By Sahar Foladi
The Dandenong community had a fun packed Friday evening at the Christmas festival held at the Saint Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church.
Christmas is all about uniting family and the community and that’s exactly what this event did with 180 people in attendance on 2 December.
Ms Tomah, the Sunday School Program Coordinator, has been in this role for almost five years.
“We’re a very nice small knit community so it’s nice to bring everybody together, not just at Christmas time but we try and run a number of events throughout the year,” she said.
The event included a play performance from the Sunday school children, singing Christmas carols in Arabic and a visit from Saint Nicholas (Santa) who distributed gifts to the children.
“We started planning for this late September last year, we basically came up with the idea of what we’d do and work towards the event.”
She says they always had a mini festival for the children to celebrate Christmas however, this is the first time they had an event of this scale and it’ll be one of many.
“This was the first time we had all of the community members involved so we had our soccer club committee members, carols were funded by the ladies from our ladies committee and we had a cake stall, where members of the ladies committee donated cakes and sweets that they baked so that we could sell it on the night,” Ms Tomah said.
Father Jean Mawal, President of the Interfaith Network of City of Greater Dandenong and also parish priest at St Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, said it was great to have everyone together after being isolated during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During Covid it was a difficult experience being segregated. It’s a great opportunity to get back together with a good reason and cause,” Fr Mawal said.
Fr Mawal said his hope for the community in 2023 is, “Appreciation and love for one another through the community,” and his Christmas message is to appreciate simpleness of being together.
Ms Tomah said she’s looking forward to bring people together in 2023.
“We want people to feel at home in their church and community.”