The beating heart of Lebanon is in Bkerke, the Patriarchal See of the Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. And the beating heart of Bkerke is our Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rai.
This heart is the nucleus of a flourishing global community that stretches its roots across the world. It flourishes in those regions where numerous Maronite faithful have converged.
In response to this growth, the appointment of bishops in countries of the expansion has become imperative. As one of these bishops, I am acutely aware of our inseparable connection to our patriarch.
We, as representatives of the patriarch in the Expansion, share a profound sense of mission and common purpose; connected always and working in unison with the Holy Father, the pope, in Rome.
Our patriarch in Lebanon is today the voice of those who are voiceless. For this he continues to call for neutrality in Lebanon—as a way to lead the country out of the political and economic crises.
For this, we are more than appreciative, and we echo his call for the international community to help Lebanon through an international forum that addressed those matters which our government in Australia is always keen to help and assist.
The love of God, by its very nature, transcends self-interest and knows no bounds of space or self-absorption. It seeks connection and expansion.
As St Paul eloquently said, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. … Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:1, 7).
Inspired by the spirit of this epistle, we reaffirm the undeniable truth that every act of goodness finds its origin in the love of God.
In the light of this divine love, our faithful here in Australia were the first to respond to the needs of struggling families in Lebanon assisting them in various ways with necessities for daily life, such as food, clothing, and medicines.
I thank the generous hearts of the hard working people in our community who are providing for their families here, without forgetting about their loved ones in Lebanon.
For so many of our brothers and sisters this remains their only lifeline.
This evening, with the blessing of His Beatitude and Eminence, our eparchy is embarking on a new charitable venture: The Lebanese School Appeal specifically to pay the school fees of students in need in Lebanon.
In collaboration with Maronites on Mission, and with the support of partners on the ground in Lebanon including the World Patriarchal Foundation, we have seen a desperate need to take the initiative to support and stand by our sons and daughters, reflecting the philosophy of Australia’s own Saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop: “Never see a need without doing something about it.”
Driven by your generosity this appeal will shine as a much needed beacon of hope for many students and their families; for the future of Lebanon passes first through the school.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for gracing us with your presence this evening, some of you having travelled from as far as the Americas and Africa. This is what makes tonight’s gathering a very unique celebration.
To donate to the appeal, please visit Maronite.org.au/appeals
This is an excerpt from his speech of His Excellency Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, at the Maronite Eparchy’s Golden Jubilee Dinner held in honour of His Beatitude and Eminence, Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.