Saturday 27 May 2022 was a momentous occasion in the history of St. George Cathedral as the Antiochian Orthodox Community and Church celebrated the Centenary of the establishment of St. George Cathedral in Redfern.
This event was delayed by unforeseen circumstances when the world in 2020 faced unprecedented challenges with the outbreak of the global pandemic, forcing us to postpone this important celebration.
The beginning was with the Thanksgiving Service led by His Eminence and the clergy of the Archdiocese. At the conclusion of the service, the President of the Parish Council, Mr Michael Melki, welcomed all guests and the following Dignitaries:
Hon. Mark Buttigieg MLC Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry Multiculturism representing the Premier of NSW and Minister Mr Steve Kamper MLA.
Hon. Mark Coure MLA Former Multiculturalism and now Shadow Representing the Leader of Opposition Mark Speakman MLA.
Hon. Jihad Dib MLA NSW Govt Minister for Customer Service and Digital.
Excellency Milad Raad and Mrs Raad Ambassador to Lebanon.
Excellency Charbel Macaron and Mrs Macaron Consul General.
Excellency Consul Raymond El Chamlati.
Her Worship Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Mr Moore.
Councillor Kathy Nielson Randwick City Council.
The occasion included speeches by the Members of Parliament, Hon. Mark Buttigieg MLC and Hon. Mark Coure MLA, stressing the pioneering role played by St. George’s Church and the Antiochian community as a whole in enriching the spiritual, social and economic life in Redfern in particular and in the large Australian community in general.
At the conclusion of the speeches in the Cathedral, all the guests and dignitaries moved to the Hall events with service of refreshments and canapes. And there it was a talk with the title: “The Cathedral, its People, and the Nation”, Addressed by historian, Emeritus Emil Dan AM and viewing of historical stations covering 100 years of history and service.
The following are some excerpts from His Eminence’s speech on this important occasion,
Today, we gather here at St. George Cathedral to commemorate a momentous occasion, the Centenary of our beloved “Mother Church”. It is a time to reflect on our rich history, celebrate our achievements, and honour the countless individuals who have contributed to the growth and success of our community.
Today, we reflect upon 135 years of faith, resilience, and unity. This significant occasion allows us to pay tribute to the diverse and vibrant community that has shaped the Church and contributed to the fabric of Australian society. The history of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Australia began with the arrival of the first Orthodox migrants from Lebanon in 1888, marking the beginning of a journey that continues to this day. Over the years, the Church has expanded to include Christian Orthodox people from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and converts from various backgrounds who have embraced Orthodoxy.
From the very beginning, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and particularly St. George, played a crucial role in the establishment of other churches within our community. We stood side by side with our brothers and sisters in faith, extending our assistance and contributing to their growth. Even during times of difficulty, our bonds with other Orthodox communities remained strong.
It is not just through the establishment of sister churches that St. George Cathedral has made an impact. St George Church actively contributed to the growth of other Antiochian parishes and facilities. Moreover, St. George Cathedral has been instrumental in the ordination and service of countless priests and deacons within the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Our beloved St. George Cathedral has not only been a spiritual pillar but has also been dedicated to serving the broader Australian community. Through various organizations and institutions, we have extended our reach and impact. From churches and educational bodies to welfare organizations, cultural and sport associations, we have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our community and make a positive difference in the lives of others. Our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and compassion is a testament to our faith and values. For all these above reasons, St George Cathedral deserves the title of “the Mother Church” of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Australia and New Zealand with merit.
In times of adversity, the Antiochian Orthodox community has demonstrated unwavering loyalty and dedication to their adopted homeland. Today, our St. George Cathedral stands as a war memorial, honouring those who served in defence of their country.
As we commemorate this historic occasion, let us celebrate the enduring spirit and legacy of the Antiochian Orthodox people in Australia. We acknowledge and express our gratitude to the pioneers, businessmen, community leaders, ladies’ society, and all individuals who laid the foundation for our vibrant and thriving community in Redfern.
Among these people, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, the first grandson of Father Nicholas, left an indelible mark on the wider Australian society. His accomplishments in the realm of sports, business, and public service have been nothing short of extraordinary. Sir Nicholas brought pride and recognition to our community. Also, the wife of late Sir Nicholas, Dame Marie Bashir, an accomplished and respected figure in her own right, has left an indelible mark on the fabric of our society. As an esteemed psychiatrist, academic, and administrator, she has dedicated her life to the service of others, embodying the values of compassion, empathy, and inclusivity.
The history of St. George Cathedral is still being written in our days and its successful members are still making a substantial contribution to various fields of work, including medicine, law, construction, business, industry, pharmacy, history, accounting, government positions and more. Many of these individuals have been recognized and honoured with the Order of Australia, a prestigious award that acknowledges their exceptional achievements and contributions.
As we celebrate the Centenary of St. George Cathedral, we honour all those who have been part of this remarkable journey. We pay tribute to the visionary leaders, the dedicated clergy, the tireless volunteers, and the faithful members of our community who have built, nurtured, and sustained our Mother Church throughout the years. Their contributions, their kindness, and their unwavering dedication are the foundations upon which we stand today. As we look back with gratitude, let us also look forward with hope. Let us recommit ourselves to the principles and values that have shaped our community. Let us continue to foster unity, love, and service, ensuring that the legacy of St. George Cathedral remains strong for future generations.