Fr. Philip Helayee: The passing Away of a Great
Chaldean Church Musician

Baghdad – March 26, 2002 On Sunday March 24, 2002, Fr. Philip Helayee of Mar Eliya alHerey Chaldean Church in Baghdad alJadida area, died due to inhalation of carbon monoxide. A result of a faulty electric charge that started a small fire which left a heavy smoke before dying out. The accident happened while Fr. Helayee’s was asleep in his bedroom, and his body was found close to its window in an indication that he tried to open it unsuccessfully.

Fr. Helayee was known for his many musical contributions to the immense heritage of the Chaldean Church of the East and was considered the most gifted musician the church currently has.

Fr. Helayee was born in Mosul, Iraq in 1932 and entered the Dominican Seminary there in 1946. Fr. Helayee was ordained priest for the Chaldean Church on 17 June 1956 in Mosul along with three others, the late Bishop Estefan Kacho, Fr. Rafael Benyamin, and Fr. Francis Sheer.

After his ordination, Fr. Helyaee moved to Baghdad to help his Chaldean parishioners there. His first appointment was a priest for the “Lady of Sorrows” Chaldean Cathedral in Aked alNasara, then to “Holy Family” church in Betaween area, and finally he became the priest for the newly built “Mar Eliya alHerey” church in Baghdad alJadida and stayed with it since 1964.

Fr. Helayee was loved and liked by all those who worked with him and known him in person. He leaves our Chaldean church prematurely with many musical works yet to be completed. His significant influence on the Chaldean hymns will always be noticed and appreciated.

May God bless his soul and help our church and Chaldean nation to produce more great minds like those of Fr. Helayee.

Chaldean News Agency

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