“I want you to keep this from tonight’s event, that the person who loves is never the weak one. The person who loves is the strong one. All the love you have given to the wrong people will be returned to you. Do not regret loving. Love is a spiritual investment. Love constitutes the perfect way of life. Love is Christ.”
This paternal supplication was addressed by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia to the hundreds of his dinner guests, Hierarchs, clergy and laity, during the celebratory dinner which was organised in his honour on Friday, 19 January 2024, in Sydney, on the occasion of his name day.
The Dinner, the proceeds of which will be allocated to the needs of the renovation of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady, was honoured with the presence of the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, who was accompanied by her husband Mr. Dennis Wilson, as well as senior representatives of Australia’s political leadership – at federal, state and local government levels – and representatives of diplomatic missions of many countries. Among them was The Hon. Courtney Houssos, MLC, State Minister for Finance, Domestic Manufacturing, Government Procurement and Natural Resources, who represented NSW Premier The Hon. Chris Minns, MP, Mr. Mark Speakman, Leader of the Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition in the NSW Parliament, Ms. Eleni Peteinou, NSW Shadow Minister for Finance and Sport, His Excellency Mr. Georges Papacostas, Ambassador of Greece to Australia, Mr. Antonios Sammoutis, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Beka Dvali, Ambassador of Georgia, Mr. Radu Gabriel Safta, Ambassador of Romania, Mr. Vasyl Myroshnychenko , Ambassador of Ukraine, Mr. Yannis Mallikourtis, Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Mr. Stavros Nikolaou, Deputy High Commissioner of Cyprus, Ms. Jasmina Pekmezovic, Consul General of Serbia in Sydney, and Mr. Ali Sevim, Consul General of Turkey in Sydney.
At the start of the event, the Choir of the Greek Orthodox Christian Society sang the national anthems of Greece and Australia, and then performed Greek traditional songs. This was followed by the warm greeting of the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, who underlined the crucial contribution of Hellenism to the progress of the Australian nation, while she reserved words of praise for the Primate of the Orthodox Church in Australia, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia. On behalf of the Bishops, the holy Clergy and all the Christian plenitude of the Holy Archdiocese, His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope, Archiepiscopal Vicar of Adelaide, offered heartfelt filial wishes to the Archbishop.
Taking to the podium, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia thanked everyone for their honourable presence at the celebratory dinner, while he expressed his gratitude for the love with which he has been surrounded since the first day of his arrival on the fifth continent. He also expressed his satisfaction with the unifying climate that prevails within the local Church and asked everyone to contribute to its preservation, especially in view of the challenges that mark the beginning of the second century of life of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia.
“The Unity between us is not a luxury or a matter of choice,” he emphasised and pointed out: “It is a necessary element, because unity belongs to the nature and individuation of our Church. All together, as one body, we only move forward. And I call you to a general mobilisation, so that we may all live together, you and your children, the blessed moments that are coming and that which Holy Spirit has in store for us, the new centenary of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia which has just dawned”.
Referring to the current anniversary year for the Orthodox Church of the fifth continent, the Archbishop envisioned important celebrations to be held throughout Australia, while emphasising the Apostolic Visit of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, next October.
He noted, on this occasion, that “throughout the past hundred years, the Ecumenical Patriarchate played an important role in the life of the local Church, as evidenced by the archives. Therefore, at this time, we turn our thoughts and our prayers to the Preeminent and Suffering Church of Constantinople, to our Ecumenical Patriarchate and to His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and with gratitude we offer our infinite respect and devotion.”
Finally, His Eminence underlined that the history of the Orthodox Church and the Greeks of the fifth continent is an integral part of Australia’s national history, while he gratefully commemorated the past generations of Greek immigrants, who worked tirelessly and sacrificially for the progress of Hellenism and the Church. The Archbishop’s reference to the pioneer immigrants and the great legacy they have bequeathed to the younger generations, was accompanied by the screening of a short audio-visual tribute, on the history of the Orthodox Church in Australia.
During the Dinner, traditional Greek dances were performed by the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney, while a special moment of the evening was the awarding, by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, of the distinction of the Order of Christ-Loving to persons who distinguished themselves for their selfless contribution to the Church and to the wider society.