From Tuesday, March 19 until Thursday, March 21 the annual spring meeting of the Eastern Catholic Associates (ECA) – the bishops of the Eastern Catholic churches of the United States – was held in St. Louis, MO.  Following a long-standing tradition, the meeting was hosted by Bishop Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon at the Maronite Catholic Pastoral Center, located next to the Maronite Cathedral of St. Raymond in downtown St. Louis.

Besides normal administrative matters, other topics of common interest to the Eastern churches of the United States were addressed during the meeting:

Chorbishop John Faris and Donna Miller (Catholic Law Society of America) reported on the progress of the new English translation of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

Rev. Daniel Dozier, the Director of the Eastern Catholic Conference of Eparchial Directors of Religious Education (ECED), along with  ECED Business Manager, Amanda Singel, reported on the activities of the ECED during the past year.  The ECED is the publishing arm of the ECA, which prints and distributes religious and catechetical literature for our parishes.

Rev. Dr. Mark Morozowich reported on preparations underway for the National Eucharistic Congress to be held from July 17-21, 2024 in Indianapolis IN.  An Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy is scheduled to celebrated in Lucas Oil Stadium, the main venue of the Congress, on Saturday, July 20.

Some time of the meeting was devoted to reports on the struggles, challenges and even persecution being faced by the faithful in the ancestral homelands of our Churches.

Metropolitan Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia reported on the current situation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in areas of Ukraine under Russian occupation.  He also spoke to efforts and initiatives of the Ukrainian Church and other generous donors in the United States in providing financial and humanitarian aid to some of the many millions of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bishop Yousif Habash of the Syriac Catholic Church reported on the challenges faced by the Church in Iraq, Bishop Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Church reported on the challenges facing the various Christian churches of Lebanon, Bishop Mar Joy Alappat of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St. Thomas of Chicago spoke to the challenges facing his Church in the face of growing religious sectarianism in India and Bishop Mikael Mouradian spoke to the situation of his Church in Armenia.

On Wednesday the bishops enjoyed a tasty Lebanese lunch prepared by the ladies of the cathedral parish.  They were joined by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St. Louis, Most. Rev. Mitchell Rozanski and the Bishop of Belleville, Most Rev. Michael McGovern.

On Wednesday, the bishops also had the opportunity to pray the Maronite Divine Liturgy (Holy Qurbana), celebrated by Bishop Elias Zaidan in the chapel of the pastoral center.

The meeting reconvened on Thursday morning at 9:00 am.  The bishops had a chance to give a short review of the work of the various committees and sub-committees of the USCCB of which they are members.  Two of our number serve as chairs of USCCB committees.

Dr. Julia McStravog from the USCCB gave us a report on the progress of the Synod on Synodality and the path towards the culmination of the Synod in Rome in October of this year.  The bishops had an opportunity to offer their own observations on the process.

During our annual meeting we have made it a tradition to learn more about our sister Churches.  This year, Bishop Philippos Mar Stephanos gave a presentation of the history, spirituality and current situation of the Syro-Malankara Church of India, of which he is the head in the United States.

The meeting concluded with a fraternal lunch in the Maronite Pastoral Center.