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Patriarch Rai visits Maronite Cathedral in Brooklyn

June 28, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Patriarch Rai (center) receives the gifts of bread and wine to be consecrated into Holy Communion in a Mass that he concelebrated. He is pictured with his concelebrants, left to right: Monsignor James Root, dean of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral; Archbishop Paul N. Sayah, Patriarchal Vicar General; Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of Brooklyn. Assisting them is Chorbishop Michael Thomas (wearing black cassock). Brooklyn Eagle Photo by Francesca N. Tate
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His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, visited the Eparchy of Brooklyn from June 22-29. He is in the United States as part of a trip that culminates in Los Angeles and San Francisco for the Annual Convention of the National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM), at which he will preside next week.

Patriarch Rai has served for five years as the 77th Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. He is also a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic (Latin) Rite. Being a cardinal allowed him to participate in the Conclave of March 12 to 13, 2013 that elected Pope Francis.

Maronites are Eastern Rite Catholics, but the Maronite branch of Christianity is also Antiochene (Antiochian), and traces its origins to Antioch—called the “cradle of Christianity”—of the 1st Century Common Era). Orthodox Christianity also sprang from Antioch.

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During his visit to the Eparchy of Brooklyn and Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral in Brooklyn Heights last Sunday, Patriarch Rai greeted the congregation in a bi-lingual service of English and Syriac (a liturgical form of Aramaic), and prayed for those in the Middle East who have suffered persecution, in countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Armenia. Antiochian Christian patriarchs and clergy from the Orthodox tradition were also present at the service on Sunday.

Patriarch Rai’s delegation included his Excellency Archbishop Paul N. Sayah, Patriarchal Vicar General, and Chorbishop Michael Thomas. They were the guests of Bishop Gregory J. Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. They visited Maronite churches in Buffalo, NY, Lawrence, Massachusetts and Waterville, Maine before arriving in Brooklyn.

On Monday, June 27, Patriarch Bechara Rai also joined Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, for an evening prayer service for Peace in the Middle East.

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Milestone in Faith: Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral

Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral reaches a milestone of its own this week.

Thirty-nine years ago, on June 27, 1977, Our Lady of Lebanon Church was designated as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Saint Maron, U.S.A., when the Eparchial See was transferred from Detroit, Michigan to Brooklyn, New York.

Then, in 1994, the new Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles was created by the Holy See, and the remainder of the original Diocese of Saint Maron – U.S.A. became the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn.

Since its designation as the Cathedral, Our Lady of Lebanon has served all three of the Bishops of the Eparchy of Saint Maron: Archbishop Francis Mansour Zayek (1966–1996); Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi (1996–2004); and Bishop Gregory John Mansour (2004–present).

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