Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Alfredo Ortiz Aragon


Scott Roberts


Sharon Herbers


This study focuses on a religious group in America and how it has managed to engage the third and fourth generations who have assimilated into the American cultural milieu while maintaining allegiance to the Church of Lebanon-the Maronite Catholic church. Understanding the history of the Lebanese American people and their connection to this Church is essential when studying this group because it offers a deep awareness of the existing phenomena in America, the natural progression of an immigrant population, and its subsequent generation’s progression into the American society. Most of these individuals in this study are the descendants of the early Lebanese Christian immigrants who arrived in America nearly a century ago. The first wave of these immigrants came at the turn of the 20th century as a result of religious persecution, economic stagnation, and regional discrimination against the Christians in Lebanon during the Ottoman regime. As a means of preserving their cherished religious beliefs in America, Maronite Catholic churches established to provide both a place for spiritual worship and secular culture renewal for the Lebanese communities across America. The Maronite Church struggles with providing a place of prayer and renewal through the celebration of the Eucharist and with the image of being merely a secular institution of heritage. The role that this religious institution plays in maintaining community spiritual cohesion and shaping ethnic identity has received little attention from scholars, an inexplicable omission since religion plays a dominant role in shaping the Lebanese American identity. This study examines the relationship between the Maronite Church as an ethnic Eastern-rite Church and the identity formation of Lebanese Americans affiliated with the Maronite Church in San Antonio, Texas. This study explores the Maronite rite history, liturgical traditions, as well as its role in the lives of Lebanese Americans. The analysis offers a greater understanding of the Maronite rite and its role in the Lebanese communities and adds to the body of knowledge in this field of study. Through an exploration of the third- and the fourth-generation Lebanese Americans and the attendance patterns at the Maronite sites and engagement in the faith-based community, the factors that influence involvement are identified and studied in terms of its relevance to the longevity of the Maronite Church in America.