Vatican City, Jul 10, 2013 –

Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop for one of only two Maronite Catholic territories in the United States.

Father Abdallah Elias Zaidan, 50, was named July 10 by Pope  Francis to replace Bishop Robert J. Shaheen as bishop of Our Lady of Lebanon Eparchy.

While the Eparchy was originally established in Los Angeles in 1994, its seat was moved to St. Louis in 2001 with approval from the Vatican.

Bishop Zaidan was born in Kosaybé, Lebanon on March 10, 1963.

He is a member of the Congregation of Lebanese Maronite Missionaries, has worked in school administration, and has served as the pastor of several parishes.

In addition to English, he speaks Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish and Syriac.

The Maronite Catholic Church traces its roots to the early Christians of Antioch, the first believers to be called Christian. In fact, the Church still uses Syriac in its liturgy, a dialect of Aramaic, the same language Jesus spoke.

The Church takes its name from the fourth century hermit St. Maron, whose way of life inspired many monks and laity to follow him, eventually resulting in the distinctive Maronite Rite.

With the influx of immigrants to the United States from Lebanon and the surrounding region in the latter part of the 19th century, the Pope set up ecclesial structures to serve the Maronite faithful.

As shepherd of the Our Lady of Lebanon Eparchy, Bishop Zaidan leads 40 Maronite- Catholic Churches in the United States, 39 priests, 8 permanent deacons and 15 religious.