On Thursday afternoon, 7 September 2023, on the eve of the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Great Hierarchical Vespers were celebrated with due splendour and with the participation of a large number of faithful at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kamariani in Red Hill, near Melbourne. His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia officiated at the Vespers Service, while Their Graces Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis and Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta, Archiepiscopal Vicars of Melbourne and Northcote respectively, and His Grace Bishop Themistocles of Nicopolis, of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, were also present. Many clergy from the two Archdiocesan Districts of Victoria also participated.
At the end of the Vespers Service, His Eminence addressed a short homily to the congregation, first of all expressing his paternal satisfaction for the large participation of clergy and believers, who came together, with a friendly and loving spirit, to venerate and honour the Virgin Mary. “What you see tonight is the Church,” His Eminence emphasised, adding that “isolation and autonomy are not the Church.”
Referring to the Feast of the Mother of God, the Archbishop discerned that “birth” means beginning, life, hope, light and future, concepts that have been identified with the holy person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is so revered by Orthodox Christians.
Subsequently, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia offered His Grace Bishop Themistocles of Nicopolis the opportunity the speak to the congregation, whom he warmly thanked for his presence at the holy feast of Panagia Kamariani, and for his regular visits to Australia, while he congratulated him for the missionary work he is carrying out in West Africa, with a focus on Sierra Leone. His Grace Bishop Themistocles, after expressing thanks to the Archbishop, spoke to the congregation about the theological background of venerating and honouring the Most Holy Theotokos, while pointing out that the Virgin Mary is the best model for all girls in modern times.