach beyond those already in the fold—or to borrow a phrase from Pope Francis, to go to the periphery. Last month was the celebration

of the 50th ordination of John XXIII. Pope Giovanni believed in dialogue before condemnation; in choosing peace before war. As a young bishop in Bulgaria, he embraced the Bulgarian Orthodox Church against the prevailing winds at the time. In Turkey, he negotiated the exit of Turkish Jews during WWII. As pope, he received the daughter of Nikita Khrushchev in the Vatican at the height of the Cold War. In the face of Curia opposition, he always chose engagement. It is John XXIII’s example I hold up here. Instead of small-mindedness, magnanimity; Rather than pettiness, largesse; In addition to piety, tenderness; Finally, less acrimony and more dialogue. Michael Sarafa is Co-publisher of the Chaldean News.

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Cultural Center Welcomes Archbishop Vigneron The Chaldean Cultural Center was pleased to welcome His Eminence, Archbishop Allen Vigneron for a tour and discussion. The Archbishop was joined by Fr. Jeff Day, Moderator of the Curia and Fr. Steve Pullis, Director of Evangelization and Education. The tour was presented by Mary Roumaya, the previous Director of the Chaldean Cultural Center. Board Chair, Judy Jonna, participated along with Shenandoah President Hani Mio and Board Member Raad Kathawa. Over appetizers and dinner, Chaldean Community Foundation CEO Martin Manna provided the Archbishop and his staff with an update on the status of Chaldean refugees. The Archbishop was also provided an update on Our Lady of Fields Camp and Retreat Center and the newly formed Finance Council for the Chaldean Diocese of the United States. Also, joining the evening was Retired Bishop Walter Hurley who has been advising with Bishop Francis Kalabat on organizational matters.

Marian Prep Bowl Five Chaldean students were chosen to represent Marian High School at the Catholic League Prep Bowl at Ford Field on Saturday, October 20. Each year the Catholic League honors the students who hold the highest grade point averages in their class based on their cumulative grade point at the end of the previous school year. The following were among a group of 28 other students chosen to represent Marian High School. Senior Gabrielle Gappy, daughter of Wala and

Harry Gappy of West Bloomfield; Junior Isabella Shunyia, daughter of Dalia and Ronnie Shunyia of West Bloomfield; Sophomore Isabelle Elia, daughter of Sewan Mansour-Elia and Sean Elia of Bloomfield Hills; Sophomore Rea Sadek, daughter of Suzanne and Chris Sadek of Birmingham; and Sophomore Lauren Yaldo, daughter of Ban and Steve Yaldo of Bloomfield Township. Each student is actively involved in extracurriculars in and outside of school.

Agent of the Week Nick LaFave was named ‘Agent of the Week’ at North American Senior Benefits (NASB) for his accomplishments. LaFave was the agency’s top producing agent in September as he wrote $17,155 in A/P and protected 13 lives. According to NASB, at only 19-years-old, LaFave has “written by far the most premium while experiencing the fewest days on planet Earth of anyone in NASB’s storied history.”

Slight Return Nominated for Grammy Slight Return – comprised of Mark Kassa, Tony Mitchell, Ronnie Karmo, and Mike Schneider – has been nominated for a Grammy award. The band is on the Grammy Awards ballot in three categories for their song “69 Days Til Freedom”. 12


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Halhole! Congratulations Julian M. Daman for passing the bar exam and joining the law firm of Jajonie Daman, P.C. practicing with his mother, immigration and nationality law.

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CHAI time



Thursday, November 1 Mind, Body, and Jazz: Central City Integrated Health is hosting a Celebration of Mind, Body and Jazz. Hosted at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Thursday, November 1 from 6 to 9 p.m., the event will highlight the nonprofit’s work to provide integrated health and wellness services for underserved and uninsured populations. The evening will feature a strolling dinner, dessert and coffee station, formal program with remarks, live jazz performances from Detroit-based Ian Finkelstein and multi-platinum musician, Randy Scott, and free valet parking for convenience. All proceeds will benefit Central City Integrated Health’s mission to provide evidence-based medical and behavioral health treatment and services, in addition to creating housing, employment and community re-entry opportunities for Wayne County residents. Tickets are priced at $150 and can be purchased online. To purchase a ticket or for more information, visit Saturday, November 3 Holiday Boutique: It’s never too early to start holiday shopping! Join the Divine Child Elementary School for their 42nd Annual Holiday Boutique. The holiday boutique will be hosted at the Divine Child Elementary School in Dearborn from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 3. more than 100 crafters and artisans will be selling a mix of fine arts and hobby crafts including home decor, handmade accessories, woodworked toys, paper goods, hand sewn and quilted items as well as great holiday-themed gifts and decor. Attendees can also enjoy raffles and a bake sale featuring homemade baked goods. Admission is $3, admission for children under 12 is free. All proceeds will benefit the Divine Child Elementary School. For more information, visit

Saturday, November 3 Rewind Charity Gala: The Judson Center is hosting their 35th anniversary Rewind Gala on Saturday, November 3. Hosted at MGM Grand Detroit, the Judson Center will be rewinding to 1983 when they held their very first Rewind Gala. “Judson Center held its first gala with the intention of establishing an event that would help the organization enhance its programs and expand services to meet emerging community needs such as autism services. Today, 35 years later, Judson Center remains an innovative leader in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families in our community.” Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information about the Judson Center’s Rewind Gala, visit www.judsoncenter. org/events Sunday, November 4 Celebration: Sky Foundation, Inc. is celebrating their 10th Anniversary on Sunday, November 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. at MGM Grand Detroit. Local morning anchor Alicia Smith will host the annual lunch. The celebration will feature a aerformance by Nuclassica, a wine pull raffle with a sommelier, and a live auction. Join this non-profit organization as they celebrate the past ten years of raising awareness, educating and funding research for the early detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer. For convenience, complimentary valet will be available. Visit or call (248) 385-5143 to learn more about supporting pancreatic cancer research, the event, and to order tickets. Tuesday, November 6 ELECTION DAY: It’s time to get out and VOTE! The midterm elections are upon us and it’s time for us to head to the polls and vote for the candidates we want to represent us in Lansing and Washington. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information

ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6 about this year’s elections, including your polling location, visit Thursday, November 8 Day Dinner: The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Detroit Chapter’s is hosting their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day Dinner. This annual dinner celebrates and honors the passion, commitment, and leadership of southeastern Michigan’s philanthropists, volunteers, and fundraising professionals. Hosted at The Henry in Dearborn from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 8, nearly 100 distinguished volunteers and eight major awardees will be honored during the event. The evening will begin with a cocktail reception and hors-d’oeuvres followed by dinner and a short program. Sponsorship packages are available starting at $2,000; individual tickets are priced $125. “The AFP Greater Detroit Chapter relies on support from individuals and organizations such as yours to help advance the education of fundraising professionals and advocate for philanthropy in our community.” For more information about the event, visit

