Egyptian choir unites Catholic and Orthodox churches

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A Christian choir from Egypt has brought together Catholic and Orthodox churches in Sydney for a rousing “Night of Unity,” to praise and worship God with one voice.

The Good News Team, an internationally acclaimed Catholic choir from Egypt, performed at St John the Beloved Melkite Greek Catholic church in Greenacre on 22 August. The spectacular iconostasis in the church provided the perfect backdrop to the faith-filled performance.

The choir was invited to Australia to perform for the annual “1 in Christ” event, organised by the Melkite Catholic Church, which seeks to bring together the Catholic and Orthodox churches to foster unity.

The Good News Team from Egypt with Bishop Robert Rabbat (centre) and other performers and clergy from various Catholic and Orthodox churches, at St John the Beloved Church in Greenacre. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Bishop Robert Rabbat, Eparch of the Melkite Catholic Church in Australia and New Zealand was present along with clergy from the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, and the Roman Catholic, Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox churches. Around 400 people of different religious backgrounds—including Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Maronite Catholic and Antiochian Orthodox—filled the church.

The choir, consisting of 14 members—both male and female—performed uplifting songs and hymns in both Arabic and English.

Leader of the Good News Team, Lucia Rabbat. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Thirty-six year old Nader Hanna from Cairo has been a member of the choir since he was 19 years old. He not only sings but also composes songs for the choir.

“I’m amazed by the idea of unity,” he told The Catholic Weekly. “This is the main theme I want to express through the songs and hymns we sing. Unity is very essential because without unity we’d all be scattered. Everyone has their own beliefs and traditions but we want to be unified in Christ.”

Another choir member, 31 year-old electric guitarist Geroge Fawzi, said he enjoys the “sense of family” within the group. “We support each other through music and our concerts. It’s a very special experience.”

“I pray every time we stand before the Lord to worship and to sing, that the audience can experience something that will change their lives,” Mr Fawzi said.

Good News Team member George Fawzi. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Preceding the Good News Team were four support acts—the Melkite Catholic Byzantine Choir, the Al-Amal Orthodox and Catholic Choir, the Momentum band from the Maronite Catholic Church, and Youstina Lawandi who recited her original poetry.

During his opening prayer Bishop Rabbat reminded those present that all the Christian faithful are “tied together in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

About 400 people filled St John the Beloved Church in Greenacre to hear the Good News Team perform. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

MC for the evening, Subdeacon Mark Scotto Di Perta, of the St Elias Melkite Catholic Parish, said, “We cannot achieve authentic unity without one another. As Scripture tells us, how beautiful it is when God’s people live together in unity. Tonight we are doing just that.”

The “Night of Unity” was presented by iMelkite, the young adult wing of the Melkite Catholic Church, in partnership with St Elias Melkite Catholic Youth.