When the burdens of age and illness became too heavy for the pastor, Archbishop Edward F. Hoban named Rev. Ghattas "vicarius Adjutor" with full responsibility for the administration of the parish.
Under the guidance of Msgr. Ghattas, the parish continued to grow and plans were initiated in 1961 for the building of a new church. Funds were raised by solicitations, pledges and through such group efforts as bazaars, dances, teen and young peoples' activities, banquets and anniversary dinners.
In 1964, the new St. Elias Church on Memphis Road, one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the United States, was dedicated.
Today this church serves about 600 families, a number of them non-Arabs who have been attracted to the church by the cultural and educational programs developed by the pastor.
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St. Maron's Maronite Catholic Church
Ascribed to St. James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem, the Maronite Rite is one of the oldest in the Church. Its liturgy is recited in Syro-Chaldiac or Aramaic, which was the language of Christ.
The Maronites are followers of a saintly hermit, Maron, (Mar Maroon) who lived in Antioch in the fifth century, but later took his followers from the Syrian Valley of the Orontes River into the Lebanon, the mountainous range of Greater Syria. Here the sect grew until it became the largest Christian community in Lebanon.
While the Maronites have been in communion with Rome since the 12th century, they are still governed autonomously by the Patriarch of Antioch, whose offices are in Lebanon.
The Maronite Rite is the only one of the Catholic Eastern Rites which does not belong to a Byzantine branch, its liturgy celebrating the Eucharist in expectation of the coming of the Lord, rather than as in the Byzantine liturgy, the risen Christ in His Glory.
The Maronite liturgy therefore, emphasizes the necessity of purification before the second coming of Christ, reciting after the Words of Consecration, "Do this in memory of Me ... until I come again."
The Canons of the Mass share their heritage with the Chaldean Rite, the Syrian Catholic Rite, the Old Syrian Rite, the Malabar Rite and the Malankar Rite of India.
Some of the liturgy has absorbed innovations from the Roman Church, notably marking changes during the Crusades, and following the printing of the Maronite Missal in Rome in 1592 and 1716, and the convening of the Lebanese Maronite Synod of 1736.
The Maronite Rite has spread to Cyprus, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Rhodes, and has emigrated from the east throughout North and South Africa, Australia, Canada, the United States, Mexico, South America and Europe. In the United States, the status of Exarchate has been elevated to that of a Diocese which consists of 45 parishes, and two institutions. Fifty-eight priests and twelve seminarians serve parishes in all 50 states. The Diocesan Seminary is located in Washington, D.C., and the See is in Detroit, Michigan.
Maronites were among the first of the early immigrants coming to Cleveland before the turn of the century. Some Cleveland Maronite families were instrumental in founding St. Elias Church. They attended not only St. Elias Church, but also St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's.
By 1914, there were at least a hundred families of the rite living in Cleveland. It was these people who formed the St. John Maron Society to collect funds and establish a parish of their own.
They acquired an old red brick residence on East 21st, furnishing the lower story as a chapel and designating the upper floor for a rectory. In 1915, Bishop John P. Farrelly blessed this building and the parish of St. Maron became a reality in Cleveland.
This site served the growing number of families until 1939 when it could no longer accommodate the increased population of the parish. The Italian-American church of St. Anthony on Carnegie Avenue was purchased, when that parish merged with St. Bridget.
The Maronite church in the former St. Anthony's building at 1245 Carnegie was dedicated in 1940.
The first pastor of the Maronite parish was the Rev. Peter Chelala who served from 1915 to 1921 until he returned to Lebanon because of failing health.
St. Maron's was then served in turn by Msgr. Louis Zouain, the Rev. Anthony Yezbek and the Rt. Rev. Msgr. N. S. Beggianni. In 1927, Archbishop Joseph Schrembs invited Father Joseph Komaid to become pastor of the parish, a responsibility which he held for twenty-five years.
Father Komaid was cast in the mold of the classic "pauvre abbe" of the flock. His church and its people were foremost in his priorities and he guided the parish through the early years of tribulation and trial with a gentle firmness and quiet strength that led a semi-educated community into the modern day participation in parish life.
His black cassocked slight figure became a familiar one as he walked from home to home in his parish around East 21st Street, or shopped for his meager needs in the grocery stores on Central, Woodland or Cedar Avenues.
His life was simple and uncluttered, centering around the small sparse study above the little chapel, from where he conducted the business of the parish.
The old-country priest was a realist however, and his quizzical penetrating gaze above his spectacles put all that he saw into a proper perspective. His life was one of celebrating the Mass, and taking care of the spiritual needs of the parish. The work of the parish leaders was to give support and raise funds.
The most dramatic and significant occasion of Father Komaid's life was the ending of it. Certainly, it was a fitting climax to a discipline of acceptance and submission which had dominated the years of his priesthood.
On June 19, 1952, his parishioners, members of other Arab-American parishes and community leaders had gathered at a testimonial banquet to honor the priest on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination and the 25th of his pastorate at St. Maron. Following a number of long speeches by the usual assortment of dignitaries, the old priest was called
upon to receive the honors that would climax the evening. Rising to the rostrum, the good father was silent for a moment, gazing out over the audience of several hundred who had come to honor him. He took a faltering step, stretched out his arms, and whispering the words of the ancient prophet, "Receive Thy Servant, Oh, Lord," slipped quietly to the floor, dying. The cries of his parishioners were the last earthly sounds to reach his ears. Chor-Bishop Joseph C. Feghali came to Cleveland in 1951 to serve as assistant to Father Komaid. Upon the death of the old pastor, Father Feghali assumed the responsibilities of the parish, receiving over the years the titles of Very Reverend Monsignor, and then Chor-Bishop. Msgr. Feghali left Cleveland in 1977.
Among the approximately six hundred families are some whose names have been prominent in the parish activities from the earliest days of its history. Members of the Abood, Kallil, Nahra, Amor, Shaheen, Ezzie, Hanna, Tadrous, Ganim, Thomas, Asher, Oakar, Shibley, Naffah, Shalala, Nakhle, Rumya, Sadd, Ferris, Boger, Shaia, Nemer, Khoury, Hitti, Illius, Ellis, Saba, Sadie, Shiban, Said, Nader, Abraham, Albainy, Hillow, Harouny, Asseff, Bouhassin, Elias, George, Hassey, Ina, Jacobs, Joseph, Lewis, Louis, Maroon, Najjar, Peters, Zarzour and Zlaket families are among the Lebanese and Syrians who have actively participated in parish projects throughout the years.
Such names as Blackman, Burton, Cosentino, Corbett, Fedor, Holt, McKee, Martovitz, Paradise, Root, Tucker and Weiss, evidence the increase of mixed marriages, as well as the conversion to the church of persons of non-eastern heritage. Parish organizations include: The Council of St. Maron's, The Immaculate Conception Sodality, the Sacred Heart of Mary Guild, the Holy