In the presence of political, social, diplomatic and religious figures
The Maronite League in Sydney celebrates its 30th anniversary
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
Sydney - M E TIMES INT'L: The Maronite League in Sydney has held its annual ceremony recently to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary in "Doltone House" Sydney.
The event was attended by many leading figures including the Lebanese President ML Antoine Klimos and Australian President Bakhos Georges. Other dignitaries included the patron of the Maronite diocese in Australia, Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay, NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley MP, Federal Liberal Member for Berowra MP Julian Lesser representing the Prime Minister of Australia, Federal Labor Member for Watson Tony Burke representing the Leader of the Federal Opposition, John Sidoti MP representing the NSW Premier, Jihad Dib member for Lakemba, Julia Finn member for Granville and former member Daryl Melham, along with representatives of associations and parties as well as religious, social, economic and media bodies.
The ceremony toastmaster was Fred Frangi then Bishop Tarabay gave a prayer and a speech where he congratulated the attendees in the feast of Saint Maroun noting “the virtues through which he carried many people to have faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Bishop Taraby also congratulated the ML in Australia for reaching its 30th anniversary, especially those members who had been there since its inception.
In his speech, Mr Georges said: “I thank you all for joining us, our dear friends, sponsors, supporters and honoured guests from here and overseas, as we come together to celebrate a most significant milestone event: the 30 year Jubilee anniversary of the Maronite Catholic Society in Australia…Thirty years of faith, service and dedication to the Church and communities in the Maronite Eparchy of Australia.
The significance of this celebration is further enhanced by the presence of our honoured special guest, Mr Antoine Klimos, the President of the Maronite League in Lebanon.
The Maronite League in Lebanon has an important role to defend, represent, advise, and resolve problems, such as political, social and legal issues that relate to Christians and in particular Maronites, on a daily basis.
As Lebanese Maronites in Australia, we are regarded as the strongest united Maronite migrant population that has actively and successfully integrated, and become established in a country outside of Lebanon, while maintaining our faith and sense of identity.
During this visit Mr Klimos is addressing the new global platform for Maronite Catholic Societies worldwide, in order to bring them together under one banner. This global initiative will strengthen the MCS in Australia and around the world, improving relations, providing greater focus and education, and increasing community awareness of our important mission.
The Society also serves the Church financially by working on diocese projects, and encourages the youth to be more actively involved in Maronite issues through membership of the MCS, directing their energy in a positive way. Furthermore, we strongly encourage the involvement of women on the MCS membership and executive, supporting fairer and more equitable participation of women in the Lebanese Maronite community as a whole.
During the ceremony, a magazine was distributed on the occasion of the 30th jubilee of the Maronite League in Australia, which included a message from the President of the Lebanese Republic General Michel Aoun addressed by the Charge d’Affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in Canberra Mr Giscard El Khoury. Mr Aoun wrote: “My covenant with you that I reassure all the Lebanese of a promising future for your homeland and to continue the movement to achieve the goals of every believer in Lebanon and its leadership role in the world on all comprehensive administrative, social, economic and financial levels steps, to raise together Lebanon's trophy.”
He added: "In Australia, as in other countries, you succeeded in the radiation of Lebanese light in a world marred by fear of darkness, the darkness of terrorism, crime and hatred. You were the flame of a burning fiery furnace, not to burn the others, as many countries currently are suffering today from the fires of destruction and demolition of humanity, but to leverage the Lebanese values and the concept of communication between civilisations and its integration for the future of the world. "
During his dinner speech, Mr Klimos greeted the Australians of Lebanese descent and noted how this country had embraced them. He also conveyed the compliments from officials with whom he had met on his visit who praised the role played by Lebanese people in Australia.
“The suffering of the Christians in the Middle East brings us back in memory to the dark ages and the brutal practices that sought to have them uprooted from the land of their roots ... but this will not intimidate us, nor will they bully our partners in life, who believe in dialogue and acceptance of others who are different and find in pluralism ... a qualitative civilization of richness,” he said.
He believed “the defense of the identity of Lebanon, with its combination of pluralism, was a paramount task”.
“It is the right of our immigrants to admit their intuitive rights and strive to achieve them today before tomorrow, such as recovering the Lebanese citizenship and participation in the parliamentary elections wherever they are and provide legislative incentives for investment. And it is their right to take the initiative to the registration of births and marriages in embassies and consulates of Lebanon to document their relationship with the land of ancestors and the production of legal communication mechanisms with Lebanon, without necessarily returning for good. This step does not interfere at all with the homeland that they gained their citizenship."
He enthusiastically endorsed the work of Bishop Tarabay and Bakhos Georges, stressing that his visit to Australia “aimed at co-ordination between the two Maronites Leagues in Lebanon and Australia,” and expressed his confidence in being able to establish fixed rules between them.
Praising the Maronite Lebanese community
Many words were made praising the Maronite Lebanese community in Australia by the representative New South Wales Premier MP Jean Sidoti, and opposition leader Luke Foley, the representative of the Prime Minister MP Julian Lesser and the representative of the federal opposition MP Tony Burke.
In conclusion, the Maronite League honored Sister Marie Henriat Daredo, Selim Chidiac and Antoine Klimos honored for their services and giving for the sake of the church and society.