Maronite Catholic pastor ordained chorbishop on feast of the Epiphany

| Susan Klemond for The Catholic Spirit | January 7, 2015 | 1 Comment
Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun, pastor of St. Maron Maronite Rite Catholic Church in Minneapolis, blesses the congregation during his ordination Mass Jan. 6 at St. Maron. Performing the ordination rite was Bishop Elias Zaidan of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. Bishop Lee Piché attended the ordination, along with several other priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, including Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul. Chorbishop Maroun, who previously held the title of monsignor,  will continue to serve as pastor of St. Maron, which he has done since being appointed there in 1989. The ordination also was special for Chorbishop Maroun because it was his 53rd birthday. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun, pastor of St. Maron Maronite Catholic Church in Minneapolis, blesses the congregation during his ordination Mass Jan. 6 at St. Maron. Performing the ordination rite was Bishop Elias Zaidan of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. At left is Chorbishop Moussa Joseph, rector of St. Raymond Cathedral in St. Louis. Bishop Lee Piché attended the ordination, along with several other priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, including Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, and Father John Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul. Chorbishop Maroun, who previously held the title of monsignor, will continue to serve as pastor of St. Maron, which he has done since in 1989. The ordination also was special for Chorbishop Maroun because it was his 53rd birthday. Members of his family contributed by having their jewelry melted down — in some cases, their wedding bands — for use in his pectoral cross. Also, his mother, Genevieve Maroun, came from her home in New Brunswick, N.J., to attend, receiving a blessing from him during the liturgy. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

On the eve of the Jan. 6 feast of the Epiphany — the day when Maronite Catholics believe Christ passes by their homes offering a special blessing — longtime local Maronite pastor Sharbel Maroun anticipated a particular gift: his ordination as chorbishop the following evening.

Chorbishop Maroun was ordained Jan. 6 by Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan at St. Maron Maronite Catholic Church in Minneapolis where he has served as pastor for more than 25 years.

The two-hour liturgy was spoken and sung in English, Arabic and Syriac, and attended by clergy from eastern and western Catholic rites, including Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché of St. Paul and Minneapolis; Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity; and about 600 lay men and women.

“I feel this is a gift not to me personally only, but to the parish first of all and my family that I’ve been part of the whole journey of my life as a priest,” Chorbishop Maroun said.

The ancient rank of chorbishop was once also found in the Roman Catholic Church and is similar to an auxiliary bishop. Unlike auxiliary bishops, however, chorbishops can confer minor orders but not the diaconate or priesthood.

Catholic, but not RomanBased in Lebanon, the Maronite Church is one of 22 rites, or distinct liturgical traditions, within the Catholic Church that share the creed, sacraments and papal allegiance. Chorbishop Maroun is one of five chorbishops in the eparchy (diocese) of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, which covers 34 states. It is one of two U.S. Maronite eparchies.

‘A beautiful example’

While Roman Catholics celebrate the arrival of the Magi on the feast of the Epiphany, the Maronite and other eastern churches celebrate Christ’s baptism. The feast has special significance for Chorbishop Maroun, who was also born, ordained a priest and elevated to monsignor on that day.

Under a large mosaic representing the Trinity, Bishop Zaidan described during the liturgy how St. John the Baptist pointed to Christ by cleansing the people during baptism so the Lord could give them new life. Chorbishop Maroun also points to Christ, he said.

“Chorbishop Sharbel is that point man showing us and leading us to Christ, saying this is the way to Christ, follow him,” he said. He “has been a beautiful example and heroic father in his own community.”

During the ordination rite, the bishop placed one hand on Chorbishop Maroun’s head and the other upon a newly consecrated host, visually uniting the power of the two sacraments of holy orders and the Eucharist.

Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun, pastor of St. Maron Maronite Catholic Church in Minneapolis, blesses the congregation during his ordination Mass Jan. 6 at St. Maron. Performing the ordination rite was Bishop Elias Zaidan of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. At left is Chorbishop Moussa Joseph, rector of St. Raymond Cathedral in St. Louis. Bishop Lee Piché attended the ordination, along with several other priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, including Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, and Father John Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul. Chorbishop Maroun, who previously held the title of monsignor, will continue to serve as pastor of St. Maron, which he has done since in 1989. The ordination also was special for Chorbishop Maroun because it was his 53rd birthday. Members of his family contributed by having their jewelry melted down — in some cases, their wedding bands — for use in his pectoral cross. Also, his mother, Genevieve Maroun, came from her home in New Brunswick, N.J., to attend, receiving a blessing from him during the liturgy. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun kneels before Bishop Elias Zaidan during the ordination rite at St. Maron Jan. 6. At left is Chorbishop Moussa Joseph, rector of St. Raymond Cathedral in St. Louis. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

At a reception following the ordination, Bishop Piché called Chorbishop Maroun a “wonderful collaborator and minister” whose influence has been felt in the archdiocese and in the Maronite Church.

“Father Sharbel has done wonderful work as a steward and been found faithful and trustworthy,” he said. “For that he has well earned the admiration and respect of his brother priests in the Latin rite who are representing all the priests of the archdiocese tonight on this occasion.”

Chorbishop Maroun will remain St. Maron’s pastor.

“From day one I’ve been called to serve, and I don’t think the chorbishop is going to change anything except to continue my serving,” he said, adding that his ordination entails responsibilities beyond the local Church.

Beyond the Twin Cities, Chorbishop Maroun has already served as a vocation director, parish founder and international president of Tele Lumiere-Noursat, a Christian television network based in Lebanon.

Recognizing his family’s role in his vocation, Chorbishop Maroun displayed his pectoral cross forged from family members’ gold jewelry, including wedding bands.

The ordination was emotional for parishioner Maggie Jacobs.

“He’s a very humble, unselfish man,” she said. “Whatever you ask of him he doesn’t say no to anybody, parishioner or not. He’s a very wonderful priest to have here.”

St. Maron parishioner George Younes was not surprised his pastor was tapped for chorbishop, and he expects to see good work as he assists the eparchy’s bishop.

“We’re afraid the next step is bishop and we might lose him,” Younes said, “but we’d be happy wherever God wishes him to go.”

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  • Sylvia

    Per Wikipedia: In the Maronite Church, a chorbishop is similar to but not identical to an auxiliary bishop. Like a bishop, a chorbishop is ordained, and may wear a bishop’s vestments including the mitre (hat) and crozier (staff).[6] A Maronite chorbishop has the power to confer minor orders (reader and the subdiaconate), but not the diaconate or priesthood.[7] The role of protosyncellus (vicar general) is often filled by a chorbishop.