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 Maronites 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.
History of Heart of Jesus Church
Heart of Jesus Catholic Church opened its doors on January 6, 2012, in order to serve the Maronite faithful of Broward County, and all those who chose to worship with us.
This was realized thanks to the foresight of Bishop Gregory Mansour, the Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn which purchased the “Unity Church of Christ of Fort Lauderdale”, on June 27, 2011, for $2,400,000.00. This was made possible thanks to a grant from the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation, in the amount of $1,000,000.00, and through a loan from the Knights of Columbus.
A great deal of work was done to the church, parish hall, and grounds, in order to make the complex a suitable, presentable, healthy, and prayerful environment.
Chorbishop Michael G. Thomas, the Vicar General and Chancellor of the Eparchy, was assigned by Bishop Gregory as the founding pastor of this new church (while maintaining his other assignments). Deacon John Jarvis was also assigned to assist at the new church.
Since the day of its inauguration, attendance at all religious services has been extraordinary. Parishioners and friends have been most supportive and have contributed toward the many renovations that have been made and contine to make the church a safer and more beautiful House of God. Besides all of the liturgical appointments, several stained glass windows have been designed and installed, confessionals and a baptistery were added, the sacristy (the vesting room for the clergy) was redone, and these are only a few of the many improvements made in such a short time.
Immediately upon the opening of the church, religious education classes for children, as well as a choir, and altar servers were established. The Pastor’s Advisory Board was formed and held its first meeting on June 25, 2012, and a Ladies’ Guild met for the first time on September 17 of the same year. The Men’s Club was formed in September of 2015.
In July of 2014, a rectory (priest’s house) was purchased in Oakland Park. It was bought for $145,000.00 in cash. Much of this amount was thanks to a generous gift from Deacon John and Faith Jarvis. In a short time it was extensively renovated and newly furnished thanks to the hard work and contributions of parishioners and friends. Chorbishop Michael moved into this parish home in April of 2015.
We pray that the Lord will greatly bless all of our parishioners, friends and benefactors, and continue to guide us in the love of his Heart!