By Catholic Register
Canada’s newest bishop has taken his seat at the Good Shepherd Chaldean
Cathedral in Toronto and declared his dream for Canada’s Iraqi
“It is my dream that the Chaldeans in North America become a solid
unit,” Bishop Bawai Soro said to cheers and a standing ovation from an
overflowing church on Nov. 29. The service was presided over by the head
of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Patriarch of Babylon Rafaël Louis
For the 63-year-old Soro, his enthronement at the head of Canada’s
Chaldeans is the end of a long journey that began just 12 kilometres
away at the Cathedral Church of St. Mary’s in the Assyrian Church of the
East. In the early 1980s, the Iraqi-born Soro was ordained in the
Assyrian Church of the East and worked as pastor at the Toronto
He was subsequently elected a bishop in the Assyrian Church of the
East and oversaw the Assyrian community in the Western United States
from San José, Calif.
He became an advocate for ecumenism from within the Assyrian Church
of the East. Then, after studies at the Catholic University of America
in Washington and the Angelicum in Rome, the Synod of Chaldean Bishops
received him as one of their own in 2013. He has served the Chaldean
community from San Diego, Calif., since 2014.
The Chaldean Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto, established in 2011, serves an estimated 40,000 Chaldean Catholics in Canada.
Shamail Ablakan not only admires Soro’s path, he hopes to follow him.
In 1983, Soro sponsored Ablakan as an Assyrian-Iraqi refugee from
Greece. By 1986 Ablakan was serving at St. Mary’s as Soro’s deacon. As
Soro was being enthroned at the Chaldean cathedral just a short drive
from St. Mary’s, Ablakan was there hoping to serve in Soro’s church once
It’s been a couple of years since Ablakan has functioned as a deacon
as he has come to see the division between Assyrians in the two churches
“Otherwise, we are one nation,” Ablakan told The Catholic Register before Soro took possession of his cathedral.
Ablakan’s own reading in Christology has led him to see Assyrians as most at home in the Catholic, Chaldean church.
“We have to be in real faith, true faith,” he said.
In his first address to his new flock, Soro gave thanks to the
Assyrian Church of the East for experiences that shaped him as a bishop.
He also proclaimed his loyalty to Pope Francis and his vision.
“Our Church will be a Church for the poor, for the marginalized and for the persecuted,” Soro said.
Closer collaboration with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
and an emphasis on ecumenism were priorities Soro laid out in a brief
For hundreds of ordinary Chaldeans who filled the cathedral on a
Wednesday morning, seeing their third bishop in the history of Chaldeans
in Canada take up leadership was too important to miss.
“I wanted to be part of it. It’s our Chaldean community,” said Wesen
Resko. “I grew up in this community. I look forward to getting to know
him better, and to introduce my children to him.”