A great strength of the Church in Australia
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP commended the strength of Middle Eastern Christians in the Church in Australia as young and old from Sydney’s Melkite Catholic community gathered to plant a historic sapling of Lebanese Cedar beside St Mary’s Cathedral on the morning of Sunday 22 November – the Feast of Christ the King.
The sapling commemorates the victims of the 2020 Port of Beirut Explosion in August which claimed the lives of thousands in the Lebanese capital.
The cedar – the national symbol of Lebanon – reflects the strength of the Lebanese community in the face of adversity both abroad and in Australia; a strength recognised especially by the Sydney Archbishop who, along with Melkite Eparch of Australia and New Zealand Bishop Robert Rabbat, officiated and blessed the planting ceremony.
“It has been a great strength of the Church in Australia to have the Melkites, Maronites and others from Lebanon and nations in the Middle East. We love having you all here,” said Archbishop Fisher. “When we heard of the disaster in Lebanon this year all of Australia was mourning along with the Lebanese community.”
A contingent of the iMelkite youth group also participated in the fundraising bicycle ride ‘Sydney to Beirut Ride for Hope’ from St Michael’s Melkite Church, Darlington, to St Mary’s Cathedral to assist in aid-relief for the thousands still affected in their mother country.
Archbishop Fisher commended the faith of the Lebanese Catholics in keeping their identity and faith strong across the generations.
“It’s a great thing among the Melkites that you pray together at home and go to church together. Keep the faith strong. Keep your identity as Melkites here in Australia. And that’s a great blessing for our land. Thanks be to God for the Melkites.”
Member of the Melkite community Grace Dagher, spoke to The Catholic Weekly on the importance of the day for Lebanese Australians “We are very honoured to be part of the day where we commemorate our brothers and sisters in Beirut.”
Bishop Rabbat thanked Archbishop for the friendship between the Roman and Melkite communities “I warmly thank his Grace Archbishop Fisher for kindly welcoming us today.”
Lebanese Consul Raymond El Chamlati and the New South Wales Minister for Multiculturalism Geoffrey Lee were also present at the ceremony. The day also marked the 77th anniversary of Lebanese Independence from French Colonial Mandate.
The sapling is expected to grow into a majestic tree of Biblical proportions on the Cathedral precinct in the generations to come.
Lebanese Cedar – the national emblem of Lebanon – is mentioned several times in Scripture for its majesty and its exquisite wood, which graced the Temple of Solomon, and was a prized item across the ancient world.
Reproduced with permission from The Catholic Weekly, the news publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.