Established in 1959, Saint Mary's Orthodox Church of West Palm Beach, Florida, is 1 of nearly 300 parishes of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, under the spiritual leadership of His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of North America. Locally, the parish is under the hierarchical care of His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, Auxiliary Bishop to the Metropolitan. The spiritual roots of the archdiocese stem from the Orthodox Christian Patriarchate of Antioch (Acts 11.26), which today is loctaed in Damascus, Syria, shepherded by His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch.
In 1959, with the blessing of Metropolitan Antony (+1966), fifteen dedicated families established Saint Mary's Orthodox Church of West Palm Beach, Florida. The first liturgical services were held at the Syrian Lebanese American Club, and were led by Fr. Abraham Zaine, a retired priest living in Delray Beach. Fr. John Newcombe became the first fulltime priest in 1960, and the liturgical services were moved to the Carefree Theater in West Palm Beach. As the church community grew, it was decided that a permament home was needed, with the community eventually purchasing the now existing location of the church on Florida Mango Road.
Fr. Wakeem Dalak arrived to pastor the community in 1963, and oversaw that construction of the new church and hall, with the first services held during the paschal season of 1965. Following Fr. Dalak's retirement, Fr. Basil Wagner would serve briefly serve as pastor. In 1966, Fr. Nicholas Neyman was appointed pastor, and in a short period of time established a daycare center on the existing church property. The daycare center grew and expanded, as did the church community during Fr. Neyman's pastorate.
Following Fr. Neyman's re-assignment to California, a span of nearly two years saw the church without a fulltime priest. Newly graduated seminarian Fr. Elia Shalhoub served for five months, and Fr. Michael Lobo would commute from Miami each Sunday for over a year to serve the Divine Liturgy. In 1980, Metropolitan Philip (+2014) appointed Fr. Paul Moses as the new pastor. During his pastorate the church community continued to grow as the second generation parishioners married and raised their children in the parish. In addition, many newcomers from different ethnic Orthodox Christian backgrounds began to call Saint Mary's their spiritual home.
With the retirement of Fr. Moses in 1988, an energetic young priest, Fr. Michael Lewis would pastor the community for 10 years, bringing a new level of enthusiasim and activity to the parish. In 1997, Fr. Simeon Corona would succeed Fr. Lewis as pastor, with Fr. James Barkett assuming the pastorate in 1998. Fr. Nicholas Bargoot would serve as interim pastor for six months in 2004, until Fr. Elia Shalhoub would return as fulltime pastor until 2011.
Our current pastor, Fr. Peter Shportun, began his pastorate at Saint Mary's on January 1, 2012, and has overseen stable growth in all aspects church life.
SAINT MARY'S TODAY
Over the years, Saint Mary's Church has evolved from a small church of 15 families of mainly Middle Eastern descent. Today the Saint Mary's Community is the spiritual home to over 200 parishioners that are a combination of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation families from the Middle East, as well as those from multi-ethnic backgrounds. In addition to numerous "winter parishioners" call Saint Mary's home during the winter months.
Since the early 1960's, Saint Mary's Church has been part of the neighborhood fabric of Lake Clarke Shores, in the heart of Palm Beach County. Today, not only do many neighbors pray at Saint Mary's, but utilize the Banquet Hall and First Learning Academy and Daycare facilities.
Saint Mary's continues to provide ministries and activities for all ages. Orthodox Christian Education through Sunday School, Orthodox Esstentials Classes and Bible Study; SOYO (Society of Orthodox Youth Organization) for our youth 13 to 19 years of age, and its companion group SMIT's (SOYO Members in Training) for our 11 and 12 year olds; YAM (Young Adult Ministry) for our young adults 20 to 35 years; The Saint Mary's Ladies Society that oversee many of the parishes ministry projects. The 'Becoming Truly Human' Ministry, the Fellowship Ministry, as well as the annual Mediterreanian Festival and Feast Committees, are just a few of the growing number of ministries at Saint Mary's.
The Liturgical Schedule of Services include Sunday Orthros and Divine Liturgy; Wednesday Vespers; Feast Day Services; Full Lenten and Holy Week Services; and 'The 15 Days of August' lenten period that culminates with the celebration Feast Day of Saint Mary's on August 15th - The Dormition of the Theotokos.