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Mission runs on Maronite power

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The Maronites on Mission (MOM) annual gala is a critical fundraising event for the charity’s day-to-day missions and its international projects in the Philippines and in Lebanon. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
The Maronites on Mission (MOM) annual gala is a critical fundraising event for the charity’s day-to-day missions and its international projects in the Philippines and in Lebanon. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

By Ann-Marie Boumerhe

More than 400 people came together for the Maronites on Mission (MOM) annual gala held last Friday night to raise more than $150,000 for the charity.

The gala is a critical fundraising event for the charity’s day-to-day missions and its international projects in the Philippines and in Lebanon.

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Maronites on Mission’s annual missionary trip to the Philippines has also been re-enlivened after a two-year break, with part of the money raised at the gala used to fund the work to be completed there in January 2023.

In addition to the pandemic, the Philippines has suffered the loss of entire towns and villages due to devastating typhoons.

The charity plans to deliver medical, dental, construction, and food supply and education missions in the City of Naga, working alongside Missionaries of the Poor brothers.

Chairman of the board Charbel Azzi said that although no fundraiser had been held since 2019, the charity has pressed on as the hands and feet of Christ all over the world.

What began as a project among young Maronite Catholics at St Charbel’s Parish several years ago is now a major reality. The Maronites on Mission group of missionaries bound for the Philippines is pictured at last week’s dinner, above, with leader George Nasr, left back row. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
What began as a project among young Maronite Catholics at St Charbel’s Parish several years ago is now a major reality. The Maronites on Mission group of missionaries bound for the Philippines is pictured at last week’s dinner, above, with leader George Nasr, left back row. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

This year’s group is made up of 20 men and women from across the Maronite Eparchy in Sydney with diverse professional backgrounds including pharmacy and teaching.

“They will co-ordinate and deliver a medical mission that draws thousands of people from across the Bicol region,” said Mr Azzi.

MOM will also continue its assistance with a multi-sensory therapeutic facility for children with disabilities at the Nazareth Preparatory School.

Attending the event were members at all levels of government, with addresses delivered by Tony Burke, Federal Minister for Industrial Relations, and Mark Coure, NSW Minister for Multiculturalism who, on behalf of the NSW Perrottet Government, announced a $5,000 donation.

Missionary leader George Nasr said the generosity of local businesses and service providers in offering donations and sponsorship had also been “overwhelming”.

Under the patronage of Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, MOM is supported by members of the Maronite clergy including Fr Alain Fares, assistant parish priest of St George Maronite Church in Thornleigh, as the mission chaplain and spiritual director.

Participants enjoy the live music at the Maronites on Mission Dinner. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Participants enjoy the live music at the Maronites on Mission Dinner. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“What started as a project at St Charbel’s Parish a few years back with a group of young people full of energy and zeal, has now spread across the Maronite Eparchy,” Bishop Tarabay said.

“Humanitarian missions in poor countries complement the work done at the local level, with home visits and charitable works carried out in Australia serving the poor, the sick and the homeless. Missionary work is important and it opens up our eyes to the many blessings we have in our lives and that we often take for granted.”

Nicole Daher, 23, is a speech pathologist and parishioner at Christ the Redeemer Parish in the Hills.

She’s looking forward to using her skills for those in need including with children with disability.

“Just being present with the children and sharing my love with them is what I look forward to most,” she said.

Antoinette Ratkovic, 24, a parishioner at St Charbel in Punchbowl who works in disability services, said she is “eager to do God’s work in the Philippines, even to just bring a smile to the face of one person, as I get such a wholesome sense of happiness seeing those less fortunate cared for”.

Ann-Marie Boumerhe is a director of Maronites on Mission

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