FOR months Brisbane’s Maronite Catholic community has feared a planned visit by their Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai would not go ahead due to the volatile situation in the Middle East.
Now the community of St Maroun’s at Greenslopes is eagerly awaiting their patriarch’s arrival, his first visit to Australia.
Cardinal Rai, who is also Archbishop of Antioch and the Whole Levant, was expected to arrive at St Maroun’s Church, Greenslopes, at 10.15am on Thursday, November 6.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge will be amongst those welcoming Cardinal Rai to St Maroun’s.
St Maroun’s parish priest Fr Fadi Salame said the patriarch’s canonical visit was a big occasion for parishioners.
“I’ve known Cardinal Rai for about four years, having met him in Lebanon when he was a bishop,” he said.
“However, this is his first visit to Australia and it will be a pleasure to welcome him to Brisbane.”
Cardinal Rai will bless St Maroun’s and its Grotto of Our Lady.
That afternoon, the cardinal will attend a lunch reception at Parliament House hosted by Honorary Consul of Lebanon to Queensland Anthony Torbey.
Cardinal Rai will celebrate 5.30pm Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral in honour of Brisbane archdiocese’s Maronite parishioners.
Fr Salame said the Maronite church holds significant influence and importance in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, where the presidency is reserved for those of a Maronite Catholic background.
Lebanon is the only Middle East nation whose head of state is a Christian, and where members of parliament are split equally between Christians and Muslims.