Cathedral wins Raffel
After months of waiting, St Andrew's Cathedral congregation has finally welcomed the new Dean of Sydney.
At an Installation Service at the Cathedral on Thursday, 4th February, the Rev Kanishka de Silva Raffel became the first non-European to hold the post.
From a Sri Lankan family and raised a Buddhist, Dean Raffel was born in England but his family emigrated to Australia, via Canada.
"When we came to Australia in the 1970s, there was one spice shop in sydney where all the Sri Lankan community would go on the weekend to buy their spices and the school that I went to in Carlingford, I am pretty sure I was the only non-European background student for the whole time I was there." the new Dean said.
"Now, Sydney has become a very multi-cultural society and it would be strange if the Church didn't reflect that because we have a message of God's love for all people - Jesus is for everybody."
The Dean is appointed by the Archbishop, with the concurrence of the Cathedral chapter. Mr Raffel was presented at the service by long-serving Cathedral chapter member John Bishop and the Archdeacon for Women, Kara Hartley.
Members of the Cathedral congregation, family, friends and a contingent from Dean Raffel's old church, St Matthew's, Shenton Park in Western Australia were on hand as well as the Deans of eight other Cathedrals around the country including Hobart and Perth.
In his first sermon, the new Dean struck a note of personal testimony.
"That mercy of God I first encountered thirty years ago last week. It didn’t make me less Sri Lankan any more than it made me more Australian. I encountered Jesus as I read Scripture. He spoke to me from the pages of the Bible; he made himself known in his Gospel. I came to the Living Stone and he made me one of his people by his mercy." he said.
Dean Raffel also mused on the uses of a Cathedral.
"Cathedrals are expensive to maintain, impossible to heat; home to rats and pigeons and despite being affectionately referred to as a glorified rain shelter, this Cathedral leaks!" he said "But we’re glad to be here....And we are here, to proclaim to anyone and everyone the excellencies of the Saviour, and to call on them to know and trust his love."
"This Cathedral is committed to making disciples of young and old, men and women, the lowly and the high-born. We are glad to offer hospitality and hope to refugees, street people, those struggling with addictions; these soaring spaces are regularly filled with song to extol the glories of God and we welcome those who come to hear; we are privileged and grateful to be a place where the people of this city and State gather to mourn, to remember, to pray, to give thanks, to offer the comfort and hope of the gospel of Jesus to one another. We are glad that in the midst of the whirl of commerce, politics and consumerism we may offer a place to hear of the Maker and Judge of this world; of a Son sent from heaven to bear our sins and to be our hope; of a King of mercy and grace, and a Lord raised from the dead; of a new world coming where every evil is overthrown and every tear is wiped away." the Dean said.