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© Copyright St. Elias Maronite Church • 836 8th Street South, Birmingham, Alabama  35205 • 205-252-3867

Historic Patriarchal Visit 2014 Maronite Voice Article and Photo Gallery Below

His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara Peter  Rai makes historic visit to Saint Elias Maronite Catholic Church in Birmingham, AL; impresses with his humility and ability to connect with everyone. Chorbishop Richard D. Saad and Saint Elias Maronite  Church welcomed Patriarch Bechara Cardinal Peter Rai to Birmingham, Alabama, on September 12 and 13, 2014.  This was Patriarch Rai’s first visit to Saint Elias since he was chosen as the 77th Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East in March 2011 and the first Patriarch of Lebanon to visit Birmingham in over 26 years.  Patriarch Rai held a press conference upon his arrival in Birmingham and proclaimed that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups were dangerous not just to the Middle East region but to the whole world.   After the press conference, Patriarch Rai was escorted to Saint Elias Church where he was greeted at the entrance of the church lined with members of the Knights of Columbus and members of the Order of Saint Sharbel standing along a red carpet welcoming the Patriarch to Saint Elias.  The Patriarch celebrated liturgy with the Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Bishop Elias, Bishop Emeritus of the Birmingham Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Foley, Archbishop Paul Sayah and Chorbishop Richard D. Saad, Father John Paul Kimes and numerous other priests and dignitaries.  The Liturgy was attended by parishioners of Saint Elias and open for all in the Birmingham Community. The Patriarch, during his homily, reiterated the need for the support of America for combating the threat to Christians in the Middle East. He asked for prayer, financial support and our constant vigilance. After the homily he inducted six new members of the Order of Sharbel.  Birmingham has the most members of the Order of Saint Sharbel in the entire diocese. After the liturgy, the Patriarch attended a grand banquet held by Saint Elias at The Club atop Red Mountain. Chorbishop Richard Saad was the master of ceremonies. The Patriarch was then treated to a special video and spiritual bouquet from the Maronite Young Adults of the church.  The video stressed that the MYA was praying for peace in the Middle East and talked about how important peace was to the region.  The MYA had asked parishioners to provide ways in which they would help in praying for peace and wrote down all of the different ways people in the parish had committed to praying for peace and presented a traditional Antiochene cross and scroll to the Patriarch listing all of the commitments which included praying the rosary, attending daily liturgy, offering liturgies for peace in the Middle East and fasting for peace among other offerings.  After the presentation, Bishop Elias introduced the Patriarch. The Patriarch began his remarks discussing the unique Antiochene cross and what all it stood for including the cross’ origins which date back to the monastic beginnings of our church.   The Patriarch then expressed gratitude for the event and his trip to the United States. On Saturday morning, the Patriarch was greeted by the children of the church on the front steps outside the church as he arrived.  The children sang Christian songs to the Patriarch they had learned during the summer Vacation Bible School program at Saint Elias. The children also wore their VBS shirts, which had been made prior to any knowledge that the Patriarch would be visiting Birmingham.  The t-shirts had the image of Patriarch Rai and Bishop Elias on the back of the t-shirt with the saying from the Qadisha Valley to the South. The children presented the Patriarch and the Bishop with a t-shirt.  The Ladies’ Altar Society served as honor guard welcoming the Patriarch into our church. The Patriarch then led  Safro, morning prayers.  After, the Patriarch then led the dedication of a completely redone entrance and walkway and garden on the Southside of the church donated by the family of Deacon Joseph Stephens in his memory.  The memorial to Deacon Joe, being blessed by the highest leader of our church, with the Bishop of our church, Bishop Elias, and the Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Robert Baker was an exceptional joy for the family and the whole parish community. The church then celebrated with a brunch in the parish hall.  The Ladies’ Altar Society provided the brunch with the help of many parishioners and presented him with a gift from the Prayer Shawl Ministry.  The Patriarch presented both Chorbishop Richard Saad and Bishop Robert Baker with medals of Our Lady of A’nnoubine.  After brunch the Patriarch stood on the stage with our Bishop and allowed each family to come up and have their picture made with him. The Patriarch greeted each person and thanked them for coming.  He repeatedly told us he would see us next summer …. In Lebanon!!!  He was extremely gracious and refused to sit even though a chair was made available for him. As he was leaving the church, one parishioner heard him say:  “This is like paradise, I don’t want to leave.”   The parish community of Saint Elias could not be more delighted that the Patriarch blessed us with his presence.  We only hope we will not have to wait as long to be blessed with a return visit.