Friday, November 9 Galapalooza: Macomb County Habitat for Humanity is celebrating 25 years of building communities, hope, and homes on Friday, November 9 from 6 to 11 p.m. at Andiamo Warren. “Walk into a Silver Anniversary atmosphere of fun and excitement, where the main entertainment is the world-renowned juggling and comedic group The Passing Zone, who has performed for the British royal family and the White House and opened for the likes of Jay Leno, George Carlin, Bob Hope, and many others.” The evening will also feature talented acrobats from the Detroit Circus. The evening will also feature more than 100 silent and live auction items, premium drinks and an Italian dinner. Tickets are priced at $125. Major sponsorship provided by IBEW–NECA and Ascension Macomb-Oakland. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information or to reserve your tickets, call (586) 263-1540 or visit Saturday, November 10 Autumn Gala and Auction: The Beaumont Health Foundation is hosting their 2018 Autumn Gala and Auction on Saturday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m. Hosted at MGM Grand Detroit, the black-tie-optional event will feature a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, and entertainment. All proceeds from the gala and auction will directly support campus expansion plans to benefit the patients and programs at Beaumont Hospital in Farmington Hills. In addition to attending the event, individuals may support the campaign though bidding on the auction online. Bids can be made on items including trips, sports memorabilia, luxury items, and travel. Tickets for the gala are priced at $300. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit To view and/or bid on auction items, visit

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ECRC corner

Joy in Suffering T

he question we ask with joy for one reason ourselves in these only and that was to bring times that we live in the Gospel, the message of is; “can we find joy in suffersalvation, to the people. He ing?” At first this seems like endures his suffering so that a contradictory question, joy they may obtain salvation. and suffering are opposed to “I endure everything for each other, so how is this the sake of the elect, that even imaginable? As always they also may obtain the let’s turn to the gospel. In salvation which in Christ Jethe letter to the Romans, sus goes with eternal glory.” JEFF KASSAB St. Paul takes the question SPECIAL TO THE (2 Tim 2:10-12) above and gives us a deeper CHALDEAN NEWS Everyone that “rejoices meaning on suffering. in their suffering” are doing More than that, we rejoice in our it for the sake of the Gospel and are sufferings, knowing that suffering bringing souls closer to Jesus because produces endurance, and endurance of their witness. Our Lord did not produces character, and character obtain eternal glory until he went produces hope, and hope does not through his passion, death, and finaldisappoint us, because God’s love has ly his glorious resurrection. If Jesus been poured into our hearts through had to suffer to obtain eternal glory the Holy Spirit which has been given then we will also suffer to obtain to us. (Romans 5:3-5) eternal glory. One of the reasons that Suffering is a part of the human St. Paul can rejoice in his suffering is race, because of the fall of man (disbecause he says “God’s love has been obedience of Adam and Eve) we all poured into our hearts through the must endure some type of suffering in Holy Spirit which has been given to our lives. The questions are, what do us.” He is filled with the Holy Spirit we do with our sufferings and can we just as we are since our baptism and get closer to Christ by suffering? we know that when we are filled with First, what do we do with our sufthe Holy Spirit we can endure any fering? In all my years of evangelizing, trials or tribulations that life throws I have noticed two kinds of people: at us. the kind that curse God for their sufSuffering comes in all different fering and the kind that thank God forms; they could be mental, physifor their suffering. St. Paul suffered cal, or spiritual. In whatever form 16


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they come, we are to “take up our cross daily” offer it up to the Lord and unite it with his suffering. If we were just to suffer without any meaning then, it would be empty suffering, but suffering in faith, suffering knowing that we are created for the Kingdom of God, produces endurance to keep going. When an athlete trains for a race he is training for endurance so he can finish the race and not be left behind; he does whatever he can

“If Jesus had to suffer to obtain eternal glory then we will also suffer to obtain eternal glory.” to build his endurance, his muscles, and his mind to complete what he has started. We, as Catholics, must also prepare for the suffering that will come our way – and it will. We should never wait for the suffering to come but, let us always be prepared. Some of the tools that we have to train for this suffering are given to us by the Catholic Church; the sacraments, mass, prayer, the rosary, the saints, novenas, relics and adoration. These gifts that the Church has

given us should not just be used when suffering comes our way, they should be a part of our daily lives so that when the suffering comes, we will be prepared to handle it and not fall into despair. Because, if we fall into despair then there is no hope in our lives. When we fall into despair, we turn from God and do not allow him to be effective in our lives. We even convince ourselves that God is not doing anything in our lives. If we don’t have hope in everything that we do, even going to church and receiving the sacraments, would be useless. Hope cannot disappoint us because His Spirit has filled us with His love. In my own journey of suffering, I came to the realization that either I can do something to bring people to Jesus or I can do things that will lead people away from Jesus and of course I chose to lead people to our Lord and my life has been filled with nothing but joy, peace, and happiness. I look back at the time I was going through all my suffering and I can honestly say that it was the some of the best moments in my life, because that suffering united me more intimately with Jesus and his own passion. Is suffering difficult? Of course, it is! But, our Lord will help us through it. Always remember, that sometimes when we ask for healing and we don’t receive a physical healing, Jesus always sends us spiritual healing first before he sends us physical healing, because the most important thing is to make sure our soul is healed before our body. Sickness, suffering, and death are an inseparable part of this fallen world. But we must remember that we are not created for this world. We were created by God and for His Kingdom, where there is no suffering and death. The Christian must not ask themselves why is there suffering. The Christian must rejoice in the suffering, giving it to God and receiving the gift of eternal life. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20) In Christ Jeff Kassab has a BA in Pastoral Theology and is a Board Member of the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC).

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Being Christian and Critical


here really is an art to communicating and a Christian way to offer constructive criticism. But, what is it? Criticism is the act of judging unfavorably or faultfinding. However, it can be appropriate to judge a person, thing, or action unfavorably. In fact, a true friend will speak the truth even when it’s hard to hear: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). Jesus was quite critical of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, and He expressed His disapproval forcibly on several occasions just read the Gospel of Matthew. However, Jesus’ criticisms were always truthful and loving. Our speech should be edifying. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another” (1st Thessalonians 5:11). Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). And Galatians 6:1 gives the primary motivation for criticizing—with a warning. So, the best Christian rule of thumb is to go into the conversation with the intent to help and not hurt someone. Accepting to criticism It is not easy to listen to criticism. Sometimes people see things in us that we don’t see in ourselves. I am talking about pointing out the obvious to someone. People pointing out to me that I am overweight is not helpful. I have a mirror and own a scale. Thank you very much! It goes beyond the obvious. Criticism based on hearsay is hurtful; it is gossip. In Proverbs we learn that “uninformed criticism will usually wind up embarrassing the critic when the truth is revealed” (Prov. 18:13). When the criticism is constructive with the intent for good, we should listen attentively. “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” (Prov. 31). Criticism based on scripture can be helpful, loving, and based on truth. Correction is to be gentle. It comes from love, not from hate. Scripture says “the Spirit wants to produce in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If criticism cannot be expressed in keeping with the fruit of the Spirit, it’s better left unsaid” (Galatians 5:22-23). Criticizing while honoring the elderly The Bible is very clear about the need to respect our elders. Usually that will mean we will rarely offer criticism to our superiors, or if we do, it will be with strict qualifications. “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need” (1 Tim. 5:1-2, 19). So, how can we criticize our elders including our parents when the commandments call us to honor them? We do it with love and respect. As a Communications Evangelist, Vanessa Denha Garmo’s Christ-Centered Communications Messages air globally on both Catholic Radio and Catholic TV. 18


