Melkite Catholics

Our Lady of Dormition Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Cathedral, Damascus, Syria
Our Lady of Dormition Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Cathedral, Damascus, Syria. Source: Jan Smith [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Melkite Catholics are mainly from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. They view themselves as the first Christian Church dating back to the times of the disciples in Antioch. Although they are historically affiliated with the Antiochian Orthodox, they emerged as a distinct group in the early 18th century when they aligned themselves with the Roman Catholic Church. From that time onwards, the Melkite Catholic Church (also referred to as the 'Melkite Greek Catholic Church') has existed parallel to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, which ceased to refer to itself as Melkite.

The Melkite traditions, rituals and customs remain consistent in many ways with the Orthodox Church and they use both Arabic and Greek in church liturgy. Their name derives from the Syriac word for “king” and the Arabic word for “royal” – a term used in the 5th century to describe Christians in the Middle East who followed the authority of the Council of Chalcedon and the Byzantine Emperor.

Religious Observances

St Elias Cathedral of the Melkite Catholic, Haifa, Israel
St Elias Cathedral of the Melkite Catholic, Haifa, Israel. Source: Hanay [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Melkites celebrate the usual Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter, with rituals and traditions practised in the lead up to Easter that are similar to those of the Orthodox Church. Other important holy days of significance for the Melkites are the feast days of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) and St Barbara (4 December).

Melkites mark major life events, such as birth, marriage, and death, within the traditions of Christianity.

Presence in Australia

Melkites in Australia have had a presence since the late 19th Century and in 1896, a Melkite priest, Archimandrite Silwanos Mansour, was sent to Sydney to support the spiritual needs of the existing Melkite community, and there he established the Church of St Michael in Redfern.

In Melbourne however, the Melkite Greek Catholic community depended on a Maronite priest until 1972. Once the Melkite Archimandrite Joseph Awaad arrived, he and his parishioners started work to establish the church of St Joseph in Fairfield. The parish marks the feast day of St Joseph on 19 March with an annual social event that follows the celebration of the Liturgy.

The Melkite Catholic Church in Melbourne has since established the churches of Saints Peter and Paul in Hampton Park, and St Elias the Prophet Melkite Church in Sunshine.

Please use our Directory to locate places of worship.

Further Reading & Materials