Cardinal Sandri (R) and Bishop Tarabay (L)
A historic decision by Pope Francis embodies a bright new chapter in the history of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia
(See Translation in Arabic Section)
The Holy Father Pope Francis has agreed to extend the boundaries of the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maroun of Sydney to include not only Australia but also New Zealand and all the countries of Oceania (Decree number 204/2019). This announcement comes as a result of the increasing numbers of Maronites in these countries and the need to reach out to them and to cater for their pastoral and spirituals needs, in addition to reconnecting them with their spiritual heritage and liturgical traditions according to the Maronite Eastern Antiochene Church.
This decree opens a new and bright chapter in the history of our Eparchy. In addition to Australia and New Zealand, Oceania includes the following countries: Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Nauru, and New Caledonia. It has a population of around 41 million people.
This historic decision was made on 29 March 2021, when Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, met with His Holiness and informed him of the increasing number of Maronites who had settled or were spending significant amounts of time in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
This decree specifically declared that it was desirable to extend the borders of the Eparchy, so that the pastoral vigilance and care might reach to all the Maronite faithful there. It is an opportunity that opens new horizons to embrace our Maronite brothers and sisters in New Zealand and the Islands of Oceania and this is a sign that our Maronite identity is now becoming more international. It does also reveal a feeling that we are part of a global Maronite Church, which finds its heart and centre in the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon, under the leadership of His Beatitude and Eminence, Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai.
Accordingly, by direction of Pope Francis, all the Maronite faithful in these countries have been placed under the jurisdiction of His Grace Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, who thus becomes the first Maronite Archbishop of Australia, New Zealand, and the other countries of Oceania. This is wonderful news for the global Maronite Church, and is further evidence of the confidence which the Apostolic See has in its mission.
An official announcement will be made at a Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral, Harris Park on Tuesday 25 May 2021 at 6pm. As we prepare for that Divine Liturgy, all Maronites are called to keep the Maronite Church in their prayers, especially in Lebanon during these very challenging and critical times, as well as here in our Eparchy, now to become the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania. May the global Maronite Church grow in the certainty of faith, the strength of hope, and the unity of love.