An archbishop and four teachers from Iraq's Kurdistan region are receiving help from a Dallas-based Catholic apostolate, in their effort to expand an English-language school for Chaldean Catholics.
“We’re helping them improve their English to better tell the school’s story,” explained Dr. James Patrick, a senior fellow of the Walsingham Society, in a June 18 bulletin. The group is hosting the teachers along with Archbishop Bashar M. Warda, head of the Archdiocese of Erbil in Iraq's north.
Patrick said his society wants to assist the “small but growing school in Kurdistan,” in order to help members of Iraq's historic Catholic community remain in their homeland. The Chaldean Church predates the growth of Islam, but has suffered massive losses during the Iraq War and its aftermath.
The four visiting teachers are women in their early twenties who, like Archbishop Warda, follow the unique liturgical and spiritual traditions of Chaldean Catholicism. Their city of Erbil is Iraq's fourth largest, and is regarded as a regional capital.
Members of the Chaldean-rite church have established a school – currently granted candidacy status in its pursuit of International Baccalaureate authorization – which teaches students in four grades and will soon expand to eight. Eventually, administrators hope to establish twelve grades and a college.
Founded by graduates and associates of Fort Worth's College of St. Thomas More, the Walsingham Society seeks to promote Christian culture and classical education. Its members are training the archbishop and teachers, who have a basic command of English, in composition and presentation.
Patrick and other Walsingham fellows have been teaching the group for three weeks. “Those who brought them here would be proud” of their progress, the senior fellow said in Monday's update.
“Their visit has helped North Texas, too, to know something about Iraq that has some hope in it,” he remarked.
In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, published June 12, Archbishop Warda recounted the persecution of Iraqi Catholics, while affirming that the country's Christian minority has “the capability to stay and build a good future for Iraq.”
The archbishop told the Register that he hoped to “raise the awareness of the issues in Iraq to build schools and hospitals,” in order to “stay and build the community,” preserving the Chaldean Church's culture and traditions.
The group will leave Dallas on Wednesday, continuing its travels in the U.S. to raise awareness of needs and opportunities within the Iraqi Church.
Correction on June 21 at 11:24 a.m. MST: article incorrectly described school as an International Baccalaureate institution. The school has been granted candidacy status as of this time.