St Charbel’s Mission in Punchbowl Celebrates a Historic Ordination
The Lebanese Maronite Order (LMO) of Monks and the parish of St Charbel’s celebrated a historic community milestone on Saturday 15th December 2018.
For the first time in the parish’s history, two Australian-born monks were ordained into the priesthood.
Father Anthony El-Kazzi and Father Michael Sandrussi were ordained by His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay in a ceremony with over 5000 people in attendance.
“This ordination was incredibly special for the Lebanese Maronite Order here in Sydney. It was the first time that we have ever had Australian-born priests ordained here.
“Plus, at the same time as the ordination, the Most Reverend Abbot Naamtallah Hachem, the Superior General of the Lebanese Maronite Order, made his first canonical visit to Australia. He saw first-hand the work of the Monks at St Charbel’s in Punchbowl, who serve in the most dynamic Mission in the Maronite world. We had a delegation of 20 monks come to the country. They all stayed at St Charbel’s in Punchbowl and it was a very significant occasion,” says Father Louis Ferkh, Superior of St Charbel’s Mission.
From St Charbel’s to Lebanon
Father Anthony and Father Michael were students at St Charbel’s and were very active in the Parish youth groups. After graduating, both Father Michael and Father Anthony travelled to Lebanon and joined the LMO. There they studied theology and embraced their religious vocation.
Their paths through their spiritual journeys have been parallel for many years. Father Anthony professed Perpetual Vows on 17th January 2016 in the Monastery of St Anthony of Padua in Ghazir, Lebanon. One year later, Father Michael also professed Perpetual Vows, on 17th January 2017, in the same Monastery.
Higher education in theology
For now, Father Anthony and Father Michael have returned to Lebanon. Both have been granted approval to continue their higher education in theology studies and are hopeful to be sent to Rome.
Today, there are another four Australian born Brothers who have joined the Order, after graduating from St Charbel’s College. They too had an active role in the Parish youth groups. The community is looking forward to the next ordination, which is anticipated to be in 2021, where 2 of the 4 Brothers will be ordained.
Father Ferkh says…
“It appears that the monastic life is becoming more and more attractive to our young men and women, as we see more and more young people joining religious orders. At St Charbel’s, this is due to the example set by the existing Monks, who have dedicated themselves to the service of the community, and to preserve our Maronite ancestral heritage.”
With approximately 40,000 parishioners, St Charbel’s in Punchbowl is the only LMO Monastery in the country. The college offers classes from Kindergarten to Year 12. There is currently an aged care facility under construction that is due to open in July 2019.
End of Ordination photo: (L to R) Rev Fr Farid Al Moujabir (Director of LMO Seminaries); Archbishop Amel Nona (Chaldean Eparch of Australia); Rev Fr Anthony El-Kazzi; Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay (Maronite Bishop of Australia); Rev Fr Michael Sandrussi; Most Rev Abbot Naamtallah Hachem (Superior General of the Lebanese Maronite Order); Rev Fr Louis Ferkh (Superior of St Charbel’s Mission)