It’s not Roman, but it is Catholic.

St. Paul’s Chaldean Parish in Surrey has its roots in the ancient East Syriac Rite, but the community is just as Catholic as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver.

“Although we are of different liturgical rites, yours being East Syrian and mine being Roman, we all belong to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church,” said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, while visiting St. Paul’s March 24.

Archbishop Miller celebrated Mass with the community, about 1,000 families strong and largely populated by former refugees from Syria and Iraq. Many of the parishioners were sponsored to immigrate to Canada thanks to the archdiocese.

“I wish to express my solidarity with all those who, in your lands of origin, have suffered from the fanatical hatred sown by terrorism, and caused so many of the faithful to leave the lands of their ancestors,” the archbishop said. “Sadly, such a situation caused the vital Christian presence to diminish in a land which witnessed the beginning of the journey of Abraham.”

Maintaining their traditions in Surrey gives many Chaldeans a sense of belonging and a connection to their homeland.

“I know that you wish, as you should, to maintain close and solid ties with your roots while, at the same time, establishing a new home here in Canada,” Archbishop Miller said.

Archbishop Miller celebrates Mass at St. Paul’s Chaldean Parish.

Archbishop Miller also asked St. Paul’s pastor Father Sabah Kamora to pass on his fraternal and prayerful best wishes to Eparchial Bishop Bawai Soro of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai in Toronto.

The local Chaldean community was established as a Catholic mission in 2005. It held regular worship services in various borrowed parish spaces in Surrey until December 2017, when it was finally able to acquire its own church space.

“For 15 years, these people were looking for an area to worship God,” Father Kamora had said at the grand opening.

The Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai is the only Chaldean diocese in Canada. Its membership includes about 40,000 Chaldeans in 10 parishes and missions across the country.

Archbishop Miller with altar servers and other community members at St. Paul’s in Surrey.