Editor-In-Chief: Charbel Baini

To the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms.Julie Bishop

Your Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ms. Julie  Bishop is the most respected
                                                                                                                                                              National greeting
Subject: The right citizen is the one who works consciously to achieve what is better in the life process of the homeland to what is good and love and beauty. Therefore my patriotism, my love and my loyalty to my second homeland  Australia encouraged me, , and my pride in it as a nation with its civilization and open to all nations. Embracing a people of all nationalities and religions in a democratic manner and contributing to the promotion of human rights without discrimination. I have learned from my native Australia that the reality of life is living and moral teachings mean the recovery of human life. I have a proposal with my request for your presence to accept my proposal, which is to restore friendly relations between our country Australia and the Syrian Republic and to reopen the embassies. I look at  folding page that opened and recorded positions that the Australian government had to avoid and be careful before making a decision to leave the charge  of the Syrian embassy and was proposed to be appointed ambassador. It has become clear to all the governments of the world that what happened was a conspiracy of the enemies of the Syrian people before they were against the regime. To be more frank, I proved that the regime fought terrorism that came from dozens of countries and from within and neighboring countries. The Australian government has a position on the Syrian president, Dr. Bashar al-Assad. As far as the information about him is concerned, he is dictatorial and despotic, but it turns out that he is the opposite and the vast majority of the Syrian people want him because they are comfortable with him as president, . The individual may be wrong, but the law in his country will be tried. The ruler may also be wrong, but his people will be prosecuted if he is wrong, as they claim he is despot and not other countries that have no borders, geography or history. My proposal to restore the friendly relations between the two countries also for the Syrian and Arab communities in Australia is true. They became Australian citizens, but they have relatives in Syria and we do not forget that Syria is the motherland to them in terms of humanity. I and a group of social activists want to help the Syrian people with many things and humanity, especially the children of Syria. We want your help with the knowledge and approval of our government in Australia, not in hiding, and we want to make every step but to restore relations between the two countries. If you would like to bring us the names of citizens, associations and units to offer to your Excellencies, I am ready to bring you very many requests because everyone wants to reopen embassies. Thank you very much.
The proposal was sent to both countries in English and Arabic

