In 2023, our Eparchy celebrates its Golden Jubilee or Fifty Year anniversary, under the theme – The Maronites in Australia: A Journey of Holiness and Openness.
In 1972, after more than 100 years of the Maronite presence in Australia, the Maronite Patriarchal Synod petitioned the Holy See to establish a Maronite Eparchy in Australia. On 13 July 1973, the Holy See issued a decree granting their request, and announcing the establishment of the Eparchy and the appointment of its first bishop.
In a spirit of profound gratitude for what has been achieved so far in our Church community, and of hope towards the future, I am pleased to announce that our Golden Jubilee Year will commence on 9 February 2023, the Feast of St Maroun, our Spiritual Father.
The main focus of the year is a spiritual experience when we bring to our parishes and people selected relics of our saints for their veneration, including relics of Saints Maroun, Charbel, Rafqa, Nehmetallah, and Australia’s first canonised saint, Mary of the Cross Mackillop.
What better way to celebrate a Golden Jubilee in the country which has provided Maronites with hope and opportunity for over 170 years, than to come together as one community. Let us reflect on and give thanks to the Lord our God, who has gathered us in faith and communion. We are grateful to our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church of Australia who helped us to preserve our unique religious and liturgical Antiochian traditions and cultural heritage.
The Golden Jubilee Year will also culminate in multiple events across all our parishes, and a visit from His Beatitude and Eminence Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, in September 2023.
It is my prayer that this Golden Jubilee Year will awaken our faith to a deeper level, energise our spiritual fervour, move our hearts to repentance and conversion, and warm our parishes with a renewed commitment to our faith in God and to our spiritual heritage as reflected in the life of the saints.
Our story of migration and dispersion across the world, including Australia, speaks to the unwavering spirit and strength of a people grounded in deep faith in God. Our Maronite saints, nourished by the same Divine Liturgy and the same eastern culture that has shaped us, remain our inspiration as we seek to imitate the virtues of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
We must continue to open wide our hearts to their example of holiness; they are a force for good among us and a source of energy that is much needed in our families, our communities and our countries, especially in today’s world.
Antoine-Charbel Tarabay – Maronite Bishop of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania