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Maronite Catholics in Australia eagerly await arrival of Lebanese Saints' Relics on historic journey

Maronite Catholics across Australia are preparing for their biggest celebration of this era with the highly anticipated arrival of the relics of their three Lebanese Maronite Saints next week.

For the first time in the history of the Maronite Church, the relics of the Lebanese Saints – St Charbel, St Rafqa and St Nemetallah – are leaving Lebanon and will arrive in Australia for an official welcome Mass on 1st October 2005.

It is expected up to 100,000 Maronite Catholics in Australia will participate in Masses and special events in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia throughout October and November this year.
His Excellency Most Reverend Ad Abikaram, Bishop of the Maronite Church of Australia, invited all Maronite Catholics to revive their faith and relationship with God through honouring these relics when they arrive in Australia.

Bishop Abikaram said, “On the spiritual plane these Saints have projected an inspirational model of the Call to Holiness by the example of their lives. Their constancy in prayer, patience in suffering for the salvation of souls, and a life of total self-giving in love are most worth of emulation and imitation.

“The Saints’ Relics Visit to Australia is an excellent opportunity to delve into the rich Maronite Liturgy and Spirituality by which these saintly persons have lived and sanctified themselves,” Bishop Abikaram said.

The first-class relics of each Saint have been blessed and placed in a purpose-built reliquary symbolic of Lebanon’s rich heritage. The reliquary is a replica of an ancient Phoenician boat, hand-carved by a Lebanese artisan working with Lebanese cedar wood.

In 6000 BC, the Phoenicians – ancestors of the Lebanese – invented the Alphabet and carried it to the shores of the then known world in their skilfully crafted boats of cedar wood.

8,000 years later, this unique Lebanese reliquary containing the relics of St Charbel, St Rafqa and St Nemetallah, will travel to every Maronite church in Australia, providing all Maronites and fellow Catholics with an opportunity to engage with their faith and heritage.

Every Maronite church and school in Australia is placing the finishing touches to their plans for the Saints’ Relics Visit (programme on following page). The mobilisation of all Parishes reflects the dynamism of a united Maronite community with its Bishop, Priests, Monks and Sisters drawing on its heritage to strengthen the future of the Maronite Church in Australia.