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Sydney’s Melkite youth raise funds for peace

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Syrian refugee families will benefit from a Melkite Lenten project. Photo: CNS photo/Walid Saleh, Reuters
Syrian refugee families will benefit from a Melkite Lenten project. Photo: CNS photo/Walid Saleh, Reuters

As a teenager Rabih Khalil experienced the turmoil of conflict when living in south Lebanon during a deadly month-long war in 2006.

Now in his 20s he is safely in Sydney but longs for peace in the Middle East this Lent.

He joined other youth and young adults of St Elias Melkite Church in Guildford on a ‘walk for peace’ on 2 March, part of a larger initiative of the Melkite Eparchy and the Melkite Charitable Foundation to raise funds to aid war-affected Christian communities in the region.

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Parishes and groups are holding their own pilgrimage walks to reach a total of 40kms and help raise $40,000 through sponsorship and donations before Easter.

“As a young person with Palestinian-Lebanese heritage and now witnessing the current conflict in Palestine, I can say that our countries have had enough,” Khalil told The Catholic Weekly.

“We are all craving peace.

“While walking, I prayed for all the innocent people who have lost their lives.

“I hope that the funds we raise provide assistance to the families that are greatly struggling and urgently need our help.”

Bishop Robert Rabbat and other clergy joined the young people’s walk along the Guildford West bushland bike track on the scorching late summer morning.

“As Lent is marked by reflection and renewal, this Walk for Peace offers us an opportunity to embody the spirit of Easter,” he said.

“It also aims to raise $40,000 to support war-affected Christian communities in the Holy Land and neighbouring countries, including Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, as well as new arrivals affected by war, offering them hope for both a safer and brighter future.”

Samantha Hourany, 16, said it felt disheartening to see the effects of war.

“Yet, amidst the chaos and destruction, my Christian faith keeps me hopeful,” she said.

“This walk represents a beacon of hope, a testament to our belief that peace is possible.

“By taking each step with purpose and conviction, we are not only raising funds for those affected by conflict but also sending a powerful message to the world: that the youth refuse to accept violence as the status quo.”

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