Sydney’s first ever ‘East meets West Eucharistic Adoration’ event attracted plenty of young Catholics to Australian Catholic University’s Strathfield campus for an evening of prayer, reflection and deep contemplation last week.
Presided over by Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, and Bishop Richard Umbers of Sydney, the event brought together students from Maronite and Latin rite chaplaincies to celebrate the end of the 2018 academic year.
“Sometimes these events can be eclectic, but there was a very natural fusion of piety between the Maronites and today’s Latin rite chaplaincies,” said Bishop Umbers.
Adoration under the stars. East meets WestThank you once again to Bishop Richard Umbers Bishop Antoine-Charbel TarabayACU Campus Ministry, University Catholics & UniMaronite.
Posted by Sydney Catholic Youth on Monday, November 5, 2018
“I was very impressed by how we were able to have such a beautiful event of Adoration at a university campus because when I was at university, this would have been unthinkable. It bodes very well for the future.”
The outdoor Adoration held on 25 October began at 6pm, with students, clergy and volunteers kneeling outside as Bishop Tarabay led the procession of the Eucharist, with multiple acolytes attending, to an altar where the Blessed Sacrament was reposed.
Shortly after, Bishop Umbers led the reflection on Ephesians 3:14-21. With eyes fixed on the Blessed Sacrament, he said “let us understand the breadth and the length, the height and the depth of Your love.”
“We are not alone”, he continued, “We are the family of families.”
Throughout the evening, the interchange between Arabic and Syriac hymns derived from the Book of Psalms and traditional Latin chants brought to life the richness and beauty of Catholicism’s eastern and western traditions, expressing its multifaceted yet unified nature.
Outdoor confession stations were also set up for students seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Towards the end of the evening, Bishop Tarabay led the final reflection on St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11:23-26), saying that “God’s plan of salvation for us is a great mystery: it is a mystery of mercy, charity, selflessness and self-emptying, and one of which we can see the outline although not the entirety.”
He continued by likening faith to “a tree firmly planted in good soil.”
“It can grow,” he said, “and because we look forward with hope, with humility, and with some proper amount of fear to the return of the Lord, to the Second Coming of the Person who was incarnated on earth and suffered and died to save us, we love Him in return.”
He also prayed for the Holy Father Pope Francis and all other Bishops and young people involved with the Synod for Youth so that they would be enlightened and drawn closer to the truth.
With the strong aroma of incense hanging in the air and almost everyone kneeling in total reverence as dusk fell, Bishop Umbers led the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
“This is a great initiative when we get the students around the Holy Eucharist, praising the Lord, His love and His presence among us,” said Bishop Tarabay.
“This is a source of grace for University students, and I hope that this will be happening on a more regular basis.”
All present at the event jointly organised by ACU Campus Ministry, University Catholics, Sydney Catholic Youth and UniMaronite were invited to stay back for a free BBQ.
UniMaronite coordinator and Podiatry student, Charbel Dagher – one of the event’s organisers – said, “In a time of Christian persecution, it is paramount that we unite, not as Catholics, not as Maronites, but as the youth of the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself.”
“This public show of unity is incredibly important for our Church today,” said Olivia Lee, Pastoral Associate for ACU Campus Ministry.
“I see so much division in different areas that focus on our differences, rather than looking for ways to find the similarities we do have and bring them to worship God.”
“In a time where we’re all discerning the question of the Plenary Council 2020 – ‘What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”’ – it was a special reminder to me of how God speaks to each person.”
“Beneath all of it – we all want the same thing: the unity of our Church to be able to help all encounter Jesus Christ fully and authentically,” she said.
Georgette Bechara is studying Commerce/Law at the University of Sydney. Georgette regularly writes for uCatholic and ChurchPop and aspires to be a voice for the many persecuted Christians in a world that is often so hostile towards people of faith.