Chorbishop Richard D. Saad

Pastor, St. Elias

Birmingham, Alabama

Born:             January 11, 1946, Detroit, Michigan

Parents:       Louis and Mary

Siblings:       Harvey (Habib), Roger, Louis (Elias) and Ronald

Education:  Grade School:  St. Martin’s School, Detroit, Michigan

High School and College (3 years): Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, MI

St. Basil’s Seminary, Methuen, MA

St. Anselm College, Manchester, NH

Our Lady of Lebanon Seminary, Washington, DC     

Augustinian College, Master of Arts, Theology,         

Ordination:January 29, 1972 by Bishop Francis M. Zayek

                        St. Maron’s Maronite Catholic Church, Detroit, MI

Elevation to Monsignor:          December,1991

Elevation to Chorbishop:        June 14, 2001

Assignments:   

1972 – 1977:  Administrator, St. Elias, Birmingham, AL 

1977 – 1984:  Pastor, St. Elias, Birmingham, AL

1984 – 1985:  Pastor, St. George and St. Anthony, Wilkes-Barre, PA

1985 –  Present: St. Elias, Birmingham, AL

Other:           

  • Protopresbyter, Southern Region of the Diocese of Our Lady of Lebanon
  • Eparchial Vicar General of Priests, Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
  • Member, various Eparchial committees
  • Member, Liturgical Commission
  • Secretary,Presbyteral Council 
  • Director, Diaconal Formation (1994-2000)
  • Spiritual Director, National Apostolate of Maronites (2009-2016)
  • Presently Vicar General of Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, appointed by Bishop A. Elias Zaidan in 2013

The early life of Chorbishop Richard Saad mirrors that of millions of children across America.  His influences came from both his home life and through the community. The son of a Lebanese immigrant, he and his four brothers worked alongside their parents at the family grocery store after school and on weekends.  While the Saad family didn’t have much money, all the children attended Catholic school and received love and support in order to achieve their goals. While in eighth grade, he was recruited to play football, a career was cut short when he ran the ball down the field—the wrong way. An observant nun witnessed the errant play and recruited him to play tuba in the school band.  Says Chorbishop Richard, “My musical career proved to be more fulfilling than my athletic career!”

During this time, Saad was also being formed by his Maronite faith.  He and his family, attended St. Maron Church in Detroit.   While still in his early teens, he decided to attend Sacred Heart Seminary.   

In 1966, while Saad at Sacred Heart, Bishop Francis M. Zayek arrived in America and established the first Maronite Exarchate with headquarters in Detroit.  Bishop Zayek extended an invitation to Saad and three other Lebanese Americans to attend St. Basil Seminary in Methuen, Massachusetts.  While at St. Basil’s, the priest from a local Maronite parish took the four seminarian under his wing.  These four young men eventually transferred to Our Lady of Lebanon Seminary in Washington, D.C.  Saad was ordained a Deacon following the completion of his theological studies.  He requested some pastoral experience and accepted an assignment to St. Elias in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was in Birmingham that Saad, with the encouragement of Chor-Bishop John Trad who taught him Aramaic, decided to take the next step and become a priest.  He was ordained on January 29, 1972, the anniversary of his father’s passing, at St. Maron’s in Detroit by Bishop Zayek.  

Following his ordination, Saad arrived St. Elias, an association which would extend for another 46 years with a one-year lapse in 1984-1985 when he was assigned as pastor of St. George and St. Anthony in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  While in Wilkes-Barre he was challenged to merge the two parishes into one Maronite community.  Although some would find this a daunting task, Saad is quick to say, “I was blessed to have by my side Father (now Chorbishop) Michael Thomas and Father Samuel Najjar, both of whom provided a great deal of support not only for me, but also for members of the two parishes.”

Saad took the lessons of community building with him when he returned to Birmingham in 1985.  He says, “We have approximately 400 families here in Birmingham.  The Wilkes-Barre experience provided me with a better understanding of what a pastor really needs to do in order to support and strengthen the life of a community.”   

Community involvement became a key ingredient in Chorbishop Saad’s success as a pastor and a religious leader.  In 1998, he initiated the annual Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival which has since grown in size and scope.  He proudly says, “To date,St. Elias has donated almost a half million dollars to local, national, and international charities from festival proceeds.  More important, however, the Festival has brought the parish together each year to work as a church family and to showcase what a Christian Lebanese faith community is really all about.  It is our hope that through our Festival we are not only carrying on the traditions of our culture to the next  generation, but we are also able to display it to the community.  Through our donations we are able to give back to the community that has supported us each year.” 

Saad also points to his involvement in the larger Birmingham community as a key element of the parish’s success and vibrancy through the years.  He was one of the original members of the Glen Iris Neighborhood Association where he served one term as President and has been an active member for many years.  He speaks with great pride of the development of a park including five softball fields which are actively used by the community.

The parish, under Saad’s leadership, has also been an active member of the Maronite community in America. St. Elias has hosted the National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) convention three times – 1972, 1993, and 2010. In fact, it was during Saad’s first year of ordination in 1972 that St. Elias first hosted the NAM convention.  The parish  has also hosted the last two Maronite Patriarchs — Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir in 1988 and Patriarch Peter Rai in 2014. 

Saad proudly observes that through the years he has witnessed much spiritual growth and vibrancy in the parish.  “I witnessed the ordination of three priests at the altar of St. Elias – Father Peter (now Msgr.) Azar in 1980, Father Paul Boackle in 1989, and Father John Paul Kimes in 2000,  as well as the ordination of four  Subdeacons and two Deacons from St. Elias Parish. And, after 46 years, I am now officiating at the marriages of the children and grandchildren of the people whose weddings I officiated when I first arrived at St. Elias.   That’s quite a history!” 

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