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Maronites Say Goodbye to Longtime Priest

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Members of the local Maronite community prepare to say goodbye to their longtime bishop in the fall.

He’s been almost a permanent fixture in the local Maronite Community for the past half century but Bishop Robert Shaheen is retiring at the age of 76 as head of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, the official name of the Maronite Catholic Diocese, which extends across 34 states.

Bishop Shaheen jokingly says he forgot to submit his resignation to the Pope until he turned 76.

“You know, I really didn’t feel like I was ready to retire. I’m in pretty good health and I enjoy being a bishop, doing what I’m doing, but it’s time. I realize very easily it’s time,” he says.

“I want to make it a party, not some sad thing like ‘Oh, I’m leaving,'” Shaheen adds, laughing. “I want to enjoy and celebrate 12 years of being bishop and 49 years of being a priest as a celebration.”

That celebration is set for October 25 at St. Raymond’s Cathedral near downtown. Two days earlier, Bishop Shaheen’s successor will be installed, Father Elias Zaidan, a 50-year-old priest from Los Angeles.

“He is liked by, respected by our priests. They all know him, they all like him. So it will be a very easy transition,” Shaheen says.

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