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Unique Texas Culture: Maronite Churches in the Lone Star State

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Maronites have a long history in the United States. Did you know the first Maronite church in Texas was founded in 1925? St George Maronite Catholic Church is located at 6070 Babcock Road in San Antonio, and mass is said daily. An Eastern Catholic Church of the West Syriac Antiochene Tradition, St. George Maronite Church is a parish of the Syriac Maronite Patriarchal Church of Antioch, a self-governing Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Pope of Rome, Francis. This is the only Eastern Catholic Church in San Antonio. Maronites have their own hierarchy and clergy, operate under a separate Code of Canon Law called the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches and have both a different liturgical calendar and lectionary.

Unique Texas Culture: Maronite Churches in the Lone Star State

Facebook/San Antonio Weddings

The first Arabic-speaking individuals arrived in Texas by 1856 as camel tenders, including as part of the U.S. Army experiment. Then Lebanese and Syrian families began coming to Texas around 1880 from what was then Middle Eastern provinces within the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Almost all of these immigrants in the early days were Christians, whether Antiochian Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, or Greek Catholic. All three of those groups can trace their origins back to the Church of Antioch of the first century. Maronite Christians come from Lebanon, and their name is derived from a priest named Maron. After conflicts within the Church of Antioch, his followers took refuge on Mount Lebanon. Maronites were unknown to the West until an encounter with Crusaders during the 12th century.

Unique Texas Culture: Maronite Churches in the Lone Star State

Facebook/St.George Maronite Church

Other Maronite churches in Texas include Our Lady of Lebanon in Lewisville, Our Lady Of The Cedars in Houston, Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church in Austin, and St Sharbel Maronite Catholic Mission in El Paso. Mark your calendar for Magic Is the Night in September and Folklife Festival in June as San Antonio events, and the first weekend in October for Lewisville’s Lebanese Food Festival. Annual festivals are open to the public; go to enjoy music, dance, and food!