Saint John Maron Parish History
Saint John Maron Church began as a mission of Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon/St. Peter in Los Angeles. During the seventies and eighties the Orange County area blossomed into a metropolis. Many families from the adjacent Los Angeles County began moving into the growing county as others were moving in from around the country and around the world. Early in 1982, a few individuals petitioned their pastor, His Excellency, Bishop John Chedid, Auxiliary Bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron, to send a priest to offer the Divine Liturgy for the Maronite Community of Orange County, with the hope that one day a parish might be established. As a result, Bishop Chedid authorized his assistant, Father Georges El-Khalli, to offer the Divine Liturgy and to minister to the needs of the Maronites of Orange County.
Father Georges El-Khalli began to come on a weekly basis to offer the Liturgy on Saturday evenings at Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Fullerton. About 25 people attended weekly. In the fall of 1985, this work was continued by Father Joseph Shaheen, and later, Father Louis Baz. Worthy of mention is Chorbishop William Lesser who substituted often during the first few years, and Father Kevin Beaton who substituted during the last two years before the community was declared a mission in 1988. Until then, the community was referred to as “Our Lady of Mt Lebanon Church, Orange County.” Also, until then, the community had no full time priest, although it had been their hope for quite some time.
Finally, in July 1988, Father Peter Karam, a newly ordained priest, was assigned as administrator. The following month, the Maronite Community of Orange County was established as a Mission. It was decided to name it in honor of the first Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, Saint John Maron. For a short time, the Mission held the Saturday evening services at Saint Polycarp Church in Stanton where Father Karam resided. Soon, however, Father Karam and the parishioners decided that it would be better to hold services on Sunday mornings instead. With this decision, the Sunday Liturgy began to be offered at Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim, until the present church was purchased on East La Palma, in Anaheim.
In October 1989, the present pastor, Father Antoine Bakh was appointed as Administrator of the Mission. In November 1991, the Mission purchased a parish house in Fullerton to be used as a rectory, church office, and for meetings. Over the years, the church grew steadily and became more organized.
Finally, on August 1, 1995, the parish purchased a new church at 1546 East La Palma Ave in Anaheim. Father Bakh celebrated the first Liturgy in the new church with thanksgiving on the Feast of the Assumption. And, on the Feast of the Dedication a solemn grand pontifical celebration was held. On that day, His Excellency, Bishop John Chedid, consecrated the church with joy amid great jubilee and many tears. Finally, on February 21, 1999, Saint John Maron Mission was elevated to the status of a Parish.
In 2005 the parish began to make plans to renovate in order to accommodate the needs of a growing community. In October of 2008 renovation began and the old hall was demolished. However, on Dec. 23, 2008 a fire burned down the administrative building, including the kitchen, library and offices, and severely damaged the church. The building permits were lost due to a change of conditions. A few weeks later the lending bank was closed down due to the financial crisis, and the line of credit was no longer available. Search began for another property with the hope of finding good prices during the economic downturn. A dream property, more than 4 times as large, was found in the Spring of 2009. After a long negotiation process and countless challenges the current property was purchased on October 5, 2010. After renovations were made, the church was consecrated and dedicated by Bishop Robert Shaheen on October 21, 2012 with a spirit of great rejoicing. So we have finally come to our home, with the help of God’s Grace and all the parishioners and friends of Saint John Maron.