Cardinal Leonardo Sandri visits Saint Charbel Monastery – Sydney
"For Pope John Paul II Lebanon was a message; for Pope Benedict XVI Lebanon was a laboratory and Lebanon, for me, is a passion and love"
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
Sydney - Middle East TIMES Int'l: Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, head of the Catholic Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has visited the Monastery and the College of Saint Charbel Maronite Order at Punchbowl. Cardinal Sandri was received by the Superior Father Louis Ferkh, the parishioners and a delegation of monks representing the Holy Neemtallah Al-Hashem, the head of the Order including Father Asaad Lahoud, the General Secretary of the Order and Father Claude Nadra, the head of the Monastery of St Antony-Ghazir.
The head of the Lebanese Maronite Order Father Louis Ferkh welcomed his beatitude and made the following speech.
“Your Eminence, in the name of Father Neemttallah Al-Hashem, the head of the Lebanese Maronite Order, I welcome you and your companions. The mission of the Order in Sydney was established in 1972 at the request of the Maronite Church in Sydney and the Holy See. “A year later, the monks had a small house here and built this church later. The first objective of our mission in this multicultural country is to serve the sons of the Maronite Church in order to preserve their spiritual and cultural identity, values and traditions.
“In addition, the monks built a primary school that teaches both English and Arabic and provides emerging generations with appropriate educational curricula and an appropriate atmosphere to maintain their privacy.
“Over the years, the school expanded and became supplementary and secondary, and today it has 1150 students. She is renowned for being bilingual, dedicated to her managers, the efforts of her teachers and staff who work tirelessly for our students.
“We are proud of the relationship between our mission in its educational and pastoral branches and the ecclesiastical and state authorities, both locally and with the Australian government.
“Your visit, Your Eminence, to this dynamic parish is an important event in our history.
“On behalf of the Lebanese Maronite Order, I would like to thank you for your wise leadership, your cooperation, support and patronage of the Maronite Church and its spread throughout the world, especially Christians in the Middle East and Egypt, where they face physical and emotional suffering, persecution, discrimination and displacement.
“We greatly appreciate the support of His Holiness the Holy Father, Pope Francis and his prayers and he asked us to join him in praying for peace in the world and making efforts to preserve the irreplaceable Christian presence in the Middle East,” Father Ferkh said.
Then Cardinal Sandri made a speech in which he thanked the students, and congratulated the monks and praised the role of the Lebanese Maronite Order in the service of the Church mission in Lebanon and in the countries of diaspora. This success has been achieved through the Church’s pioneering role in the apostolic, pastoral, educational, academic and hospital sectors. Maronite spirituality has been preserved by the Eucharistic worship, the love and honor of the Virgin and the attachment to the Holy See and the Pope successor of Peter.
Cardinal Sandri asked the students to be proud of belonging to the Maronite Church, which was closely linked to the Holy See.
At the end of the banquet, Father Claude Nedra, on behalf of the President of the Order, made a speech the following speech:
“Your Excellency, it is an occasion to thank you very much. It is because of your holy congregation and at its request that we are here. Thanks to the support of the Synod of the Eastern Churches that the work of the monks of the Lebanese Maronite Order was fruitful. We are proud to see the monastic and priestly vocations blooming between the children of the school and parishioners.”
In response to Father Nadra’s speech, Cardinal Sandri thanked the Holy Father, Neemtallah Al-Hashem, the head of the Order and his representatives for their noble emotions expressed in the speeches. He also thanked the Superior Father Louis Ferkh for his hospitality, stressing the importance of the Maronite Church mission and the Lebanese Maronite Order mission through its active presence in the countries in which it exists.