Biography

Bishop Ad Abikaram was born in Qornet Chahwan, Lebanon. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1962, serving as Parish Priest of Deek El Mehdi between 1967 and 1992, and, for an overlapping period between 1973 and 2002, was Parish Priest of Mtaileb. He was elevated to the dignity of chorbishop (Monsignor) in 1987. In 2002, he was installed as the third Maronite Bishop of Australia.

Education

Bishop Ad was educated in the Maronite Seminary at Ghazir, and obtained from St Joseph’s University, Beirut, a Master’s in Theology: the first of three Master degrees he would obtain, the other two being in Philosophy and in the Science of Education from Dayton, Ohio. In addition, he has diplomas in Ethics and Sociology and in Human Communications from Beirut and Sydney, respectively. Bishop Abikaram is fluent in the Arabic, English, French, Latin and Syriac languages.

Responsibilities

Bishop Abikaram has simultaneously worked and directed operations in several areas: social, pastoral, educational and ecclesial.

Between 1967 and 1973 he was Principal of St Joseph’s School in Qornet Chahwan, while also bearing responsibility for the Catechetical and Pastoral Centre of the Maronite Eparchy of Antelias.

In 1973 and 1974, His Excellency accompanied the late Archbishop Khalifeh to Australia, upon his first visit to these shores, where he served as Secretary General for the newly established Eparchy.

Returning to Lebanon in 1974, he was made Secretary General for Antelias, a position he held until 1987. Also in 1974, he became the editor of Light and Life magazine, a post he retained until the closure of that journal. Between 1980 and 1992, His Excellency served as Secretary General of the Catholic Commission for Catechesis and was Director of the National Centre of Catechesis. In addition to these high level responsibilities in catechesis, he commenced Adult Faith Formation in prisons. His work now took into him into the Middle East, where he began the Clergy Pension Scheme and organized annual days for catechists and formation centres for clergy and laity who were involved in pastoral work.

During this same period, from 1976 to 1992, His Excellency was both President of Caritas in the Metn region of Lebanon, and Secretary of the Movement for Social Service and Development. From 1987 to 2001, he was Rector of the Jesus and Mary School in Rabweh.

Between 1984 and 2002, when he returned to Australia, he was the editor of Al Bouchra magazine and Gospel Beyond Borders, an internet catechetical resource for adults. From 1995 to 2002 he was President of the Catholic Council for Catechesis in the Middle East, and from 1996 to 2002 was on the Steering Committee of the International Forum for Adult Religious Education. Between 1998 and 2002, he was President of the Apostolic Union in Lebanon. In 1996, His Excellency was appointed an expert on the Vatican’s International Council for Catechesis (COINCAT).

As Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, Bishop Tarabay founded Marounia magazine in 2003 to spread the word, and founded the Order of Qannoubine in 2004 as a practical means of assisting this work. He arranged the extensive exposition of the relics of the Maronite Saints for veneration in all Maronite churches of this continent, in 2005. This hugely successful undertaking was followed by the Maronite Conference of 2006, and then, the following year, the opening of the Maronite Heritage Centre in Redfern. 2007 also witnessed the establishment of His Excellency’s plan for the twinning of Maronite villages in Lebanon with Australian towns and councils. He envisioned and organized the Maronite 08 event which preceded WYD2008.

Bishop Abikaram was a member of the Australian and NSW Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, and the Australian Eastern Bishops’ and Eastern Catholic Bishops’ Conferences.