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Maintaining traditions in new cultural situations is difficult for most religious organizations. The Melkites, Byzantine rite Catholics of Middle Eastern origin, are no exception. While it is estimated that there are 120,000 Melkites in the United States (IMCU, 1986), there are fewer than 40 established Melkite parishes in this country. Information on the Melkites was gathered through a survey administered to Diocesan Pastoral Council members and telephone interviews with parish staff. The results yielded a description of Melkite parishes and concerns about the future of the Melkite community. These concerns include: the shortage of priests; the movement of church facilities from urban centers closer to the present, more suburban, location of parishioners; keeping young people in the Church; and maintaining a Melkite identity despite competition from Latin Catholics, evangelicals, and secular culture. The tension between Melkite historical tradition and their current American situation is discussed. It is argued that the long term viability of the Melkite community is seriously challenged by the forces in contemporary American society.
Sociology of Religion © 1993 Association for the Sociology of Religion, Inc.