Catholic Relief Services assists the poor and vulnerable in more than 100 countries on four continents. In the Middle East, it is continuing to respond to war and persecution. Now, a bishop with deep spiritual ties to that region is set to take over as chairman of the CRS board of directors.
Bishop Gregory John Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn has been appointed chairman of the board by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Cardinal DiNardo made the announcement Tuesday.
As a CRS board member, Mansour has traveled to Lebanon and Jordan to witness firsthand the Syrian refugee crisis, and also to Egypt and El Salvador where CRS works on programs like peacebuilding and with at-risk youth respectively.
Cardinal DiNardo said that Bishop Mansour’s “longstanding service in every area of the work of CRS is completed by his pastoral concern for the humanitarian efforts of CRS in the Middle East and on behalf of persecuted Christians.”
“As a member of the CRS board, I’ve witnessed CRS’ tremendous work among the most vulnerable,” said Bishop Mansour, who succeeds Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City as chairman. “I have seen firsthand the suffering of Christians and others violently forced from their homes in the Middle East. Witnessing their plight was difficult, but it is heartening to see the compassionate work that CRS continues to do in the midst of chaos.”
“We have worked with Bishop Mansour for the last four years and know and appreciate his commitment to the poor,” said Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of CRS. “I know everyone at CRS looks forward to his leadership as we work together to address a wide variety of challenges that affect so many members of God’s family.”
The Maronite Church, with roots in Lebanon, is one of the largest Eastern Catholic Churches in the world, with more than 3.3 million members. Bishop Mansour’s eparchy includes 45 Maronite churches, a seminary, a monastery, and a convent in 16 states in the eastern U.S. and the District of Columbia.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Bishop Mansour received a bachelor’s degree in health education from Western Michigan University. He entered Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was ordained a priest in 1982. He earned a licentiate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. Later, he attended UCLA as a graduate student in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures program with special emphasis on Islamic Studies.
Pope John Paul II named him bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn in January 2004, and Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir ordained him bishop in Lebanon in March 2004. He is a member of the Maronite Synod of Bishops that meets every year in Lebanon, and serves on the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue.