The Maronite Church is an Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church, under the jurisdiction of the Pope, which dates back to the early Christians of Antioch (Syria) where Jesus’ followers “were called Christians for the first time” (Acts 11:26). The actual name “Maronite” is taken from the name of Saint Maron, who was a priest and hermit, and died around the year 410 A.D.
As part of the Roman Catholic Church, the Maronites profess the same Faith, believe in the same Dogmatic and Moral teachings, and celebrate the same seven Sacraments. Their liturgical celebrations are more unique and reflect their early Apostolic beginnings. For example, in some parts of the Mass, the Maronites still use Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and his Apostles.
During the civil and religious persecutions of Christians in the 7th century, the Maronites fled their churches and monasteries in the plains of Syria, and took refuge in the mountains and caves of nearby Lebanon. Since then, Lebanon has been considered to be the homeland of the Maronite Church.
Millions of Maronites now live in various countries throughout the world, but their Mother Church remains in Lebanon. The current Patriarch, Bechara Peter Rai, was made a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, in 2012. Cardinal Rai lives at the Maronite Patriarchal residence in Bkerke, Lebanon.
The United States is home to two Maronite Eparchies (Dioceses). The Most Reverend Gregory Mansour is our Bishop who resides in Brooklyn, New York. Bishop Mansour is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as is the Maronite Bishop of the Western Eparchy, the Most Reverend Elias Zaidan.