WATERVILLE — His Eminence and Beatitude Beshara Peter Cardinal Rai, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, will visit St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church on Saturday, June 25, according to a news release from the Waterville church.

This will be a once-in-a-life time event to have the Patriarch visit the Maronite community in Maine. This was quite a surprise for the pastor, the Rev. Larry Jensen, when he was informed the Patriarch would like to visit the parish for a Pastoral visit; especially when His Eminence resides in Lebanon.

All are invited to attend the Saturday 4 p.m. Liturgy, celebrated by the Patriarch. Among the concelebrants will be those traveling with him, Archbishop Paul Sayah, the Patriarch’s Vicar General; Bishop Gregory Mansour, Bishop of the Eparchy of Brooklyn, New York; and Chorbishop Michael Thomas, Vicar General and Deacon Simon Abi-Nader. The Liturgy will mostly be in English, though, the words of Institution of the Eucharist will be chanted in Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic spoken by Jesus.

According to the release, Bishop Rai was elected Patriarch on March 15, 2011, in Lebanon, by the Maronite Bishops throughout the world. As is customary for all Maronite Patriarchs, he took the additional name Boutros, referring to Saint Peter, who established the See of Antioch and later the See of Rome. On March 7, 2012, Patriarch Rai was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and on Nov. 24, 2012, in a ceremony of Cardinals and Bishops he received the Red Hat of a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

In the month of February 2013, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Patriarch Rai, as a Cardinal, became a candidate to the papacy. As a cardinal elector, he participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis. Cardinal Rai is also the first Maronite Cardinal Patriarch ever to participate in a papal conclave. He was named a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education by Pope Francis on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.

Saints Peter and Paul, before they traveled to Rome, established a church in Antioch where the followers of Christ were called Christians for the first time. Now the Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch is traveling to Waterville to visit a community of Christians who trace their Faith that took root in Antioch. However, centuries of persecutions many of these Christians fled to the Mountains of Lebanon. St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church is proud of this heritage and eagerly await the arrival their Spiritual leader.

For more information, contact St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church at 872-8515 or [email protected].

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