2014 Honoree: The Most Reverend Robert J. Shaheen, Bishop Emeritus of Saint Raymond Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri
Aquinas Institute of Theology is pleased to honor The Most Reverend Robert J. Shaheen, Bishop Emeritus of Saint Raymond Maronite Cathedral as the 2014 recipient of its annual Great Preacher Award. The Award will be presented to Bishop Shaheen on Thursday, October 23, 2014, at The Cedars Banquet Hall in St. Louis, with a VIP pre-reception taking place at 6:00 p.m., followed by an award dinner at 7:00 p.m.
Aquinas Institute, run by the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), instituted the Great Preacher Award in 1995 to recognize those, who by their words and actions, have contributed in an outstanding way to the building up of the Catholic community. Aquinas Institute considers the Great Preacher Award a powerful means of renewing the Church and promoting good preaching while sharing its Dominican charism. The award is intended not only to sustain preachers of the Word but also to help Catholics become more attuned to hearing the Word.
Robert Joseph Shaheen was born in Danbury, Connecticut on June 3, 1937, the oldest of four boys to parents Albert and Aileen. After attending St. Peter Grammar School and Danbury Public High School in his hometown, he entered the St. Thomas (Latin rite) Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut in 1955. In 1958, he then transferred to St. Basil (Eastern Catholic) Seminary while also taking classes at St. Anselm College, in Manchester, New Hampshire. In 1961, he enrolled in the new Maronite Seminary in Washington D.C. as one of the first seminarians there.
Bishop Shaheen was ordained subdeacon in October of 1962, deacon in June of 1963, then as a priest in May of 1964 by Bishop Francis Mansour Zayek (Bishop of the Maronites of Brazil). Shortly after his ordination, in January 1967, Father Shaheen was named as administrator, then pastor, of St. Raymond’s Church in St. Louis where he spent the next 46 years until his official retirement in October of 2013.
When assigned to St. Raymond’s Church, the Church had been without a priest for over 20 years. Under Fr. Shaheen’s leadership, he was able to take the Church from a few faithful parishioners to what it is today, a beautiful, vibrant Maronite Parish with over 350 active families. Between 1965 and 1970, Fr. Shaheen organized and celebrated Maronite liturgies on a regular basis and conducted a census to identify Maronite’s in the greater St. Louis metro area. He introduced spiritual and cultural programs through the Church, including Maronite religious education classes.
During his time in St. Louis, he hosted three National Aposolate of Maronite Conventions (1970, 1979 and 1995) and led the Church through a number of building additions and renovations. Of these building additions, Fr. Shaheen dedicated a new parish center “The Cedars” in November 1979. In addition to being a parish hall, “The Cedars” is also a public facility that can be rented out to a variety of St. Louis groups – including Aquinas Institute of Theology for the Great Preacher Award reception. “The Cedars” also serves as a restaurant every Wednesday, which is staffed by parish volunteers, and is well-known for serving Lebanese lunches to the greater St. Louis community.
Fr. Shaheen was ordained Archpriest in 1978 and then made Chorbishop in 1986 (both by Archbishop Zayek.) In December 2000, he was appointed Eparch of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon by Pope John Paul II, following the retirement of Our Lady of Lebanon's first bishop, John George Chedid. He was consecrated a bishop on February 15, 2001 by Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.
St. Raymond parishioners’ have considered Bishop Shaheen to be an outstanding leader in the Maronite Catholic Church, and have long thought of him as a great preacher. Aquinas Institute of Theology is honored to recognize Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Shaheen as the 20th recipient of the Great Preacher Award.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the October 23, 2014 award dinner, please contact Aquinas Institute of Theology at 314.256.8858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.