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St. Jude (Melkite)

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History

In December of 1967, the late Bishop Justin Najmy, the first Apostolic Exarch for the Melkites in the United States, appointed Father Nicholas Abraham, B.S.O, as administrator of the Melkite Mission in Greater Miami. Our dream became a reality on Sunday, Dec. 18, 1967 when the Mission’s first Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Syrian-Lebanese American Club Hall. Our Greater Miami Mission celebrated all services at the Club Hall until Christmas Eve, 1967, when Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church graciously allowed us to celebrate Divine Liturgy in their auditorium.

In 1970, after the Mission encountered a series of disappointments and setbacks, a parcel of land was acquired in South Miami. This location was central to the many of the parishioners. Initially, an existing house was on the property and used for a rectory. An adjacent house on the property was renovated and served as the first meeting room. Only six months later, in June of 1970, the Mission was inspired and hosted their first national event, the annual convention for the Melkite Association of North America (MANA). The wonderful hospitality and community of the Ladies’ Guild with all volunteers welcomed Melkites from across the country and is still noted as one of the most successful conventions. In the years 1970-1973, the entire community worked with complete devotion hosting many dinners prepared by the devoted Ladies and events to fundraise. Arabic cuisine and pastries have been a main source of fundraising for the community since the beginning. Many obstacles arose and the community was inspired and joined together with fervor to change zoning laws to build the church, making their vision a reality.

The first Parish Council was formed with Mitchell Sirghany as the first Council Chairman, guiding the Melkite Mission through these formative years. The Melkite Mission in Greater Miami was now officially named St. Jude Melkite Catholic Mission of Miami. On Aug. 16, 1973, Archmandrite Nicholas Abraham, our founding administrator, was called to his eternal reward much to the sorrow of the entire community. Three months later, Archmandrite Lucien Malouf, pastor of the Annunciation Church in Rosedale, Massachusetts, was appointed Interim administrator to the Mission. During this period, Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Sundays and Holy Days at the Ukrainian Church of the Assumption on Red Road in Miami. The Mission was again saddened when Archmandrite Lucien Malouf returned to Boston due to poor health.

In May 1974, Archmandrite John W. Haddad was appointed as administrator of the Mission. Divine liturgy was held in the parish rectory in South Miami. The Very Reverend Archpriest Michael Husson graciously offered the auditorium of the Cathedral of Saint George in Coral Gables to the Mission. On Christmas Eve, December of 1974, Archmandrite Haddad celebrated the Divine Liturgy. This year brought the reorganization of the Ladies Guild. The sheer determination, dedication and labor of love has always been evident in the haflis, garage sales, dinners, bazaars and festivals. Throughout, the history of St. Jude, the Ladies’ Guild has been the driving force to making St. Jude, a reality.

An amazing series of events began to unfold as the architects were completing the plans to begin construction on the new church in South Miami. The Mission learned the Diocese of Miami had decided to sell the Chapel of the Assumption Academy at Bay Haven on Brickell Avenue, near downtown Miami. The Parish Council immediately entered negotiations with the Sisters of the Assumption for its purchase. Complicated negotiations were led by the founders of the church. Dr. Thomas Zaydon worked diligently to make this a reality. Archbishop Joseph Tawil personally intervened in the negotiations, arranging two special trips to Sisters of the Assumption headquarters in France and countless communications with the Papal Nuncio in the Vatican, singlehandedly extracting all the necessary approvals.

On Dec. 23, 1976, a contract was signed for the purchase of the Chapel and the adjacent St. Margaret Hall, which was secured by the Mission’s deposit and receipt of an option to purchase an additional adjacent property, which was St. Elizabeth Hall. On Feb. 20, 1977, Archbishop Tawil was invited by the nuns to celebrate the Melkite Divine Liturgy in the Chapel of the Assumption. On Feb. 23, 1977, a contract was signed for the purchase of St. Elizabeth Hall and the Building Fund Campaign was officially commenced.

Again, the endless dedication and outpouring of support of the founders, parishioners and friends culminated in success. May 14, 1977 was the beginning of celebrating liturgical services on a regular basis. With great efforts of the parish realized, the closing on the land that housed the Chapel and two adjacent halls was finalized. On Feb. 19, 1978, the Chapel of the Assumption was rededicated as St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church.

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