St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Pleasantville was sold last month to the Maronite Catholic Church to serve its worshippers in Atlantic County.
St. Peter was established as a Roman Catholic parish in 1913 to accommodate the Catholic populations in Pleasantville, Northfield, Linwood and Absecon. The current church was erected in 1958. Last May, it was announced that St. Peter’s would merge with St. Bernadette Church, Northfield, to create St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish, whose seat is the Northfield church.
Founded by St. Maron in the 4th century, the Maronites have always been in communion with Rome. Having no counterpart among the separated Eastern churches, the patriarchate dates back to the 8th century, and was confirmed by Pope Innocent III in 1216. Its liturgical language is Arabic, Aramaic and English.
With Lebanese origins, the Maronite Catholic Church currently has dioceses in the Middle East, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico and two in the United States.
In Atlantic County, the Maronite Catholic Mission has been active since 2002, borrowing space from St. Peter’s Church and St. Bernadette, Northfield, for weekly worship, before acquiring the St. Peter property, which includes the church, rectory, and school. for $1 million in November.
The 70-75 Maronite Catholics worshipping in Atlantic County include those of Jordanian, Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Iraqi heritage. As part of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, the church will be called Our Lady Star of the East- St. Peter’s Maronite Catholic Church.
Now with a permanent home in Atlantic County, the Maronite Church can focus on “communicating about, learning about Jesus, spreading the news all over,” said Ghada Zumot, secretary for the new church.
“The (faithful) are very excited to have a home,” she said.
Weekly services will be Sundays at 12:30 p.m. Other activities include community gatherings, religious education classes, and Arabic language classes. Msgr. Maroun P. Asmar, a retired priest from New Brunswick, has been leading Sunday services.