THE MARONITE SETTLERS
At the end of the nineteenth century, Lebanese emigration moved to North America, and the first arrivals to Canada were settled in the Port Cities of Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there they expanded to the other regions of Canada, where they have continued to enrich the cultural fabric of their adopted country. The 1880 Lebanese Maronite settlers were called Turks, Syrians, Assyrians and Arabs. They did not have a chance to deny these false attributions, or to claim their Lebanese origin, until some members of the small Maronite community volunteered in the Royal Canadian Legion.
THE FIRST MARONITE CHURCH IN NOVA SCOTIA
The Lebanese Maronite settlers were active and respected members of the Roman Catholic Churches wherever they settled. They have also proven to be invaluable additions to their respective Canadian communities, both in private and public life. In 1907, the community in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia invited a Maronite priest Rev. Louis Soaib, to visit their small community, and with the agreement of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Antigonish, he founded the Church of St. Joseph. Two years later in 1909, Rev. Louis Soaib, on the invitation of the Bishop and the larger Community of Sydney and North Sydney NS, traded the tiny Church of St. Joseph with St. Patrick’s Church on the Esplanade in Sydney N. S.. He served this community till 195 1, and later died in 1955. In the sixties, the Maronite Church of St. Patrick became a heritage museum, in witness of the great religious and social work this priest had done.
OUR LADY OF LEBANON PARISH IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
In 1979, Rev. Kheirallah Aoukar, a Lebanese Canadian priest and scholar serving in Germany, was instructed by the Vatican to establish a Parish of the Maronite Church in the County of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since that time, despite many bureaucratic obstacles and political difficulties within the Community, and in addition to ministering the daily growing congregation and conducting services in temporary facilities, he has established the parish of Our Lady of Lebanon in Halifax-Dartmouth, NS. He has also periodically visited the Communities of Sydney, NS, St. John and Fredericton, NB and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He founded St. Charbel Church on Argyle Street, Fredericton, in 1984 (now an independent parish).
THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF LEBANON PARISH IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
The Maronite Community of Metropolitan Halifax, in collaboration with Rev. K. Aoukar, arranged for the construction of a Church accommodating 500 worshippers on Dutch Village Road, Halifax, and a large Parish Hall ( 1981-1982). On July 8, 1982, the Roman Catholic Archbishop James M. Hayes, to whom the Maronites were entrusted and whose support was graciously given, inaugurated the Parish Hall. On November 4, 1984, His Grace Archbishop Elias F. Shaheen consecrated the Church. In 1988, the Bell Tower was built. In 1996-97, the Church needed to be expanded to fit the growing Community. His Grace Bishop Georges Abi Saber gave the permission to purchase the adjacent house and a parcel of land for additional parking. The official opening under the auspices of His Grace Bishop Joseph Khoury, was celebrated on November 1. 1997.
OUR LADY OF LEBANON PARISH AND CHURCH: THE IDENTITY
The Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church is recognized by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax, Charlottetown, PEI, St. John, NB and Antigonish, NS. It is also a federally recognized Charity, and was granted status by Provincial Government of NS through a Private Members Bill in 1996.
THE COMMUNITY AND THE ROOTS
The Maronites in Nova Scotia have always looked to the mountains of Lebanon for a place of Refuge, and to the Mediterranean Sea for an open horizon to follow in the footsteps of their Phoenician ancestors to a new world where they will find freedom, tranquility, peace of mind and the ability to continue their evolution and expand their knowledge. Therefore, they participate in their rich Antiochian heritage of ecumenism, Christian life and doctrine, and learn from the west in order to support their homeland in its search for autonomy, independence and the courage to continue to witness to their Christian and human values.