History of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
Immigration of Maronite faithful from the Middle East to the United States began during the latter part of the nineteenth century. When the faithful were able to obtain a priest, communities were established under the jurisdiction of the local Latin Bishops.
Pope Paul VI, with the Apostolic Constitution Cum supremi of January 10, 1966, established the Maronite Apostolic Exarchate for the Maronite faithful of the United States. The Most Reverend Francis Mansour Zayek was appointed the first bishop in a decree of the Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Churches dated January 27, 1966. The See city was Detroit, Michigan, with a Cathedral under the patronage of St Maron. At that time, the Exarchate was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
On November 29, 1971, Pope Paul VI, with the Apostolic Constitution Quae spes, the Exarchate was elevated to the status of an Eparchy, with the name of Eparchy of St Maron of Detroit. With a decree from the Sacred Congregation of the Eastern Churches dated June 27, 1977, the see of the Eparchy of St Maron was transferred to Brooklyn, New York, with the cathedral under the patronage of Our Lady of Lebanon. The name of the Eparchy was modified to Eparchy of St Maron of Brooklyn. On December 10, 1982, Pope John Paul II accorded the title of “Archbishop ad personam” to Bishop Zayek as recognition of his personal contributions to the Catholic Church.
With the Apostolic Constitution Omnium Catholicorum of March 1, 1994, a second Eparchy for Maronites in the United States was established: The Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. The Most Reverend John George Chedid, formerly Titular Bishop of Callinicum for the Maronites and Auxiliary of the Eparchy of St Maron, was appointed the first Eparchial Bishop with the Cathedral under the patronage of Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon. Bishop Chedid was enthroned on June 24, 1994 by Archbishop Francis M. Zayek who represented the Maronite Patriarch His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Sfeir. On December 5, 2000 The Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop John Chedid due to canonical age, and appointed Chorbishop Robert Shaheen as the second bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon. Bishop Shaheen was ordained and installed Eparch on February 15, 2001 by His Eminence and Beatitude Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir in the Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Missouri.
With a decree from the Sacred Congregation of the Eastern Churches dated July 10, 2001, the see of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon was transferred to St. Louis, MO with St. Raymond elevated to the rank of Co-Cathedral.
The territory of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon is comprised of the following States, according to regions:
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Maronites who do not reside within a convenient distance to a local Maronite Church are encouraged to attend other Catholic Churches, but, nevertheless, they retain their membership in the Maronite Church.
The Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon is an entity pertaining to the Apostolic Maronite Patriarchal Church of Antioch and Bishop Robert J. Shaheen is a member of the Patriarchal Synod of Bishops. In conformity with the CCEO, the Eparchy is under the direct jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff.
Today, the Maronite Church in the United States is very much alive and well with a missionary zeal and an ecumenical spirit. Along with the other Eastern Catholics, the Maronite Church helps make the Catholic Community in the United States truly “catholic,” that is, universal