Your citizen Moussa Merhi
Phone 0401057240
63 Auburn Rd Birrong 2143 NSW

Seamntor Lisa Singh - Palestine Speech in Parliament

Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (21:17): I rise tonight to add my voice to many other Australians who care deeply about the Israel-Palestine conflict and to share my recent experiences of life in Palestine and Israel. In April this year I travelled to the West Bank, a land that has been occupied by the state of Israel for the last 50 years.
I was on a cross-party delegation that enabled direct communication with a variety of NGOs, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, business and government ministers. I also had the opportunity to visit Tel Aviv and Bathsheba in Israel, the latter on Anzac Day to remember the charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade in 1917. While in Jerusalem, I talked to the Knesset parliamentarians and representatives of the Israeli human rights groups, including B'Tselem.
Our delegation experienced the hard realities of life within the Palestinian occupied territories. We experienced the constraints on movement, the limits on access to water for business, agricultural and domestic use and on access to land for commercial, residential and industrial development. We understood the impact of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, which scorn the agreements reached in the Oslo accords. I would like to thank the Palestinian National Authority for organising the visit and their hospitality, as well as providing such insightful experiences and opportunities to meet a range of people. I remain impressed and inspired by the professionalism and the maturity of Palestinian civil society. Indeed, all presentations to the delegation emphasised a consistent desire for peace in a pluralistic democracy society supported by implementation of the peace accord so that the Palestinian state may deliver a future for the Palestinian people where a Palestinian child has freedom of movement within the state and across borders, along with access to water, to education, to health care and to employment—all without interference from Israel's occupation.
I acknowledge at the outset the historical significance of visiting this year, the year of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and the 50th anniversary of the ongoing tragedy of Israel's occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. That is why it is important to this parliament to reflect on how this conflict's legacy continues in the life of Palestine and Israel today. I thought I knew enough about the military occupation, having listened for years to scholars, Palestinians, Israelis and politicians. But going to the West Bank made me realise that you really have to visit this part of the world to truly understand what is going on.
It certainly has given me a better picture of how people live in Palestine. It is hard to comprehend what I have seen. But I certainly learnt something of what it is like to be a Palestinian. It is like feeling every single emotion in one day. It is being confronted each day by one of the 300 Israeli army checkpoints that are scattered throughout the West Bank; the fear and intimidation of queuing for Israeli soldiers with big guns as they search cars and check papers; and seeing the profound limitations for Palestinians, who are deprived of many of their basic human rights—like an individual's right to freedom of movement and freedom of expression; a family's access to water or to their own land; access to health care or to a family's sick who are in hospital; access to children detained by Israeli military courts; or access to political prisoners in Israeli jails. These policies have resulted in violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Visiting Bethlehem University was inspiring, yet disheartening. I met Palestinian millennials—a generation that has only known occupation. While they are full of hope for their future from the benefits of studying, their brutal reality was never far away—a reality that impacts every part of their lives. What was clear was that they wanted their voices heard. One student said to me, 'Most of our dreams end at a checkpoint.' But another said, 'Despite the conflict we still need to build community.' One young Palestinian recently wrote:
The occupation denies us any sense of normalcy or dignity. We are shaped by our experiences as children standing at a checkpoint and not fully comprehending why a soldier with a gun won’t let us pass; and to learn later in life that it was simply because we were Palestinian.
Whilst I was there, over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were on hunger strike, protesting for their basic human rights, like medical treatment, family visits and access permits for visits. These demands were regarded 
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by NGOs around the world as just, reasonable and grounded in international law that governs the treatment of prisoners and detainees. Over 600 Palestinian prisoners are behind bars in what is known as 'administrative' detention for an undetermined period of time. Some have been detained for 12 years without charge or a reason given for their imprisonment.
The UN Committee against Torture recently urged Israel to end the practice of administrative detention. When I met with Dr Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, he said that this should be a concern to people and governments around the world. While I was there, the West Bank had a national day of strike in solidarity for the Palestinian prisoners. Every business, every university, every Palestinian participated. It was indeed a day of solidarity. Stalls were set up for family members to gather and show photos of their father or son in prison,
many as political prisoners. Yet the cries of prisoners and their families fell on deaf ears: dismissed by the Israeli government until a recent deal was brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross—the ICRC.
In the face of all of this, I witnessed the incredible resilience of the Palestinian people and this amazing human spirit grounded in their culture and their nationality. I saw it when I had a chance to visit the artist Banksy's hotel in Bethlehem, opened a few months ago and built right next to the separation wall—regarded as the 'hotel with the worst view in the world'. Banksy's Walled Off Hotel's, as it is named, most interesting element was its small museum illustrating and explaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If every tourist who came to Bethlehem and visited Bethlehem's holy sites went through that museum, they would be much better informed on the conflict. In fact, a future opportunity for jobs for young Palestinians is in tourism, where tour groups could stay overnight in the West Bank and visit the holy sites, rather than be bussed in and out of Tel Aviv. Yet while I was there, there were concerns that the Israeli government was issuing limits on tourists staying overnight in the Palestinian areas.
If this is the case, it would affect Christian groups who want to spend the night as well as limit the employment opportunities that tourism would bring to those young Palestinians. I hope that that limitation does not occur.
The human spirit was on display when we visited souks in Nablus, where people were carrying on with their daily lives. It was on display when students in Bethlehem shared with me their stories of hope for the future. However,
