It all started when…
We have been blessed to have a Maronite presence in Palm Beach County for almost thirty years. Mary, Mother of the Light Mission was started when several Maronite families petitioned Archbishop Francis Zayek to have a church in West Palm Beach.
In 1990, Archbishop Zayek asked Msgr. Ronald Beshara to explore the possibility of establishing this mission. The first Liturgy was celebrated in February of 1990 at the Syrian Lebanese American Club. Over one hundred and thirty people attended the Divine Liturgy and the Club became the spiritual home for the community until 1995.
From February 1991 to April 1995, Mary, Mother of the Light Mission grew to about 45 families and raised enough money to purchase five acres of land off of Forest Hill Boulevard in West Palm Beach. In May of 1996, Archbishop Zayek made a pastoral visit to dedicate and bless the land as the site for the future construction of a multipurpose building to serve the needs of the community. During this time the community worshipped at the Chapel of St. Mary’s Hospital.
In April 1997, Fr. Leonard Basinow assumed the pastoral care of the mission. Under his leadership and guidance, the parishioners later purchased a Pizza Hut on Lake Worth Road in Greenacres City, Florida and converted it into their “new home.”
Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi dedicated and consecrated the Church on March 31, 2001. Fr. Leonard retired on April 29, 2001 and Msgr. Beshara was appointed Administrator of the Mission and served until January 1, 2011. Later that year, Msgr. Ron passed on to his Eternal Home.
Fr. Jorge Perales was named temporary Administrator for a year, then Deacon William Murray was appointed to oversee the day-to-day administration of the mission with assistance from Subdeacon Dennis Somerville and Bernadette Shalhoub.
Discussions were held over the years as to whether to build or buy an already existing worship facility. A former Lutheran facility was found in Tequesta, which included a social hall, offices, and a school.
Fr. Alaa Issa was appointed Pastoral Administrator on June 2, 2013 and on Sunday, February 22, 2015, Bishop Gregory Mansour dedicated and consecrated the new complex. Mary, Mother of the Light Academy opened its doors on August 17, 2015 for preschool age children who receive a faith based Catholic education. The Academy is the first of its kind in the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn.
On December 1, 2015, Fr. Jack Morrison was appointed as Administrator of this growing community of faith. He retired in December of 2017.
Beginning in January of 2018, Fr. Jebrael Moussallum was appointed Pastoral Administrator for five months.
Beginning in June of 2018, Fr. Aaron J. Sandbothe was assigned as Administrator.
So many parishioners devoted their time, talents and treasure to establish and preserve a Maronite presence in Palm Beach County. We humbly pray that God, the Mighty One, the Strong One, the Immortal One bless all those who worked so tirelessly over the years and continue to bless and guide those who now carry on the task of building up this family of faith throughout the years to come.