Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Judith Beauford


Norman St. Clair


Osman Özturgut


Immigration is defined as the process of moving across countries and has several effects on sending and receiving countries. Several waves of immigrants came from Lebanon to the United States starting in the late 1800s. They were expected to assimilate into the new society but ethnic faith based communities assisted them in also maintaining that their ethnic identity. The purpose of this mixed methodology study is to explore the role of the church in preserving the ethnic identity among the Maronite Lebanese immigrants in the United States. The mixed methodology study answered 3 major questions. Quantitative data were collected from youth between the ages of 12 and 23 years old and adults 24 and older from Maronite parishes in the United States who answered an adaptation of the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) (Phinney, 1992). Qualitative data were collected by interviewing 6 Maronite clergy serving in the United States. The participants included 2 Lebanese born immigrants, 2 Americans of Lebanese descent, and 2 Americans of European descent. The quantitative results in this study showed that the majority of Maronite Lebanese in the United States have achieved and understood their ethnic identity. Most of them demonstrated their identity, had positive feelings towards their ethnic group, and were well assimilated into the American society. Ethnic behavior and affirmation were significant predictors of ethnic achievement among the participants. However, assimilation did not predict ethnic achievement. Participants in the qualitative study considered that the church has a great influence on immigrants and plays a significant role in preserving their ethnic and religious identities. This study offered a snapshot of the Maronite church in the United States. The Maronite Church in the United States continues to move into the future while striving to assist Lebanese immigrants to assimilate into the U.S. society and achieve and understand their ethnic identity. The Church is called to be an inviting and welcoming church, flourishing and unique, and rooted in Lebanon. The creation of educational and outreach programs would help the church in her efforts to preserve the ethnic identity of her faithful.