Michael Shehadie

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Very Reverend Father Michael Shehadie was the parish [[priest] of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Redfern, NSW, Australia, serving from 1934 to 1951. He had succeeded his late father V Rev. Fr. Nicholas Shehadie as the parish priest.

Michael Shehadie was born in Lebanon in 1895, the second child of Fr. Nicholas and Khourieh Alexandra Shehadie. Growing up there, he studied at Our Lady of Balamand Theological School, (in what is now Lebanon), and then at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy in Russia. His wife Hannah (nee Khoury) did not want Michael to be ordained at that time, so Michael became a chemist/herbalist.

In 1925, Michael joined his father in Sydney, Australia with his wife Hannah and their two daughters, Alexandra (Alice) (m. Mounir Doumani), and Paulette (m. Daniel Joseph). In Australia, Michael and Hannah had two more children, Nicholas (later Sir Nicholas) (m. Marie Bashir, current Governor of NSW), and George (m. Carmel Wigan).

After the repose of his father in 1934, he accepted ordination to the priesthood and became the parish priest of the Church of St. George in Redfern. After his ordination, the family had an additional child, Margaret (m. Morris Hanna).

Following World War II, the Egyptian government offered Fr. Michael the position of Honorary Consul to Australia. Due to jealousy within the church community, and his devotion to the church, he had to decline the offer. The Egyptian government did not accept anyone else, so the position remained unfilled.

In 1949, while Fr. Michael was the parish priest, the New South Wales government decided to take back the land on which the church was built so that the Department of Housing could erect flats. Fr. Michael ensured with the NSW Minister, Clive Evatt, that a suitable site would found close by to build a replacement church.

The times were a difficult for Fr. Michael as his father's church was demolished. Until a new church could be built the community had to hold their services in the Sydney City Mission Hall in Redfern. With Fr. Michael's continual prodding, land was finally granted at the corner of Walker and Cooper Streets in Redfern, for the replacement church.

During this period Fr. Michael experienced a traumatic time with a part of the parish community, trauma that affected his health badly. Do to the intensive atmosphere, he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1951 at the age of 56. While Fr. Michael had secured the land for a replacement church and had building plans drafted, he did not live to see them realised.

Following his repose, his plans were carried out and 'his' church was opened in 1954. Today this church is the Archdiocesan Cathedral.

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