Our History



 Lebanese began to arrive in the United States in 1853. By 1856 they arrived in St. Louis. Their colorful dress and Arabic language set them apart. With the change in immigration laws their numbers began to increase and by the 1890's more arrived in the city. An area known as "Little Lebanon" began to form. The boundaries of the area were Chouteau Ave., on the South, Plum Street on the North, Fourth Street on the West and Second Street on the East. In 1898, the Maronite Church of St. Anthony The Hermit was organized. The place of worship was on the second floor of 618 South Second Street. In 1900, the Church was moved to 717 South Third Street. In 1903, the Church was moved to 615 South Broadway. A School was established with two teachers and 45 students. In 1916, St. Anthony was relocated at 1201 St. Ange Ave. (St. Ange and Hickory). The Church existed as a Parish for the Maronites until it was demolished in 1940 to make room for a housing project.

In 1908 a group of family parishioners (mainly from Hadchit, Lebanon) wanted to start another Maronite church in St. Louis. They asked for another priest to serve them. In 1911, St. Raymond's Ladies Society were organized. 1912, another organization started, St. Raymond's Aid Society (St. Raymond's Men Society). Reverend Joseph Karam arrived in 1912 to be the pastor of the new St. Raymond Maronite Church.

Property and building on 931-933 LaSalle Street was purchased in the name of the Church by the Trustees. Old land records list the following names: Peter Azar, Thomas G. Azar, Hawash Mahfood, Sorkis Webbe, Thomas Elias, and Simon Reask. Archbishop Glennon (later Cardinal) granted Rev. Joseph Karam permission and faculties. Cost of the building was $6,000.00. The balance of the $3,500.00 was not paid until around 1940 by the Ladies’ Society.

Records indicate that St. Raymond Maronite church had a school by 1920. Classrooms were in the church building as you enter. Teachers were Alexander Mizerany and Virginia Bouhasin.

Archbishop C. Khouri, Bishop of Tyre in Lebanon visited St. Raymond in 1922.

In 1931, St. Raymond's Ladies split into two groups. St. Raymond's Ladies Sodality and St. Raymond's Ladies Charity Society. The Ladies’ Sodality continued to meet in the basement of the Church, however the Ladies’ Charity met in different homes.
Chorbishop Joseph Karam died in 1944 and was buried at Sts. Peter & Paul Cemetery. Cardinal Glennon appointed Msgr. Marren of the Old St. Louis Cathedral as administrator.

After the death of Chorbishop Joseph Karma, different Roman Catholic priests from the St. Louis Archdiocese administered St. Raymond Maronite Church, among them Rev. John Ronquest, Rev. Francis R. Hyland, Rev. James E. Hoflich, Rev. Peter Rahill, Rev. Walter Tucker, Rev. James Mulderig, and Rev. Joseph Michalski, and some Vincentian priests from St. Vincent Catholic Church neighboring parish, among them Rev. William Flynn; Rev. Marsch, and Rev. Joseph Dyra.

During that time, in 1952, the cornerstone was laid for the new St. Raymond's Hall, 1020 South 10th Street by Cardinal Ritter.

It is also important to mention that in 1961, Maronite Seminary was established in Washington, D.C. The Ladies Society of St. Raymond Church in St. Louis were among the first to contribute for the good cause.

In 1962, Maronite Patriarch Paul Peter Meouchi, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, visited the United States. On September 10 – 12, Patriach Meouchi visited St. Raymond Maronite Church, in St. Louis, MO.

In 1964, ordination of the first graduate of the Maronite Seminary, Rev. Robert J. Shaheen.

In 1966, establishment of the Maronite Apostolic Exarchate of the United States by Pope Paul VI. The Most Rev. Francis M. Zayek was named as First Exarch. In November, Bishop Francis M. Zayek made a Pastoral visit to St. Raymond Church and promised to assign a priest.

On January 3, 1967, Rev. Robert J. Shaheen was assigned as pastor St. Raymond Church.

In 1970, the National Apostolate of Maronites Convention was hosted by St. Raymond Maronite Church at the Sheraton Jefferson Hotel.

On July 12, 1974, LaSalle Street from 7th Street to 11th Street was changed to LEBANON DRIVE (Ord. #5609 B.B. #126).

On November 16th, 1975, there was the consecration of the new St. Raymond Church, by Bishop Francis M. Zayek.

On February 1977, the construction for the new Rectory was finished.

On November 1979, there was the dedication of the New Parish Center, "The Cedars", named in Honor of Mary, Mother of God.

A historic Visit of the Maronite Patriarch, His Beatitude, Anthony Peter Khoraich happened on September 29th till October 1st, 1981.

Associate Pastors who served were Rev. Donald Thomas, Rev. John McGuire, Rev. Paul Mooradd.

Rev. James Swift of Kenrick Seminary, and Rev. Richard Stika of Our Lady Queen of Peace (Bi-Rituals).

Deacon Louis Peters who was ordained Maronite Subdeacon in 1977. He is now a deacon at St. Raymond Cathedral, in addition of the Ministry of Subdeacons David Wahby and Anthony Simon.

There was another historical visit of the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, in June 1988.

In 1994, St. Maron Eparchy was divided creating the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, mainly all the states excluding the east coast states. Bishop John Chedid was the first Eparch. Chorbishop Robert Shaheen was appointed the second Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles in 2001. He moved the Eparchial See from Los Angeles to Saint Louis. A July 2001 letter from the Apostolic Nunciature officially elevated St. Raymond Church to the rank of Co-Cathedral along with Our Lady of Mount Lebanon Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Saint Raymond continues to thrive under the current leadership of Bishop A. Elias Zaidan. In the spirit of the original kitchen volunteers who cooked Lebanese food to keep to church doors open and continues to host a weekly Lebanese luncheon which draws crowds from all over the city.


Priests who served St. Anthony the Hermit Maronite Church in St. Louis, MO from 1898 to 1942:

Rev. George Emmanuel         1898 – 1901

Rev. Matthew Naimi              1901 – 1905

Rev. Anton Slyman               1905 – 1916

Rev. Nabi Bellamah               1917 – 1918

Rev. George Assibelani          1918 – 1919

Rev. Gabriel Korkemaz          1919 – 1920

Rev. Francis Chamoun           1920 – 1921

Rev. Joakim Stephan      1921 – 1942 (and associate at St. Raymond till his death in 1959)


Priests who served St. Raymond Maronite Church/Cathedral:

CB. Joseph Karam                1912 – 1944

Bishop Robert Shaheen         1967 – 2001

Bishop Gregory Mansour       2001 – 2003

Rev. Andre Mhanna               2004 – 2008

Msgr. Gibran BouMerhi          2008  – 2010

Rev. Gary George, CSSR       2010 – 2012

CB. Moussa Joseph               2012 – 2016

Rev. John Nahal                   2017 – present


Bishops of St. Raymond Maronite Church:

Archbishop Francis Zayek       1966 – 1994

Bishop John Chedid                1994 – 2001

Bishop Robert Shaheen          2001 – 2013

Bishop A. Elias Zaidan            2013 – present

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