Bishop of Melkite Catholic eparchy retires; Calif. pastor named successor

Bishop-elect François E. Beyrouti is seen at Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church in Placentia, Calif., in this undated photo. On Aug. 20, 2022, Pope Francis confirmed his election to succeed Bishop Nicholas J. Samra of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton in Massachusetts. The pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Samra, who is 78. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. (CNS photo/courtesy Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Nicholas J. Samra of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton in Massachusetts and confirmed the election of his successor, Father François E. Beyrouti, a priest of the eparchy who is currently pastor of Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church in Placentia, California.

Bishop Samra is 78. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. He has headed the eparchy since 2011. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, he was the fifth bishop of the eparchy and its first U.S.-born bishop.

Bishop-elect Beyrouti, 51, was born in Lebanon and raised in British Columbia. He was ordained a priest Oct. 4, 1998.

The changes were announced in Washington Aug. 20 by Msgr. Séamus P. Horgan, charge d'affaires at the apostolic nunciature. He made the announcement on behalf of Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio.

Then-Father Beyrouti, 51, was elected with two other priests June 23 by the Melkite Synod held in Rome. The list of three names was sent to the Dicastery of the Eastern Churches and Pope Francis confirmed the election.

The date of his episcopal consecration and installation have not yet been determined.

"We pray for Bishop-Elect François that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest, will give him continued good health and long life, and 'give him a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love," said the eparchy in a statement, quoting a "Prayer for a Bishop."

The Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton has about 50 parishes and missions, which are spread between New England, the South and Southern California.

Bishop-elect Beyrouti was born July 3, 1971, to Elias and Maggy Beyrouti in Hadeth-Beirut, Lebanon. His brother Joseph died in 2004. He has another brother named Anthony.

The family emigrated to Canada in 1976, settling in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

After graduating in 1989 from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in North Vancouver, the future bishop entered the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, British Columbia, earning a bachelor of arts degree, with concentrations in history, English and philosophy in 1993.

From 1993 to 1996, he studied at Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario. He completed a theology baccalaureate in Eastern Christian studies. At the university he earned a master of arts in theology in 1997 and a licentiate in theology in 1998, with a concentration in biblical studies for both degrees.

In 2012, he a doctoral thesis in theology, also with a concentration in biblical studies. He earned both a civil doctorate and ecclesiastical doctorate.

Archbishop Mihel Hakim ordained him a subdeacon in 1995 and a deacon in 1997. Both ordinations were at Sts. Peter and Paul Melkite Catholic Church in Ottawa. Deacon Beyrouti was ordained a priest by Bishop Sleiman Hajjar at the same Ottawa church in 1998.

He was the first diocesan priest ordained for the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Saint-Sauveur in Montreal, where he served as vocations director and member of the College of Consultors.

His first pastoral assignment as a newly ordained priest was as assistant pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Melkite in Ottawa; he ministered there until Jan. 31, 2010.

While assistant pastor, he focused on building up pastoral programs, developing strong children, youth and young adult ministries, as well as leading marriage preparation programs, doing media work with newspapers, radio and TV stations. He also engaged political leaders on religious topics.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne, Then-Father Beyrouti was awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal in a ceremony at the Parliament of Canada Nov. 1, 2002.

He was incardinated into the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton Dec. 2, 2011, and was assigned to Holy Cross Church in Placentia in November 2012. Prior to that, he completed a doctorate on Origen of Alexandria's commentary on the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John, chapter 4. Origen was an early Christian scholar, ascetic and theologian.

During his studies, he attended and presented at academic conferences and published articles and book reviews in academic journals.

Bishop-elect Beyrouti has focused on building up pastoral programs and worked closely with the youth and young adults throughout his ministry. He also has taught courses on the synoptic Gospels, early church history and icons, and a university class on the early interpretation of the Bible.

He has served as president of the Eastern Catholic Pastoral Association of Southern California and also has served on the priests' council of the Newton eparchy.

Bishop-elect Beyrouti speaks English, French, German and Arabic.


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