Address of Bishop-Elect Fr Antoine Tarabay
During the Prayer of Thanksgiving following the announcement of his appointment as Bishop for the Maronite Diocese of Australia
St Charbel’s Church - 17 April 2013
"What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?”
Brothers and sisters,
Upon receiving the news of my appointment as Bishop of the Maronite Diocese of Australia by His Holiness Pope Francis, Psalm 116 immediately came to my mind: "What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (Psalm 116: 12-14). What shall I return to the Lord, after His love overflowed upon me with so many graces and blessings, while I am an unworthy, weak and sinful person. What shall I return to the Lord, and He has called me and chosen me to dedicate myself to Him in the monastic and priestly life and to serve Him through His brothers and sisters. What shall I return to the Lord and He has called me today to look after His sons and daughters of the Maronite Church in Australia!
My response will not differ from that of the Psalmist as I will raise the cup of salvation with you, Your Excellency [Bishop Ad Abikaram], with my brother priests, and with the Sisters, and all the faithful. I will raise the cup of thanksgiving and blessing, a cup of faithfulness and testimony, a cup of charity and openness, calling on the name of the Lord God all the days of my life. As I renew my vows and consecration to the Lord today before you and with you, I am aware that all my words and actions will never be sufficient to repay the Lord for what He has done for me. He has blessed me with many gifts from His bounty and the only response I am capable of is renewing the complete offering of my self to the immense Love who offered Himself on the Cross as a sacrifice for our hope and salvation. When we realise that Jesus died for us, it is no longer difficult for us to give up everything for Him and to spread His good news.
From the day I entered the Lebanese Maronite Order, which became my spiritual mother, my earthly home and my school for life from an early age, since that day, I handed over to the Lord my spirit, my body and my soul, my present and my future. I gave Him all my talents, my strength, my knowledge, my emotions, my decisions, and my energies and any abilities bestowed on me, aware that He said that those consecrated to Him will receive a hundred times in this world and in eternal life (Mk 10:29-30). Today, I renew my total submission to His will and to His Church, seeking to make my life a permanent prayer of thanksgiving for all His graces which I raise with every evening prayer.
At the beginning of this new chapter in my journey at the service of the Lord in this Diocese, I would like to thank you all for joining me this evening. And with you, I raise my prayers and thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis for his confidence and his love. I wish to thank His Excellency Bishop Ad Abikaram, Maronite Bishop of Australia, for his support and guidance, and the Lebanese Maronite Order in the person of the Superior General, the Most Reverend Abbot Tannous Nehme and the Council of General Assistants. I would also like to thank my brothers, the monks in the Order, especially the fathers and monks with whom I have served at St Charbel’s Parish and College, and I would like to mention the current monks: Father Elie Rahme, Father Milad Azzi, Father Paul Melhem, Father Paul Kerbage, Father Ronny Chaheen, Father Challita Al-Boustany, Father Peter Diab, Father Danny Akiki and Brother Hanna Ghantous.
I would like to thank all my brother priests, monks, nuns and laity working in this blessed diocese and my sincere appreciation goes to all those with whom I have worked during my service at St Charbel’s Parish and College in Sydney, and before that, in Lebanon. I would also like to thank my family and especially my parents and brothers and sisters for their love and encouragement. I would like to particularly mention in this prayer of thanksgiving my uncle Father George Tarabay, who has accompanied me in my journey and mission. My sincere gratitude also goes to all the individuals, groups and numerous committees and associations in the parish, especially the youth, whom I always carry in my heart and prayers. The Lord gave me the honour of serving you as superior of the monastery, parish priest and principal of St Charbel’s College over the last ten years, and I am confident that our cooperation will continue in the future at the service of the Maronite Church and the universal Catholic Church for the greater glory of God Almighty.
Pope Francis appoints Fr Antoine Tarabay Bishop for the Maronite Diocese of Australia
After the prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord raised by His Excellency Bishop Ad Abikaram, the clergy, monks, nuns and the laity at St Charbel’s Church following the announcement of the appointment of Father Antoine Tarabay as Bishop for the Maronite Diocese of Australia by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Bishop-elect firstly thanked the Lord and all those who accompanied him with their prayers during his ministry at St Charbel’s Monastery and College and asked all the faithful to assist him with prayer to fulfil his new responsibility.
Bishop-elect Fr Antoine Tarabay will be receiving well-wishes at the following times over the coming days:
• Thursday 18 April 2013 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm
• Friday 19 April 2013 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm
• Saturday 20 April 2013 2pm to 5pm and from 6.30pm to 9.30pm
• Sunday 21 April 2013 after Sunday liturgies
For appointments outside these hours, please contact Elise Chedid on the number below.
Bishop-elect Fr Tarabay thanks all the parishioners and the faithful for their messages and wishes. He asks the Lord to grant him the grace and strength that he may truly be according to His heart, and that he may be graced with the wisdom and gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue to serve the Lord and His people.
Bishop-elect Fr Antoine Tarabay kindly asks that donations be made to charity in lieu of personal gifts. The Bishop-elect will, in turn, donate the money to charitable associations in Australia and Lebanon.
Elise ChedidT (02) 9740 0919