Momentous occasion for unveiling

NO longer will Australians need to journey overseas to visit their favourite Catholic shrine. Instead, they’ll be able to experience a sacred site in their own backyard after a new sanctuary opened in Punchbowl last night.

A holy place of prayer, solace and healing, the sanctuary was welcomed by over 10,000 onlookers and is dedicated to one of the most powerful and most popular saints in the world – St Charbel for whom the Punchbowl church is named.
The Maronite Catholic community in Australia hosted the momentous occasion as the newly constructed sanctuary was unveiled, drawing a diverse crowd of believers and dignitaries to commemorate the opening of this significant pilgrimage site.
The evening began with a solemn, one-kilometre street procession led by a marching band and more than 70 pallbearers carrying the coffin of St Charbel, with the procession accompanied by hymns as it made its way through the streets culminating in a Mass at the site of the sanctuary, with Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia, officiating.
The Reverend Father Anthony El-Kazzi, Secretary of the Trustees of the Lebanese Maronite Order, spoke about the importance of the occasion.
“The unveiling of the sanctuary dedicated to St Charbel, marks a historic milestone for the Maronite Catholic community in Australia. It provides believers with a sacred space for prayer, reflection, and spiritual connection,” he said.
Mayor Bilal El-Hayek said the religious significance for Maronite Christians could not be measured.
“It’s a historical moment for our City and one which enshrines our community’s faith,” the Mayor said.
“To be part of such a moving ceremony attended by thousands of people was truly awe inspiring.
“Our City is fortunate to have a strong Maronite community. The shrine, only the second in the world dedicated to the saint, will attract believers and non-believers from around the world.”