OLOL | Bishops' Biographies

OLOL | Bishops' Biographies

Biography of Bishop Elias Zaidan

Compiled by Sarah Gabriel, Assistant Archivist at the Eparchy 

Bishop A. Elias Zaidan is the third and youngest Bishop to lead the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. Appointed when he was just 50 years old, Bishop Zaidan has brought a unique perspective to his role as Bishop. He has made great strides both in his earlier priesthood and his tenure as Bishop and commands the respect of laity and clergy.

Bishop Elias Zaidan was born in Ksseibe, Lebanon, on March 10, 1963. He professed his Perpetual Vows as a member of the Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries on September 26, 1984 and was ordained a priest two years later on July 20, 1986 by Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine in Harissa, Lebanon. During his preparations for the priesthood, Bishop Zaidan earned licentiate in theology and philosophy. After two years serving as Assistant Rector of the Minor Seminary of the Congregation of the Maronite Lebanese Missionaries and teaching religious education in local Catholic schools, Bishop Zaidan was transferred to the United States, where he served as Assistant Rector at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York. While in Brooklyn, Bishop Zaidan received a Master's Degree in Education from St. John’s University.

In January 1990, Bishop Zaidan became the Pastor of St. George Maronite Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. After four and a half years in Texas, he was reassigned to Los Angeles, California, where he served as the first Rector of Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon-St. Peter Cathedral for Bishop John Chedid and then Bishop Robert Shaheen. During his time in both Texas and California, Bishop Elias Zaidan helped establish several new Maronite missions, including missions in Dallas and Houston, as well as the St. Jude Mission in the San Gabriel Valley, CA and the Sts. Peter and Paul Mission in the San Fernando Valley, CA.

Beyond his role in establishing Maronite missions, Bishop Zaidan has long been involved with organizations within and outside the Eparchy. He has been a member of the Presbyteral Council, Protopresbyter and member of the College of Consultors, chairman of the Commission for Lebanon, board member of Tele-Lumiere International, member of the Board of Pastors and the Personnel Board of the Eparchy, coordinator of the Eparchial Marriage Tribunal, member of the Eparchial Sexual Abuse Board, director of Project Roots, supervisor for the Eparchial Stewardship Office, and the Vicar for Clergy as well as being the local Superior for the Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries. Bishop Zaidan led the re-writing of the Eparchial Pastoral Handbook in 2008. He has also participated in several Synods and Convocations, including as a translator at the Synod of Bishops for the Christians of the Middle East at the Vatican in 2010 and as a delegate and special expert at the Maronite Patriarchal Synod in Lebanon from 2003-2005, for which he was also chief editor of the English Edition of the official Synod text. 

On July 10, 2013, Pope Francis, based on the recommendation of the Synod of Maronite Bishops, appointed Rev. A. Elias Zaidan as the third bishop of the Eparchy. He was ordained bishop by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine in Harissa, Lebanon on September 28, 2013. He was enthroned at St. Raymond Cathedral on October 23, 2013. His motto is: "Thy will be done."

During his tenure as Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Bishop Elias Zaidan has been a champion for the protection of children, pastoral involvement of the laity, and missionary outreach to al the faithful. He also serves on two committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: International Justice and Peace as well as Catholic Home Missions. He has taken important steps to further unity within Maronite Parishes throughout the Eparchy through his pastoral visits to the various parishes and missions. His work for the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles has continued the mission of his predecessors Bishop John Chedid and Bishop Robert Shaheen while forging a new path for the future of the Eparchy.

Bishop Robert Shaheen

Bishop Robert Shaheen

Biography of Bishop Robert Shaheen

Compiled by Sarah Gabriel, Assistant Archivist at the Eparchy 

Bishop Robert Joseph Shaheen, the second Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, had a long and storied history of service in the Maronite Church in the United States. As the first American-born Maronite Bishop in the history of the Church, Bishop Shaheen brought important insight and perspective to the Maronite Church in America, while maintaining strong ties to the Church in Lebanon.

 Bishop Robert Shaheen was born on June 3, 1937 to Albert and Aileen Shaheen in Danbury, Connecticut. After attending local elementary and seconday schools, in 1955, he entered the Latin rite St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut. In 1958, he transferred to the Melkite rite St. Basil Seminary in Methuen, Massachusetts, and in 1961, he enrolled as one of the first four seminarians in the newly-established Maronite Seminary of Our Lady of Lebanon in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Shaheen was ordained a priest on May 2, 1964 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the very first national convention of NAM by Bishop Francis Zayek, then-Bishop of the Maronites of Brazil. Bishop Shaheen’s ordination was the first Maronite ordination in the United States. 