if at times that human spirit faltered, it was when conversations turned to settlements. There are nearly 800,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The ongoing constructions of illegal settlements and a huge wall right across the West Bank were never out of sight and always in our minds. Deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, it snakes through the West Bank, irrevocably separating Israelis and Palestinians from each other. I had never seen anything like it, and I cannot forget the psychological impact the wall imposed on me. I felt the despair, fear and hopelessness, the way that deliberate policies of occupation and separation have isolated Palestinian communities. This wall is three times as long and twice as high as the Berlin  Wall was.
It separates Palestinians from Palestinians and Palestinians from Israelis. It hides Israeli bypass roads that come with up to six-month jail sentences for any Palestinians caught walking or driving on them. And it annexes the aquifers and most fertile land from Palestinian villages to provide for Israeli settlers.
The separation wall is not built on the pre-1967 Green Line; it is built on Palestinian land: a forcible displacement confiscating Palestinian property, be it water, land or both. Could you imagine someone coming into your backyard and building on your land? My take on this wall is that it is not for security, but for land appropriation.
It is about confiscating land and dividing Palestinian territories to ensure the unviability of a Palestinian state. It creates an isolation system, and it constrains freedom of movement. The result is massive racial discrimination.
The only other country like this was apartheid South Africa. The continuous building of illegal settlements in the occupied territories is a roadblock to peace. That is why Labor came out very clearly opposing recent legislation passed in the Knesset which legalised unlawful settlements.
What I learnt from speaking to Palestinian people is that, in a way, borders are not as important as their human
rights—it is their lives, like anyone's, that are important. For example, the Bedouins that are part of the diversity of the Palestinian population suffer demolition and displacement of their homes to make way for Israeli military bases or more illegal settlements. They are then forcibly transferred from their land. In fact, I learnt that, last year alone, Israelis demolished 1,114 houses—even houses funded by the European Union—to allow more illegal settlements to be built. Having experienced the reality on the ground, I feel like the possibility of a two-state solution exists in words only. With the separation wall, segregations, illegal Israeli settlements and ongoing decades of illegal Israeli occupation, I feel that a two-state solution will be difficult to realise. The failure of a two-state solution would not just be bad for Palestine; it would be bad for Israel. As Gareth Evans has noted:
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Without a Palestinian state, Israel has a majority Arab population living under unequal laws and denied a right to vote.
However, everything I have learnt makes it clear that everything gets back to a political solution. In the absence of that, the development of Palestine is going to be a Gordian knot. Having met our DFAT representatives in Ramallah, I was encouraged to learn of Australia's practical support of the Palestinian water sanitation and agricultural sectors through our aid program, but I was disappointed that our support was deeply affected by the 40 per cent bilateral cut to the programs in the last budget. No doubt our DFAT representatives have a challenging job ahead, but I do want to give my thanks and appreciation for the work that they do do with such limited funds in our aid program.
I think many people in the West, including in Australia, are confused about the origins of this conflict. Where and when does this political and economic paralysis end? I feel it really boils down to a conflict that began with a group of immigrants attempting to displace a local people. On the 50th anniversary of Israel's occupation a week ago, Robert Piper, the UN coordinator of humanitarian aid and development activities, described the occupation as 'the most longstanding protection crisis in the UN's history'. Civil rights leader Desmond Tutu has described Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as equivalent to the apartheid regime that discriminated against blacks in South Africa.
It was a step forward when the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution, on 23 December last year, condemning Israel's expansion of settlement policy. But the Israeli government demonstrated its contempt for international law when, only four weeks later, it announced its intention to build another 2,500 illegal settlements across the West Bank and approved 20 permits for 566 settlements in East Jerusalem. My fear is that, the longer the world allows this reality to continue, the worse it will become. The Palestinian economy will be unable to function, Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley—the food basket of the West Bank—will barely survive and illegal Israeli settlements will continue to encroach, while Gazans will be in worse poverty than the current
subsistence level that they exist in.
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has articulated that, while the reality of colonisation and oppression becomes harsher by the day, it can only be stopped when as many people as possible give power to truth. That is why, as a delegation, we support the bipartisan approach within Australian politics to support the implementation of a twostate solution, so that the Middle East peace process can be realised with a strong, independent Palestine working in peace with its neighbour, Israel, in economic and strategic partnership. There are 4.5 million Palestinians who have been living under occupation for 50 years and there is no sight of when this will end. The peace process has stagnated and, perhaps, gone backwards in recent decades. We cannot let the next decade be the same.
Australia can show its commitment to peace by condemning Israel settlements as illegal under international law.
It can show its commitment to the Palestinian state by increasing aid and development assistance, including supporting Palestinian access to Area C, in which, according to the World Bank, there is potential for a $3 billion injection to the Palestinian economy being prevented by Israeli restrictions. Australia could recognise both states,
both Israel and Palestine. I commend former Prime Ministers and foreign ministers—Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd,
Bob Carr and Gareth Evans—who articulated why this is important for Australia. They asked: how can we move forward in support of the two-state solution without recognising Palestinian statehood? They have suggested it is time Australia did just that, just like 137 other nations that have already done so. At the very least, we can urge the implementation of the two-state solution before the process of settlement encroachment makes any Israeli disengagement from the occupied territories an impossibility or, at least, a hollow gesture. Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its policies towards Gaza must be challenged at the international level.
Palestinians have lost their rights, their land and their water but they have not lost their hope for peace. It is my hope that peace comes to establish an independent sovereign and democratic Palestinian state based on the internationally recognised 1967 borders, which will coexist side-by-side peacefully with Israel. We must never give up that aim.

