Relief efforts to help the blast-affected residents of Beirut will receive a boost after an historic visit of the Maronite Bishop of Australia to the Diocese of Parramatta.
Following the explosion that tore through the Lebanese capital on 4 August the Maronite Diocese of Australia and Maronites on Mission formed the Beirut Disaster Relief Appeal to assist those impacted by the blast.
The appeal donation was made today to Eastern Catholic bishop, Antoine-Charbel Tarabay OLM, Maronite Bishop of Australia by Western Catholic bishop, Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta on behalf of the Diocese of Parramatta.
The Maronite bishop’s visit was the first time a Maronite bishop has visited the Chancery office of the Diocese of Parramatta.
“I welcome Bishop Antoine to the Chancery,” Bishop Vincent said welcoming his Eastern counterpart.
“The Maronite Eparchy of Australia and the Diocese of Parramatta have had a long and fruitful relationship. Western Sydney is where most of the Maronite Catholics in Australia reside. Many Maronite Catholics worship in our parishes and of course, many more young students attend our systemic Catholic schools.”
Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta systemic schools have organised fundraising drives to assist the relief efforts with funds raised sent to charities assisting those in need.
Bishop Vincent highlighted the existing collaboration between the Diocese of Parramatta and the Maronite Diocese of Australia.
“We also share social services and our Marriage Tribunal Office. In addition, some of our parishes double as Mass centres for our Maronite community.
“Our sense of partnership and solidarity extends to the Maronite community and we are very much in solidarity with the Lebanese community,” Bishop Vincent said. “We can even see the top of Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral from our Chancery building.”
Bishop Antoine-Charbel thanked Bishop Vincent and the Diocese of Parramatta for the donation and stressed the importance of working together as two Dioceses.
“We are a people of faith and hope.
“I am touched by this meeting and the support being offered. I look forward to working together to spread the Word of the Gospel.
“We need more collaboration, more unity to move forward and face any challenges together,” Bishop Antoine-Charbel said.
Fr Chris de Souza, Vicar General and Episcopal Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Parramatta welcomed Bishop Antoine-Charbel.
“Today is an historic day. Not only are we welcoming the Maronite Bishop of Australia, we are also joining as one truly Catholic and Universal Church, the meeting of East and West.
“We welcome Bishop Tarabay and express our deep sympathy for all those affected by the tragic Beirut blast,” Fr Chris said.
Fr Chris is also parish priest of St Oliver Plunkett’s Parish, Harris Park, the same suburb of Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral, the Seat of the Maronite Bishop of Australia.
Bishop Antoine-Charbel is the fourth bishop of the Maronite Diocese of Australia. He was accompanied on the visit by his Vicar General, Monsignor Marcelino Youssef.
Donations to the Beirut Disaster Relief Appeal run by the Maronite Diocese of Australia in collaboration with Maronites on Mission Australia will provide medical assistance, food packages, and home repairs. Donations can be made via www.maronitesonmission.com.