The History of St George Church
St George Thornleigh, originally known as St Joachim, named after the father of Our Lady, was attended to by the Lebanese migrants since early 1900s, by the people from the Northern Lebanese Villages including “Bann” who migrated to Sydney and chose to live in the Suburb Thornleigh. They chose Thornleigh because at that time the bushy landscape of the area reminded them of their home town in Lebanon.
Over the years, as their population grew, the Lebanese community in Thornleigh felt the need and desire for a Maronite church, to pass over our Maronite traditions and beliefs to their children and grandchildren. There wasn’t a better option than St Joachim, the church that welcomed them when they were new to the area of Thornleigh.
In 1989, St Joachim’s was sold to the Diocese of St Maroun. The church was renamed to St George to coincide with the village Church of St George Church in Lebanon.
St George church was consecrated on the 29th October 1989, with the blessing and encouragement of Bishop Abdou Khalifi. Excitement overwhelmed every Lebanese family in the area, as it was a big achievement for them. Father Hanna Lahoud was appointed the first Parish Priest to serve in the community followed by many of the Maronite Orders including St Charbel’s Monastery, the Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries and other Diocesan Priests.
On 22 August 1999, one week after the 98th Anniversary of the Church, His Grace, Joseph Hitti celebrated the last mass. Construction of the new Church began in September 1999 by the supervision of Father Badwi Habib from the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries. The Maronite community rallied together to help build our Church. The Maronite Community came together as one family and built this magnificent Church. They generously donated materials, money and their labour time to ensure that this Church was going to be built. While the Church was being constructed, the Maronite Mass was still being celebrated for the community at the nearby Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
The Consecration of the new St George Church Thornleigh was celebrated on Sunday 1 April 2001. On this day St George was officially declared a Parish.
On 22 October 2002, Father Pierre Shwah from the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries was nominated as the second Parish Priest. From May 2004 Fr Peter Joseph was appointed to celebrate the youth Mass. On the 1st of January 2005, Father Jean Khoury from the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries was appointed as Assistant Parish Priest. Late 2006 the Parish farewelled Father Pierre Shwah who served in the Parish for five years and Father Bechara Trad (Parish Priest) and Father John Kady (Assistant Parish Priest) from the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries were appointed to the Parish. On the 4th of January 2009 Father Bassem Zaynoun from the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries was appointed Assistant Parish Priest in place of Father John Kady. In 10th of October 2010, Father Bassem Zaynoun was appointed Parish Priest replacing Father Bechara Trad.
The growth of the Parish and the community continued each year, and in December, 2006 plans were sent into council for a building project to build Parish Offices, a new awning and a cross to be placed on the roof of the Church. On the 21st of October 2007, Bishop Ad Abikaram consecrated the new Parish Offices and the opening of these offices took place. Also in 2007, the Parish purchased the house next door in Wells Street.
The growth of the Maronite Parish community in this area is a testimony of the strength of spirit in a community of immigrants. Our grandparents and parents have laid the groundwork for future, for their children and grandchildren to follow on so that they may grow with their traditional faith..