THE DECEITFUL LOVE/ Mirna Nehme

It was on a summer night
The shining stars filled the sky
The moon smiled and illuminated the dark earth
A sweet gentle breeze blew refreshing the atmosphere
And lovers held hands gazed in each other's eyes and whispered the words of love

 I stood there in a corner watching wishing to be in love 
And in a blink of an eye i was swept off my feet drowning in the sea of love 
Unaware of its cruelty unaware that i would be crushed and deceived

I danced i rejoiced
I sang loudly in the name of love 
I cried tears of joy tears to be replaced in tears of pain and agony

He knelled poured out his heart reassuring me of his endless love 
He swore by me 
And i believed

Suddenly i was left alone 
I looked around heartbroken dismayed disillusioned
My dream vanished
A lie i was living a lie 
And love became a deceitful love

Maronite Heritage Centre Re-opening at OLOL on Sunday 7 th May 2017


I would like to thank everyone who attended the solemn Mass celebrated by Sayedneh on Sunday 7th of May 2017 at 11.00AM with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and many other clergy.
This Mass was held during the Cardinal’s historic visit to Australia, accompanied by the Nuncio Apostolico Adolfo Tito Yllana and the Cardinal’s delegation from Rome.
After the Mass, Cardinal Sandri attended the occasion of the re-opening of the Maronite Heritage Centre that was relocated from St Maroun in Redfern to OLOL Harris Park,
proudly sponsored by the Maronite Catholic Society Australia.
I was honoured as the President of the MCS to take this task that was requested by Sayedneh, and approved by the majority of MCS members to re-locate, preserve, and showcase our heritage, our faith, our history and our traditions as Maronites in Australia.
This project is part of our important mission as Maronites and MCS members, to preserve our heritage and to spread our faith, culture and message amongst others; to teach our younger generations about our significant history and Maroniteness; and to support our Church and community in all such relevant activities. Your input, help and support are essential, and being a member of the MCS is a privilege that comes with great responsibilities towards our Eparchy and our community
Regards
Bakhos Georges
President of the Maronite Catholic Society Australia 

A CRY FROM THE HEART.. WHERE IS MY CHILD?/Mirna Nehme

The air smelled so fresh
The sun shone brightly
The sky was clear as ever 
The nature was rejoicing 
The special child was born

Up there in her modest house
The mother hugged her baby tenderly
She caressed him
She gazed in his pretty eyes reassuring him that no harm will touch him 
She held him tightly
And told him how much she loved him

Joy filled her soul
Peace surrounded her 
Everything seemed perfect
But a sinister darkness was hiding behind the horizon gathering its forces 
To kill and massacre

Suddenly, the sky rumbled
Ferocious winds blew destroying all living creatures
Black birds hovered above sending cries of death 
And like a crazy the mother grabbed her child and ran

She ran and ran
She crossed valleys mountains
She hid in caves behind trees
She screamed to the highest for help 
But her beautiful reality was shattered and destroyed

Where is my child?
She lamented loudly
She lost her precious one 
He was ripped off her 
And her heart stopped forever

Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane: Citizenship Law changes


SCARED OF LOVE/ Mirna Nehme


Some say love is a fragrant rose
Some say love is a torrent of deep feelings
Some say love is a fountain of endless giving 
Some say love is a powerful force of all shaking the hearts the souls 
And yet i say love is the unknown mystery drawing us towards it 
Either embracing us or breaking us

My head is troubled
My thoughts are burning 
My mind is overwhelmed with joy fear uncertainty 
Do i plunge in this sea and drown in it?
Do i surrender to my feelings in the name of love?
Or do i withdraw from this uncertain battle?

