Concert to benefit Catholics in Iraq who fled terror

A displaced Iraqi child, who fled from violence by Islamic State militants in Mosul, sits with her family outside their tent at a camp in Irbil Sept. 14. A Jan. 25 concert at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Tempe will benefit the thousands of Catholics who fled ISIS and are living now in norther Iraq.
A displaced Iraqi child, who fled from violence by Islamic State militants in Mosul, sits with her family outside their tent at a camp in Irbil Sept. 14. A Jan. 25 concert at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Tempe will benefit the thousands of Catholics who fled ISIS and are living now in norther Iraq.

Six months ago, as ISIS forces stormed Mosul, Iraq and the surrounding villages, thousands of Christians fled for their lives. Many were killed after they refused to renounce their faith in Christ.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, some 120,000 of the refugees have descended on Irbil in northern Iraq since the crisis began. Among them are 5,000 children. As nighttime temperatures drop below freezing, many of those who have escaped ISIS are living in tents, schools and abandoned buildings.

Kim Scoggin, music director at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, decided to do something about it. She’s planned a Jan. 25 concert at the parish featuring well-known Catholic musicians Tom Booth, Ike Ndolo and the OLMC choir. Proceeds from the concert will go toward assisting the Chaldean Catholics who remain in Irbil.

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Benefit concert

2121 S. Rural Road, Tempe

4:30 p.m. Jan. 25 Chaldean Mass

6 p.m. dinner

6:30 p.m. concert

Info: (480) 967-8791

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Scoggin said she was listening to Immaculate Heart Radio when she heard Patrick Madrid interview Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo about the situation. Bishop Jammo leads the St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Diocese headquartered in El Cajon, Calif. Scoggin had already decided she wanted to take action to help the displaced Christians, but the bishop’s words galvanized her.

“He said, ‘Thousands have perished and have been persecuted but thousands more who would have been persecuted were not because of Our Lady’s mantle of protection,’” Scoggin recalled.

A convert to the faith, Scoggin decided then and there that the benefit concert and CD the OLMC music group was planning to help the persecuted ought to include “My Lady,” a song written by well-known Catholic musician Tom Booth.

She’d planned to include something Marian on the CD, she said, but when Bishop Jammo referenced Our Lady’s mantle, she knew Booth’s song was the most fitting.

“We have the freedom to worship here,” Scoggin said. “So many are suffering comparatively and we’re not even aware. We take our own worship experience totally for granted. We don’t do it with our whole heart — we don’t do it with fervency.”

Fr. John Bonavitacola, pastor of OLMC, said he’s met some of the refugees who had to leave their homes in the wake of the violence.

“When you hear their stories and what they had to go through, they really didn’t want to leave their country but there was no option left for them,” Fr. Bonavitacola said. “You start to realize that if we are who we say we are, the body of Christ, we need to show solidarity with them.”

Booth, who will perform at the concert along with Ike Ndolo and the OLMC choir, said he is humbled to be part of the effort to help the persecuted Catholics of Iraq.

“Kim Scoggin brought their plight and predicament to my attention and simply put, they need our prayers and assistance,” Booth said. “Christians in the U.S. live under the challenge of not always being politically correct — the Church in Iraq lives under the threat of losing their lives for living their faith openly. We need to openly love and support them in whatever way, big or small, we are able to.”

The Jan. 25 concert will follow a Chaldean rite Mass at the parish.