Rob Azar is a man who has learnt to keep walking even when the going gets tough. On 1 October he began a 300km trek from Sydney to Canberra, to help raise funds to build a new church for the St Elias Melkite Catholic Community.
His week-long pilgrimage started at St Raphael’s Church in Merrylands, Sydney, and will end on 7 October at St George Mission Melkite Church in Calwell, Canberra.
Walking the entire distance by himself, Rob was to be joined by his nieces and nephews for the last hour of the walk.
He was first inspired with the idea after listening to Bishop Robert Rabbat speaking at Mass on Christmas day last year about the need to raise funds for the new church.
“I thought what could I possibly do to help the Church?,” he told The Catholic Weekly. Mr Azar was already a keen walker.
“I thought well if I did a big walk, maybe I could raise money for the church.” Tragically, his friend, Majed Aoun, who passed away from a sudden heart-attack just a week before the walk had planned to meet Mr Azar an hour from the finish line and walk the rest of the way with him.
“He was a dear friend to me and he wanted to walk the last hour to the church and now his daughters are going to walk that last hour in honour of their dad. It’s very sad for us and it’s very hard at the moment.”
Mr Azar said he has soldiered on through many trials in life, overcoming obstacles – including a gambling addiction – through his faith in God.
“I’ve had a bit of struggle in my life like every human being does and I turned to my faith and started praying to God, looking for a way out. He helped me and I found my way. My life’s been turned around and I thought maybe this is the way to repay him, by doing this walk.”
To date, Mr Azar has raised over $120,000 for the building of the new St Elias Church at Guildford.
The St Elias Melkite Catholic Community is hoping to raise a total of $300,000 for the project.
To make a donation go to www.buildstelias.org.au