Fire ban no barrier! Nothing will stop Maronites exalting the Holy Cross

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Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay and fellow Maronite Catholics celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

What do Maronite Catholics do when a total fire ban prevents them from celebrating a feast day with a traditional bonfire? They use an LED fireplace of course!

Four hundred people from the Maronite Catholic community of Sydney came together on the evening of 13 September at St Rafqa’s Maronite Catholic Church in Austal to celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. (An interesting aside: Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was ordained on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.)

PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay presided over the Mass for the special feast which recalls the finding of the true cross of Jesus Christ by St Helena.

The ceremony usually includes a procession of the cross and a bonfire. This year however, due to the total fire ban, they were forced to improvise with a rented LED fireplace, which cast an atmospheric red glow over the congregation.

PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

St Rafqa’s Maronite community were also celebrating the 25th anniversary of Fr Maroun Moussa’s ordination to the priesthood, and the opening and blessing of their new parish hall. Fr Moussa is the director of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries in Australia.