In the News

New miracle attributed to St. Sharbel; saint’s relics visited Lewisville Maronite parish recently

by Juan Guajardo

North Texas Catholic

April 26, 2016
St. Sharbel Makhlouf

LEWISVILLE — St. Sharbel Makhlouf of Lebanon has a long track record of miraculous healings. And his record keeps growing.

After venerating his relics at St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix in mid-January, Dafne Gutierrez, a blind mother of three, had her vision restored to 20/20. News of her healing came out earlier this month, and Gutierrez gave testimony of her healing story at a Maronite cathedral in Brooklyn last week.

Living with Arnold Chiari malformation since she was a teen, Gutierrez lost vision in both her eyes due to pressure in her brain causing “damage to the optic nerve,” Dr. Anne Borik, one of Gutierrez’s physicians, told the Catholic news website Aletia. With no medical explanation for why a long-damaged nerve would completely restore itself in two days, Dr. Borik called the occurrence a “miraculous healing through the intercession of St. Sharbel.”

The saint’s first-class relics visited Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Lewisville, last fall from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, as part of a tour to Maronite Catholic churches throughout the U.S.

Bishop Michael Olson and Our Lady of Lebanon pastor Father Assaad El-Basha concelebrated Mass in honor of St. Sharbel, who was beatified 50 years ago.

According to Our Lady of Lebanon parish secretary Mattye Thompson, more than 1,000 faithful came out to venerate the relics of the saint who is still being credited with miraculous healings worldwide.

“It was an incredible honor to host the visit of St. Sharbel’s relics,” Thompson told the NTC. “Hearing from others about their healing experiences via St. Sharbel and reading the news of healings involving those very same relics made our experiences all the more blessed.”

“We knew we would have many, many visitors and we were so pleased to have them come to honor St. Sharbel with us in our little community!” she added.

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in Northern Lebanon, in 1828. Engaged in solitude and prayer from an early age, he entered the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, at age 23 and took the name Sharbel (after one of the Christian martyrs of the second century). He was ordained a priest eight years later.

St. Sharbel rarely left his hermitage, spending most of his time praying and worshipping God in the Holy Eucharist, and gladly administering the sacraments to nearby villagers when needed.

The Maronite-Catholic priest died Christmas Eve, 1898. When a mysterious light emanated from his tomb shortly after, his body was exhumed and found incorruptible. He was placed in a new tomb which has become a pilgrimage site. It is believed hundreds of pilgrims have experienced miraculous healings through his intercession. Sharbel was canonized a saint in 1977 by Pope Paul VI, who earlier had called him “an admirable flower of sanctity blooming on the stem of the ancient monastic traditions of the East.”

Our Lady of Lebanon parishioners will have an opportunity to pray for the intercession of another saint on May 1, when the parish will host St. Pope John Paul II’s traveling monstrance from 2-7 p.m., Thompson said. One of only six monstrances blessed by Pope John Paul II in 2004, it is sent to various dioceses around the U.S. to encourage Catholics to pray for vocations. It is currently making its way through several parishes in the diocese.

Although it is located in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Our Lady of Lebanon is overseen by the Eparchy (diocese) of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. For more information on Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church, please visit ourladylebanon.com.

************************************************************************************

Lewisville church displays relics of St. Charbel, patron saint of Lebanon

Adam Schrader/Staff

“It’s incredible we get the relics at the church,” says Mattye Thompson, parish secretary of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church.

Relics of St. Charbel, the patron saint of Lebanon, will be on display at a Lewisville church Monday and Tuesday.

The relics, which include part of the saint’s skeleton, are visiting Maronite Catholic churches throughout the United States. All are invited to see the relics of the 19th-century monk at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 719 University Place in Lewisville.

St. Charbel has been credited with miracles worldwide.

Parishioner Nada ElGhreichy said her brother was injured during the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990.

“He got a bullet in his head and was in a coma for two months. Doctors said if he survived, it would be as a vegetable,” ElGhreichy said. “He said Saint Charbel appeared to him seven times. Now my brother is alive, married and lives in Frisco.”

ElGhreichy said she expects people to come from across North Texas to see the relics, particularly to pray after recent terrorist attacks in Beirut.

“I have many friends that are not Maronite or Lebanese, but they pray for Lebanon,” she said. “We have some members of the church drive from Mesquite, Fort Worth and farther to attend Mass.”

ElGhreichy said she returns to Lebanon every year. It has become tradition to go visit the monastery where St. Charbel lived.

“Many people are healed through their visits and they leave there crutches there,” she said.

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in Beka-Kafra, Lebanon, in 1828. He joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, when he was 23 and took the name Charbel. Charbel became a monk in 1853 and was ordained a priest in 1859, spending most of his religious life at the Annaya monastery. He died of a stroke during Christmas Eve Mass in 1898.

Pope Pious XI proposed Charbel’s beatification and canonization in 1925. Miracles attributed to him multiplied after his grave was opened for inspection in the canonization process in 1950. Followers from different religions started making the pilgrimage to the Annaya monastery.

Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1977. St. Charbel was the first Maronite saint formally canonized in Rome.

The Rev. Assaad ElBasha, a priest at Our Lady of Lebanon, said St. Charbel is revered worldwide among all Catholics.

Maronites, unlike churches in the Roman Catholic rite, are governed by a Roman Catholic diocese and a Maronite Catholic eparchy. The Roman Catholic diocese overseeing Our Lady of Lebanon is in Fort Worth. The eparchy, led by A. Elias Zaidan, is in St. Louis.

Our Lady of Lebanon parishioners were excited Sunday as they prepared to welcome Bishop Michael Olson of the Fort Worth diocese to their Monday night Mass.

Mattye Thompson, parish secretary of Our Lady of Lebanon, said visitors may touch rosaries to the handcarved reliquary, which would transform it into a third-degree relic of St. Charbel, meaning it touched a second-degree relic and would be considered blessed.

“It’s incredible we get the relics at the church,” she said. “I didn’t feel worthy to touch it.”

On Monday, a veneration of the relics will begin at 3 p.m., a liturgy of the hour will start at 6 p.m. and Mass will be at 7. Rosary will follow at 8 p.m. On Tuesday, there will be a rosary at 8:30 a.m., a Mass at 9 and veneration from 10 to noon.

These are the second relics to draw worshippers to a Catholic church this month. The body of St. Maria Goretti, of the Roman Catholic rite, was displayed in a glass coffin at Dallas’ St. Monica Catholic Church in early November.

Twitter: @schrader_adam

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church under the watchful stewardship of Father Assaad ElBasha