A Cairo choir visiting Sydney brought Catholic and Orthodox together for one night of prayer, worship and ecumenism.
The Good News Team, a praise and worship choir from Egypt performed at St John the Beloved Melkite Catholic Church, Greenacre on 22 August 2018.
More than a performance, the evening was a heartfelt prayer for greater unity between Catholic and Orthodox Christians, especially across the Middle East, as part of the annual 1 in Christ event, the most significant Catholic and Orthodox ecumenical event in Sydney.
The Good News Team has performed in Italy, Greece, Paris, Iraq and the USA. In 2015, they were broadcast around the world during a concert with Coptic Orthodox Bishop Ermia, Chaldean Bishop Negm and Vatican Ambassador, Archbishop Musaro in attendance, holding hands for peace.
Subdeacon Mark Scotto Di Perta was MC and lead organiser of 1 in Christ, under the patronage of Melkite Catholic Bishop Robert Rabbat. Guests included Chorbishop Narsai Youkhanis of the Assyrian Church of the East, Fr Suriel Hanna of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Darko Znidaršič OFM, Chaplain at St Raphael’s Slovenian Catholic Church in Merrylands, Fr Patrick McInerney SSC, Sr Elizabeth Delaney, and Coptic Catholics Fr Andrawes Farag and Deacon Antoun Salama.
Supporting acts for the night were the Melkite Catholic Byzantine Choir, the ecumenical Al-Amal Choir, Momentum Band and Youstina Lawandi, a Coptic-Christian spoken word artist.
After performing, people answered questions about the importance of unity between Catholics and Orthodox. “We are already united. We are all saved by the blood of Christ,” Ghadi Sleiman said, lead musician of Momentum Band.
Good News Team guitarist George Fawzi spoke about the Good News Team’s purpose.
“We are kind of emotional nations, we are passionate about music, and you can see people having tears while listening,” George said.
“Our mission is not just concentrated to Egypt but we are very open to going to the whole world and spread the good news just as Jesus did. If you are standing on the solid rock, you can never be shaken and you need that solid rock whether you are in Australia or Egypt. It’s all around a personal relationship with God.”
Diana Naguib, a Good News Team soloist from St Therese’s Armenian Catholic Church in Heliopolis, elaborated on the theme.
“We are here because we serve the Lord in several places and we believe that many people need to hear his voice and need to feel his love. Not just worshipping but ministering to people,” Diana said.
Diana said opening our hearts to God and talking to Him in prayer are crucial.
“I believe this is the most loveable song for God, he enjoys us doing that in relationship with him.”
Prayer intentions were offered by several people representing different Churches, including Daniel Nour of the Coptic Catholic Church, Maryam Hormoz of the Assyrian Church of the East, Ashleigh Green of the Roman Catholic Church and Lena Abdul Masyah of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
This event was organized by iMelkite, the young adult wing of the Melkite Catholic Church, in partnership with St Elias Melkite Catholic Youth. The event was sponsored by a Catholic non-profit, Works of Mercy Ltd.