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Sami Esho July 01, 1940 Oct. 21, 2018

Karim Curioca Sept. 10, 1940 Oct. 21, 2018

Najiba Naimi Aug. 20, 1936 Oct. 19, 2018

George Kashat Oct. 03, 1925 Oct. 18, 2018

Ibrahim (Bryan) Elias Sesi Jan. 01, 1939 Oct. 18, 2018

Nawal Ankawi June 29, 1956 Oct. 17, 2018

Naim Bacall July 01, 1930 Oct. 17, 2018

Mariam Kaji July 01, 1947 Oct. 16, 2018

Sulaiman Malakha Nov. 10, 1934 Oct. 15, 2018

Maryana Bahena April 08, 2012 Oct. 15, 2018

Abdul Karim Hirmez PhD Dec. 26, 1925 Oct. 12, 2018

Khalid Elias (Tobia Elias Hanna) Shemami May 10, 1946 Oct. 09, 2018

Abdul Massih Kakos March 13, 1931 Oct. 07, 2018

Ghaith Halabu July 26, 1974 - Oct. 06, 2018

Natik Roumaya April 15, 1944 - Oct. 06, 2018

Terri (Taghrid) Ankawi Oct. 23, 1961 Oct. 05, 2018

Iqbal Metiti May 03, 1948 Oct. 04, 2018

Rahil Dakko July 01, 1939 Oct. 02, 2018

Margaret Shounia July 01, 1939 Oct. 02, 2018

Shawn Sallan Nov. 25, 1956 Oct. 02, 2018

Jamil Dallo July 01, 1926 Oct. 01, 2018

Carla Sesi Dec. 01, 2008 Oct. 01, 2018

Naima Abdulahad Qasguargis June 24, 1923 Sept. 30, 2018

Jalal Gabrial Qasyounan March 01, 1940 Sept. 27, 2018

Hanaa Eshaq June 12, 1960 Sept. 25, 2018

From left Joey Al-Azzawi, Auday Putrus, & Mike Akrawi

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MONTH 2018


A conversation with Bishop Francis Talking about the sexual abuse crisis, the community and the church

On the sex scandal in the global church



ome might call his ordination a baptism by fire; immediately following his ordination as Bishop, he had to deal with the displacement of thousands of Iraqi Christians by ISIS. Bishop Francis was ordained on June 14, 2014 just two weeks after ISIS invaded Iraq. He is now in his fifth year as the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Detroit. He oversees 12 churches in his Diocese, a couple of missions — one in Boston and the other in Jacksonville, the Shrine at the Our Lady of the Fields Camp, the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center and more 20


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than 20 priests. Currently there are nine Chaldean seminarians at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. One warm fall afternoon last month, Martin Manna, Mike Sarafa and I sat down with Bishop Francis at his office in Southfield located at the Cathedral to talk about the crisis, the community and the church. Without wasting time, we got right into the issues. On coverage in the Chaldean News of controversial topics “Nothing has been mentioned to me personally from our clergy but I am guessing it’s a knee jerk reaction to some of the articles including the

gay. These pieces seem to erase all the positive stories published.” That wasn’t the only issue that sparked controversy over the years. “I know that something I said during a homily was elevated to another level during the presidential campaign when the Chaldean News ran an ad supporting Barack Obama. I never said boycott the paper. Some people took up arms.” The publishers didn’t all agree with that endorsement which was a response to President George W. Bush’s handling of Iraq. The community is split politically today. Some agree that Trump is not a “true Christian” while others agree that he is more Christian than Obama. “George Bush Senior was proabortion at some point but we need to ask, who do we want as President? Do we want someone who changed for the better and in line with the Christian teachings?” We invited clergy to respond and write any articles they wanted and use our paper as way to evangelize the faith. “They can respond to the Chaldean News if they like but I don’t want to speak for others,” said Bishop Francis. “If an article triggers a discussion and the article sways a certain way and the conservative church people sway the other way, it’s going to cause a response. This was also the case with opinion pieces including the one about the professor in the seminary. That was an opinion piece but it still incited people and most especially a few seminarians.”

gay brothers, which was a huge issue. Their stuff on social media was horrible,” said the Bishop as he proceeded to show us some of the photos which mock the Church. “I got some backlash, none from priests or seminarians but others who asked why we gave them a platform. Fr. Matthew did call me about being quoted in the article from a homily. He felt he was not quoted properly.” Despite our efforts to address the concerns in the following issue, we still got push back. “That brothers article could incite some people,” said Bishop Francis. “It gave a leaning towards stupidity of being able to ‘pray your way out of being

“These are really broken down into two issues: financial scandals and sexual scandals. With the sexual scandals these can be broken down into three areas: religious person in church such as a priest, deacon or parent volunteer who engages in a sexual act with a minor (anyone under 18 years of age); secondly, an adult sexually harassing another adult and thirdly, consensual sex among adults.” Bishop Francis is part of the United States Conference Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and is on different committees that have addressed these issues. The Conference of Catholic Bishops is positively moving forward in addressing these issues on the highest level of abuse, including bishops.

“We will be looking for ways to make sure this does not happen again,” said Bishop Francis. “We need better checks and balances.” Not coming forward on these issues is also part of the discussion. “It is how many families have dealt with crisis such as molestation. They will tell the Church but they don’t want to report it to law enforcement and they don’t want to pursue charges. I am not saying it’s right. It’s the reality. However, the Church must move forward with allegations.” Any issue that deals with a minor, the Church is legally required to report it to the law and an investigation will take place. Bishop Francis said they would always comply. As for the sex scandal by priests in the Catholic Church in the United States an independent firm did a study on priests who were reported abusers. What was discovered was that of all the priests who molested minors, 81 percent were male and of those, about 90 percent were post pubescent, older than 13 years. “It is more of a gay problem than anything else. When you have priests preying on a 16-year-old, it is an attraction to men,” said Bishop Francis. “This revealed that those who committed sexual crimes against minors were more homosexual than being pedophiles.” The prepubescent were less than 14 percent, according to this study. “It is important to note that not all gay people are molesters but most people who did molest were homosexual, according to this study.” For this reason, the Vatican decided that no one with deep-seeded homosexual tendencies should enter the seminary. As for our diocese, potential seminarians are given psychological evaluations and questionnaires through the seminary. The seminary also wants candidates to have abstained from dating for at least two years before entering seminary. “The diocese has also put a twoyear wait after high school because the vast majority of seminarians who left seminary were those who entered right after high school,” said Bishop Francis. “We want to make sure candidates are mature. Our Chaldean Seminarians attend Sacred Heart Seminary and the seminary has done a tremendous job in screening seminarian candidates and forming them until ordination.”

