Worker in the Vineyard | Deacon Anthony P. Koury

Worker in the Vineyard | Deacon Anthony P. Koury

by Suzanne Tavani


The life of Deacon Anthony Koury and that of his beloved Our Lady of Lebanon in Easton, Pennsylvania, are inextricably intertwined. Hefondly recalls, “To this day, I have a vivid memory of meeting Father Norman. Norman Peter, in 1952, on the steps of Our Lady of Lebanon. From that day, at the age of five, until today, I have been actively involved with the church—as an alter server, a cantor, a lector, a member of the Parish Council, director of religious education, deacon—you name it and I have done it!”   


In A Snapshot:


Born:            April 1, 1947

Easton, PA


Wife:              Chafica (Cheffie) Melhem

                        Wedding:  May 23, 1970

Officiated by Archbishop Francis M. Zayek at Our Lady of Lebanon                                      (Easton, PA)


Children:    Anthony, Jr.  (1974)

                        Frances Koury Marcus (1981)


Grandchildren:  One boy and one girl


Parents:       Frank and Catherine


Siblings:      Frances



Education:Grade School:  St. Bernard’s Catholic School, Easton, PA (1961)

High School:  Notre Dame High School, Easton, PA (1965)

College:  Allentown College of St. Francis deSales (1969)

Diaconate Studies:  Diocese of Allentown


Childhood Hobbies:  Basketball and Baseball


Ordination: Sub-Deacon: September 14, 1975

                          Archbishop Francis M. Zayek at Our Lady of Lebanon (Easton, PA)


                        Deacon:  July 11, 1982

                          Archbishop Francis M. Zayek at Our Lady of Lebanon (Easton, PA)


Assignment:   Our Lady of Lebanon, Easton, PA


Occupation:     Teacher and Athletic Director, Notre Dame High School,              Easton,   PA (1969 – 2012)


Court Officer, Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County (PA) (2012 – Present)


Most Memorable Moment as a Deacon:


In 1987, he was selected by Archbishop Francis M. Zayek as one of two Deacons to represent the Maronite deaconate at a meeting with His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Detroit, Michigan.

Deacon Anthony’s life has been one of total dedication to his family, his community, his student athletes, and his church. When asked about his dedication to a life of service he cites a quotation from Civil War-era Brigadier General Albert Pike, “What we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”  


The meaning of those profound words took root during Deacon Anthony’s rather ordinary upbringing in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he juggled his time among his schoolwork, serving the altar at Our Lady of Lebanon, and playing basketball and baseball with his friends. At the encouragement of his parents, he attended Allentown College of St. Frances de Sales, and then pursued what would become a lifelong career as a teacher and athletic director of his alma mater, Notre Dame High School. In 1967, he met Chafica Melhem—known to all as Cheffie—when he was best man and she was maid of honor at his brother’s wedding. They married in 1970, and went on to have two children—Anthony and Frances.


Despite a hectic life as husband, father, teacher, and athletic director, Deacon Anthony remained dedicated to the service of Our Lady of Lebanon. His dedication was noticed by then Bishop Francis M. Zayek, who asked him of his interest in the diaconate. Anthony was ordained as a subdeacon by Bishop Zayek in 1975 and, eventually, a deacon in 1982.


The deacon is quick to credit his beloved wife, Cheffie, as an integral part of his story. “She’s been an incredible wife, mother, and partner in all my activities,” he says with great pride. “My school day didn’t end with classes. I usually attended all the games and participated in many activities at school and at church. I couldn’t have done it without her.” To this day, Cheffie, who suffers from kidney disease, works at the Church in a variety of roles including as Chair of the Annual Festival’s Food Committee. 


Upon his retirement from Notre Dame in 2011, school administrators suggested a party in his honor. After much coaxing, Koury agreed to the party with one caveat—all monetary gifts would be directed to fund a scholarship for students from Our Lady of Lebanon to Notre Dame High School. Today, the Deacon Anthony P. Koury Scholarship Fund forever binds the two institutions to which he has dedicated his life.


Deacon Koury’s service to the community has been well recognized, including:

·     The Notre Dame High School Athletic Booster Award (1981)

·     The Robert W. Stimmel Athletic Director of the Year Award in the Centennial League (1994)

·     The Pennsylvania State Athletic Director Association’s 25-Year Award (1994)

·     The Colonial League Athletic Director of the Year Award (2000-2001)

·     “Unending Loyalty of Catholic Education,” Easton Catholic High School (2005)

·     The Ava Maria Award of Outstanding Alumni Contribution (2006)

·     The Notre Dame High School Athletic Booster Club Hall of Fame (2011)


One of his most notable community honors will be celebrated in August 2019, when his beloved Notre Dame High School will rename the school stadium in his honor.


Despite these recognitions for his dedication to the larger civic community, Koury is quick to say that one of the greatest honors of his life remains being invited by Zayek to be one of two Maronite deacons to meet with Pope John Paul II. He also cites innumerable special moments as both a deacon and parishioner of Our Lady of Lebanon—anniversaries of the parish, the Annual Festival, and watching both old and new parishioners work together to nurture their community. 


Now well into his seventh decade of service and devotion to Our Lady of Lebanon, Koury believes that the secret to any success he may have achieved lies in relating to people on a one-on-one basis in good times or in bad times. “Regardless of the situation—whether it was with my student athletes, my pastor, my family, my fellow parishioners—I always tried to remain true to the words of Brigadier General Pike—what I do for others will remain immortal.”