 I gaze at the clear sky
I contemplate the illuminating moon the shining stars 
Everything around me whispers in my ear how beautiful love is
And like a little innocent girl i jump dance 
But very quickly i wake up from this dream and pull back

I can not hold the tears 
I am broken
I am distraught 
I am shattered
Scared of love i am and will always be

Message of His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay to the Faithful on the occasion of Easter 2017


We are Witnesses to His Resurrection (Acts 2:32)

Beloved Children of our Maronite Eparchy, 

1. "He is Risen... and we are witnesses to that" (Acts 2:32; 10:38-40). The Easter journey is a journey from the darkness of the tomb to the light of the Resurrection; a journey from the suffering of the Cross and the sorrow of death to the joy and glory of victory over pain and bereavement. The purpose of this journey is the attainment of eternal life. This great hope flowing from the historic event of Easter, is a witness to the death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This hope has endured through the centuries and reaches us today, for each one of us was in the mind and heart of Christ on the day of his crucifixion and also on the day of his Resurrection. As such, every person is invited to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and to proclaim the Paschal mystery, which is the passage of man, through the grace of Jesus, from death to life.

2. The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead is a truth, as bright as the sun. In the Gospels, we find the witnesses to this truth. Their testimonies complement one another and they are beyond any reasonable doubt. The first witness to his death and Resurrection is Jesus himself, who prophesied this several times. The Evangelist Matthew records Jesus speaking about his death and Resurrection on six different occasions. (12:38,  16:21 , 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:19, 26: 31-32)

3. Before I come to the witnesses of Christ's Resurrection, let us consider the testimonies to his death:

a. The first testimony of Jesus' death on the Cross was by the centurion who was responsible for the crucifixion (Matthew 27:45-65; Mark 15:33-41, 45).
b. The second testimony records that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph asked for the body of Jesus to be taken down from the Cross. He wrapped it in linen and had it placed in a new tomb.  A large rock was rolled before the door of the tomb. It was sealed by orders of King Herod and watched over by guards. (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:46; John 19:39-40; Luke 23:50-56)

4. The testimonies in the Bible to the Resurrection of Christ from the dead are many: 

a. First, the narrative of the empty tomb and the angel's statement to the women, saying: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” The angel also told them to proclaim the good news to the apostles. (Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:6)

b. The second testimony to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is from the disciples Peter and John, who after hearing the news, came quickly to the place where Jesus was buried. They found the empty tomb, and the linen strips and handkerchief on the ground and believed that He had truly risen (John 20: 3-8).

c. The third witness came from the guards at the tomb who felt the earthquake. They witnessed the stone roll from the door of the grave and were surprised to see the angel of the Lord sitting on it.  His face was like the lightning, and his garments white as snow. The guards went into the city and reported to the elders and chief priests everything that had happened. But the chief priests devised a plan and gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them to say that Jesus’ disciples came during the night and stole him away while they were asleep. (Matthew 28: 2-4,11-15). This raises the question, how could the guards see the apostles steal the body of Jesus if they were asleep?

d. The final proof of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is his several apparitions after the Resurrection: first to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18), then to Peter (Luke 24:34) and then to the disciples of Emmaus with whom He walked and to whom he revealed Himself with the breaking of the bread (Luke 24: 13-35). All these appearances to the apostles were to strengthen their faith. However, the appearance of Jesus to Thomas, who was not with the apostles on the previous occasions, with its clear and tangible proofs, is the most beautiful and strongest testimony of his Resurrection. Today, we renew our faith in the death and Resurrection of Christ, despite the many attempts to discount and distort this truth in today's world, and we utter a cry of faith with the Apostle Thomas saying: “My Lord and my God!”

Dearly Beloved, 

5. Christian life is built on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and on constant witness to his Resurrection from the dead. This is the truth that our Maronite Church has lived and experienced generation after generation, and in defence of which it gave the blood of its martyrs. We are today called to renew our faith in this truth. With this belief, our Patriarch, His Beatitude and Eminence Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Rai, along with the Maronite Synod of Bishops, declared a year for martyrdom and the witness of the martyrs, starting on the Feast of Saint Maroun on 9 February 2017 and concluding on the Feast of St. John Maroun on 2 March 2018. This also marks the passing of 1500 years from the martyrdom of the 350 monks of the Monastery of Saint Maroun in the year 517.

6. In order to be witnesses to the Resurrection of the Lord in today's society, we must be spiritually renewed by practicing the sacrament of reconciliation, participating in the Holy Mass, and receiving the body and blood of Jesus every Sunday, and even every day if we can. This is the best way to renew and strengthen our faith in Jesus, risen from the dead. We live this faith in our church through the intercession of the Saints. If our Church is to bear a better and broader Christian witness in Australia, we need to meet and put together spiritual and pastoral plans. We need to discuss the social problems and challenges that face us, especially the challenge of passing on the faith, the faith of our forefathers, to new generations.

7. With the aim of improving our Christian witness and strengthening the family and defending marriage, we launched, three years ago, plans to hold a Diocesan Assembly for our Maronite Eparchy in Australia. The good news today is that the Assembly will hold its first general meeting from the 24th to the 26th of November 2017 in Sydney, with the participation of parish and ecclesial representatives and Maronite organisations from all over the country.

8. Finally, with St Augustine we repeat: “It’s no great thing to believe that Christ died; even pagans and Jews and wicked people believe that. They all believe that he died. The faith of Christians is Christ’s resurrection. This is the great thing: we believe that he rose from the dead.”  As such, we understand that it is not possible to be true Christians unless we believe in the Resurrection of Christ. Jesus risen from the tomb and victorious over evil, sin and death, is ever present in the heart of the world, present through his Holy Spirit, through His living word, and in His body and blood in the Eucharist. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we then call to mind the truth of his suffering, death and Resurrection and his constant living presence with us. He is closer to us than ourselves because Jesus is the same: yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We live in hope of the revelation of his Glory in the second coming. 

9. On this Holy Day, we all turn to Jesus and cry out with one voice and in one faith: "Come, O Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20). Come and seal our hearts with the seal of your glorious Resurrection. Strengthen our faith that we may witness to you and boldly declare the truth of your Resurrection saying:

“Christ is Risen, Truly Risen… and we are witnesses to that.”



+ Antoine-Charbel Tarabay
Maronite Bishop of Australia
Easter Sunday, 16 April 2017 

Peace, the shattered dream/ Mirna Nehme

-1-
Peace? Does it exist anymore?
Does it have a meaning? 
Does it have a taste or it has become a shattered dream?
How can we sleep while others are starving? 
How can we sleep while others are persecuted?
How can we sleep while children are deprived of their innocence and purity? 
How and how and how?
-2-
Nations are burning; people are fleeing their homelands to the uncertain unknown which is compacted with fear and challenges. 
Wars are erupting at the expense of the innocent, the universe has turned into a dark forest where tyrants, criminals and corrupts are ruling with no mercy. 
The sky is blackened, the sun is saddened and the moonlight is dimmed. 
Tears are rolling, cries, lamentations are rising loudly and sharply, hearts are dismayed and broken and the earth is smeared with blood.
-3-
Will we ever or can we ever regain peace? 
Yes, hopefully one day a new dawn will break and the sun will shine brightly but until then peace remains a shattered dream.
**

Media Release from the New Board of White Stone


The Maronite Eparchy of Australia aims to further its apostolic, social and charity work based on the teachings of the Church, and as stated in the Seven Pastoral Priorities announced by Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay in 2013, and in particular the fifth priority: identifying pressing social problems and developing appropriate measures to address them.
Over the past years, Sister Rose Therese Tannous, Maronite Sister of the Holy Family, founded the White Stone Association to develop projects and programs aiming to raise awareness on the dangers of drug addiction and to provide pastoral care for individuals suffering from addictions and their families. It has also agreed to lease land in Bilpin, NSW from the Maronite Eparchy of Australia to build a drug rehabilitation centre.
Due to the apostolic, spiritual and social importance of the work of White Stone, and following the resignation of Sister Rose Therese Tannous in November 2016, the new Board of White Stone wishes to announce the following:
1. The Board is deeply grateful to Sister Rose Therese Tannous and all the individuals who worked with her, as well as the organisations and persons who supported this important humanitarian and social project.

2. The White Stone Association which was previously an independent registered association is taking steps to incorporation under both the Canon Law of the Church and the law of our land, Australia.

3. We emphasize our commitment to caring for individuals suffering from addiction and their families, especially the young people who have fallen victim to drugs, through White Stone. A new committee for White Stone was elected in December 2016 with Mr Daryl Melham, formerly the Federal Member for Banks, Subdeacon Danny Nouh as Public Officer, Mr Gerard Lahoud, Treasurer, lawyer Charbel Azzi and Ms Jeanette Samawi, as directors. 

