For the Glory of God!
The History of Saint Mary Orthodox Church
Palos Heights, IL
Thank you for visiting our Website. We hope you find your virtual tour both spiritually enriching and informative.
St. Mary Orthodox Church is a parish of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba). The chancery is located in Englewood, New Jersey. Metropolitan PHILIP oversees over 250 parishes in the United States and Canada. St. Mary is part of the Diocese of the Midwest, which is overseen by His Grace Bishop ANTHONY.
At Saint Mary Orthodox Church, our mission is to serve God in all that we do, and to make Jesus Christ a real presence in the hearts of the faithful in Chicago and its suburbs.
In the summer of 2003, due to the large number of Orthodox Christians living in Chicago and its southwest suburbs, His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP assigned Fr. Malek Rihani and the faithful in this area to move forward and establish a mission church, with the Patronal Feast of the Holy Dormition. Soon after, His Eminence assigned Dn. Saed Rihani to St. Mary, who became a source of support to Fr. Malek and the whole community in the establishment of this new mission. Fr. Malek also received the unconditional support of his wife and children, Khourieh Dina, Gary, and Angela.
In January of 2004, St. Mary’s began to hold services at St. Luke’s OCA Church in Palos Hills. This continued to be our home until December of 2004, when a church facility in Alsip, IL was purchased. The excitement of this permanent site was seen in the eyes of the entire community. With the purchase of this new property, many of our members stepped forward and took on new responsibilities. Our organizations (Sunday School, Ladies Guild, Fellowship, SOYO, Choir, etc.) expanded their projects and activities, because they now had a home from which to do God’s work.
In the spring of 2007, Metropolitan PHILIP assigned Fr. Mousa Haddad as the pastor of Saint Mary. In May of 2007, Fr. Mousa arrived with his wife, Khourieh Delia, and their two children, Anthony and Philip.
Between 2009 and 2011, the church facility in Alsip underwent major renovation of the church and fellowship hall, including renovating the altar and adding a new iconostas with beautiful hand-painted icons. In May of 2011, the church was consecrated by the hands of His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP.
Under the leadership of Fr. Mousa, Fr. Malek, and Dn. Saed, Saint Mary has seen tremendous progress: an increase in attendance and membership; a fuller cycle of liturgical services; a Christ centered ministry; an increase in spiritual activities; an increase in philanthropy and service to the community; an emphasis on full-time youth ministry.
In the summer of 2011, we were blessed again by God: a 42,000 square foot church facility became available in Palos Heights, Illinois, the heart of our community. With limited funds and time, the community stepped up to the challenge. In just 10 weeks, by God’s grace, our community achieved what many people thought was impossible: raising funds and securing financing to purchase this new church facility in Palos Heights. “With God, all things are possible.” We closed on the new church facility on January 23, 2012, celebrating our first Divine Liturgy on April 29, 2012. This 42,000 square foot facility, that will accommodate our growing church family for many years to come, includes a sanctuary that will seat more than 500 people (after remodeling), a fellowship hall, a gymnasium, a school and daycare facility with 18 classrooms, a large multi-purpose room, an administrative wing with 12 offices and conference rooms, and almost 250 parking spaces.
Within such a short period of time, Saint Mary Orthodox Church has grown from a concept to becoming the reality of a large parish. By the grace of God, the church is filled every Sunday. We are grateful to our Almighty God and His Holy Mother for showering us with their blessings. Yet we have many challenges ahead of us. However, we learned early on that when our hearts are full of love, forgiveness, patience, and most of all sincere prayer, that all obstacles will be removed, and doors will be wide open for us. If we keep Christ at the center of our ministry, God will bless us and help us accomplish what may seem impossible. For with God, all things are possible!
Saint Mary Orthodox Church has many programs and activities to nourish the faithful: a Sunday School with over 100 registrants; weekly Adult Bible Studies; monthly SOYO Bible Studies; monthly Fellowship Bible Studies; monthly Family activities; annual Christmas SOYO retreat; annual Fellowship retreat; annual Junior High retreat; annual Ladies Guild Retreat; annual Marriage Retreat; a summer Vacation Bible School; Holy Land Pilgrimages; an Arabic School; St. Mary’s Dabkeh Troupe; and the “Liturgy after the Liturgy” humanitarian program, in which we give back to the community through different volunteering and philanthropic events.
Each one of us has been gifted with a talent by God; a talent which God has given us for the growth of His Holy Church. As we read in the Gospel of Matthew, he who buries his talents is not rewarded, but he who multiplies his talents, for the Glory of God, will receive treasures in heaven! We are grateful to all those who stepped forward, rolled up their sleeves, and made things happen. They spoke very little, but they accomplished much. The only reward we hope to get is that in the fullness of time, we will hear the words of our Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.”
The Virgin Mary is our protector, and she intercedes on our behalf to her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She stands as our example of faith and commitment to serve the Lord. As she received the calling of the angel Gabriel to bear the Son of God, and to commit her life to the Lord, so we too must receive the word of God, accept His Will, and serve Him to the best of our ability. As we pray in the Divine Liturgy, “Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!”
Thank you for this virtual visit. We welcome you to join us, to volunteer on our committees, to be an active member of our church. Join us in worship on Sundays at 8:45 a.m. for the Matins service, followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. Also, join us for Great Vespers Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. and Wednesday morning Matins at 10:00 a.m. Confessions available by appointment.
We look forward to praying with you. May God bless you and your loved ones!