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Official Opening and Blessing of St Joseph Campus Stage 2 Building Works

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Today, with much excitement, we had the Opening and Blessing of St Joseph Campus Stage 2 Building works which includes: new Music, Drama, Visual Arts, Science, general purpose classrooms, and of course, the spectacular Mother Isabelle Khoury Stadium. It is so special that we have this event on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Glorious Cross. May the Cross continue to be our protection.

Special Guests attending included:

  • His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay
  • Rev. Mother Nazha El Khoury – Superior General of the Antonine Sisters Maronite Order
  • Father Ibrahim Bou Rajel - Representing the Superior General of the Antonine Monks
  • MP Mr Anthony Cianflone - State Member of Pascoe Vale
  • Monsignor Joseph Takchi - Parish Priest Our Lady of Lebanon
  • Sister Mariette Kareh - Congregational Leader of the Antonine Sisters Melbourne and Member of Antonine College Board and welcome to all Antonine Sisters present
  • Sister Salam Mouawad - Senior Leader of St Paul’s Hostel
  • Sr Christiane Smeha - Congregational Leader of the Basilian Chouerite Sisters and her community
  • Fr Richard Jabbour - Our Lady of Lebanon Parish priest and Cedar Campus Chaplain
  • Father Charles Hitti - Antonine Monk of St Charbel’s Monastery and his community
  • Antonine College Board Directors: Ms Jeanette Eid of Wainwright Ryan Eid Lawyers, Ms Mary Farah, Principal St Aloysius College, Ms Jeanette Lahoud, Managing Director of St Paul’s Hostel, Mr Abdou El Hage, Hage Accountants.
  • Mr Robert Smith - architect from Williams Ross Architects Pty Ltd representing all from the firm who worked on this project

The event was also attended by some of our financial sponsors for our College as well as Supporters of the Antonine Sisters. We are grateful to all our supporters. Of course, the event was also attended by parents, staff and students from Years 5 to 12.

We have had so many blessings this term. Recently, His Excellency Bishop Tarabay brought the holy gift of the Saint Relics Visit to our College. The students and staff were so interested to learn about the Lebanese Saints as well as St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

The blessings continued this term with the arrival of Rev. Mother Superior Nazha El Khoury visiting us from Lebanon to mark this significant event today.

Joining her are Sr Marie Nassar and Sr Daad Azzi both former Principals of Antonine College playing an integral role in the development of the College, yet another blessing for our College. Sr Marie purchased the first secondary campus site in Brunswick and both Sr Marie and Sr Daad were involved in the move to this site in Pascoe Vale. Sr Daad along with Mr Chris McCulloch and senior staff began the work to develop this site improving the facilities and much of what you see today is thanks to their vision.

I would like to acknowledge the brilliant architecture and design of Williams Ross Architects especially Ms Tammy Beck and Mr Robert Smith, both becoming friends of the College. We are thankful to DEVCO builders for taking the designs and making them a reality and we look forward to the completion of the outdoor works. They did a great job with the build in particular the impressive stadium.

The Stadium is named after Mother Isabelle Khoury, a courageous Antonine Sisters who in the 1940’s took her Order from a Cloistered Order to a more apostolic one. Had it not been for Mother Isabelle taking this step in Lebanon, the Antonine Sisters would not have travelled to Australia in their Mission to support the growing community here in Melbourne. And look what amazing things they achieved with the support of Our Lady of Lebanon Parish community particularly the support they received from Monsignor Paul followed by continued support from Mon. Joe. The Antonine Sisters now have an F-12 College with a prospective 2024 enrolment of over 900 students, and growing, over two impressive campuses, they own the successful St Paul’s Hostel which is a model of care for the elderly so much so that other Aged Care sites want to emulate their work, and of course the Antonine Sisters Child care where some of you students started your journey with the Antonine Sisters. For some of you, you have been in the care of the Antonine Sisters since you were a toddler, maybe even a baby.

Recently, I have enrolled quite few children in Foundation and Year 1 who are the children of past students, of Alumni Antonine College Students. When I asked them why they chose Antonine, they say that they want their children to have the same experience as they did and they want the Antonine Sisters to be part of their children’s lives.

I pray that students never take for granted what the Antonine Sisters have done and continue to do for them. How special is it to know that each day, the Sisters pray for each and every one of us!

On behalf of the entire Antonine Community, we want to say thank you to Rev. Mother Nazha, for the love of the Antonine Sisters and their Mission. So many of us in Australia have been touched by their vocation. May God continue to bless the work of the Antonine Sisters all over the world.

I wish all a Happy Feast Day today. The Cross is exalted today as it should be!

- Ms Joanne Bacash

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