On the administration of the Detroit Diocese “We were on survival mode at the time of my ordination,” said Bishop Francis, “and, it wasn’t our survival. It was the survival of the people in Iraq and the refugee problem. We are moving into a direction where we need more structure. We are hiring a Chief Financial Officer. We are also looking at hiring a Communications and Community Outreach Person and a Director of Religious Education,” said Bishop Francis. “The church, in its growth, needs others, especially the lay, to step up in areas of evangelization and governance. There are many on the parish levels who are doing great work, and now we are looking on a diocesan level. This is where individuals or organizations like E.C.R.C. can step up and take greater responsibility. As for me, I want to be a bishop. I want to do more pastoral work and get the assistance we need with administration.” “I want to visit parishes,” said Bishop Francis. “I promised to visit parishes and become more active also with the nuns. I am finally able to meet with them once a month where I deliver a talk and engage in an open session. As for parishes, it is a slower process but I’m getting there sooner or later.” In Detroit, there are more than 18 priests, which translates to approximately one priest per 10,000 people. Two seminarians will be ordained in 2019 and two in 2020 and soon we will have priests who will retire. It’s a heavy workload for these priests.

“Speaker Tom Leonard has been a friend and an ally to the Chaldean community. We are thankful for his public service.” Martin Manna President of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce

Not paid for at taxpayer expense.

On a message to the community “Jesus is beautiful,” said Bishop Francis. “That is the message of the Church. Regardless of all its growing pains, Jesus loves you. Judas doesn’t prove that Jesus is fake. There are priests and bishops who did the unspeakable and there are popes who did the unspeakable but that does not change who Jesus is. There are countless popes, bishops, priests, and other religious who have done and continue do wonderful work. The beauty of Jesus outweighs us. Someone who struggles to do the right thing should not be lumped into a group of people who fell. I need confession every month like everyone else because I am a person who too struggles with living his faith and struggles to grow but that my struggles don’t take away who Jesus is, what He has done and what He can do for you.” MONTH 2018


Supporting menstrual equity Local student combats period poverty BY ASHOURINA SLEWO


hen her mother asked her what she wanted for her birthday, Ashley Rapp could not think of one thing she truly needed – she is fortunate enough to have access to everything she could possibly need. Instead, she thought of those all around her who were not as fortunate. From this thought, an idea was born. She would use her birthday to solicit the donations of menstrual hygiene products. Through I Support the Girls – Detroit (ISTG), Rapp organized a donation drive. Started in Maryland, ISTG collects and distributes menstrual hygiene products and new and used bras to homeless women and girls nationally and internationally. The organization believes women and girls should never have to compromise on dignity, whether they’re homeless, refugees, or fleeing from domestic violence. “I remember my mom, Basma Rapp (Barash), asking me what I wanted for my birthday. I usually have a whole list of things I would ask for, but this year I realized that getting things for my birthday wouldn’t make me happy,” said Rapp. 22


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She explained that while she has access to everything she needs, this is not the case for others. “I knew that using my birthday as a way to collect menstrual hygiene products would be perfect because if people were already planning on buying me a present, they might as well get something that would truly help people.” Having never worried about having access to hygiene products, it came as an eye opener to the University of Michigan student, that women here in the United States are dealing with period poverty. Period poverty is the lack of access to menstrual hygiene products because of financial limitations. Rapp first became aware of the issue when she came across an article about period poverty on Facebook. “I remember reading about people who had to make the choice of buying food to put on the table instead of getting pads or tampons. I had no idea that this was a common phenomenon, let alone in the U.S.,” she said. “Once my eyes were opened, I became obsessed. I read about menstruators who substituted items like paper towel, socks, and even paper bags for

tampons. I couldn’t believe it.” While this is not Rapp’s first product drive, it is the first one she has organized through ISTG. “I have held a product drive before actually. Along with some of my college classmates, we held a menstrual hygiene product drive for Grand Rapids/Muskegon area schools,” said Rapp. For these product drives, Rapp and her classmates had a network of contacts that knew which schools, shelters, etc. in the area needed products. Since moving back to Sterling Heights, though, she has looked to ISTG to distribute the products. “Luckily, ISTG was in contact with local teachers and social workers that were able to identify and take the products to people who needed them. In particular, Detroit middle schools and high schools were in need,” explained Rapp. “… they were a good resource in helping to get the products to the people in the area that needed them.” Unlike her previous drives, Rapp employed social media and general word of mouth to bring in the donations – paired with an Amazon wish list to make donating as seamless a

process as possible. “Since a lot of people do their shopping online and have Amazon accounts, it made it easy for them to go on the Amazon wish list that I had set up with quantities of pads and tampons, add items to their cart, and once they bought them, they were shipped to my house,” explained Rapp. “I also had a lot of people reach out to me via Facebook, and so I met with so many great people that gave me products directly. One woman even filled up the backseat of my car with products!” In the few short weeks leading up to her birthday, Rapp was able to collect 3,067 menstrual hygiene products. This translates to more than 200 periods served. Menstrual equity, says Rapp, is imperative as more than half the population menstruates. “…yet period products are somehow still taxed as a luxury item. When people cannot access products that are essential to their hygiene, something is wrong. Most food stamp programs don’t even include period products, which makes it even more difficult for people to access the products they need. This all feeds into the issues of gender equality and minimizing the effects of poverty.” Focusing on the Chaldean community, Rapp believes the rhetoric must change. While many shy away from talking about menstruation, she believes normalizing the fact that more than half the population menstruates and talking about periods will help to fight the stigma and inequality. “Our community is no stranger to struggles and hard times. We haven’t had the opportunities or things in our lives handed to us. We understand that as a human family, we have to take care of each other,” said Rapp. “People are uncomfortable talking about periods even though half of our population menstruates. Periods shouldn’t be a shameful thing, and needing help getting things like pads and tampons should not be embarrassing. It’s the same as people needing food from a food pantry.” Combatting the stigma and inequality starts with changing the conversation. “It’s easy to get involved in the menstrual movement! Make sure your family and friends talk about menstruation openly. Donate pads and tampons to shelters, or even start a drive yourself,” explained Rapp.



