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Melto D’Moronoyo: God’s spirit moves in the Maronite community

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10,000 Maronites came together for the high point of their golden jubilee celebrations. Photo: SNAPIX/Maronite Eparchy of Australia

The spirit of community is one that has long been an integral part of the Maronite Church in Australia. We have seen it on many occasions—a large community coming together to celebrate, to pray or to grieve.

Through the ups and downs, the community is a trusted constant for all Maronites, who live with the assurance that no matter what it is that they are experiencing, there will always be an incredible network of people who are willing to come together and offer their prayers and support when it matters most.

Following the challenges of the last couple of years, and what our homeland is experiencing, the visit of the Maronite Patriarch, His Beatitude and Eminence, Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, renewed the spirit of the Maronite Community in celebration of the golden jubilee of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia.

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The high point of the celebrations came on Sunday 24 September, where Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney Olympic Park became a holy space, bringing together thousands of Maronites to celebrate in the most powerful way: the Divine Liturgy.

In the Gospel, our Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” (Mt 18:20). When 10,000 are gathered in his name, flanked by an army of priests, bishops and archbishops led by His Beatitude, the magnitude of it is something beyond human comprehension.

While observing the crowd, one common trait that stood out was the pure, child-like joy etched on the faces of the people, whether they were volunteers, choir or members of the congregation.

The setting of the Mass in a stadium did not compromise the reverence of the occasion, the crowd were all actively and dynamically participating in the Mass, responding when called to and silent when needed.

A sporting stadium is used to the noise of crowds, to the chants and cheers that create an atmosphere. It is a powerful solidarity when many voices unite.

During the golden jubilee Mass, it was when it came time to pray the Our Father that the voices of an entire community, truly became one, uniting in the same prayer that was taught to us by Christ (Mt 6:9-13) and has been said by generations.

That moment served as a reminder of the history of the Maronite Church, which has been challenged by persecution, famine and more. A reminder of our ancestors and predecessors, who persevered and prevailed, one way or another, came to Australia and contributed to building our Eparchy.

It was their perseverance that had led up to the occasion where up to 10,000 Maronites could gather and pray freely and loudly for the eparchy, for Lebanon and Australia, and for their intentions.

The Mass ended with His Beatitude making his way around the stadium with Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, to give a blessing to all members of the congregation, where he was met with beaming smiles, cheers and waving flags.

His people greeting him with the hope, peace and love that comes from participating in a powerful Divine Liturgy.

Gathered around our patriarch, the Maronite Eparchy of Australia came together in what ultimately turned out to be a true celebration of our eparchy and its history, bringing together families, youth, our elders, community leaders and all our parishes.

His Beatitude’s presence united the community, invoking joy in the hearts of the Maronites—the same joy that built our diocese and the joy we hope will be carried over into the future.

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