IRAQ CHAOS MARS HOLIDAY FOR YONKERS CHURCH
Courtesy of the Yonkers Journal News ( 14 April); by Ernie Garcia
(ZNDA: Yonkers) Having lived through seven years of Lebanon's civil
war in the 1970s and '80s, Yonkers resident Jeannette Shomonnedzad
finds reports of lawlessness, looting and revenge killing in Iraq
"Whatever is going on there, I witnessed it in my own country," said
Shomonnedzad, whose Assyrian ancestors fled anti-Christian pogroms in
northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey almost a century ago. "I'm
worried about our own people because they are in the land of the
Kurds. The Kurds were the ones who did this."
Like many Christians around the world, Shomonnedzad and the rest of
the congregation at Mar Mari Assyrian Church on Buena Vista Avenue
celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday, but it was a holy day rendered
mournful by a weekend death in the parish.
Children were joyful and excited by elaborately decorated Easter
breads topped with chocolate crosses prepared by the ladies' auxiliary
of the parish. Yet the events unfolding in Iraq, where there is a
significant Christian Assyrian minority, dimmed adults' holiday spirit.
Mar Mari's pastor, the Rev. Demitry Eskandar, said no phone calls
could be placed to Iraq, so neither he nor other Iraqi immigrant
parishioners could determine their relatives' fate.
New Rochelle resident Joe Akalski, 29, a deacon at Mar Mari, said he
hoped the United States would prevent any sectarian conflict.
Mar Mari is a parish of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of
the East, a denomination descending from St. Thomas the Apostle.
Assyrians began arriving in Yonkers in the mid-20th century, mostly
from Iran and Iraq. Mar Mari, which has about 200 families from the
tri-state area as members, was founded in 1952, and construction on
the current building began in 1966.
The 2000 census documented 82,355 people of Assyrian ancestry in the
United States, with 179 in Yonkers and 429 in Westchester County.
In contrast, the Assyrian International News Agency estimates 3.2
million Assyrians worldwide, with 1.5 million in Iraq and 400,000 in
the United States. The organization said the discrepancy between the
census figures and its numbers might result from Assyrians being
counted as Iraqis or other Middle Easterners.
PS: Mar Mari (St. Mari the Apostle, one of the seventy) is also a
saint for us. The works and episcopacy of St. Thomas the Apostle was
continued in the Eastern Church by St. Addai (Adhai), St. Mari etc.
Christians of the East of Euphrates (Christians of Persia (Iraq) along
with Indian Christians) believe that St. Thomas is the first bishop
(Catholicos) of the East. Mar Adhai and Mar Mari were among the
seventy disciples of Jesus. It was a flourishing Church. By 90 A.D.
this Church had 19 Episcopal sees from Mesopotamia to China and Japan.
For further information kindly read the article "East of the
Euphrates: Early Christianity in Asia". Link below.