Help Wanted! Please consider hiring one of our many new Americans. More than 30,000 Chaldean refugees have migrated to Michigan since 2007. Many possess the skills and determination to work hard for you and your organization. The Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) has a bank of resumes of candidates qualified to do a variety of jobs. To inquire about hiring a New American, call or email Elias at 586-722-7253 or

Chaldean Community Foundation Sterling Heights Office 3601 15 Mile Road Sterling Heights, MI 48310 586-722-7253

MONTH 2018


Crossing the finish line BY BIANCA KASAWDISH


unning changed from something I did for my physical health to a vehicle to pursue challenges I could really put myself into… to test both my mental and physical limits.” There are many moments that make up a life – some even life-changing. For Dounia Senawi Lievan, it was when she realized she didn’t exercise at all and wanted to change that. That was all the motivation it took to push her to run her first ultramarathon, about 50 miles. One moment. Lievan, 38, is a Principal at Deloitte Consulting, leading the Customer & Marketing practice for Financial Services. It was one night during dinner with her colleagues, one being an ultrarunner who looked over and asked her what she did to stay healthy. She replied with, “Nothing – I have a lot going on right now.” She says that one moment changed her life. “I think it was the combination of embarrassment and competitiveness – but that’s all it took.  I remember thinking, “If he can run a 100 miles so can I,” said Lievan. Before this, she had never run a mile. The next day, she started walking. Walking turned into running, and four months later, she was at the starting line of her first half marathon, with a goal in mind that she would run the entire thing. This is something she will never forget. After the half marathon, she began training for the ultramarathon. Steadfast and dedicated to her goal, Lievan trained for six months, which consisted of running five days a week, (a combination of speed training, tempo runs and long runs). A few months before the race, she was running an average of 50-80 miles per week, while it was common to run 20-26 miles during a weekend long run. During this time, she also worked on finding the right gear and nutrition to find what worked for her. She said, “Long distance running much more discipline, patience and mental toughness.” Livean shares that running has become something that challenges her in many ways, mentally and physicals. “It takes me back to sitting with my grandfather  and listening to him tell me that the most important 24


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lessons learned come from the goals you work the hardest to achieve,” she said. The ultramarathon was on June 2nd in Northern Michigan. The 50 mile course ran from Torch Lake to the Petos-

key Light House. Lievan shared that during the race, you have to have a crew that leap frogs you in a car for the entire day, making sure you drink enough water, eat enough, take your salt pills on time, help you with your blisters, change your socks and shoes, and who also pace you during the evening hours. Lievan’s brother and son John were part of the crew, along with her cousin who traveled from San Diego to pace her. Her colleague was set as their ‘phone an expert. “I couldn’t have done it without them. I didn’t know what to expect but had told them that the only way that I

would quit was if I was peeing blood or seriously injured. So they would shout “Cross that Line” or “Dounia – 37” (37 was my bib number) when the race got tough,” Lievan says. While she had a few tough moments during the race, the combination of the afternoon heat, the rolling hills, the pitch black trails in the middle of the night. There were many moments where she stopped to enjoy the ride and the beauty around her when she smiled, knowing she pushed herself and worked hard. Lievan shares she is grateful to her family for supporting her every

step of the way, as well as her crew. And life changing it was. After crossing the finish line, she took a few days to rest and was running again just four days later. Lievan is grateful for the opportunity she had to really challenge herself and really learn what she is capable of. “We have much more in our reserves than we think - just have to have the right mind set in the face of what’s coming. I was also glad that my son was a part of it…to witness that anything is possible with hard work…and that you never give up,” she says.

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MONTH 2018


On guard for the faith BY ASHOURINA SLEWO


ather Anthony Kathawa, associate pastor of St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church has a dual role as a priest. He is also able to celebrate mass and serve in the Latin Rite. Last month, he was sworn in as Chaplain for the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township. Bishop Francis approved the bi-ritual status. Fr. Rudy Zoma is a bi-ritual priest, as well “because they needed him to celebrate Arabic masses for people accustomed to Latin Rite mass and that went through Archdiocese of Detroit,” said Bishop Francis. “The Military Diocese is like any other Diocese. In fact, it’s the largest Diocese in the world.” Fr. Anthony is a bi-ritual priest through the Military Diocese. With the bi-ritual status, both Fr. Anthony and Fr. Rudy have the approval to celebrate mass in the Latin Rite church. On Sept. 9, Brig. Gen. Doug Slocum, 127th Wing Commander, administered the oath of office to Father Anthony Kathawa at the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church in West Bloomfield Township, Mich. Fr. Anthony will attend training 26


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to become a chaplain with the 127th Wing. He will be among other chaplains. Fr. Anthony applied for enlistment in the Michigan Air National Guard and met the eligibility requirements for an available Chaplain position. Now that he is a member of the Guard, he will take military and job-specific training so he can commission into the Chaplain Corp. As a Chaplain, he’ll have a key part in the Air National Guard’s effort to help meet the spiritual needs of an exceptional group of highly trained, dedicated service members. Military Chaplains minister wherever forces serve, providing a religious ministry response to the needs of service members, families and other authorized personnel whether at home base or deployed. Chaplains participate in religious observances and worship services, spiritual and religious educational materials, confidential counseling, grief ministry — grief counseling/support groups and grief management. Once Fr. Anthony completes his initial active duty training in his job field and his officer training course, he will receive his commission in the

Chaplain Corps.; commissions are not time-limited. Enlistment ceremonies require an officer to administer the “Oath of Enlistment” to the enlistee. While facing each other, standing at the position of attention and with right hands raised, the enlisting officer asks the enlistee to repeat as follows:

President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So, help me God.” The mission of the 127th Wing Chaplains are to service the Airmen assigned to the Wing, without regard to denomination. “We are honored to have Fr. Anthony as a member of the military and Team Selfridge. We look forward to his guidance and leadership,” said Brig. Gen. Doug Slocum, 127th Wing Commander. Selfridge has a century-long history in Macomb County and, aside from the command unit, 127th Wing, houses more than 40 tenants from all branches of the military. Marine Reserve, Navy Reserve, Army National Guard, Active Duty Coast Guard and Customs and Border Patrol all have units stationed there.

“I, (Fr. Anthony), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the

There are many benefits to joining the Michigan Air National Guard. To learn more about the benefits of joining your your hometown Air Force, visit https://www.127wg.ang. or call: 586.239.5511.


