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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP with Syriac Patriarch Mor Ignatius Yousef Ill Younan in Sydney on July 8 (Alfonsus Fok/Catholic Weekly)

A new home for thousands of years of Christian tradition is a step closer, after the Syriac Catholic Church blessed the foundation stone for a new parish and pastoral centre in south-west Sydney. Source: Catholic Weekly. 

Patriarch Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East for the Syriac Catholic Church, travelled from Lebanon for the historic occasion on July 8, hosted by Fr Lenard Ina, parish priest of the Syriac Catholic Church in Sydney and Canberra. 

His Beatitude was accompanied by a delegation of faith leaders including the Apostolic Visitor of the Syriac Catholic Church in Australia and New Zealand, Archbishop Basilius Georges Casmoussa, Archbishop of Bagdad Ephrem Yousif Abba, Bishop of the USA Barnaba Yousif Habash, and Secretary of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate Monsignor Habib Mrad. 

Thanking his patriarch, the apostolic visitor, and the Archdiocese of Sydney for their support over the years, Fr Ina said his fast-growing community of more than 1000 families had “long dreamed of this day”.  

His Beatitude commended the “harmony” he saw among the faith and civil leaders in their support for Syriac Catholics and their church building project, and mentioned his friendship with Cardinal George Pell, whose tomb he had visited two days prior. 

He also spoke of the persecution and oppression which impelled many Syriac Catholics to make their home in Australia.  

“The truth is, unfortunately, people nowadays are still persecuted, displaced from their land, and being killed in the name of religion,” he said. 

Syriac Catholics follow similar traditions to Eastern Catholic traditions such as the Maronites and trace their origins to the first Christians of Antioch located in modern-day southern Turkey and are also located mainly in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. 

The Syriac Catholic Church is in full communion with the Holy See and has been present in Sydney for four decades. It was a refuge for many from northern Iraq, including its pastor Fr Ina, who fled persecution by ISIS in 2014. 

While it has a church in Concord, it has relied on other churches and schools in the south-west to accommodate Masses, sacraments, funerals, youth group activities and catechesis. 

Last year, the community received development approval for the church and pastoral centre at the Kemps Creek property, which will serve the spiritual and pastoral needs of the majority of its more than 1000 families who live in the south-west. 

Syriac Catholics have proved to be a “great gift to the Catholic Church and to Australian society,” Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP told the Patriarch. 

“I know it is a great pain to you and your brother bishops that so many have left your holy lands after being driven out of Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. 

“But your pain is our gain here in Australia because you have been a real strength to the Latin church and the whole Catholic church, people of faith and to our broader secular community too.” 


Syriac Catholics celebrate milestone with blessing of new church foundation stone (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)