st. raymond's maronite cathedral

Blending of cultures, veneration of Maronite saint's relics lead to ‘unique experience’

Lisa Johnston | | twitter: @aeternusphoto
Roxana Azurdia and her grandaughter, Krysta Flores, prayed at the reliquary of St. Sharbel Makhluf, an ascetic monk of St. Maron who was born in Labanon in 1828. St. Sharbel’s relics were at St. Raymond Maronite Cathedral, and events included a Mass celebrated in Spanish, Aramaic, Latin and English.

With the veneration of the relics of St. Sharbel at St. Raymond's Cathedral in St. Louis Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 came an opportunity to involve the Hispanic community in a Spanish Maronite Mass there Nov. 1.

Maronite Catholics belong to one of the 22 Catholic Churches that are in union with each other and in full communion with the pope in Rome. The spiritual heritage of the Maronite Church is traced to a fourth-century hermit, St. Maron. St. Raymond's architecture, liturgy and devotions are all part of the Lebanese Christian culture.


Lisa Johnston |
Manal Kassab shared a moment with her husband, Father Akiki, as the two reminisced about their long friendship which led to their marriage.

As a newly ordained priest, Father Wissam Akiki hasn't been assigned to his first parish yet, but already he's been preparing for another big assignment: He'll be filling in at a parish in Cincinnati during Holy Week, perhaps the most important week in the life of the Church.

Already, his plate has been filled. In addition to assisting at his temporary assignment, St. Raymond's Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis, he's been preparing his homilies for Holy Week and tending to another major part of his life -- his wife, Manal, and 8-year-old daughter, Perla.

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