First church centre for Middle East Christians inaugurated


On Sunday, October 22, 2017, the Chaldean-Catholic community of Mar Shimon Bar Sabbai in Stuttgart celebrated the opening of the first centre of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Europe. The Stuttgart municipality is named after the 4th-century martyr bishop and church chief Shimon Bar Sabbai. The Chaldean church has 6,000 faithful in southern Germany. 2,000 come from the greater Stuttgart area, another 1,500 from the entire diocese and 2,500 from outside the diocese.

The parish priest Sizar Happe celebrated the inauguration service. Auxiliary Bishop Matthäus Karrer from the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart gave the sermon and blessed the newly renovated communal areas after the service. In the evening, the village celebrated with specialities of the homeland, dances and a play.

The diocese financed the 1.5 million euros renovation of a three-storey building complex from the 60s, which consists of church and community centre with kitchen. Works included insulation, new windows, new electrical and water pipes, fire protection systems and the establishment of a parish office. The remaining communal areas will be rebuilt from January 2018 onwards in the second phase of construction

Every weekend, 400-500 Chaldean-Catholic Christians come together in Stuttgart’s Rohracker district. Ten years ago Fr Happe started his work in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart,  where about 80 percent of the faithful came from Iraq, another ten percent from Syria and another ten percent from Turkey. The situation for Christians in Iraq became worse after 2003, particularly after 2014 when IS conquered Mosul and vast areas in the northern Iraq. Several thousand Christians fled to Germany, many of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart and the initially small community in Stuttgart grew.

Currently, there is no clear future prospect for Christians in Iraq. “The Christians are afraid that their Faith is finished. They have no hope to be able to stay or even return home” according to Fr Happe.

ACN Malta