V. Rev. Father Michael Shehadie (of blessed memory)
The Very Reverend Father Michael Shehadie was born in Lebanon in 1895, is the second child of V. Rev. Fr Nicholas Shehadie and Khourieh Alexandra Shehadie. He grew up to study at Our Lady of Balamand Theological School, then at St Petersburg Theological Academy in Russia. After this training, however, he became a chemist and herbalist because Hannah, his wife (nee Khoury), did not wish for him to enter holy orders at that time.
In 1925 he and his family (Hannah, his wife, along with his two daughters Alexandra and Paulette), joined his father in Sydney. After their arrival, Michael and Hannah had another two children, Nicholas and George, before his father’s 1934 repose. After this event, he was ordained to the priesthood, succeeding his father at the Church of St George, Redfern. He and Hannah had one more child after ordination, Margaret – a total of five children.
The Shehadie family lived in the presbytery on the church grounds as the church became their life. The presbytery was full for Sunday lunch after church every week, and many families sought refuge at the presbytery when first arriving in Australia.
Following the end of World War II, the Egyptian government offered the position of Honorary Consul to Australia to Fr Michael, but due to jealousy within the parish community and devotion to the Church, he declined; the Egyptian government would not accept anyone else, and the position remained unfilled.
In 1949, the land that the original Church of St George was built on was resumed by the government to build Department of Housing flats; it was Fr Michael who ensured that Clive Evatt, the relevant NSW minister, found a suitable site to build the replacement church at the corner of Walker and Cooper Sts, where our Archdiocesan Cathedral is today. In the meantime, services were held in the Sydney City Mission Hall in Redfern St.
This time was not easy for Fr Michael, and his health was badly affected. He was able to secure a new site for the church, including the plans being drafted; but before the dream became a reality, he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1951 at the age of 56.
Among those succeeding Fr Michael, his third child, Nicholas, went on to be Wallaby captain, Lord Mayor of Sydney, knighted and marry Marie Bashir, the current governor of New South Wales (since 2001).