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MONTH 2018


History’s deadliest pattern ‘After Saturday Comes Sunday’ examines religious persecution BY STEPHEN JONES


he dreadful attacks against Christians in the Middle East by the Islamic State group (ISIL) follows an unfortunate, familiar pattern of genocidal religious persecution. Susan Adelman’s book, After Saturday Comes Sunday, pulls back the curtain on religious violence in the Middle East, focusing on massacres suffered by early Christian churches, the genocide of Armenians, Syrians and Greeks in 1915, and the present-day destruction carried out by ISIL. The book itself is a call to action, its title is a warning. “The title of the book, After Saturday Comes Sunday, is something that my Christian friends have told me about for years, a warning they used to hear from their neighbors in the Middle East,” Adelman said. “What it means is: after we finish off the Saturday people (the Jews), we will finish you off, the Christian people. As I show in the book, today could well be Sunday.” Adelman, a retired pediatric surgeon, was inspired to write this book through her friendship with 92-yearold Norma Hakim. “I met Norma when I was called to operate on a 9-year-old nephew of hers who had come recently from Iraq and who did not speak English,” Adelman said. “Norma and another aunt came to the hospital to translate for him, and Norma became a real partner in managing what turned out to be a long, life-threatening and complicated condition. Soon, she enfolded me into her family.” Over 40 years, Adelman and Hakim shared stories with one another as Adelman became more and more embedded in Hakim’s amorous, extended Chaldean family. As Adelman learned details of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East from Hakim’s stories, she became enamored with their culture, starting with their language and historic origins. “It was precisely because of my relationship with Norma and her 28


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family that I felt so deeply about the devastation that ISIS has caused to the Chaldean and Assyrian people in Iraq and surrounding countries,” said Adelman. “I wrote the book to urge the American people to help them.” Adelman recognized that few in the U.S. fully grasp what is at stake for Chaldeans, and wanted to share Hakim’s story so that others might be inspired in the same way that she was. “I devoted a chapter of the book

to Norma to introduce the reader to the Chaldean people, to convey a feeling for who they are, and to show what kind of warm, loving people are at risk today in the Middle East,” Adelman said. “These endangered people who barely have survived ISIS need to resettle in their villages if they ever expect to keep their culture and their 3000-year-old language, Aramaic, alive.” Hakim, whom the book is dedi-

cated to, knows that Chaldeans are in a deadly battle to save their culture from being vanquished. She is not sure if political aid is realistic, but was willing to share her experiences so that people would understand the rich Chaldean culture and history and develop a sense of empathy for their struggles. Adelman uses the Aramaic language to showcase similarities between all victims of religious persecution. Aramaic was the language of the Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire and early Persian Empires. Jews adopted the language from their time spent living in Syria and spoke it in their homes for thousands of years. “The survival of Aramaic is the thread that ties together the stories that I tell of Chaldeans, Assyrians and Kurdish Jews, who have shared much of the same history,” Adelman said. “In fact, I also tell the story of Batya, a Kurdish Jewish woman who now lives in Jerusalem, but who comes from a village in northern Iraq, just as Norma does.” Years ago, the Saturday People (Jews) escaped religious violence by fleeing to Israel to create a majorly Jewish state that has experienced economic freedom and prosperity. If good prevails, history will repeat itself in this way for the Sunday People (Chaldeans) whose leaders have urged the international community, principally the United States, to intervene. Adelman believes that the U.S. developing a stronger presence in Iraq, Syria and other adjacent countries could help minority populations such as the Chaldeans and Assyrians gain political representation, and would benefit the U.S. by helping to stabilize a key portion of a volatile Middle Eastern area. At the conclusion of the book, Adelman examines various proposals that have been put forward for assisting and protecting these endangered people in their Middle Eastern heartland.

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King George rules his video game world Detroiter focusing on live-streaming and content creation BY STEVE STEIN


ing George is royalty in the video gaming world. George Kassa is King George’s real name. He’s a 28-year-old Detroiter who quickly made a name for himself as a professional video game competitor, then left that sphere in January to focus entirely on live-streaming and content creation. “What I’m doing now is far better for me in the long term than playing professionally,” Kassa said. “It’s better financially, and I have more control over my time and the content I produce.” Kassa described playing professionally as “very, very, very stressful and time consuming.” When he plays now, Kassa said, he decides when he plays and who he plays against. His competitions these days are live-streamed on Twitch, a video platform owned by a subsidiary of Amazon. Kassa has about 6,000 subscribers. He earns money from paid subscriptions and sponsors pay him to use their equipment and endorse their products. “It’s entertainment and it’s educational,” Kassa said about his live-streams. “I think people enjoy watching me play because 30


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I have a dry sense of humor, and I use accents like a Joe Pesci-type ‘mob’ guy,” he said. “I’m being myself. I’m not an actor. That’s important.” Before he began his journey to become a professional video game player, Kassa said, he was a quiet, reserved guy. Today is a different story. He has a regal nickname bestowed upon him by friends and a more outgoing personality. Crowds don’t intimidate him. “I can speak in front of 10,000 people and not be nervous at all,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to a paid-for trip to Los Angeles to do a meet-andgreet at a video game convention. Kassa’s video game of choice is Rainbow Six Siege, which he describes in basic terms as a 5-v-5 competition between com-

puter-generated terrorists and counter-terrorists. The game was released worldwide Dec. 1, 2015, about the same time Kassa found himself with time on his hands because a shoulder injury prevented him from doing his regular gym workouts. He still was busy with his fireworks business and selling real estate, but his gym time suddenly was open. “I spent my extra time doing what many guys my age do. Playing video games,” Kassa said. He became proficient in Rainbow Six Siege, eventually competing professionally for two years at the highest level and traveling all over the world for competitions. Kassa was a member of the renowned Rogue team when he stopped competing professionally. The team is owned by the Imagine Dragons rock band and musician, record producer, deejay and music executive Steve Aoki. When he was with the Continuum team, Kassa won the Six Invitational in Montreal in 2017. Six Invitational is the biggest and most prestigious tournament in Rainbow Six Siege.  Here’s how to find Kassa on social media, and check out his gear and merchandise: Twitch: YouTube: Twitter: Instagram: Gear: Merchandise:

Dear Family and Friends, As the election nears to just days away, I remain sincerely grateful for your support these past 18 years. Your words of encouragement and support have brought me strength. God has blessed me in so many ways. Thank you to my family, friends and Chaldean community. May God bless you with abundant grace. See you at the polls on November 6.

Chief Judge Diane Dickow D’Agostini 48th District Court “Diane D’Agostini was first elected to the bench in 2000 and has been twice re-elected since. Both her time on the bench and her previous stint as an assistant prosecutor have helped her develop into one of the better district court judges. Her outreach to area youth through programs she has developed hopefully will help minimize future interaction with the court system.” – Downtown Newsmagazine, Oct. 2018 • Endorsed by the Police Officers Association of Michigan – representing over 12,000 law enforcement members. Paid for by the Citizens to Reelect Judge Diane D’Agostini, P.O. Box 7262, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

