Professor Ghossayn's Speech
Dear Friends of Australia and Lebanon,His Beatitude, Cardinal Mar Nas’rallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch and the East, Your Excellency Dr John Daniel Ambassador of Lebanon and Mrs Mireille Daniel Mrs Ghada Naoum representing the General Consul Robert Naoum Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor of The University of Sydney
Reverend Clergy, friends of Australia and Lebanon
It is my honour and great pleasure on behalf of the Australian Lebanese Foundation to welcome the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon to this gathering. Your eminence, it is a wonderful opportunity for the Foundation and those gathered here today to pay tribute to your remarkable achievements and the leadership you have shown to followers of the Maronite faith and people of goodwill throughout decades of peace and tragic civil unrest. Your intellect, teaching and guardianship of the faith have carved a distinguished place for you in the history of modern eastern Christianity.
Your Eminence, the Australian Lebanese Foundation was established by The University of Sydney in 2002 to strengthen ties between Australia and Lebanon. It draws on the support of the community and our sponsors in carrying out its work of promoting educational linkages between the nations and creating enhanced opportunities through education for young Australians of Lebanese heritage.
The University is our home. It supports us and inspires our fundamental commitments to scholarships, openness and the pursuit of excellence. We are delighted that Dr Michael Spence, the newly appointed Vice Chancellor and Principal of this Australia’s oldest university is present with us today. Dr Spence is an ex-officio member of our Council and we look forward to continuing the supportive and fruitful relationship that was established by his predecessor, Professor Gavin Brown.
Your Eminence, there has been migration of people from Lebanon to Australia for over 150 years. Australians of Lebanese heritage have good reason to warmly welcome you to these shores. We welcome you as a man of heart, soul and spirit. We know you as a thinker and writer and as an exceptional character with extraordinary courage. You have long been a wise spiritual and social leader, always exhibiting modesty and humility. We admire you as a man who has maintained his pledge to honour the words and commandments of God, and as a gifted teacher who has remained a student in the school of universal knowledge.
I kindly ask you not to take my statements as a casual welcoming speech because I have waited so long in order to have this unique opportunity of commenting on such an exceptional man.
These words are the genuine expression of friendship and sympathy for a great person that I personally have met, respected and appreciated, and I stand her today as a token of my gratitude to him, I stand to say that I was particularly lucky to have met him and talked to him on several occasions in Lebanon and abroad, I can also assure that I was blessed to have met his holiness the late Catholic Pope John Paul the Second in Rome and in the presence of the Maronite Patriarch.
The Patriarch has lived with his huge congregation, sharing their joy and happiness, but also their pain, sorrow and despair when civil and regional wars were threatening our beloved Lebanon. He gives his people strength when they felt weak and lonely and he has taught them how to find hope during the worst moments of conflict. His talent, spirit and great heart inspire pride and delight.
Dear friends Australian and Lebanese, I am proud and touched to address this distinguished audience. I know that you join with me in extending to His Eminence our warmest welcome as well as our love, respect, appreciation and admiration.