After ten long years of waiting for their church to be built, the St Elias Melkite Catholic community have launched a new initiative to raise the desperately-needed funds to build their new spiritual home at Guildford.
“It’s been a long and tumultuous journey for our community, however we can finally see the finish line. Our challenge is to unify the community, garner their support and finally push this project over the finish line,” said Jack Mitri, a member of the St Elias One Community team that launched the new “400 Club” after Mass on Palm Sunday at St Raphael’s church in Merrylands.
The fundraising team aims to get 400 people, or groups, to pledge $50 a week for 12 months. This would provide a quick injection of $1 million needed to obtain a loan from the bank allowing the building to begin.
“We’re trying to accelerate the fundraising activity,” Mr Mitri said. “We’ve set the bar fairly high and we know that not everyone can afford that. If you can contribute even one dollar, that will help”.
“We’ve been told by various financial institutions that if we can get this off the ground, they will loan us over three million.”
“We’ve already got a million dollars in the bank from previous fundraising activities but that’s not going to get us very far,” said Dr Raghida Faddoul, also a member of the fundraising team.
“We need a quick injection of money so we can approach the bank and borrow the rest. We’ve got a lot of people who’ve pledged support already.”
Two years ago the old St Elias church on the Hawkview Street site in Guildford was demolished as it had become dilapidated. For the past two years the faith community have been without a home and members having been attending Mass at other parishes around Sydney.
“It means a lot to us,” Mr Mitri said. “The church is our spiritual home. It’s where you go to pray, to confess, where you go to open your soul, your heart.”
The funds raised are intended for more than just a church, as the plans include two halls, a cafe, a larger carpark and a merchandise centre.
“The aim is to engage the community more. Not just have it as you visit the church then walk away. By having cafes and community halls for functions you can entice people, especially the younger generation to come to church and be engaged,” Mr Mitri said.
“We’re very strong Christians and Christian values mean so much to us and it’s important that the wider community and the youth grasp those values. To be able to do this effectively we need to build a church and a community centre where they can gather and learn and acquire those values”.
“Often, things happen for a reason. Despite the hardships and frustrations spanning over a decade, we believe the final design of this church will be stunning and worth the wait. We just need everyone on board now.”
To make a donation: www.buildstelias.org.au or [email protected]