Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church to Make Historic Stop in the Greater Boston Area July 12-14, His Beatitude and Eminence Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir to Visit St. Anthony’s Maronite Church in Lawrence Considered ‘Bridge’ Between Muslim Community and Christians and the West

LAWRENCE, Mass., July 5 /PRNewswire/ — In his only stop in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, His Beatitude and Eminence Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, will pay an historic visit to St. Anthony’s Maronite Church in Lawrence, MA July 12-14.The visit, part of an approximately month long tour of Maronite religious communities in the United States, marks the first time that Cardinal Sfeir has visited St. Anthony church in Lawrence, MA, and is only the fourth time that a Maronite patriarch has journeyed to the United States.

Cardinal Sfeir will arrive at Lawrence Airport on the afternoon of July 12, and will celebrate a Pontifical Liturgy at 7:30 p.m. at St. Anthony’s, 145 Amesbury Street, in Lawrence. Cardinal Sfeir will celebrate a second liturgy at 9 a.m. the next morning, followed by a press conference at 11 a.m. A third liturgy will be celebrated at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 14, prior to the Cardinal’s departure. As Patriarch, Cardinal Sfeir is head of the 12-15 million-member Maronite Catholic Church. There are approximately 200 million Eastern Catholics throughout the world. Cardinal Sfeir is the President of the Assembly of all Eastern Catholic Patriarchs.

As Patriarch, Cardinal Sfeir is head of the 12-15 million-member Maronite Catholic Church. There are approximately 200 million Eastern Catholics throughout the world. Cardinal Sfeir is the President of the Assembly of all Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. Cardinal Sfeir also is a central figure in the Catholic Church. He offered the homily during Pope John Paul II’s 25th anniversary Mass and presided over the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica honoring the deceased Vatican leader.

A proponent of peace in the Middle East, Cardinal Sfeir has been outspoken about social and political injustice even at the expense of his own personal safety. His Eminence is also the primary driving force behind a free and democratic Lebanon. He has persistently and convincingly impressed upon world leaders around the globe the value of a free, independent and democratic Lebanon, while characterizing Lebanon as an example of a country where different religions coexist. His campaign for Christian-Muslim harmony has earned him countless supporters within the Islamic community as he is viewed as a bridge with Christians and the West.

Cardinal Sfeir is considered one of the most important figures in the Middle East. U.S. diplomatic leaders routinely seek his counsel, and last year he was invited to the White House to meet with President George W. Bush.

"The parish of St. Anthony in Lawrence, MA is blessed and equally honored to receive His Eminence during his pastoral visit to the United States," said Monsignor Peter F. Azar, Pastor of St. Anthony. "Cardinal Sfeir has been a symbol of hope and a beacon of reason for all religions in the Middle East and in Lebanon," said His Excellency Bishop Gregory Mansour. "The Cardinal’s advocacy for a free and independent Lebanon has inspired millions of all corners of the world to support Lebanon’s march toward freedom and democracy."

    Schedule of Events:

    Wednesday, July 12:
    3 p.m. - Arrival at Lawrence Airport
    7:30 p.m. -- Pontifical Divine Liturgy
    St. Anthony's Church, 145 Amesbury Street, Lawrence, MA
    Reception immediately following in the church hall

    Thursday, July 13:
    9 a.m. - Liturgy (St. Anthony's Church)
    11 a.m. - Media Conference (St. Anthony's Church)
    6 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Dinner
    Atkinson Country Club, 32 Country Club Drive, 
Atkinson, NH

    Friday, July 14:
    9 a.m. - Liturgy (St. Anthony's Church)

    For Event Coverage Please Contact: 
 Mr. George Kassas at 508-523-4432

    About Cardinal Sfeir:

Cardinal Sfeir was elected Patriarch in 1986. Pope John Paul II elevated him to Cardinal in 1994. He is the 76th Patriarch of the Maronite Church and only the third Maronite Cardinal. Born May 15, 1920, Cardinal Sfeir was ordained a priest in 1950.

He completed philosophical and theological studies at St. Joseph University of Beirut and earned licentiates in philosophy and theology. He is the author of several books and publications in Arabic.

Cardinal Sfeir was a strong voice for reason and sanity in the latter years of the Lebanese conflict. At the present time, he has become the conscience of the country, pointing to the injustices that exist in the social and political spheres, and speaking up for the poor and disenfranchised. In his writings and sermons he has been presenting an agenda of how Lebanon is to achieve a future based on freedom and human rights.

About St. Anthony’s:

St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Cathedral Parish was formed by Rev. Gabriel Bistany to minister to the needs of the Maronite community in Lawrence in 1901. The community initially celebrated liturgies in the parochial hall of St. Mary’s Church, before construction began on St. Anthony’s own church in 1903. The current church structure was dedicated in 1974. Many of the St. Anthony’s parishioners come from a major part of Massachusetts; an equally large number come from the southern part of New Hampshire. St. Anthony’s is the largest parish and part of the Eparchy, or diocese, of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, NY. The Maronites are one of 22 churches that encompass the Catholic Church.