His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia liturgised at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, in the suburb of Preston in Melbourne on Sunday, June 25, the 3rd Sunday of Matthew. His Eminence Archbishop Makarios was also joined by the Chancellor of the Holy Archdiocese, Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Christophoros Krikelis and various priests from the Archdiocesan District of Northcote, while His Grace Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta, Archiepiscopal Vicar of Northcote, was also present joined in prayer.
Among the crowded congregation were the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Mr. Emmanuel Kakavelakis, the President of the Intercommunities Council of Victoria, Mr. Tony Tsourdalakis, and students of St John’s College, Preston, accompanied by their teachers. The sacred chanter’s stand was graced with the presence of the students and teachers of the Byzantine Music School of Australia, from the Northcote District school, under the direction of Mr. Vaios Anastasopoulos, Director of the School.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, in an intensely emotional atmosphere, the Archbishop elevated Father Vasileos Kourtesis to the office of Protopresbyter. The awarding of this honorary office constitutes a practical recognition, on behalf of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, of the devotion shown and the valuable work carried out by the Parish Priest of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius during the 57 years of his priestly ministry, which will be celebrated on 2 July 2023.
Coming before His Eminence, the honoured priest first referred to the persons who played a crucial role in his life and priestly journey, commemorating with great emotion his spiritual father and physical uncle, the late Father Ierotheos Kourtesis, as well as his late Presvytera, Eleni. He also thanked His Grace Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta for his constant support, while he addressed words of gratitude to his Shepherd, Archbishop Makarios, on the occasion of the upcoming completion of four years since his enthronement.
“Your four-year pastorate in the Holy Archdiocese of Australia was crowned with complete success,” he distinguished among other things. “You resolved multiple issues concerning the progress of the Church and all its institutions,” Fr Vasileos pointed out. He then focused on the issue of saving Saint John’s College, noting that the upward trajectory, which it is now following thanks to the decisive contribution of the Archbishop, preserves the vivid vision of the inspiration and founder of the College, the late Father Ierotheos. “For these reasons, both my family and the entire community of Melbourne, who entrusted their children to the said institution, thank you from the bottom of our hearts”, emphasised Father Vasileos, addressing His Eminence.
“I have Saint John’s College in my mind and consciousness as if it were my child”, answered the Archbishop moved with emotion, thanking with this opportunity the new Protopresbyter, both for his overall contribution to the local Church, and for his special concern for the progress of the said educational institution. “Know that the wishes and prayers of your blessed uncle, Ierotheos Kourtesis, did not go to waste,” he added.
Finally, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios analysed the Gospel passage of the day and spoke to the congregation about the role of the eyes of our body and soul. “Just as the eyes of the body need glasses to see properly, so do the eyes of our soul,” he quoted and pointed out among other things: “We should be careful what glasses we put on the eyes of our soul. Because if we put on the glasses of hostility, hatred, envy or criticism, then we see everything in a dark manner. But if we put on the glasses of the resurrection, we will see everything bright, beautiful, joyous and resurrected. This depends on us and the choice we make.” His Eminence concluded his address with a paternal exhortation to the faithful, to try to see the positives of their neighbours instead of the negatives, and to look more for the gifts, rather than the flaws of their fellow human beings.