EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

February 28, 2014

Married man, 41, becomes Maronite Catholic priest in the US

ST. LOUIS (AP) — When Wissam Akiki was ordained as a Maronite Catholic priest last night in St. Louis, he was welcomed by hundreds of supporters, including his wife and daughter.

For the first time in nearly a century, the Maronite Catholic Church in the United States ordained a married priest in a ceremony at St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral near downtown St. Louis. Maronites are among more than a dozen Eastern Catholic church groups in the U.S. Eastern Catholics accept the authority of the pope but have many of their own rituals and liturgy.

Akiki, 41, speaking at the end of the two-hour ceremony, called it a “historic day” and said he had been given two great blessings — marriage to his wife of 10 years, Manal, and “the dream to serve the Lord and church as a priest.”

Eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East and Europe ordain married men. However, the Vatican banned the practice in America in the 1920s after Latin-rite bishops complained it was confusing for parishioners. But Pope John Paul II called for greater acceptance of Eastern Catholic traditions, and over the years, popes have made exceptions on a case-by-case basis for married men to become Eastern Catholic priests in America. Pope Francis gave permission for Akiki to be ordained.

“Almost half of our priests in Lebanon are married, so it’s not an unusual event in the life of the Maronite church, though in the United States it is,” Deacon Louis Peters, chancellor at St. Raymond’s, said.

The ordination ceremony featured several bishops from within the Maronite rite. Many members of the St. Raymond’s congregation are of Lebanese descent, and many of the prayers, hymns and readings were in Arabic.

Members of the church said they were ready to welcome the new priest.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Weather Gives Washington Firefighters Hope Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message $5M Bond Set for Teens in Homeless Killings New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Obama Calls for Immediate Access to Crash Site Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism Native American Teens Get Taste of College Legendary Actor James Garner Dies Raw: Eric Garner's Wife Collapses at Rally in NY
Latest World News
Israeli Aircraft Hits Dozens of Gaza Targets Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Today in History for July 22nd Raw: Black Boxes of Downed Jetliner Turned Over UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike Raw: Gaza City Shelling Attack Today in History for July 21st Recording May Show Attempt at Crash Cover-up Deadliest Day Yet of Israel-Gaza Fighting Ukraine Rebels: Black Boxes Will Be Returned Today in History for July 20th Raw: Crews Begin Moving Bodies at Jet Crash Site Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Raw: Israeli Defense Forces Strike Gaza Tunnel
Photos of the Week