In Christmas Season 1984, at the heart of St. Maron Eparchy and at the time of His Excellency Mgr. Elias Shaheen, the Lebanese Maronite Community founded St. Anthony’s Parish motivated by the love and faith they brought from the Valley of Saints, Kadisha to Leamington their new hometown, and the administration of the Pastor Father George Abi-Fadel.
St. Anthony’s Parish went through a lot of obstacles, but with the solidarity of the Parishioners and their love for this Parish, they overcame these difficulties and were debts free at the epoch of Fr. George Zina who served this Parish for nine years with enthusiasm and love adding the Parking Lot, the entrance and the gardens.
In 1996, Msgr. Paul Attea the Antonin took responsibility of this Parish for two years, then came Rev. Father Elie Zouein who was appointed by His Excellency Mgr. Joseph Khoury, November 8th, 1997 and he is the present Pastor of Our Parish and the Chaplain for the Canadian Forces in the Windsor Regiment.
Our Parish is now the traditional Maronite Church who grows the seeds of faith in the new generation by keeping them close to their home: St. Anthony’s Church, and by giving them the spiritual and religious help they need, our Youth are more ready to volunteer and help.
And with the assistance and care of our loving Pastor Father Elie Zouein, who dedicated himself to this Parish since 1997, St. Anthony’s Church is looking at the New Millennium with new hopes and new projects, such as the Renovations of the Church entrance and the Handicap Access.
This past year was the best example of what Faith, Love and Prayers can do in a small Parish. On the Spiritual Level, the Masses, Novenas, Processions and Pilgrimages to Lourdes, Fatima, and St. Therese Shrine provided the daily bread for all Parishioners, both young and old. The video library helped the Youth to choose from a wide variety of Educational and Religious Videos. The Social Activities were chaperoned by the Parish Council Members who watched the Youths as their own. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were a special occasion to be celebrated after the Sunday Masses. St. Anthony’s Day was an opportunity for all the Parishioners to get together, to get close and to live like a family. Also the Marriage Preparation and the Baptisms were the Solid proof that the Maronite Tradition must live on.
Our success was a contribution of our generous Parishioners who gave so generously so we could renovate the Sanctuary and the Altar that now follow our Maronite and Rite traditions. Also with the financial and emotional help of our Parishioners and Our Lady of Lebanon Auxiliary and others, we renovated the Church Rectory and the Church Hall.
Our Lady of Lebanon Shrine that looks over the Parish and the town got a taste of renovations too. The Stations of the Cross became reality with the enthusiasm and effort of the ladies who cared for the Shrine since twenty years ago, dedicating themselves totally to Our Lady of Lebanon, the Patron of the Shrine. And during the Feast of the Assumption August, 1999 His Excellency Mgr. Joseph Khoury Blessed the Stations of the Cross.
Our success was great, and soon we started helping other Parishes who were struggling to start, like us. Knowing that St. Elias in London was in need for Pews, we sent them what they needed. Our intention of helping others didn’t stop in our neighborhood, but it took a bigger step by sending pews to Our Lady’s Parish in Haiti – Central America, and the Maronite Eparchy in Montreal with the amount of $ 17.000 from the Parish and the Shrine.
As St. Peter’s Parish celebrated their 75th Anniversary, we wish them all the best with all the generations that grew up in this Parish through the Sacraments of Baptisms, Confirmation and Marriages, and we wish that one day, down the road, with the perseverance and the diligence of our Pastor Father Elie Zouein we will reach like them the point of making HISTORY.