Pope Names Head of Canada’s Maronite Catholics

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI named the priest in charge of coordinating his papal visit to Lebanon to head the Maronite Catholic community in Canada.

Bishop-designate Marwan Tabet replaces Maronite Bishop Joseph Khoury, 76, who stepped down for reasons of age, the Vatican announced 10 January.

The 51-year-old new bishop-designate will head the Diocese of Saint-Maron of Montreal as bishop for the Maronite Catholics of Canada.

He coordinated the pope’s three-day visit to Lebanon in 2012, helping organize the papal itinerary together with Vatican officials.

Born in Lebanon, he entered the Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries in 1980 and was ordained a priest six years later.

He studied and served parishes during the late 1980s through the mid-1990s in Boston and Lawrence, Mass., and in Dallas and San Antonio. He helped found the Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite parish church near Dallas.

Bishop-designate Tabet has degrees in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts and the University of South Africa, a degree in political philosophy from the University of Dallas, as well as degrees in theology and philosophy.

He served as a parish priest in Lebanon, the United States and Johannesburg, South Africa.

The bishop-designate has been general counselor for the Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries since 2007. He has been teaching at the Institute for Religious Sciences at the University of St. Joseph in Beirut since 2008, and pastoral theology at the Maronite major seminary in Ghazir, Lebanon since 2002.

He has also been serving as a consultant for the Maronite Patriarchal Synod and runs courses in formation and spiritual exercises for clergy and lay Catholics.

He was regional secretary of the international office for education in the Middle East and secretary general of Catholic schools in Lebanon from 2003 to 2011; he also directed the office of immigration and development for the Maronite Patriarchate.

Bishop-designate Tabet is fluent in Arabic, English and French. According to an interview published by his Lebanese alma mater, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, he is a musician and lover of classical music and sports, especially cycling, swimming, ping-pong and foosball.

The Maronite Eparchy of Canada has 16 parishes and missions with a Catholic population of 4,100, who are served by 14 priests, five sisters and two permanent deacons.

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