Marlene's community leadership finally recognised

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For Maronite Sister Marlene Chedid, everything comes back to community. This profound understanding of leadership as discipleship that underpins her work was recognised recently through her nomination in the University of Western Sydney’s 2013 Women of the West Award, which celebrates the unsung and often overlooked heroes of the Western Suburbs, reports Catholic Relgious Australia.

Sr Marlene was chosen for her compassionate leadership in the school as Principal of Our Lady of Lebanon College in Harris Park, her pastoral work in Our Lady of Lebanon Parish and her programs on the talkback show “Voice of Charity”.

Her contributions to the Maronite community were also reaffirmed in her inclusion in the state government’s 2013 Local Women of the Year Honour Roll presented on the eve of International Women’s Day in March at NSW Parliament House.

This cheerful and modest nun expressed great surprise at the honour. “I didn’t think I deserved it. I was surprised, but at the same time I was very thankful and humbled,” said Sr Marlene. “It motivated me to serve better, to deserve this award.”

“I thought that the award is good for the community. The recognition is not just for me, but for the community I work for.”

Her work as Principal of Our Lady of Lebanon College in Harris Park requires her to oversee and minister to 1200 students in the primary and secondary schools, already a full time job. Yet it is also her work as a mentor, counsellor and model to women that have made her a beloved member of the community.

Dr Margaret Ghosn mshf, Deputy Principal of the Secondary School at Our Lady of Lebanon described Sr Marlene as a pastorally sensitive leader, one who always has her door open and always willing to listen to the concerns of staff, students and parents.

“She has and continues to offer spiritual accompaniment to women facing family strife and she has been a listening ear to numerous staff and students,” said Dr Ghosn. “With her deep prayer life, constant smile, strong intellect, musical and creative talent, she is a source of wisdom and inspiration to many people.”

Sr Marlene came to Australia 34 years ago after she took her final vows with the Congregation of the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family in Lebanon, which she joined when she was 15 years old.

“When I was young, I lived beside the Maronite church in our village back in Lebanon,” said Sr Marlene. “I was brought up in a very devout Maronite family and it influenced me to join the religious order.”

The Maronite Church is an Eastern rite Catholic Church that shares the same Apostolic Faith, Sacraments and recognise the authority of the Pope as with Roman Catholics throughout the world. However, Maronites differ from Roman Catholics in their spirituality, liturgy and code of canon law, particularly with their use of Syriac and Aramaic languages.

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