Published June 25, 2015
LOS ANGELES—Members of Atlanta’s St. John Chrysostom Melkite Greek Catholic Church will have a co-cathedral in California for the Eparchy of Newton, Massachusetts, as of Aug. 1.
At the request of Bishop Nicholas Samra, the head of the Melkite Eparchy, Pope Francis has named St. Anne Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Los Angeles as the co-cathedral for the eparchy, along with the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Newton.
The Eparchy of Newton has jurisdiction over all the Melkites in the entire United States. Because of the vast extent of the Eparchy, Bishop Samra requested the naming of a co-cathedral on the West Coast in order to express to the Melkite faithful in that area the unity of the church and the care of its bishop.
The Eparchy of Newton presently encompasses 45 parishes and missions, 60 active and retired priests, and 62 deacons, with several priests and deacons on special assignment outside the Eparchy.
In the Atlanta area, St. John Chrysostom is one of two Melkite churches in Georgia, with the other church located in Augusta. Some 75 families are registered at the parish in Atlanta.
The church is an Eastern Catholic church, in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Melkite worship uses the Byzantine rite, in which the liturgy is chanted, Communion is always given under the species of both bread and wine, and the celebrant traditionally faces east.
The Divine Liturgy for the Solemn Inauguration of the Cathedral of St. Anne will be celebrated by Bishop Samra on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 4 p.m. His Eminence, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches in Rome, will preside at the Divine Liturgy and will read the decree of Pope Francis elevating the church as a cathedral for the Eparchy of Newton. A banquet will follow at the Hilton Hotel in Studio City, California.
Archimandrite John Azar, pastor of St. John Chrysostom, who served at St. Anne Cathedral before his assignment in Atlanta, has been invited to attend the event.
St. Anne Cathedral was founded in 1909 when Father Gerasimos Sawaya, the first Melkite missionary priest, traversed the West Coast visiting and ministering to the Melkites in the western United States. The present church building is 51 years old and is unique in the United States for its modern Byzantine architecture. The church is a jewel of iconography with mosaic and painted icons decorating the entire interior, featuring the great feasts of the Byzantine calendar and related accounts of the New Testament Gospel periscopes, as well as many saints.