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Iraqi Redemptorist appointed bishop

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI gave his consent to the Chaldean Synod of Bishops’ canonical election of Redemptorist Father Beshar Mati Warda as Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil, in Northern Iraq. Father Warda replaces Msgr. Rabban Alqas who held the post of Apostolic Administrator of Erbil since 2007.

Father Eric Hoog, a member of the Baltimore Province and a former military chaplain, met Bishop-elect Warda in 2005 while serving with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, assigned out of Forward Operating Base Falcon at the edge of Baghdad:

"When I introduced myself to the Army Chaplain at FOB Falcon, he said that an Iraqi Catholic priest who was also a Redemptorist visited the base to ask for assistance on projects and for supplies for the people," Father Hoog said. "They set up a meeting, and Bishop-elect Warda and I had an instant bond as Redemptorists. We talked about the church in Iraq, and we talked about the Redemptorists. He told me of his difficulties, and when I left Iraq, I promised that I would continue to help him."

"Since 2005, we’ve sent Bishop-elect Warda more than $60,000 (U.S. dollars) that he has used to build schools (for educating both Muslim and Christian children together) and for clinics and pastoral centers. He is a remarkable Redemptorist priest who has worked under very difficult circumstances, and he is a shining example of the Catholic Chaldean Church in Iraq."

Father Warda was born in Baghdad on June 15, 1969. In 1981, he entered the minor seminary and later the Chaldean Patriarchal Seminary of St. Peter at Dora, near Baghdad.

In 1994, following a visit to Iraq of then-Redemptorist Superior General Father Juan Lasso de la Vega, Father Warda decided to enter the Congregation. He completed his novitiate studies and religious education in Dundalk, Ireland. He first professed vows as a Redemptorist on August 24, 1997, and made his final profession on September 15, 2001.

In 2001 he was appointed director of the Cultural Centre of Babel College (Erbil, Iraq), of which he is also General Secretary and lecturer. Until his appointment as bishop, Father Warda held the post of director of the Chaldean Patriarchal Seminary in Ankawa, Erbil, and professor of moral theology of the local Institute of Religious Studies.

The Archeparchy of Erbil has 12,200 Chaldean Catholics, 5 priests serving 5 parishes, 4 permanent deacons and 6 female religious.

Courtesy: Scala