1 in Christ unites Catholic and Orthodox Christians

By Jordan Grantham, 2 May 2017
Mark Scotto di Perta, 1 in Christ organiser and Melkite Sub-deacon. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta

1 in Christ 2017 was an amazing gathering of more than 300 people, Eastern and Western Catholics, and Orthodox Christian Churches, to work towards peace in the Middle East on April 1 at St John the Beloved Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Greenacre, in south-western Sydney.

The event went for half a day and included many meaningful moments. Mark Scotto di Perta, was the main organiser and MC for the day.

Click here to view photographs from the historic day.

The highlight of 1 in Christ was the testimony of a Syrian man who fled the violence of extremist Muslims to give his very young family a better life in Australia. The man spoke with sincerity, faith and gratitude. It was deeply moving to meet his wife, and children, whose school bus in Aleppo narrowly avoided a powerful truck bomb attack.

Guests of honour included Paul Callaghan, CEO of Caritas Australia, who lamented the state of Australian politics in a brief speech.

Clergy guests included Maronite Eparch Bishop Antoine Tarabay, Roman Catholic Bishop Anthony Randazzo, Mar Meelis Zaia, Fr Isidore Arantharaj, Fr Youssef (Akladious) Youssef, Fr Ibrahim Sultan, Fr Lenard Ina, Fr Fady Salameh, Fr Ninos Elya, Fr Dankha Joola, Fr Joshua El-Khoury, Fr Brian Vale, Fr Suriel Hanna, Fr Tony Bouchaaya, Fr Nabil Kablo, Fr Darko Znidarsic, Fr Simon Ckuj, Fr Narsai Youkhanis, Fr Gerges Albutros, Fr Shenouda Mansour, Fr Sayed Kozhaya, Fr Tanios Ghoussain, Fr Melhem Haikal.

Fr Darko, the chaplain to Slovenian Catholics in the Diocese of Parramatta was also present. He also answered a question in the Q&A session.

Click here to view photographs from the historic day.

Modern Broadway style songs had been commissioned and were performed by the 1 in Christ choir to celebrate the day’s theme, being “one in Christ”. Each member of the choir was from a different apostolic church represented on the day: Melkites, Coptic Orthodox and Catholics, Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean, Syriac Catholic and Orthodox.

Bishop Rabbat, the Melkite Eparch of Australia, gave a profound keynote address on the possibility of peace in the Middle East and its historical and theological meaning.

“At a worldly level – peace as the world gives – it would seem highly improbable. However, we know that the seemingly impossible is no barrier to the workings of God’s grace, the movement of the Divine and Holy Spirit,” Bishop Rabbat said.

There were then group workshops about how to work for peace in the Middle East.

This was an example of Catholic and Orthodox working together to find peace in their spiritual homeland. Suggestions and prayer petitions were compiled into a book, which was taken to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the most sacred site in Christianity.

Click here to view photographs from the historic day.

At the conclusion of the day, remaining representatives signed a novelty sized ‘Declaration for Peace’ in the Middle East.

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