Photo Gallery

© Copyright St. Elias Maronite Church • 836 8th Street South, Birmingham, Alabama  35205 • 205-252-3867
205.251.5057

Historic Patriarchal Visit 2014

Maronite Voice Article and Photo

Gallery Below

His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara Peter  Rai makes historic visit to Saint Elias Maronite Catholic Church in Birmingham, AL; impresses with his humility and ability to connect with everyone. Chorbishop Richard D. Saad and Saint Elias Maronite  Church welcomed Patriarch Bechara Cardinal Peter Rai to Birmingham, Alabama, on September 12 and 13, 2014.  This was Patriarch Rai’s first visit to Saint Elias since he was chosen as the 77th Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East in March 2011 and the first Patriarch of Lebanon to visit Birmingham in over 26 years.  Patriarch Rai held a press conference upon his arrival in Birmingham and proclaimed that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups were dangerous not just to the Middle East region but to the whole world.   After the press conference, Patriarch Rai was escorted to Saint Elias Church where he was greeted at the entrance of the church lined with members of the Knights of Columbus and members of the Order of Saint Sharbel standing along a red carpet welcoming the Patriarch to Saint Elias.  The Patriarch celebrated liturgy with the Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Bishop Elias, Bishop Emeritus of the Birmingham Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Foley, Archbishop Paul Sayah and Chorbishop Richard D. Saad, Father John Paul Kimes and numerous other priests and dignitaries.  The Liturgy was attended by parishioners of Saint Elias and open for all in the Birmingham Community. The Patriarch, during his homily, reiterated the need for the support of America for combating the threat to Christians in the Middle East. He asked for prayer, financial support and our constant vigilance. After the homily he inducted six new members of the Order of Sharbel.  Birmingham has the most members of the Order of Saint Sharbel in the entire diocese. After the liturgy, the Patriarch attended a grand banquet held by Saint Elias at The Club atop Red Mountain. Chorbishop Richard Saad was the master of ceremonies. The Patriarch was then treated to a special video and spiritual bouquet from the Maronite Young Adults of the church.  The video stressed that the MYA was praying for peace in the Middle East and talked about how important peace was to the region.  The MYA had asked parishioners to provide ways in which they would help in praying for peace and wrote down all of the different ways people in the parish had committed to praying for peace and presented a traditional Antiochene cross and scroll to the Patriarch listing all of the commitments which included praying the rosary, attending daily liturgy, offering liturgies for peace in the Middle East and fasting for peace among other offerings.  After the presentation, Bishop Elias introduced the Patriarch. The Patriarch began his remarks discussing the unique Antiochene cross and what all it stood for including the cross’ origins which date back to the monastic beginnings of our church.   The Patriarch then expressed gratitude for the event and his trip to the United States. On Saturday morning, the Patriarch was greeted by the children of the church on the front steps outside the church as he arrived.  The children sang Christian songs to the Patriarch they had learned during the summer Vacation Bible School program at Saint Elias. The children also wore their VBS shirts, which had been made prior to any knowledge that the Patriarch would be visiting Birmingham.  The t-shirts had the image of Patriarch Rai and Bishop Elias on the back of the t-shirt with the saying from the Qadisha Valley to the South. The children presented the Patriarch and the Bishop with a t-shirt.  The Ladies’ Altar Society served as honor guard welcoming the Patriarch into our church. The Patriarch then led  Safro, morning prayers.  After, the Patriarch then led the dedication of a completely redone entrance and walkway and garden on the Southside of the church donated by the family of Deacon Joseph Stephens in his memory.  The memorial to Deacon Joe, being blessed by the highest leader of our church, with the Bishop of our church, Bishop Elias, and the Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Robert Baker was an exceptional joy for the family and the whole parish community. The church then celebrated with a brunch in the parish hall.  The Ladies’ Altar Society provided the brunch with the help of many parishioners and presented him with a gift from the Prayer Shawl Ministry.  The Patriarch presented both Chorbishop Richard Saad and Bishop Robert Baker with medals of Our Lady of A’nnoubine.  After brunch the Patriarch stood on the stage with our Bishop and allowed each family to come up and have their picture made with him. The Patriarch greeted each person and thanked them for coming.  He repeatedly told us he would see us next summer …. In Lebanon!!!  He was extremely gracious and refused to sit even though a chair was made available for him. As he was leaving the church, one parishioner heard him say:  “This is like paradise, I don’t want to leave.”   The parish community of Saint Elias could not be more delighted that the Patriarch blessed us with his presence.  We only hope we will not have to wait as long to be blessed with a return visit.