In the summer of 2013 tragedy struck our community, as a fatal boating accident resulted in the premature death of Alexander, 11, and Gabrielle, 6, Mansour.
The bitterness of this misfortunate incident left the Mansour family stunned as parents John and Ann and middle child Adrianna mourned the loss of their beloved family members. The pain echoed throughout the community as numerous prayer groups formed throughout the St. Thomas Eparchy.
Social media went ablaze in a rapture of condolences offered by family members and strangers alike were touched by the devastation. As the Mansours braced reality, they found solace in Christ by bearing the cross bestowed upon them.
They would quickly realize they were not alone as support trickled in from the community, church, clergy and most notably seminarians. In the form of Simon of Cyrene, the Chaldean seminarians banded together to help the Mansours carry their cross.
With the seminarians giving their time, prayers and love, they weaved themselves into the hearts of John, Ann and Adrianna. In the midst of the devastation and utter bleakness, light was found illuminating from the hospitality by way of the generous seminarians.
Undoubtedly their visits and distinct moments spent with the family affected the Mansours beyond anticipation. As the seminarians continued to embody Christ’s message “to love your neighbor as yourself” the Mansour family felt compelled to return the hospitality.
With the help of a committee, in conjunction with John, Ann, the seminarians and various other community members, a fundraising organization has been created — the Alexander and Gabrielle Mansour Memorial Fund.
This organization has several goals. One specific goal is to assist tuition costs for each seminarian. Currently, the cost per seminarian per year for education, housing and other expenses is more than $30,000.
In our Eparchy, which covers greater Detroit and Chicago, we have been blessed to witness 10 exceptional men who have the courage to take the next step and enter the seminary to discern more deeply God’s will in their lives. However, there are monetary needs that need to be addressed and the Mansour family is seeking your generosity to assist in funding these young men’s path to priesthood, an endeavor in which the entire community benefits.
The dynamic fundraising event, titled Stride for Seminarians, has been developed to financially assist the seminarians as they find and fulfill their vocations.
The event will be held on Sunday, September 21, at a cherished place for children: The Detroit Zoo. Family and friends alike are encouraged to register for the event, either in groups or individually.
Stride for Seminarians will be free for children 2 and younger, $30 for those under 12 and $40 for all other participants. Along with registration, a free tee-shirt and parking admission will be given to the ticketholders.
During the event, there will be a plethora of activities and games to partake in, with a special opportunity to meet the seminarians. Just as in our daily life, Christ will also be present, as mass will be celebrated after the walk on the grounds of the Detroit Zoo.
This event will be a pinnacle moment for our community as we gather to show support for our future leaders of the church and remember the special lives of Alexander and Gabrielle.
During the event, various members from the community will be onsite to enjoy the walk. After the event, attendees can chose to spend the day roaming around enjoying the sights and animals.
Companies and groups can sign up together casting support within their dynamic cluster of friends, families or work organizations.
Registration for the event will open promptly at 7:30 a.m. The official Stride for Seminarians walk will begin at 8:30 a.m., concluding with Mass at 10 a.m.
To sign up for the fundraiser, registration forms are accessible online through AlexAndGabby.com. The site also offers in-depth event information along with opportunities to donate or sponsor the event.
By attending the walk, not only will you honor the memory of Alexander and Gabrielle, but you will also continue to carry Christ’s mission for future generations to grasp.
Now, more than ever, we must take action to protect our Chaldean Church from declining in the face of oppression. As the state of our Church continues to plummet in Iraq, we must rise against adversity and continue to build the foundation with the many Chaldeans in diaspora.
Therefore, it is our duty during these crucial times to ensure the longevity of the Chaldean Church by assisting the seminarians, who will undoubtedly serve as the pillars of our faith for generations to come.
Fr. Pierre Konja is the vocation director for the Eparchy of St. Thomas and the vicar of Mother of God Church.