Salvation of Souls – Fr Lewi Barakat
Fr Lewi Barakat is an Assistant Priest at St Mary’s Cathedral and the Master of Ceremonies to the Archbishop of Sydney.
“As a Catholic Priest I desire above all to be faithful to God, and to be joyful and responsible with the gifts that He has entrusted to me for the good of the Church and the benefit of all people. Salvation of souls is at the heart of priestly life – nothing is more important to me than helping others to know and to believe in Jesus Christ, who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (John 14:6). He alone has the power to call every human person no matter how weak or wounded, gifted or strong, to come and discover in Him ‘life to the full’ (John 10:10).” – Fr Lewi
Fr Lewi sees the Cathedral as a place where all people can come to find rest, refuge and new life in God “whether it be a short visit, involvement in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or the faithful participation of the sacramental life of the Church”.
“It’s inspiring to be a part of the daily offerings of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the reverent and beautifully sung prayers of the Church (Vespers), the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the other Sacraments too. The divine mysteries are the soul that give life to the beautiful architecture and structure of the Cathedral,” Fr Lewi says. “Its significant history is not locked away in the past; its tradition continues to shine forth like a city built on a hill and carrying the mission of the Church forward it continues to lift our hearts and minds to God.”
Fr Lewi describes the primary responsibility of the Master of Ceremonies as “being of service to the Archbishop who is himself the chief steward of the mysteries of God and the overseer, promoter, and guardian of all liturgical life in the Archdiocese of Sydney. The office of bishop as teacher, sanctifier, and pastor of his Church shines forth most clearly in a liturgy that he celebrates.” [i]
“Part of my role then is to help everyone hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centred around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church. The importance of these liturgies is central to the life of the faithful as the liturgical celebrations at which the bishop presides, manifest the mystery of the Church, which is the mystery of Christ’s presence in our world[ii]. I believe this reality is one of the reasons so many people who have been away from the Church come back to God after participating in the inspiring liturgies at St Mary’s Cathedral.”
Born and raised in Western Sydney, the youngest of four children to Syrian parents, he was a proud student of Trinity Catholic College, Auburn. After school, Fr Lewi pursued his passion for sport, graduating with a degree in Exercise Science from the Australian Catholic University. As a qualified Exercise Physiologist, he worked within the health and exercise industry for over five years.
After discerning and accepting the invitation to follow Christ into the Seminary, Fr Lewi studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and continued with post-graduate studies at the Angelicum, working on a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology. He was ordained a Deacon at St Peter’s Basilica in 2014. On the Solemnity of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2015, Fr. Lewi Barakat was ordained a Priest at St Mary’s Cathedral by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
Upon his return to Sydney, Fr Lewi was appointed as an Assistant Priest to the Parish of All Saints, Liverpool: “I loved being there. I was greatly encouraged and humbled by the welcome of the people and their fidelity to Christ and the Church.” Fr Lewi found joy in supporting families and building relationships within the wider community, often seeking ways to call people back to the Church: “I served as a Chaplain in a variety of places including one of the local schools, our young adult faith formation, the RCIA, and ministering to the sick and dying at Liverpool Hospital, but I also enjoyed the surprise encounters with people whilst walking the city and visiting the local cafes”. He was appointed to St Mary’s Cathedral in March 2019.
Fr Lewi delights in being with his family and friends whenever possible. He enjoys exploring the outdoors and his sports, particularly soccer – “the real football”, and will sometimes check in on the rugby league to see how the Wests Tigers are doing. Fishing is one of his favourite past-times “for reasons both leisurely and biblical.” Reading and travel, he says “broaden your perspective and enhance your taste buds, awakening our sense of wonder, which is a precondition for the search for truth.”
[i] See Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium
[ii] See Ceremonial of Bishops