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Churches Worth Driving To

St. Ephrem Maronite Catholic Church, El Cajon

Name of Church: St. Ephrem Maronite Catholic Church
Pro-Life Center for the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
Address: 750 Medford St., El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone number: (619) 337-1350

Divine Liturgy schedule: Monday –Thursday, 11:45 a.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. (English); Saturday Vigil, 5:30 p.m. (Aramaic and English); Sundays, 9:30 a.m. (English), 11 a.m. (Aramaic and English)

Names of priests: Rev. Nabil Mouannes, Ph.D., pastor and true shepherd. Although the only priest, he gives his all. He is present at all committee meetings, visits the academy classrooms regularly with religious lessons, visits the sick and prays at pro-life vigils, to mention just a few of his continuous activities. Deacon Georges Ghosn, phone (619)-508-5401.

Confessions: Confessions are 30 minutes before Liturgies and by appointment.

Eucharistic Adoration: Every first Friday of the month from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

School: St. Ephrem Academy, K-8 program, the only Maronite Catholic academy in North and South America. The small student population provides individual attention for each student. In addition to the excellent religious training (teaching the true Catholic faith and daily Mass attendance), the students receive educational instruction in accordance with the California state framework.
School Address: 750 Medford St.,?El Cajon, CA 92020
School Phone: (619) 997-6924
School website:

Special Events: St. Ephrem hosts a three-day Lebanese festival annually during the Memorial Day Weekend. Middle Eastern cultural entertainment and religious activities and ethnic foods are highlighted. The main event is the crowning of the 35-foot statue of Mariam Mother of Life. (Celestial signs in the sky have been seen at this blessed crowning.) Communitywide pro-life events are held throughout the year, as are various Lebanese traditional celebrations centered around the Liturgical life of the Church.

Special Parish Groups: Parish Council, Bible Studies in English and Arabic, Sanctity of Life Group, Sorority of the Immaculate Conception, St. Ephrem Ladies’ Outreach, Parish Youth and Young Adult Groups, Club of St. Rafka, St. Charbel devotion, Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, and dozens of other devotion, prayer, and service groups, and a Construction Advisory Board.

Fellow Parishioners:The majority of the parishioners are of Middle Eastern descent. Fr. Nabil is very welcoming to all. The 9:30 English Liturgy is attended by many Roman Rite Catholics who appreciate the reverence of the Liturgy and the faith of the community.

Music:The Choir at the 9:30 Liturgy consists of simple Maronite hymns sung in English. Arabic, Aramaic, and English hymns are sung by the large Choir at the 11:00 Liturgy and at the Saturday Vigil Mass.

Homilies: True Catholic teaching delivered with passion and conviction, encouraging and profound in their simplicity.

Liturgy: The language of the Divine Liturgies varies, with predominantly English prayed at the 9:30, with the consecration prayers of all the Liturgies prayed in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Arabic predominates at the other services, having the readings and homily recited in both English and Arabic. Only one reading and the Gospel are read on Sundays. The Sign of Peace is passed in a simple and non-disruptive way from one person to the next. The Liturgical practice of dipping the consecrated Host into the consecrated wine in giving Holy Communion is used and thus Communion is only received on the tongue. The Maronite Liturgy is rich in the symbolic use of incense and signs.

Parish Bulletin: A detailed monthly newsletter that is accessed generally by e-mail. It lists the monthly Liturgy schedule, the monthly saint and feast days. scheduled committee meetings, a letter from the pastor, and a Catholic education column written by the deacon. In addition, there are many contributions from the various committees and groups. News items of interest, including births, marriages and upcoming events are included.

Building Exterior: The Church building is a former Lutheran Church, which was built in the round. It has a high-peaked, accordion blue roof with a Lebanese cross at the top. The parish is the process of a generating a Master Plan for the new church, hall and school.

Building Interior: Many icons and statues and religious art give you a sense of the sacred. A very large corpus crucifix is central behind the altar, sharing the space with the tabernacle. A large chandelier hangs above the foot of the altar. There are no attached kneelers to the pews, as standing in the Eastern Rite is considered the traditional way of showing reverence. There are small moveable kneelers for those who prefer to kneel during the consecration. A cry room is available. Because of the size and shape of the Church, the acoustics present no problem.

Parking: There is sufficient parking in the parking lot for Sunday Liturgies.

Additional observations: By attending the Divine Liturgy at St. Ephrem’s, one receives a deeper meaning of the universality of the Church. Under the headship of the pope, the Maronite Rite is one of many rites of the Catholic Church that is expressed in various ways due to differing cultural backgrounds. For a rich spiritual, cultural, and Catholic experience, St. Ephrem Maronite Catholic Church is definitely a "Church worth driving to."


Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 10:31 AM By Life Lady
I love this church, and the priest there. Have attended many masses at the shrine on the grounds, which were very reverent and well attended. Great place to attend mass and other events.

Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 4:54 PM By Nino mark
Once drove down to this beautiful church to hear Fr. John Corapi give a wonderful talk.

Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010 12:35 PM By Anne T.
What a lovely tribute to the unborn. God holding the child in the palm of His hand.

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