Celebrating the Future: Honouring a Sacrifice

On Sunday, 4th February 2024, the congregation gathered in St Abdisho Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, to celebrate the Commemoration of our blessed Martyr and Saint, Mar Benyamin Shimun. This blessed day commenced with the celebration of the Holy Eucharistic Liturgy celebrated by His Grace Mar Benyamin Elya, Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria and New Zealand.

Following the Holy Eucharistic Liturgical Service, the Assyrian Church of the East Youth Association Melbourne hosted a morning breakfast in Mona Lisa Hall in celebration of the life of this blessed Saint. The programme also included the 2024 Annual Graduation Ceremony, which celebrated the achievements of Assyrian Language School, High School, TAFE and University graduates. The programme began with a wreathlaying ceremony by His Grace Mar Benyamin Elya, who was accompanied by our reverend fathers and esteemed graduates. Following an opening prayer and morning breakfast, the graduation ceremony commenced. His Grace Mar Benyamin Elya presented our graduates with a certificate and gifts, commending their efforts and perseverance throughout their studies. The ceremony saw Assyrian youth complete tertiary courses such as Medicine, Oral Health and Business, as well as high school students who graduated in 2023, a number of whom graduated with ATARs of over 90.

Two graduates, Dinora Mikhaeel and Jessie Adam Mikhael, addressed the audience in English and Assyrian, delivering words of wisdom about their personal academic journeys, the importance of education, and how their faith in God helped them along the way. These beautiful speeches were then followed by a compelling keynote address by His Grace Mar Benyamin Elya, Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria and New Zealand, who applauded our graduates’ strenuous efforts and steadfast dedication in achieving their significant milestones. In his address, His Grace contemplated on the life of Mar Benyamin Shimun, calling to mind the immense and notable sacrifice of the Saint when he was faced with an ultimatum by members of the Turkish government to choose between his brother or his Nation to which he tenaciously declared;

“It is impossible for me and my people to surrender after seeing the atrocities done to my Assyrian people by your government; therefore my brother is one, my people are many, I would rather lose my brother but not my nation.”

His Grace accentuated that it is through sacrifices such as these, embodied and exemplified by Mar Benyamin Shimun, that we now have the opportunities to practice our Faith, to embrace our culture and language, and to live in peace and prosperity. However, His Grace stressed that we should not take these opportunities for granted, but rather that it is both the duty and responsibility of our graduates to contribute their efforts back into the community and work together for the greater good of the Holy Church and our Assyrian Nation.

Our graduation day will be annually celebrated on the Commemoration of Mar Benyamin Shimun to honour his sacrifice for the Assyrian Church and Assyrian cause.

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