His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia AM, Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon was the guest of honour at the site of the future Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Cecil Park Sydney.
A community fundraiser was held on Sunday 26 August 2012 at the site, where construction is part-way to completion.
Also present were the Rev’d Cor-bishop Ashoor Lazar, Rev’d Cor-bishop Gewargis Haroon, Rev’d John Kushaba, Rev’d Ninos Elya and many deacons and faithful.
Guests of honour also included Rev’d the Honourable Fred Nile, Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council and President of the Christian Democratic Party, Mr Andy Rohan, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Smithfield, Cr Zaya Toma and Cr Samir Youssef, members of the Fairfield City Council.
At the outdoor function, His Beatitude gave the keynote address in which he noted the success of the Assyrian Church of the East in meeting the spiritual formation needs of its sons and daughters. This is embodied in the establishment of the Ss. Peter and Paul Parish as the first English-speaking congregation in Australia.
In his keynote address, the Metropolitan referred to Saint Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians:
“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians, 9:20-23.)
The establishment of this English-speaking congregation has brought great blessings and advantages for the young faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East in Sydney. It has gathered the flock who were distant from the Holy Church for numerous reasons, including language barriers, said His Beatitude. The parish, which conducts all its services in the English language has now removed this barrier and brought many faithful into the loving embrace of the church.
The services of the parish largely cater to the English-speaking members of the church in Sydney who have difficulty in understanding the Assyrian language or have married inter-culturally. The Holy Church also teaches the mother-tongue to those faithful who exhibit a desire to learn the language of their forefathers.
The parish is an active evangelical body of the church and has been particularly active in biblical and gospel ministry, having published hundreds of sermons and sessions on Christian catechesis on online services such as iTunes.
In his remarks, His Beatitude noted that the church plans to establish another congregation in the Fairfield area to provide liturgical and sacramental services to the faithful. This future parish, under the patronage of Saint Mar Yosip Khnanisho will be established in early 2013. Further to this, the St Odisho Church in Melbourne and St Mary Church in Auckland are also currently under construction.
Coupled with the completion of new churches, the Archdiocese is also currently constructing Mar Narsai Assyrian College in Horsley Park in the hope that it shall be completed by late 2013. It is intended that a TAFE and theological school will also operate from the site in the near future.
Other projects currently in the strategic plan of the church in Australia include the construction of a nursing-home facility to cater to the aged-care needs of elderly Assyrians in Sydney. At the present time, there is great demand for these services amongst the elderly Assyrian community in Sydney who require professional care and who also often face language-barriers in their current facilities.
His Beatitude bestowed his blessings upon the faithful present and the English-speaking parish wishing it years of success in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation to be found in this blessed gospel.[nggallery id=398]