by Perrin Atisha
Chaldean seminarians sponsor Mass, personally connect with local business owners.
The seminary is located at Chicago Boulevard and Linwood Avenue, in the heart of Detroit, surrounded by many Chaldean businesses. We approached the priests of our seminary and asked if we would be able to go out once a week to visit the local grocery, liquor, and phone stores. We started in February and have visited about sixty Chaldean-owned businesses.
Our approach is simple. We walk in, introduce ourselves, give the owners a rosary, and begin a faith discussion. Many owners asked, Are you here for donations? We have not taken a single dollar, and the reason for that is because we want to show our people, specifically these business owners, that we care more about their souls than money. Our goal is not to go around collecting donations; it's to go around preaching the Word of God and giving people a sign of hope through the Holy Spirit.
Rodney grew up working in his family's liquor store. I worked in the store up until entering the seminary, Rodney explains. Even in college I was full time in school and full time at the store. The store also provided an excuse for me to not go to Church.
I never realized the joy and peace that faith can give, that encountering Jesus in a real way can give, Rodney says. It wasn't until I had encountered God working through my life in various ways that I was able to give my life over to him!
Rodney was motivated to go out to these Chaldean businesses because he wanted to show others that what God gave him is what he desires to give every person. It was not the store that helped me achieve joy, peace, and happiness, but God. I hope that our people will come to discover this fact. If people find God and come to encounter him in a real way, then they will realize how much he can impact their lives.
Our goal in visiting these businesses is to show our people that they can serve God through their work. When the Lord asks us to follow him and to be his disciples, he is not asking all of us to shut the world out and live like a hermit. He is asking us to invite him into the world, into our lives, our familie—and, yes, even our workplaces. It has been interesting to see how many business owners do not think that the Lord wants to be present in their workplace. Jesus is not just our God when we come to Church; he is our God everywhere, no matter what the situation or circumstance.
We have met many beautiful people who are hungry for more of God's graces and blessings. As such, the Chaldean seminarians decided to put together a Mass for Chaldean Business Owners, inviting all those in our community with a business to the seminary. The event included a reception with appetizers afterward and was held on the evening of April 18. Bishop Francis Kalabat (Class 1995), who heads our Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, generously offered his time as the main celebrant.
Our idea for putting this event together came from the request of all those we visited. Many asked how they could be invited to the seminary because they pass it daily on their way to work. And how was the attendance? About 125 business owners came to the Mass and reception, well exceeding our expectations.
Coming together and worshipping our Lord through Mass was the perfect way to gather together as a community. We thanked God and asked him for his protection, so that his graces and blessings may be poured out upon our Chaldean business owners.
Perrin AtishaPerrin Atisha is a third-year theologian studying for the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle.