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New church acquisition dedicated to St Rita

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St rita acquisition - The Catholic weekly
Fr Danny Nouh with his St Rita vestments. Photo: Dominique Shina Estephan.

Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park has announced plans for a new Mass centre dedicated to a popular 15th century saint in Sydney’s west.

In line with the feast of St Rita on 22 May, Our Lady was successful in purchasing a new property—formerly a Mormon church—on 306 Woodville Rd in Guildford, within the boundaries of the cathedral, which also includes a hall.

The new church will undergo renovations and is expected to open later this year. With capacity for 200 worshippers it is hoped to be a means by which St Rita will bring more western Sydney locals to Christ.

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The church will come under the care of the neighbouring cathedral and its priests who hope to provide daily Mass for local residents and those unable to travel to Our Lady of Lebanon.

“In Lebanon, the churches are in the middle of villages, and everyone walks there. In a sense, that’s what our aim has to be—to have churches that are local, accessible and personal,” Fr Danny Nouh, the newly-appointed cathedral dean, told The Catholic Weekly.

“The cathedral here is so big, but we also know that the community out west is growing, and it has been Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay’s hope to outreach further into the smaller pockets of the community,”

Fr Nouh said the acquisition and its announcement on St Rita’s feast day could not have come at a better time.

“We’ve always wanted to dedicate a church to St Rita and with this coming up, it’s as if St Rita is making the path for us,” he said.

St Rita acquisition - The Catholic weekly
St Rita statue in Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral. Photo: Dominique Shina Estephan.

Although not a Maronite saint, devotion to St Rita has gained traction among Lebanese Catholics.

Fr Nouh has also played a role in St Rita’s influence among the Maronite community in Sydney.

“My wife introduced me to St Rita when we were first married, and I would always see her praying to her. Now she’s the patron of my family, but also the patron of so many more.

“We would host novenas dedicated to St Rita well before I became a priest at homes in Guildford. That’s surely the providence of God that we now will have a church in her name there.”

Parishioners filled Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral to celebrate the saint’s feast day on 22 May and processed with her statue and a first-class relic of the saint who was both a wife, mother, and a religious sister during her lifetime.

“We see ourselves in her suffering and crosses we bear,” Fr Nouh explained.

“Each one of us finds something that relates to us and it’s why we love her.

“She has touched many lives through her intercession and people prayer with her and to the Lord for that intercession.”

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