I would like to share my humble personal testimony and my experience throughout my daily interactions with Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo. It was an honor to share this at the occasion of appreciation dinner in his honor for his priestly and episcopal service for about fifty years.
Before Bishop Sarhad came to San Diego, prior to the establishment of St. Peter Chaldean Diocese, I was very active and involved in the church. I was a member in the choir, Bible study, and youth group. I also taught Catechism school for about fifteen years. After he became our bishop, I could see the difference, the Chaldean Church blossomed and flourished. I am a witness of the great accomplishments that took place step by step by the Grace of God.
What I am about to share is what I consider Teaching Moments and Points of Reflections that I had learned from Mar Sarhad. One occasion, during our prep for our first annual bishop’s banquet, a fundraiser for St. George Monastery. It was a huge challenge to sell the tickets, especially many people were opposing the idea of purchasing a diocesan monastery. Our diocesan committee members including myself were feeling discouraged. Mar Sarhad one day told me don’t feel down, “Sin is aggressive and it is our face everywhere, why do we shy away from goodness. Good deed should overpower sin.” This really resonate with me till this day. If we believe in something is right for the good of others, then nothing should stop us regardless of the challenges we face.
Another popular saying of Mar Sarhad was, “The Diocese is the measuring tool.” For example, can a ruler be crooked? The diocese should be a ruler-like in principle, no room for mistakes. We have to be the role model and do our best to serve others.
As a bishop secretary working with all churches, I had a mindset transformation from a local to global perspective. During our First Diocesan Youth Convention, St. Michael Youth Group were cheering up enthusiastically, “St. Michael…St. Michael.” Soon after other churches started to do the same thing. It was fun to watch but I couldn’t cheer with St. Michael’s group although I was a member of St. Michael’s Choir. Do you know why? I felt that I no longer belonged to one particular church. I had become a part of all churches, and they were part of me. I was unable to cheer for one church group and leave others feeling left out. The work ethic of the Diocese is like a mother that serves and helps each church according to her needs.
Last but not least, Mar Sarhad made my dream come true by establishing St. George Monterey to be a retreat center for all ages and purposes: teenagers, young adults, adults, men’s and women’s for single and married, and forming young people for religious vocations. I personally loved retreats, prior to Mar Sarhad, I used to join retreats at the Latin Rite Diocese, because they didn’t exist in our Chaldean churches. Deep down, I always wanted our Chaldean church to start having retreats for our Chaldean people, especially the youth. As we know, retreats have a great spiritual value that help us grow closer to God and in our faith.
I am a witness, I was in the center of all implantations. From day one, bishop Sarhad shared with me his long-term vision for his projects, which I can tell you, he indeed accomplished each one and much more. His plan was focused on these highlighted points. His first and fore most priority was the spiritual aspect that was manifest itself in retreats and liturgy that needed a monastery, St. George Monastery. He would pressure himself and others to install a church wherever he could. I witnessed his struggle in every step of the way; for example the process of opening Las Vegas, Sacramento, and Ceres churches.
1- Media center
2- Educational center
3- Mar Abba Seminary
4- Our Lady of the Fields Convent for Nuns
5- St. Joseph Monastery for Monks
6- Deaconate by ordaining all degrees of ministry of the altar boys to lectors, sub-deacons, and deacons
1- Establishing biyearly youth convention
2- Chaldean Cultural Movement encompassing: teaching language, literature composing, performing musicals, and improving/developing/composing liturgical music.
Administratively, he maximized the financial capacity of Chaldean donors and benefactors by leading himself through a personal example the donation campaigns, he and his family members.
1- Because spirituality is number one for him, he paid off the monasteries & convents (non-church buildings).
2- He brought about 18 millions in property value, and one million net yearly. As mentioned, purchasing 3 churches, rectories, monasteries and convents, seminaries (old and new buildings)
Note: I have all the documents for everyone who would like to see and check. If you have any suspicion, I challenge you to search for the truth for yourself. Jesus said “I am the way, truth, and life.” By seeking the truth, we are seeking Jesus.
Bishop Sarhad motivated and guided a True Renaissance Movement, encompassing the pride of being Chaldean, the Chaldean language, the Chaldean art and culture, and the Chaldean spirituality, most of all liturgy providing it with all required institutions: media, formation institutions such as monastery, convent, retreat center, as well as churches and missions wherever needed.
To summarize our appreciation for him and his years of service, we found this name is well-fit for our beloved Bishop Sarhad Yawaip Jammo and his legacy. Bishop Sarhad Jammo is the Lion of Babel who protects the Chaldean heritage, language, and liturgy. May God bless Mar Sarhad and give him the health and strength to continue his service to God and His people.