The Chaldean Catholic Church has big hopes for Camp Brighton, the property west of Brighton that had been used as a summer camp for city of Detroit children.
The Rev. Manuel Boji, the Chaldean Church spokesman, says the Chaldean community is very pleased with the purchase of the property. "We hope we can keep (the camp) alive."
The Christian denomination plans to use the camp for recreation, physical fitness and - most importantly - strengthening relationships among families and members of each of the seven parishes that make up the Chaldean Church in the metro Detroit area.
"I think it will be wonderful to see our children grow up and be able to use the facilities and interact with the other kids and the greater Chaldean community," says active parishioner Margaret Shamoun. "We're a very close-knit community," Shamoun says.
The mother of three young children is married to Mark Shamoun, owner of Country Acres Village shopping center at Ten Mile and Rushton roads in Green Oak Township.
The church is part of the Eastern Rite wing of the Roman Catholic Church which recognizes the primacy of the pope but retains its own patriarch. Its members are mostly first-and-second-generation Americans who emigrated to this country from Iraq for reasons of religious freedom and better economic opportunity. The metro Detroit area has the largest Chaldean community outside Iraq, estimated at 150,000.
The Detroit City Council approved the sale June 27 of 160 acres of the Camp Brighton recreational property to the Chaldean Catholic Church for $3.5 million.
The 199-acre parcel sits between Euler and Kellogg roads, north of Grand River Avenue and south of McClements Road in Genoa Township. The only portion of the property the church is not purchasing is a 39-acre parcel that is separated from the other 160 acres.
Boji says the camp is somewhat in a state of disrepair, and the church will have to repair and renovate the buildings and spruce up the property, which includes a 40-acre lake. The camp property has "five or six" buildings, including a meeting house which can seat 200-250 people
"Some things will have to be fixed up, cleaned," he says. "For five years it was not used, and it needs a few renovations." However, no wholesale upgrading of the property or buildings is planned. "We are planning to keep things the way they are (now)," he says.
Boji says plans include opening the facility to the public, for a fee. "We want to keep it as a camp for the Chaldean community, but it will be open to everybody."
Boji says it could be September before closing on the property takes place, at which time a "casual gathering for the community" will be held at the camp. It will likely be next year before the church will be able to get full use of the facility, he said.
By Tom Tolen
Ann Arbor News