Margie Abbott attends the Event
St Merkorious High Tea Fundraiser
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
On 24 September, the Waterview Convention Centre at Bicentennial Park in Homebush Bay saw the public launch and first fundraising event for the St Merkorious Charity which was a tremendous success with almost $50,000 raised. Over 300 people gathered to support the charity, including Mrs Margie Abbott, wife of the Prime Minister the Honourable Mr Tony Abbott, Fathers Marcelino and Sleiman from St Joseph's Maronite Church, Father Kyrillos from St George Coptic Orthodox Church, Kensington, Father Athanasius from St. Abanoub Church, Blacktown and Rev. Bill Crews from the Uniting Church and founder of the Exodus Foundation in Australia.
The St Merkorious Charity was registered and incorporated in June 2013 and is named after the martyr St. Merkorious (250 AD) who is venerated by the Coptic Church. The spiritual guide of St Merkorious, Father Kyrillos, spoke of the parable of the good Samaritan and then about the life of St Merkorious whose martyrdom is celebrated on the 4th Dec. He then introduced the guest speaker, High Court Judge Mr Amir Ramzy, founder of the Shepherd and Mother of Light from Egypt, who spoke about his work providing for the poor in Upper Egypt. His organisation provided the inspiration for St Merkorious Charity President Paula Nicolas to start charitable work herself.
Paula explained how in September 2007, she had lost her voice after a period of illness. She pleaded for help whilst clutching pictures of two great Saints, Pope Kyrillos 6th and St Mina, and immediately began to feel healthy and strong again and her voice was restored instantly. She was so grateful that she visited St Merkorious Church in Rhodes to thank God and felt the healing light and the power of God through a Priest she met there. Since then Paula has worked hard to put her Christian faith into action and this first fundraising event is the beginning of a shining future of St Merkorious Charity. The following is an excerpt from her speech:
‘[Recently] I saw Amir Ramzy speaking... about the work of the Shepherd and Mother of Light at St Merkorious Church. I felt so touched and felt God calling me to help the faces I saw in the video he showed....It's amazing to look around and see so many faces here, from different parts of the world, each with a different story. But all of our stories share a common thread - that we've been blessed beyond measure by virtue of us living in this Great Country.It is a burden on my heart to give back to the great society we live in by lending a hand to those who are disadvantaged, those who may have been forgotten. . . . I am so excited that the dream God placed in my heart is becoming a reality. Funds raised today through your generous support will go to the establishment of a commercial kitchen facility in Croydon...and we expect to be cooking meals for the poor and homeless in the near future. The harvest is great and I believe that if we are all united we can have a great impact and see lives around us changed. For where there is unity, God commands a blessing.’
Paula's new St Merkorious charity project is for the homeless in Australia based at the Edwin Centre, 57 Edwin St, Croydon. The facility, donated by Montessori academy owners Charlie and Colette Assaf, includes a hall, office and commercial kitchen from where they will be serving meals to the poor and homeless in Sydney and is expected to begin operations in the near future. As Paula said,
‘Our motto is "Sharing the Bread". It speaks of my desire to see all of us united, regardless of race or denomination, sharing the love of Christ both here in our own backyard and abroad.’
The Honourable Mrs Margie Abbott distributed the gifts to the first and youngest contributor as well as to Colette Assaf who donated the premises.
Concluding the event, Rev. Bill Crews of the famous restaurant 5 loaves and 2 fish in Ashfield talked about homelessness in Australia and about the Christian spirit of being open and helping all the needy around the world.
A feeling of love, unity and peace engulfed the event with the blessing of St Merkorious.
Father Marcelino blessing the ceremony with fathers Athanasius,
Kyrillos and Rev. Bill Crews
Paula Nicolas the President of St Merkorious Charity
presents a portrait of the Virgin Mary
Mrs Abbott with Paula Nicolas, Amir Ramzy, Fr. Kyrillos and Colette Assaf
Daniel and Paula Nicolas and Mrs Margie Abbott
Mrs. Abbott with Prof. Fadia Ghossayn and Maureen Rizk
Colette Assaf and Hugette Azzi with their mother and Mr Shalala
Mrs Margie Abbott and Hugette Azzi
Lara Nicolas with Mrs. Abbott
Daniel Nicolas, John Nassif and other guest
Mrs. Abbott and Camil Shalala
Mrs Margie Abbott with Charlie and Colette Assaf
Mrs. Abbott with Paula and Daniel Nicolas and other guests
Angela Assaf, Mrs Khoury, Maureen Rizk, Mrs Abbott and Prof. Ghossayn