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MONTH 2018


Labor of love BY LISA CIPRIANO


aren Binno Akouri and Wesson Kassab are wives and mothers each with their own babies. These babies are not children. They are their businesses. They created them essentially on their own, are nurturing them and watching them grow and thrive. Binno Akouri’s baby was born in 2016. That’s the year that she created and founded what is now known as drench salad dressing. She went to college for accounting and worked many years as a Certified Public Accountant Karen Binno Akouri, Wesson Kassab (CPA) and Certified Internal Auno emulsifiers, preservatives, gluten, ditor (CIA). The importance of dairy, soy or nuts. feeding her family healthily led her to “I only use the highest-quality begin creating her clean, natural salad oils like olive, grapeseed and avodressing line in her home kitchen in cado oils. I refuse to use the cheaper West Bloomfield. canola or soybean oils because 80 “Like many of the moms out percent of those are GMO. I will not there, you want to feed your family compromise my product for cost,” something healthy. I’d make a nice, explained Binno Akouri. healthy salad and then put a storeShe also uses Michigan grown bought salad dressing on it with all products whenever possible for farmof these chemicals in it. It defeats the to-table freshness and to help the lopurpose,” explained Binno Akouri. cal economy. She knew that she could do betBinno Akouri’s perseverance has ter and that’s exactly what she did paid off in that drench is now availby making her own salad dressings able at Plum Market, Market Square with fresh ingredients that you can and Beyond Juice among numerous buy at a grocery store as opposed to other locations. And, the list just a chemical lab. keeps on growing. You can also stock Her family and friends ate it up. up on drench by shopping online at “They all said how good my and eventually at ings are and I thought that they were and just being nice,” said Binno Akouri. In fact, she’s had to hire a few emThat is, until she started seeing a ployees and is looking for a distribudemand. tor to help keep up with the growing “They’d call me when they had demand. gatherings and ask me to make my salBinno Akouri admits that she was a ads and homemade dressings and ofbit apprehensive at first about starting fer to pay me for it. The response was her own business and all that it entails pretty overwhelming and I knew that along with her other responsibilities as I was on to something,” she added. a wife and very involved mother. Binno Akouri began to bottle her “I was a little scared. But, because creations, gave them a brand name I got such a positive response, that and drench was officially born. just made me think, I can do this,” She didn’t know the industry, she said. but learned quickly and now has a And, she did do it and is always in co-packer in Detroit which packages the kitchen creating something new and labels her product per her specito offer. fications and under her watchful eye. Binno Akouri’s goal is to revoluDespite suggestions that she use tionize the salad dressing/marinade cheaper, less healthy ingredients to industry in a healthy direction and keep costs down, she has not budged become as big of a household name in her commitment to quality, as Heinz Ketchup. healthy, non-GMO ingredients with 32


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She attributes her drive and persistence to being Chaldean and says that members of the Chaldean community have been some of her earliest and most devoted customers. “We’re definitely a driven bunch! We also help each other out whenever we can,” she concluded. Kassab’s baby, Gabby’s Garden Natural Foods, was born in 2010 out of a desire to provide her ailing sister, Faye, with delicious, nutrient dense, protein rich salads that fit into her strict holistic diet plan. The Commerce Township wife, mother and entrepreneur has always been in the food industry. In fact, she and her husband owned a 1950s style diner for over a decade until the economic downturn in 2009. Kassab took a job as a nanny and her husband, Nick, found a job at Market Square in West Bloomfield. That’s where she found not only the first paying customers for her healthy salad creations, but her passion again. “My love of food comes naturally. I love to create and experiment with new recipes. There is nothing else that I’d rather do. It makes me happy,” Kassab said. As the demand increased for her salads at the three Chaldean owned Market Square/Market Fresh stores and other retailers, she went from creating her recipes in a 1,300 square feet facility in West Bloomfield to a 10,000 square feet warehouse in Wixom. Gabby’s Garden (named after Kassab’s oldest daughter) is now an official wholesaler of ten different salad creations – as well as turshi –

that are currently being sold in 50 different specialty markets, juice bars, gyms and even at some stores in Detroit Metro Airport. Kassab’s baby has grown to employ 13 people and soon will include a gluten free, vegan soup line. “Vegan is the direction that we’re heading with everything. I’m a firm believer that if you can get your protein and nutrients front plant-based foods, that’s the best way to go,” explained Kassab. “I get so many comments from people saying that they feel so much better and have lost weight eating our salads,” she continued. Like Binno Akouri, Kassab refuses to compromise quality for cost and only uses fresh, quality and whenever possible, Michigan grown ingredients. Kassab admits that starting her own business was and still can be a bit scary because you never know what’s going to happen from day-today. She says the rewards are more than worth it and the example that it sets is priceless. “It’s nice to know that I have a God-given talent that I can use to support myself. It feels good and demonstrates confidence and leadership to young women,” Kassab said. Kassab says that the Chaldean community has been extremely supportive of Gabby’s Garden, especially the younger generation who send her pictures of their small children enjoying her healthy salads. Again, like Binno Akouri, she credits her determination and success to her Chaldean blood. “We’re driven and have a hard work ethic. It’s instilled in us that hard work pays off if you’re honest, don’t complain and just persevere,” explained Kassab. Kassab firmly believes that her baby, born out of the love of her sister who passed away in 2014, has grown and thrived thanks to Faye’s heavenly hand. “I’ve had different businesses in the past and some were not as successful. I just know that she’s watching us and sending down her blessings from above,” Kassab concluded.

chaldean on the STREET

Giving thanks BY HALIM SHEENA

As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded of all the good things in our lives. We wanted to know what our community is most grateful for this year.

Each day, I wake up grateful that God is allowing me to spend another day above ground. Thankful for the opportunity to pursue higher learning and to be able to do what I was put on this earth to do through the will of God.  When the winter nights get colder and unbearable, I have a home and warm meal waiting for me.  And a family to wrap my arms around.  These are just a few of the many things I am most grateful for.  – Natalie Brikho, 26, Troy

What I was grateful for in 2018 was every single thing I went through. I had a lot of good things and a lot of bad things happen. I’m truthfully grateful for both because I can cherish the good things forever, and I learned a lot from the bad to help me get on the right path for 2019. – Tamar Krikorian, 22, West Bloomfield

What I am most grateful for in 2018 is my growth spiritually. Sometimes it’s hard to trust in God’s plan and that is something that I have left in His hands this last year. Upon doing so, I saw my life’s plans unfold in ways that I would not have imagined. I am grateful for the wisdom and calling that was yearning within me and for the courage to do so. – Lauren Dallo, 22, Bloomfield Hills

This year, I am truly most grateful for the gift of being able to have an education and to pursue my dreams. It is something that I believe many of us don’t see! My parents never had the opportunity as I currently do. So, having that ability is something great. – Jon Azer, 20, Commerce Township

This year I am most grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, and for my loving friends and family that are always by my side. They have helped me to continue to grow into being a better person every day. – Serena Beshi, 19, West Bloomfield

I feel grateful every day to have a loving family, great friends and good health but one thing made 2018 extra special. I got engaged and was welcomed into a beautiful, new family. I feel blessed to be a part of a family that is understanding, faithful and filled with love and laughter. – Maureen Jemmoa, 25, Rochester Hills MONTH 2018


