Merrylands Parish co-hosts ecumenical gathering

By Elizabeth McFarlane
Clergy were present from each of the Churches represented, including Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev Peter G Williams, leader of the Melkite Church in Australia, Bishop Robert Rabbat, Archimandrite Basilios Kodseie and Fr Fadi Nemme (Antiochian Orthodox); Fr Shenouda Mansour and Fr Suriel Hanna (Coptic Orthodox); and Rev Narsai Youkhanis (Assyrian Church of the East). Photo: Elizabeth McFarlane

Unity can seldom be achieved without dialogue in a diverse community. This truth extends to the Church community and is manifested in the ecumenical movement.

On 8 March, Eastern and Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches were represented by hundreds of young people at the ‘1 in Christ’ ecumenical event, held at St Margaret Mary’s Parish in Merrylands and co-hosted with the Melkite Catholic Church.

This is the second time the event has taken place, which aims to bring together the different apostolic churches to discuss matters of faith and life.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, they embarked on a night of sharing, focusing on the works and acts of mercy that unify Christian Churches.

The night brought together faithful from the Melkite, Maronite, Coptic Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, Slovenian Catholic and Assyrian Church of the East to share these good deeds.

Our Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev Peter G Williams, and Bishop Robert Rabbat, leader of the Melkite Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand, as well as 20 other clergy members from the many denominations and apostolic churches, were present on the night.

Fr Peter said he was impressed to see the young people from the different churches “learning more about each other’s traditions and at the same time confirming unity in Christ by virtue of a common Baptism.”

“The scandal of disunity is felt by all of us as Christians, and since the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church has committed to ecumenism as an essential part of the Church’s activity.

“Much of the reason for our disunity, particularly between the Eastern Orthodox Churches and ourselves, stems from ecclesial misunderstandings and also some doctrinal issues.

“I think it is highly probable that there will be a rapprochement with the Eastern Orthodox Churches and that will be a great blessing to all.”

During the Mercy Commitment Workshop on the night, the young people present were encouraged to commit to acts of mercy together.

Amal Sayegh, youth leader of the Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, said the night highlighted the ways in which the young people of her Church could extend their fellowship activities to the greater Christian community.

“During the Lenten period, our Antiochian brothers and sisters come together and visit a church once a week to unite in fellowship,” she said.

“Hopefully in the future we can extend this to the Eastern and Roman Catholic Churches so that way we can unite with them in fellowship, so that way we can be stronger in working together in the one faith.”

Assistant Priest of St Margaret Mary’s Parish, Rev Peter Strohmayer OSPPE, said it was an honour to have everyone gathered together and to see the youth discuss and celebrate their faith.

Photos from the night can be viewed here: Flickr

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