With ecclesiastical splendour, the memory of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr was celebrated at the Parish of Saint Catherine in the Sydney suburb of Mascot.
On Friday, 24 November 2023, on the eve of the feast day, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, His Grace Bishop Gregorios of Mesaoria, from the Church of Cyprus, officiated at the Great Vespers. On Saturday 25 November 2023, the main day of the feast, the festive Divine Liturgy was presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, joined also in co-celebration by Hierarch of the Ancient Apostolic Church of Cyprus and Their Graces, Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia and Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Makarios thanked His Grace Bishop Gregorios with fraternal and complimentary words for his honourable presence and participation in the Holy Feast Day of the Parish of Saint Catherine, Mascot. His Eminence also pointed out that his visit grants feelings of joy and emotion for the entire plenitude of the local Church. Joy because “every time people come from Greece, Cyprus, our Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mount Athos or Jerusalem, we feel that the bridges we want to maintain with them are strong and we are able to travel across them.” And emotion, because “in the person of His Grace Bishop Gregorios, we see all the struggles and anguish of the Cypriot people”. Concluding his address, His Eminence wished for Bishop of Mesaoria, when he returns to the Cyprus, the island which gives birth to many heroes and Saints, to have gained blessed experiences from his communication and association with the Christ-loving people of the fifth continent.
In his response, Bishop Gregorios of Mesaoria, heartily thanked the Shepherd, Archbishop Makarios, the clergy and the faithful of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, for their love and for the warm hospitality they have shown him. In addition, he praised the ministry and the work of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, wishing for Him to continue unhindered in transmitting the spirit of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and in strengthening the faithful of the Orthodox Church on the fifth continent.
Before the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence preached the Holy Sermon, appropriately speaking to the congregation about the life, gifts and virtues of the honoured Saint. His Eminence particularly focused on the love for God, which Saint Catherine possessed, like all the Martyrs of our Church, which was her motivation to endure cruel tortures and finally shed her blood for the truth of Christ.
Rejecting the erroneous belief that love for God is a virtue that is easily and effortlessly acquired, the Archbishop pointed out that “when we say ‘I love God’, it means that ‘God is the greatest priority of my life’”. “The word ‘love’ (in Greek) begins with Α and ends with Ω, and it is a word that includes everything,” he characteristically remarked, to point out: “And when we say ‘I love God,’ I have no right to love God with allowances or reductions. I love God with all my strength, with all my existence, with all my being. And yes, if necessary, I will give my life even as Saint Catherine gave it. This means love for God and we must acquire this love.”
Concluding, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, after thanking and congratulating the Parish Priest, Father Peter Mavrommatis, for his ministry, making note of this blessed clergyman with ecclesiastical ethos, addressed to the faithful his heartfelt paternal wishes for the feast of the Patron Saint of his Parish, as well as for the upcoming feast of the Nativity of the God-Man, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.