Parishioners at the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia will observe the 40th anniversary of their church and its leadership, the Rev. George H. Shalhoub, with a “Weekend of Gratitude” activities, Friday-Sunday, Oct. 12-14.
The celebration will start with a welcome reception and awards presentation honoring founders and volunteers at 6:30 p.m. Friday. A “Dare to Dream” banquet is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday. His Eminence, the Most Rev. Metropolitan Archbishop Philip Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, will lead bishops, priests, dignitaries and other faithful in prayers and devotions all weekend, culminating with Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, at 10:30 a.m., Sunday. A brunch will follow the Mass.
Shalhoub also marks the 40th anniversary of his ordination this year. Born in Hama, Syria, he was sent to the Balamand Monastery in Lebanon at age 12 and later ordained a deacon. He arrived in the United States in 1971 to serve the growing number of American Orthodox Christians. That same year he married Nouhad Ghareeb, with whom he has raised four children. Shalhoub was assigned to the Mission of St. Mary in Livonia immediately after his ordination on Feb. 6, 1972. At that time there were few parishioners and no building to call their own.
In the years that followed, the group of immigrant Christians from across the Middle East and non-immigrants from throughout the United States, forged a family-like bond that helped the church to grow. Under Shalhoub’s leadership, the congregation saw the construction and dedication of its current home in 1977 at 18100 Merriman. In 1991, the St. Mary’s Cultural Center was completed and helped further solidify fellowship among the parishioners of St. Mary.
“Fellowship and faith are vital to a thriving parish; and, we have been blessed to build a congregation-in-Christ over our 40 years with more than 600 hundred families who call St. Mary Basilica their house of worship, today,” stated Shalhoub in a press release. “Because of the freedom of worship we have in America, we have been able to honor celebrate our faith for 40 years and grow it like a tree.”
St. Mary Church was elevated to the stature of a basilica in 2002. The church has assumed a growing leadership role in educating Michiganders about the Eastern Orthodox faith. Saliba proclaimed it “a new church for a new century.”
For more information about the 40th anniversary celebration, visit www.saintmarylivonia.com or call (734) 422-0010.