Renovation of the structure in the mid of the twentieth century
Fr Zaia Dashoo was consecrated as Archbishop of Assyro Chaldian Catholic Church of Urmia in Tehran on the 30th of December 1955. He was the successor of Archbishop Habil Zaia. This was the beginning of a new chapter for the Catholic Church of Urmia.
Considering Mar Zaia’ notable contribution to His people, special mention should be made of His sacrifices and intellectual characteristics of His Excellency.
After World War II, complex political situations brought a hostile attitude toward Christians in Urmia and all Christian suburban villages. His highly regarded moral values, leadership and love for His nation, prevented many similar massacres and blood sheds that that region had experienced in its painful and sad history.
His noble communication skills and mutual respect toward other clans and tribal sects in the region were the key factors preventing many Christian dominated villages to be wiped off the map in the Urmia suburbs. It is well known that His intervention saved many lives and His fame as a true saviour is still in the memory of the elderly.
Over time, peace and prosperity returned to the region, especially the western province of Azerbaijan. His old wish to rebuild the Urmia’ Catholic Church persuaded him to start a major donation campaign. He wrote letters and traveled to the neighboring countries to collect donations from Assyrian Chaldean parishioners who migrated away from the area of conflict. He would also travel by horse and walk long distances to visit Christians in the city and suburban villages to collect door to door donations for His long lived aspiration.
His letter found in “budgetary diary”, directed to Assyrian Chaldian who migrated to the United State, states:
Mar Zaia Dashtu
Dear Readers, All these collections are the result of hard work and great struggles. I have spent countless nights writing letters requesting donations; all is done for the glory of Father, Son and Holy Spirit through the praise of St Mary.
After receiving the building permit for the Catholic Church of Urmia, ground breaking ceremony started on April 12th of 1953 by Mar Zaia Dashtu.
His Excellency had purchased the land from Lazarian Missionaries. The structure was built on the same location and dimensions. The new structure was built with a steal plated roof and a tower16 meters high at the entrance, although did not have columns. The Interior design consisted of a large squared hall without any distinctive church architect a plywood ceiling. Above the main Alter was a dome 6 meters high in which the steal plated roof was installed.
The design is registered under Mar Zaia Dashtu. The total cost of the structure is documented to be 1,366,996 Iranian Toman and total collected donation of 1, 410,996 Iranian Toman.
Ground breaking ceremony started on April 12th of 1953
The Catholic Church of Urmia was consecrated on Jun 4th of 1954by His Excellency Mar Joseph Shaikhu, Tehran’s Archbishop Mar Zaia Dashtu, His Holiness Pope ambassador Forni and a huge enthusiastic Christian crowd from all over the city.
Church of St Mary Mother of God after renovation by Mar Zaia Dashtu
His ambitions and efforts continued with building the new structure for Assyro Chaldean Archdiocese of Urmia and Peeshdad School for Christian students.
Day of consecration on Jun 4th of 1954
His main goal was to create opportunities for His beloved community that would lead them towards peace, prosperity and a successful future.
He would emphasize on providing support and meeting the needs of migrant students coming from suburban villages to continue their education in the city of Urmia.
His Excellency was loved and greatly respected not only by His own Parishioners but also by other highly regarded countrymen.
Mar Zaia was well known for His high moral values, strong faith and will until the end of his life. Mar Zaia Dashtu passed away on August 15th 1972.
Translated by : Sargon Yadegar and John Sadeh
The latest renovation of the structure