Subdeacon Joseph Maatouk was appointed by the Board as Executive Officer and Secretary of White Stone, effective 1 March 2017.  The Board considers Subdeacon Maatouk as an exciting and suitable appointment due to his extensive experience with counseling of persons affected with drug addictions. 

4. MaroniteCare, the charitable and social works arm of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, oversees the work and mission of White Stone. The new Board of Directors of White Stone has taken responsibility of the activities and assets of White Stone, effective 31 December 2016. The handover was conducted in a spirit of cooperation and ongoing collaboration. The summary of the assets is: 

a. Bank accounts to the value of $398,042, less arrears in loan repayments of $86,530, resulting in a net balance of $311,512.
b. A Toyota Hiace Commuter Bus (12 seater)
c. Office supplies in Harris Park and equipment for the property in Bilpin 

5. The new Board values the "Kadisha Centre" project in Bilpin, which includes, in addition to White Stone, several other community and social projects, most importantly a spiritual and retreat centre for young people and families.

6. We confirm that White Stone will be collaborating with skilled professionals and experts in social work, especially in the area of addiction, to develop a clear and organised vision to address the epidemic of addiction amongst our youth. This problem which claims the lives of a significant number of young people every year, leaves behind a gaping wound and great pain to their families and their church.

In conclusion, we renew our deep gratitude to Sr Rose Therese Tannous, and to the Congregation of the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family, to the former Board members and to all the individuals who supported the launch of White Stone, this humanitarian project reflecting mercy and care. We pray to the Lord to increase in our community and the wider communities the spirit of love, cooperation and giving. 

For further information, please contact MaroniteCare on 028831 0000.

Homily of Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay Sunday of the Blind Man


Sunday 2 April 2017
Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, Harris Park

Your Grace Bishop Robert Rabbat, 
Your Excellencies: Minister Gebran Bassil and Minister Pierre Raffoul, 
Ministers of the Crown, 
Honourable Members of Parliaments,
Reverend Fathers and Maronite Sisters of the Holy family, 
Mr Charge d’Affaires and Consuls General, 
Distinguished guests,
Dearly beloved,

It is a beautiful occasion to celebrate the sixth Sunday of Lent and the last before Palm Sunday, reflecting on the miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ in healing the blind man. It is significant to understand that our Lenten journey is leading us to see Jesus with the eyes of faith in order to repair our view of the world and our relationships with others. 

It is also a source of joy for all of us today to welcome the visiting delegation from our homeland Lebanon led by his Excellency Mr Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, and accompanied by his Excellency Mr Pierre Raffoul, State Minister for Presidency Affairs. On behalf of the Maronite community in Australia, and together with our dear guests here today: His grace Bishop Rabbat, Mr Luke Foley, Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Geoff Lee, Member for Parramatta,  Mr Phillip Ruddock, Special Envoy for Human Rights, Ms Julia Finn, Member for Granville, all our guests and the community of Our Lady of Lebanon Parish in Harris Park, I welcome you. It is our pleasure and our privilege to have 2 Lebanese ministers visiting us at the same time.  

Your visit is a testimony to the significance of the role of migrants to Lebanon. I am aware that you were very keen to travel to Australia to firstly consolidate the strong relationship between Australia and Lebanon, and secondly, to remind the Australian of Lebanese descent that their homeland Lebanon needs them.  We know, Minister Bassil, how much you value the importance of teaching our children in Australia the Arabic language and culture, and instilling in them the pride of their Lebanese roots and identity, as you said in Melbourne. 

The Lebanese migrants have benefitted from the wonderful opportunities of this generous and beloved land, Australia. But, at the same time, they contributed to this multicultural society and given back at all levels to the progress of this dear nation. 

Since I arrived to Australia in 2002, I have come to know the Lebanese community members, who are grateful and loyal to Australia, but who, at the same time, carry Lebanon in their hearts and dreams. I am confident today, more than ever, that the Lebanese dream of a better tomorrow has started becoming a reality with the election of His Excellency General Michel Aoun as President of the Lebanese Republic. We join our prayers to those of the millions of Lebanese all around the world, hoping that Lebanon will know prosperity and become, once again, an oasis of peace and harmony in the Middle East, and an example of coexistence between all religions and cultures.

