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Maronite bishops break bread with Denver archbishop

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of the Denver Archdiocese, right, exchanges gifts with Maronite Bishop Abdallah E. Zaidan, M.L.M., center, as Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Shaheen, former bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in St. Louis, Mo., looks on.

The archdiocese hosted the visiting bishops over three days May 9-11 to celebrate Bishop Zaidan’s appointment as bishop of the eparchy and Bishop Shaheen’s 50th anniversary to the priesthood. The bishops joined to attend a banquet, concert and Mass.

It was Bishop Zaidan’s first pastoral visit to St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church in Lakewood and its pastor Father Andre Mahanna. The bishop was appointed by Pope Francis in July 2013 after Bishop Shaheen retired. Bishop Shaheen, who is from Danbury, Conn., became the first American-born Maronite bishop in 2001.

To honor Bishop Shaheen’s anniversary, St. Rafka, St. Elias Antiochene Orthodox Church, and Holy Ghost Catholic Church downtown staged a Sacred Concert for Peace and Conviviality on May 10. The concert featured traditional Byzantine music, Latin music and Maronite (Syro-Aramaic) music, and was directed by Father Mahanna.

The bishops’ visit began with a welcoming banquet and award dinner May 9 at Shrine of St. Anne Church in Arvada. They also celebrated Divine Liturgy (meaning Mass in Eastern Churches) together May 11 at St. Rafka.Archbishop Aquila celebrates Divine Liturgy (Mass) with Maronite Bishops Zaidan and Shaheen.

The Lakewood church is part of the Lebanon-based Maronite rite of the Eastern Catholic Church and in communion with Rome. The Maronite Church, named after the Syrian monk St. Maron, expresses its faith through a unique liturgy and linguistic tradition but shares in the belief of the seven sacraments, the primacy of the pope and the dogmatic and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

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