In January of 1967, soon after the establishment of the Apostolic Exarchate in the United States, Bishop Shaheen was appointed Pastor of Saint Raymond Maronite Church in St. Louis, Missouri, which had been without a Maronite priest for over 20 years. During the 34 years he served as Pastor at St. Raymond, the church experienced dramatic growth and development; St. Raymond became a center for the Lebanese community in St. Louis and expanded from a handful of families to hundreds. Bishop Shaheen also worked with the City of St. Louis to preserve and renew the LaSalle Park neighborhood, where St. Raymond is located.

Beyond his role as pastor of St. Raymond, Bishop Robert Shaheen also held a number of positions in the Maronite Church in the U.S. He was a member of the Priests’ Senate, the Eparchial Liturgical Committee and the Board of Consultors. Bishop Shaheen served as the Vice-Chairman of the Financial Committee, Chairman of the Family Life Office, Chairman of the Personnel Office, Proto-Presbyter of the Mid-America Region and Spiritual Director of the Order of St. Sharbel. He was ordained an Archpriest in 1978 and a Chorbishop in 1986. 

On December 5, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II accepted the retirement of Bishop John G. Chedid and appointed Bishop Robert Shaheen as the second Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. He was ordained a bishop and enthroned on February 15 2001 by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir at the St. Louis Cathedral. His motto was: "Do not be afraid." Soon after, he relocated the eparchial offices to St. Louis and St. Raymond Church was elevated to the rank of Co-Cathedral. During his ministry as Bishop, he emphasized the importance of our Liturgy as the most cherished treasure of our Church and heritage. 

On July 10, 2013, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Shaheen’s age-related resignation. He held the title of Bishop Emeritus of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon until his death at the age of 80 on August 9, 2017. 

Bishop John Chedid

Bishop John Chedid

Biography of Bishop John Chedid

Compiled by Sarah Gabriel, Assistant Archivist at the Eparchy 

Bishop John George Chedid, first Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, served important roles in the Maronite Church in the U.S. during the majority of his career. Quiet and reflective by nature, Bishop Chedid commanded respect from his parishioners and fellow clergy, alike. His work at Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon Church in Los Angeles, as well as his role as the first Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Los Angeles, has earned him an enduring legacy within the Maronite Church.

Bishop John Chedid was born on July 4, 1923 to George and Hannah Chedid. The second-youngest of five children, he was born and raised in the small village of Edde, Batroun, in Lebanon.  Bishop Chedid began his journey to the priesthood at the minor seminary of St. Maron in Ghazir, Lebanon, under the direction of the Jesuit Fathers. He continued his studies at the Seminary of the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut. After his university studies, Bishop Chedid was sent to the Propaganda Fide in Rome in 1946. He stayed in Rome until 1956, during which time he earned a Baccalaureate in Philosophy, a Licentiate in Theology and a Doctorate in Canon Law. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on December 21, 1951 by Cardinal Fumasoni Biondi at the Propaganda Fide.

Bishop Chedid was assigned to Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon-St. Peter in Los Angeles, California, by the late Maronite Patriarch Paul Cardinal Meouchi. He arrived in Los Angeles on September 1, 1956 and served the Church there all the time until his elevation to Eparchial Bishop. He was elevated to the honor of Monsignor in 1969 and ordained a Chorbishop in 1978. In 1980, he was appointed an auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Francis M. Zayek of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, New York.  On January 25, 1981, he was consecrated Bishop by the late Patriarch, Cardinal Antonius Peter Khoreiche. When Pope St. John Paul II created the new Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles on March 1, 1994, he named Bishop John Chedid its first Eparchial Bishop. Bishop Chedid was enthroned as Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles on June 23, 1994. His motto was: "Your grace is enough for me."

Over the years, Bishop John Chedid served the Maronite faithful of the United States in a number of important roles. He was the Judicial Vicar, Vicar General and Moderator of the Intereparchial Marriage Tribunal. Moreover, he served on the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 1966, he helped relocate the Maronite Church in Los Angeles from its Brooklyn Avenue location to its present location on South San Vicente Boulevard. He was also a representative of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to the Inter-Religious Ecumenical Council. Bishop Chedid officiated at confirmations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, became a hospital chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, and served in a variety of ministries for Catholic (Eastern and Latin rite) Churches in the United States and abroad.

After his age-related retirement from the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon on December 5, 2000, Bishop Chedid remained in Los Angeles but eventually returned to Lebanon, where he spent the last years of his life in the care of his family and the Sisters of the Cross. He died on March 21, 2012, and his funeral was held in Bkerke, Lebanon. Bishop John Chedid is remembered for his prudence, his respect for clergy and laity alike and his dedication to the Church.