Chorbishop Dominic F. Ashkar


about 100


Arabic, English

Service Length

1 hour

Sample Worshipper Dress

yellow golf shirt, khaki pants



Congregational Fervor

Its minimalist architecture looks like something out of Woody Allen’s Sleeper, and Our Lady of Lebanon’s sanctuary is indeed a pretty peaceful place to spend Sunday morning. Soft natural light filters in through the church’s dome, censers are shaken, and a volunteer choir sings elegant Eastern hymns over the wispy, pan-flutelike sounds of the congregation’s Ketron synthesizer during the packed 10 a.m. Arabic mass. HHHHH

Food for the Soul

Due to their building’s lively acoustics, clergy had to fight with every key-jangling congregation member for precious sonic territory. As a result, it was somewhat difficult to hear Ashkar’s soft-spoken homily. “Three men were trying to come up with a definition for success,” the pastor said before his anecdote became lost amid the din of shuffling fabrics. “The first said, ‘I would consider myself successful if I could have a private, personal meeting with the president and—’” Skrff! HHHHH

Food for the Body

Though fellowship and community spirit were evident in abundance, the Our Lady of Lebanon “coffee hour” was lacking one key component: coffee. Nary a pot, cup, or carafe ever materialized. A glance into the kitchen revealed no gurgling Krups or Mr. Coffee—only cold, idle machinery. HHHHH

Overall Worship Power

As members of the Eastern Catholic Church, the Maronites must have faced some difficulty in reconciling the discrepancies between oriental and occidental Christianity. How can you obey the Orthodox Church’s desire to stand uncomfortably before God for hours at a time and still appeal to the Roman Catholic desire to get out early? Our Lady of Lebanon manages a compromise: The church keeps the Mass to an hour, but congregation members spend at least 60 percent of that time on their feet. HHHHH

—Aaron Leitko