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Pope Appoints Bishop for the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, Lebanon Priest Ministering in the U.S. as Bishop of Melkite Eparchy of Sydney, Australia

June 15, 2011

WASHINGTON–Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Nicholas J. Samra, 66, retired auxiliary bishop of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, as Bishop of the same Eparchy, and Father Robert Rabbat, 51, up until now rector of the Annunciation Melkite Cathedral in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, as Bishop of the Melkite Eparchy of Saint Michael in Sydney, Australia.

The appointments were publicized in Washington, June 15, by Msgr. Jean-François Lantheaume, chargé d’affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States.

Nicholas J. Samra was born August 15, 1944 in Patterson, NJ. He was ordained a priest for the Eparchy of Newton on May 10, 1970. On April 23, 1989 Pope John Paul II appointed him titular bishop of Gerasa and Auxiliary Bishop of the Eparchy of Newton. He was ordained a bishop July 6, 1989 and retired as auxiliary bishop of the same eparchy on January 11, 2005.

Bishop Samra has a B.A from St. Anselm’s College, Rome, and a B.D. from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.

Robert Rabbat was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1960. He lived in West Beirut up until the civil war, when in 1976 he had to flee with his family to East Beirut. He studied at the Christian Brothers schools and graduated from Ashrafieh High School in Lebanon. In 1979 he came to the United States to study engineering at Ohio State University. In 1982 he graduated from OSU with a B.A. on Engineering and a B.A. in Mathematics.

Bishop-elect Rabbat’s civil career took him to US, Europe and the Middle East as a technical consultant for the Middle East and Africa supervising desalinization and water treatment projects with Dupont de Nemours International and a project manager for the 3rd. International Conference on Road Maintenance in the Middle East under the auspices of the International Road Federation.

He entered the seminary in Lebanon in 1989 and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Beirut in 1994. He holds licentiates in philosophy and theology from St. Paul Institute for Philosophy and Theology in Harissa, Lebanon. He also holds an M.A. in Communications from Purdue University in Indiana.

After ordination, pastoral assignments included assisting at St. Anthony the Great Church in Akkawi, Beirut. In 1995, Father Rabbat was sent to the United States to serve at St. Michael the Archangel Melkite Church in Hammond, Indiana. In 1999 he was appointed editor-in-chief of Sophia magazine, the Melkite Diocesan magazine for the whole United States, in addition to his other pastoral duties. In 2000, he was appointed pastor of St. John the Baptist Melkite Church in Northlake, Illinois, and Holy Name Mission in Oaklawn, Illinois. He was appointed rector of the Annunciation Melkite Cathedral and elevated to the dignity of archimandrite in 2005.

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