“Give love and you will see the fruits of the Holy Spirit sprout.” This paternal exhortation was addressed by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia to the deacon Panteleimon Toumbelekis, prior to his ordination to the Priesthood, which took place on Saturday, 6 May 2023, at the Holy Church of Saint Gerasimos, in Leichhardt, Sydney, where he will henceforth serve as Parish Priest.
The pious believers of the Parish, as well as the members of the Parish Council, lead by the President Mr. Ioannis Mitrothanasis, flooded the Holy Church and welcomed their Shepherd, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, with joy and emotion, while they exclaimed with one voice “Axios / Worthy” for the new Priest of the local Church and Proistamenos of their Parish.
During his Eminence’s admonition address to the ordinand, Archbishop Makarios emphasised that Christ with his Resurrection offered man the possibility of restoration, pointing out that this restoration “is not transferred exclusively for the hereafter, for the End Times”, but “this change of the inner man, the ‘good alteration’, the beginning of our salvation is here in this present life and remains to be completed in the Kingdom of God”. He recalled, moreover, the example of the Apostle Paul, who, from a terrible persecutor of the Church, became the most ardent preacher of the Gospel, and pointed out that the only explanation for this fundamental conversion of his, is the theopic experience that the Apostle had, that is, his meeting with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
Based on this, he invited the ordinand to walk, observing the proportions, to meet the Risen Lord: “This is the path for every Christian, according to his gifts and his inclinations. Your vocation is the path of the holy priesthood, which you must perceive as a path of meeting the Risen Lord, to which you must invite as many fellow travellers as you can. This is your ministry, through the priesthood to lead the faithful, whom the Church entrusts to you, to the meeting with the Risen Christ”.
The Archbishop did not fail to warn the ordinand that his path to the joy and the light of the Resurrection will always pass through the anguish of the Cross, while he advised him to walk to his spiritual Damascus with the light of the Resurrection always before his eyes, which will lead him to the truth, as well as to keep the gift of priesthood that the Church gives him, with stability and trust in the Lord, with a brave attitude and unshakable faith.
Finally, he acknowledged that “your progress to date fills us with hope and optimism that our expectations will not be disproven”, while he urged Fr Panteleimon to give himself to the service of the blessed parish of Saint Gerasimos, unsparingly devoting his time to the people in need, as well as to the Divine Liturgies. First, the ordained deacon came with reverence and filial emotion before his Shepherd, declaring his readiness to trust his life and place it in God’s hands, as well as to assume the heavy responsibility assigned to him by his Archbishop. Addressing His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, the deacon thanked him for the paternal love and affection with which he has surrounded everyone since his arrival in Australia.
“You have shown us that first of all you love Christ and His Church,” he noted and added: “Your great desire and devotion is for us all to be united and to love one another.” “This love, this paternal care, which you have shown us”, he continued, “from today that I assume responsibility in this blessed parish of Saint Gerasimos, I will try with all my being to transmit it to all the faithful”.
Then, turning to the crowded congregation, he assured that “from today I will be here near you to serve, to minister, to sacrifice my life for each and every one of you. I will watch over and care for all who pass through the doors of the Church. The doors of the church will be open to all who have any need, the sick, the broken-hearted, the weak, the bereaved. I’ll be there when you’re happy and when you’re sad.”
After the service of the ordination and the Dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, there followed an official meal in honour of the Archbishop, which was offered by Father Panteleimon and the Parish of Saint Gerasimos.