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Orthodoxy in Australia
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Romanian - Bp Michael
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Very Reverend Father Michael Shehadie succeeded his late father V Rev Fr Nicholas Shehadie as parish priest of Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Redfern, NSW, Australia, serving from 1934-1951.
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 Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, Russia. His wife Hannah (nee Khoury) did not want Michael to be ordained at that time, so Michael became a chemist/herbalist.
He joined his father in Sydney, Australia, in 1925 with his wife Hannah and their two daughters Alexandra (Alice) (m. Mounir Doumani), and Paulette (m. Daniel Joseph). In Australia, Michael and Hannah then had another two 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 parish priest of the Church of Saint George Redfern. After his ordination, the family then had one more child, Margaret (m. Morris Hanna).
At the end of 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 Egyptian government would not accept anyone else, so the position remained unfilled.
In 1949 while Fr Michael was parish priest, the NSW government decided to resume the land the church was built on to erect Department of Housing flats. Fr Michael ensured the NSW Minister, Clive Evatt, found a suitable site close by to build a replacement church.
It was a difficult time for Fr Michael, as his father's church was demolished, and they had to hold their services in the Sydney City Mission Hall in Redfern Street. Following his continual pushing, land was granted at the corner of Walker and Cooper Streets Redfern, for the building of a replacement church.
He had such a traumatic time with a section of the community that his health was badly affected. He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1951 at the age of 56. He had secured the land for a replacement church, and the plans were drafted, but Fr Michael did not live to see them realised.
Following his repose, the plans were put into effect and 'his' church was opened in 1954. Today this church is the Archdiocesan Cathedral.