Chorbishop Alfred Badawi
First and foremost Maronites are Antiochene – where Christ’s followers “were called Christians for the first time” (Acts 11:26). Maronites share an historical, liturgical and spiritual heritage with all the other Catholic and Orthodox Antiochene Churches. Maronites are also heirs of Syriac cultural and religious heritage, whose language, poetry, and hymnody were the means used to express the mystery that God is beyond all descriptions yet has come close to us in Christ.
Second, Maronites are Chalcedonian, meaning they were staunch supporters of the Council of Chalcedon, convened in 451 A.D., which taught that Jesus was true God and true man. In this formula Maronites found a balance, and way of life that placed them forever in the communion of the universal Church.
Third, the Maronite Church is a Patriarchal and Monastic Church. Saint Maron was a hermit-priest. The first Maronites were monks, priests and laity associated with the monasteries of Saint Maron in the 5th - 8th centuries. Maronites have a cherished history known for an ascetical life of sacrifice and devotion.
Fourth, the Maronite Church is known for Her love and devotion to the See of Peter in Rome. This relationship has allowed Maronites to fully express theCatholic faith held from the beginning, and at the same time be part of the balance between East and West.
Fifth, the Maronite Church is tied to Lebanon, Her spiritual homeland and the land of Her Patriarch and people. Maronites take great pride in the joint accomplishment of the Muslim-Christian co-existence, which today we call Lebanon.
(From "The Maronite Catholic Church," Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn)
Therefore our proper title is:
Saint Joseph Antiochene Syriac Maronite Catholic Church
Who are maronites?
What is the maronite church?
The Maronites are those Christians who gathered around a monastery called Bet Moroon or the House of Maron built in 452 on the Orontes River, after the Council of Chalcedon and the request of Pope Leo. Those Christians who defended their faith in Jesus Christ, human and divine, were called Maronites after a hermit priest, St. Maron, who was a great saint in that region of Syria.
St. Maron lived on the mountains of Cyrrhus, near Antioch, in the 4th century AD, in the open air. God bestowed on him the gift of healing, which made his fame spread in the entire region. St. Maron died around the year 410 AD. His disciples continued his mission. Abraham the hermit, the apostle of Lebanon, converted the Phoenician inhabitants of the mountains of Lebanon. Jebbet Bsharre and Mnaytra adopted Christianity. The Phoenician pagans became Maronite Christian
Maronite Church of Detroit
The Maronite community in Detroit began with the arrival of Lebanese Maronite immigrants in the late 19 th century. Many more quickly followed, making Detroit one of the largest Maronite communities in the United States. The paths from the Middle East to Detroit were seldom direct. Routes commonly went through states such as New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Also, people found their way to Detroit via other countries such as Canada, Mexico, and even Costa Rica. Once arriving in Detroit, people settled in the area of East Congress Street which would become the epicenter of the then Maronite community.
The community was well-represented by various villages from Lebanon. Between 1880 and 1890, people from towns such as Serhel, Hasroun, Tourza, Arbit-Ozhia, Knwair, Zahle, Kubayyat, Acor, and the Kesrawan and Metn districts all lived together. The presence of large numbers from these specific regions resulted in the development of village social clubs, such as the St. Laba Hasroun Society and the Kesrawan Society. These served to preserve and celebrate their regional and religious heritage. Events like weddings, funerals, and religious celebrations brought groups together, often under their village banners. The village social clubs were a means of support for the immigrants, providing an opportunity to socialize and help those in need. They also created a cultural familiarity among a city backdrop.
As the Maronite community grew larger, the need for their own place of worship became more apparent. Up until this time, Saints Peter and Paul Church in downtown Detroit, and its Saint Catherine Chapel, served the Maronite faithful for worship and for education. When the community was large enough to warrant the building of their own church, a call was placed to the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon, which resulted in the establishment of the first Maronite Catholic Church in Detroit, Michigan.
St. Maron Catholic Church, located at 1555 East Congress Street, was formally dedicated on April 30, 1916. The first Maronite Rite Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Monsignor Joseph Shebai’a.
Father Elias Asmar then began a long tenure as the first pastor of St. Maron Church from 1916 to 1933. Under his guidance, the Maronite church and community made many important advances, including the building of a convent, rectory, and school. The school provided accommodations for first through the eighth grade, and the education provided went beyond academics. Students also received formation in religious studies and lessons in the culture of their ancestors. The school served the community until its last graduating class in 1934.
The community continued to migrate as the area enjoyed economic prosperity. Following a pattern of suburban development taking place throughout the country after World War II, families moved north along Jefferson Avenue into the eastern flourishing suburbs of Detroit like Grosse Pointe and Saint Clair Shores. As people moved from the old neighborhood, the center of the Maronite community also shifted. St. Maron Church was relocated in 1966 from East Congress to the corner of Kercheval and St. Jean.
In June of 1966, St. Maron Church was established as a Cathedral under the Maronite Exarchate there. His Excellency, the most Reverend Francis M. Zayek, was appointed the first Bishop of the Maronites in the United States by Pope Paul VI. Bishop Zayek assigned Monsignor Michael Abdoo to be the first rector of St. Maron Cathedral, then in 1967 Father Ferris Kleem was appointed vice-rector.
As the community continued to grow and expand, the necessity of a new church became reality. During the pastorate of Chorbishop Joseph Feghali, the St. Sharbel complex was acquired in April of 1987 in the city of Warren. The establishment of two churches within one parish became known as St. Maron/St. Sharbel. Upon Chorbishop Feghali’s request, he was granted a co-pastor by His Excellency Archbishop Zayek. On October 1, 1990, Monsignor Kenneth Michael filled this role. Several years later, Monsignor Michael was appointed as the first Pastor of St. Sharbel Church in Warren, Michigan.
In 1993, a new St. Sharbel Church and Banquet Hall were constructed on the property located at 31601 Schoenherr Road, north of 13 Mile Road in Warren, Michigan.
After serving as pastor of St. Sharbel Church for ten years, Monsignor Kenneth Michael retired from his administrative duties.
In 2001, the Most Rev. Robert J. Shaheen, Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, appointed Chorbishop Michael Kael as the pastor of St. Sharbel Church. Rev. Backos Chidiac was then appointed pastor for a short time, followed by Rev. Gary George, for another short term. Msgr. Joubran Boumheri was next appointed pastor until December, 2011 at which time Bishop Shaheen appointed Chorbishop Alfred Badawi as pastor.
The clergy of St. Sharbel Church served the community of St. Rafka Mission in Livonia from 2003 until 2014 when it was established as St. Rafka Maronite Church.
Over the years, the community of St. Sharbel Church continued to grow and our families began moving to suburbs north of Warren. Major costly repairs and necessary updates to the aging facilities also became a reality. A milestone in the history of Michigan Maronites was about to take place.
After much deliberation and prayerful consideration, a decision was made to sell the complex in Warren and move to a more central location in the city of Clinton Township. With a spirit of hope and excitement, following years of planning, due diligence, and hard work, we have arrived at our destination.
This move to Clinton Township secures the foundation of our future and safeguards the mission of the Maronite community, allowing us to continue to grow in faith and spirit, and preserve the treasures of our traditional values and culture for decades to come.