The Maronite Catholic Church
Maronite Seminarians, including future Bishop Robert J. Shaheen (back row, 2nd from left) pose for a picture on the steps of Our Lady of Lebannon Maronite Seminary in 1961 with visitors from Rome and local hierarchs.
The Maronite Catholic Church is one of twenty one Eastern Catholic Churches in union with the Holy Father in Rome. The church has a patriarch, her father and head, and over 40 bishops who shepherd eparchies (dioceses) throughout the world. The Maronite Church in the United States is divided into two eparchies; Bishop Gregory Mansour heads the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn (the eastern U.S.) and Bishop A. Elias Zaidan the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles (the western U.S.).
The Maronite Church has a unique liturgy, theology, spirituality and discipline. She has her own cultural and linguistic tradition, and is guided by a patriarch, major archbishop, metropolitan or other hierarch, who along with their synod of bishops are in full communion with the Pope.
The Maronite Church dates back to the early Christians of Antioch where “they were called Christians for the first time.” (Acts 11:26). She still uses as her liturgical language Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic that Jesus himself spoke, and takes her name from the hermit-priest, Saint Maron, who died in 410 AD.
After Saint Maron’s death, over 800 monks adopted his way of life and became known as the Maronites. The Muslim invasions and conflicts from within the Byzantine Empire caused the Maronites to flee the plains of Syria to the natural protection of the mountains of Lebanon. By 687, the Maronites elected a patriarch of the vacant See of Antioch and developed as a distinct church within the Catholic Church.
The Maronites began immigrating to the United States in the late 19th century. A Maronite seminary was established in Washington, D.C. in 1961. In addition to priests, the Maronite Church also has communities of religious men and women who serve the Church.
There are 86 Maronite parishes and missions across the United States. Although many who attend have a Lebanese or Syrian background, the Maronite Church welcomes to attend her liturgies.