ECONOMICS & enterprise

Middle Eastern fast casual finds its Pita Way BY PAUL NATINSKY


iddle Eastern fast casual dining is not a new concept and Brandon Bahoura is not reinventing the wheel, but he certainly is adding horsepower and sparkle to the industry. After beginning in the restaurant business as a 12-year-old busboy, Bahoura, 34, managed a pizza place in high school, earned a business degree from Oakland University and paid his dues learning to cook Middle Eastern food for four months without pay. After a stint at his family’s grocery store, Pita Way was born in 2010 with one store in Clarkston. Bahoura was fortunate to have help from family and friends as he perfected his first fast-casual restaurant without drawing a paycheck for the first six months. He just opened his eighth restaurant and is in the process of opening ninth in Warren within a month or so. Modeled after his idol Steve Ells’ successful Chipotle company, Bahoura’s Pita Way employs a similar concept. Guests select the ingredients of their sandwiches or bowls from a variety of fresh meats, cheeses, vegetables and sauces. Bahoura prides himself on using only fresh ingredients, as with Chipotle, and owns a commissary, which supplies his restaurants directly. In mid-October, I had an early lunch and ordered a sandwich called the “Brandon Special,” which included beef kafta (mixed with a little bit of lamb), hummus and garlic sauce, white pita, lettuce, tourshi (pickled beets), pickles, onions, tomatoes, topped with feta, ranch dressing and HP steak sauce, which, Brandon related accurately, “really gives a nice little zing to it.” To complete my combo, I had a bowl of curry rice stew, a pleasantly spiced soup that is served with almond slivers and golden raisins and adds a bit of an Indian accent to the meal. Everything was delicious and fresh as advertised. Bahoura prides himself on having a well-trained staff and promoting from within. The people I met in Livonia proved to be well-informed and enthusiastic. In addition to the Brandon Special, Pita Way offers a Quesopita, modeled after a quesadilla, but with Middle 34


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Eastern ingredients. He said his favorite version features a sprinkle of $60-per-pound ghost pepper powder. Despite the creatively engineered sandwiches and innovative Quesopitas, Bahoura said the bestselling item he’s got is a rice bowl in which guests choose ingredients to layer over a bed a of rice. With four restaurants and the commissary operating at the beginning of 2018 and the ninth restaurant set to open, Pita Way has grown quickly. Bahoura sees no end in sight. “The sky’s the limit, as long as I’ve got good people behind me and God is watching over me, I’m going to take this as far as I can take it,” he said. Bahoura has a core of long-time

“Pita Wayers,” who help get each new restaurant into ship shape. He spends most of his time managing the people who manage his restaurants, meeting monthly with all of the restaurant general managers. Bahoura hopes that Pita Way can achieve the level of success that the 1,000-plus location Chipotle has. But Bahoura breaks from his idol Ells in that it’s likely he will franchise the restaurants after he opens his ninth corporate owned location at the end of this year. “I think franchising is a good move for me because I think people who are invested in the store are going to care more about its success,” he said. Pita Way is huge on catering.

Bahoura said his restaurants will cater from around the corner to hours away (with additional charges for travel) and can offer family platters for $25 and feasts for eight to 10 people for around $60. For now, Bahoura intends to remain faithful to his fast-casual format, but he hasn’t ruled out table services restaurants with bars and lounges. He just won’t sacrifice his growing Pita Way venture to do it. Chipotle has 1,000 stores, but they’ve been at it since 1992. Bahoura and Pita Way are will on their way after opening a second store in 2016 and ramping up to nine restaurants in eight years and five new locations in 2018.


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Gubernatorial candidates discuss pertinent topics Whitmer and Schuette appeared separately for a discussion at Business Luncheon BY ASHOURINA SLEWO


he Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce hosted their 13th annual Business Luncheon on October 19. Hosted at the Sound Board at the MotorCity Casino Hotel again this year, the annual event is a celebration “showcasing businesses and communities from the Chaldean American and partner communities.” Moderated by Fox 2 News legal analyst Charlie Langton, this year’s panel discussion featured gubernatorial candidates, former senator Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General, Bill Schuette. Both took questions from Langton and the audience; however, they appeared separately and did not interact with each other. Taking the stage first was Democratic candidate Whitmer. Throughout the discussion Whitmer and Schuette discussed their differences, both in policies and beliefs, simultaneously dubbing the other as the wrong choice for the position of Michigan’s governor. From roads and deportations to education and minimum wage, a variety of topics were discussed. 38


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When asked whether or not she would as governor consider pardons for members of the community facing deportation, Whitmer said it is a possibility. “I’ve already had some conversations with some friends who are immigration lawyers who are representing community members with no pay because they believe it is the right thing,” said Whitmer. “A lot of people who are being subjected to being sent to a country that is not their home anymore are in danger. The governor needs to use the bully pulpit to protect the people who call this state home. So, that is something I am open to and interested in pursuing.” In agreement with Whitmer, Schuette stated that, “what we’re not going to do is send people back to a foreign country where they will be persecuted for their religious beliefs.” Minimum wage has been a part of the national conversation for several years now and there has been a focus on it throughout Michigan. “I support a $15 minimum wage,” said Whitmer. “I don’t know what the legislature is going to look like,

but regardless, I want to work with the business community, small business in particular, to make sure we [implement a $15 minimum wage] in a manageable way.” On the opposite end, Schuette stated he would maximize wages while his opponent would set mandated wages. “I believe in private enterprise. I believe in the private sector. I am going to maximize wages and Gretchen Whitmer wants to set and have mandated wages,” said Schuette. As the state’s infrastructure continues to crumble and elected officials fail to implement a feasible solution, the roads have been a popular topic of discussion this election cycle. “We are all paying today for bad roads. Whether you are paying because you are fixing your tires, or replacing windshields, or you are getting your car aligned,” explained Whitmer. “It is a dangerous situation and it is compromising our ability to bring investment to Michigan.” “The fact is that the quality of our roads needs to be at the same level and the same quality as the cars we

produce,” said Schuette. “I’ll call Elaine Chow, the secretary of transportation and advocate for more money coming back into Michigan.” On the topic of education, Whitmer stressed the importance of improving it in a bipartisan way and making sure that the state of Michigan is “spending what it takes to educate our kids.” Citing the state’s incredibly low reading scores, Schuette said his plans to improve education would start with appointing a literacy director. Both Whitmer and Schuette agreed when it came to the elimination of the pension tax on retirement income by restoring an exemption that was eliminated in 2011. Before taking questions from the audience, Langton asked both candidates how they would grade Governor Rick Snyder. Whitmer opted to not do so, stating she has said a lot of good things about the governor, but that she did not agree with everything he did. Schuette, however, commended Snyder, stating that he “has done a great job” as governor.


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MONTH 2018

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Gather & Give On October 11, the Easter Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC) hosted their annual Gather and Give fundraising dinner. Hosted at Shenandoah Country Club, the annual fundraising dinner drew in a large crowd of supporters. This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s keynote speaker was author and Catholic radio host Gus Lloyd. The evening included an auction which featured a variety of items, including several themed baskets.



MONTH 2018

Chaldean News - November 2018  
Chaldean News - November 2018