BEXLEY AGM WITH MARK MOREY



By Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane
Before I begin I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land that we are on and pay my respects to their elders past and present

For those of you who don’t know, Unions NSW has been fighting for the rights of working people in one form or another since 1871. One of their original fights prior to them being unionised under one umbrella was for the Eight Hour Day for skilled tradespeople in the 1850s, and this would be expanded later to include all other workers who were missing out.

The Trades and Labor Council of Sydney (as it was called until 1908) allowed labourers to organise alongside the skilled trades unions to improve their rights, conditions and wages. By the 1950s, the Labor Council led a campaign for equal wages for women, and their right to equal pay was locked into law in 1972 by Gough’s Labor government.

In the post-war years the Labor Council fought and won battles for the introduction of leave entitlements and a reduction in working hours. Later, the Labor Council led campaigns for a 35-hour week, which while unsuccessful in the short term, pushed Australia towards the 38-hour week that we have taken for granted since the 1980s.

o The Labor Council was also instrumental in establishing the first work-based childcare centre in Australia. 

With the onset of the 1980s-90s recessions, Unions NSW played a key role in ensuring decent standards of redundancy payments for workers forced out by technological change and restructuring. 
Some other recent achievements by Australia’s unions include:

1. Penalty Rates for weekend and holiday work – originally established in 1947, when unions argued in the then-Arbitration Commission that people needed extra money for working outside normal hours.

2. Parental leave - Australian unions’ intensive campaigning for paid parental leave succeeded when the Paid Parental leave scheme was implemented by the Gillard Labor government. 

3. Superannuation - Prior to 1986, only a select group of workers were entitled to Superannuation. It became a universal entitlement after the ACTU's National Wage Case. Employers originally had to pay 3% of workers' earnings into Superannuation and this has risen over time, from 9% and then to 12% thanks to the 2011 the Unions’ “Stand Up for Super” campaign worked with the then-Labor Government.

4. Equal Pay for Women - Although there were attempts to introduce equal pay going back as far as 1949, the principle of equal pay for women was finally adopted by Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1969 and legislated later by Gough whitlam.

5. Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation – Australian workers compensation laws first started in West Australia in 1902. For many years unions agitated and campaigned for health and safety laws which compelled employers to provide a safe working environment, leading to achievements like the ban on asbestos in the 1980’s.

6. Sick leave and long service leave - Before sick leave, workers had to choose between their health and their income. Sick leave provisions began to appear in awards in the 1920’s and unions have campaigned hard for better sick leave conditions since then across all industries. One worthwhile note is, thanks to the efforts of Coal worker strikes and their unions long service leave was introduced in New South Wales first in 1951.

7. Shift allowances, uniform allowances - Unions in different industries have campaigned for allowances that are relevant to their members. Many workers who are required to wear uniforms in their jobs now get an allowance for this rather than having to pay for uniforms themselves. Shift allowances are money that is paid for working at night or in the afternoon.

8. Meal Breaks, rest breaks - Before unions agitated for meal breaks and rest breaks to be introduced, workers were required to work the whole day without a break. As late as 1973, workers at Ford in Melbourne engaged in industrial action over many issues, one of their demands being a proper break from the production line.

9. Collective Bargaining - Enterprise Bargaining was introduced in 1996 which allowed workers and their unions to negotiate directly with their employer over pay and conditions. Evidence from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that collective bargaining delivers better wages than individual agreements for ordinary workers.

10. Unfair Dismissal Protection - Unfair Dismissal Protection came from the concept of a "fair go all round", after the AWU took a case to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1971. Since then, unions have campaigned for laws that reflect the 'fair go', so that employers can only sack someone if the dismissal is not judged harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Each of these achievements did not happen by accident: they were results fought for by our trade unions and which have been resisted by captains of industry and finance.

o Today, we should be proud of these outcomes, but we cannot stop fighting. The Liberal-National Coalition has always been opposed to the work of our unions, and we must continue the struggle to protect our current state and improve the lives of future generations.

o To hear more about the good work still being done today, please join me in welcoming the Secretary of Unions NSW, my friend Mark Morey.