Waterville’s St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church is celebrating on Thursday and Friday, April 28 and 29, the visitation of the relics of St. Sharbel, the healer. The Maronite Catholic Churches of the United States will be celebrating the Year of Mercy as announced by Pope Francis by having the relics of St. Sharbel visit each Maronite Catholic Church and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his beatification, which took place at the close of the Second Vatican Council. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977, according to a news release from St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church. All are invited to be a part of the spiritual celebration.
According to the release, miracles attributed to him number over 1,000, many are associated with healing. He is called “Instrument of the Divine Physician” and “Model of the monastic life.” Although he may not be familiar throughout America, St. Sharbel, whose feast day is the third Sunday in July, is a prominent saint among Maronite Catholics and those of the Eastern Rites. For more information on St. Sharbel’s life, miracles and St. Maron Monastery in Annaya, Lebanon, where Sharbel is entombed, visit www.saintcharbel-annaya.com.
Veneration of the relics and silent prayer in the church sanctuary will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. The welcoming ceremony will commence at 5 p.m. with a procession. Everyone is invited to join St. Joseph’s Choir, the Knights of Columbus, church organizations, parish representatives and congregations, as they proceed around the church on the corner of Appleton and Front streets. Mass will be sung at 6 p.m., with the blessing of the relics of St. Sharbel. A free spaghetti supper will be provided by the three area Knights of Columbus councils.
The church will open at 5:30 a.m. Friday for silent veneration of the relics. Public prayers will be offered on the hour, beginning at 6 a.m. with the rosary, the chaplet of St. Sharbel at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., little office of St. Sharbel at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Safro (morning prayers) at 9 a.m., prayers for healing at 10 a.m., St. Sharbel prayers at 11 a.m., novena of St. Sharbel at noon, rosary at 1 p.m., the chaplet of the divine mercy 2 p.m., Songs of Inspiration at 5 p.m., and divine liturgy for the sick at 6 p.m., with the blessing of the relics of St. Sharbel. Silent veneration will continue until 10 p.m. with a closing prayer.
Throughout both days, videos and displays of St. Sharbel’s life and the Lebanese community will be available in the church hall, where there will be refreshments. Prayer cards and St. Sharbel chaplets will also be available. A book will be made available for intentions, which will be sent to the monastery in Annaya to be prayed for by the monks and pilgrims there.
This event is intended to deepen our knowledge and, in the words of Archbishop Zayek, “our love for St. Sharbel, but even more so, our love for what he loved: prayer, penance, sacrifice, the Mother of God, and the Eucharist,” according to the release.
St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church is handicapped-accessible by elevator; parking is available on Appleton Street, in the side lot next to the church, at Head of Falls or in The Concourse.