AT PRESENT THERE ARE FOUR MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY IN MELBOURNE:
- Monsignor Joseph Takchi, Parish Priest
- Father Alain Fares
- Father Edmond Andraos
- Father Charles Hitti
The Parish has approximately 10,000 parishioners who live all over Victoria.
General History of the Parish:
Maronites have been migrating to Victoria since last century,
however, numbers not large enough to warrant a resident Priest.
In the 1950's Community members decided to ask for a Maronite
Priest from Lebanon. A member of the Community Mr John Mansour
went to Lebanon and asked the Bishop of Tripoli for a Priest.
In November 1955, Father Paul El-Khoury, arrived in Melbourne,
as the first Maronite Parish Priest. He began praying with the
Community and started to look for a Church.
In 1958, the Church of Our Lady of Lebanon, 357 Rathdowne Street
Carlton was purchased. Work was done on the Church and it was
officially consecrated on 16th August 1959.
The Church was the centre of activity for the Community. People
would gather there to pray, to meet people from Lebanon and other
Middle Eastern Countries. They would socialise with each other
in the Hall. Many people gave of their time and energy to work
with Father Paul in the Church, the hall and the kitchen.
People would come from Lebanon, and for many, the hall was the
first point of entry into Australia. Father Paul would arrange
a feast for every ship that arrived in Port Melbourne. He would
bring people to the hall and feed them. It was from there that
he would arrange accommodation and then find work for them around
In time, the Community bought a house at 809 Rathdowne Street
North Carlton, which became the presbytery. Father Paul became
Monsignor Paul in 1968.
Monsignor Paul had a great vision for the Community. He wanted
the Community to expand and have a bigger Church. So a property
of some 44 acres was purchased in Keilor.
In 1980, three Antonine Sisters arrived in Melbourne with the
mission of opening a school and working in the Community. The
Sisters lived in the Parish House at 809 Rathdowne Street Carlton
and began working in the Parish with the Choir, and then started
teaching Arabic during Saturday School.
Father George Nehme, a Priest from Lebanon, was appointed to
assist Monsignor Paul from 1980 to 1982.
Ordained in March 1982, Father Joseph Takchi became the first Maronite Priest ordained in Australia and was appointed Assistant Parish Priest. Father Joe started work with the young people by introducing English into the Liturgy. Hence young people were able to have their weddings and baptisms and other celebrations in English. He also established the Maronite Youth of Melbourne, catering to the needs of the youth of the Community, in a spiritual and social atmosphere.
In 1986 Monsignor Youssef Touma was appointed to the Parish.
The Antonine Sisters built a Child Care Centre and convent at
13 Barrow Street Coburg.
As the Community grew, it became clear that the Church of Our
Lady of Lebanon 357 Rathdowne Street was not large enough to accommodate
the number of Maronites attending Liturgy. After many years of
negotiating with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne,
an agreement was reached in 1987 which enabled the Maronite Community
to utilise the facilities: Church, hall, presbytery and car park)
of the Sacred Heart Parish, 199 Rathdowne Street Carlton.
The new site proved very successful, as people were able to
come in large numbers. Especially noticeable was the Maronite
Youth of Melbourne (MYM) which grew in numbers during this time.
In 1993, the Community began the work of building an Aged Care
Facility. A property was purchased in Strettle Street, Thornbury,
and with a grant from the Federal Government and the generosity
of many in the Community, Saint Paulís Hostel for the elderly
was built and opened in December 1995, to cater for the needs
of the elderly in the Community. The Antonine Sisters kindly accepted
to take responsibility for this project.
In 1998, the Antonine Sisters opened the first Maronite Primary
School in Victoria in East Coburg. This project proved so successful
that in 2002, the Sisters began the Secondary College in Brunswick.
On 20th January 1997, Monsignor Paul El-Khoury passed
away. His life-long wish was that he be buried in Lebanon, in
his beloved home town of Bkarazla.
In September 1997, Father Joseph Takchi, became "Monsignor" and appointed as Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lebanon in Melbourne.
In February 1998, the Antonine Order of Monks made a commitment
to the Parish. Two Priests were sent to work in the Community
in Melbourne. Father Charbel Chidiac and Father Edmond Andraos
were appointed to the Parish.
In 1999, a site was purchased for the development of a new Church
and centre in Thornbury. Almost four acres was purchased at 230
Normanby Avenue Thornbury, by the Community. The old Church Site
in Carlton and the land in Keilor were sold to help with the purchase.
Building a new Church re-enlivened the Community and gave Parishioners the opportunity to experience the gradual growth of a new place of prayer and worship. Many Committees were formed and as they began the task of planning and fundraising, it was evident the Community had taken up the challenge whole-heartedly as they patiently awaited the completion of the new Church.
On Sunday 8th March 2008, the Church was Officially Opened and Consecrated by His Grace Ad Abikaram, Maronite Bishop of Australia, with the Parish Clergy and Antonine Sisters. The Opening was even more special with the presence of retired Archbishop Frank Little, who was instrumental in the days of Father Paul El-Khoury and the Maronite Parish in general. Sadly, Archbishop Little passed away two weeks later.
Back to top
- Stewardship Committee
- Church Committee
- Finance Committee
- Fundraising Committee
- Legion of Mary
- La Grande Soiree Committee (black tie function)
- Maronite Activities Group (MAG)
- Meeting Melbourne Maronites (MMM)
- Maronite Youth of Melbourne (MYM)
- Maronite Juniors Group (MJC)
- Community Representative Groups (including Village Associations)
- Board of Directors for St. Paul's Hostel