The Maronite Catholic Church in Australia concluded its 2023 golden jubilee year with its closing liturgy on 8 December at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park.
Coinciding with the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Maronites across Sydney came together to give thanks for the blessings received throughout the year, which began on the feast of church father St Maroun on 9 February.
Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania, Antoine-Charbel Tarabay celebrated the liturgy and in his homily touched on the collective spiritual journey undertaken by thousands of the faithful across the country in 2023.
“Over the past months we have journeyed together, reflecting on our Maronite heritage, renewing our commitment to holiness and openness, and witnessing the blessings of the Holy Spirit in our midst,” he said.
“The jubilee year has been a time of grace, a season of renewal, and a testament to the enduring strength of our Maronite community.
“To the countless eparchy and parish staff, volunteers, community members, choir and sponsors who have generously given their time, talents and resources, I am profoundly grateful.”
The year brought with it both large-scale and more intimate events, including a national tour of Maronite and Australian saints’ relics and the ordinations of more than 11 priests, deacons, and subdeacons.
More than 7000 Maronites packed Ken Rosewall Arena in Homebush on 24 September in the year’s most profound moment on 24 September.
Together they participated in a liturgy celebrated by the Maronite Patriarch, his Beatitude and Eminence Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai, during his visit to Australia for the occasion.
Also in 2023 was the opening of a new school building at the Antoine College in Melbourne, the blessing of a new aged care home in Harris Park, and the consecration of three new churches for the eparchy, including the first in Western Australia.
In a final message before celebrations in the cathedral hall, Bishop Tarabay closed the year with the hope that Maronites will carry over the spiritual lessons and graces received into the future.
“I am ever hopeful that if we continue building on our spiritual capital, the future of our Church in Australia is very bright,” he said.
“May the spirit of renewal, ignited during this jubilee, continue to inspire us to live our authentic Maronite faith in this generous land, serving God and one another with joy and love.”