W

hen His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia arrived at Sydney International (Kingsford Smith) Airport on June 18, the tremendous outpouring of love by His flock, together with the enthusiasm reflected in the sonorous chanting that engulfed this secular space—transformed it into a temple of the Holy Spirit! It was with incredible eagerness, therefore, that the faithful awaited the enthronement of Archbishop Makarios as Primate of Australia on June 29, which providentially is marked by the Feast day of Saints Peter and Paul; two pillars of the Church from whom, along with the other apostles, all Orthodox hierarchs have succeeded.

The enthronement took place at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Sydney to much acclaim and spiritual joy. Thousands of people, clergy and laity, young and old, from throughout Australia and overseas participated in this sacred event. Pupils from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s day schools were dressed in traditional Greek costume, showering Cleveland Street, Sydney, with rose petals as the Archbishop officially entered the Archdiocese grounds to the resounding exclamation of Ἂξιος!, “He is Worthy!”

The event was presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and all Estonia, who represented His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Orthodox Ecclesiastical hierarchs present included: His Grace Bishop Petronius of Salaza, representing the Church of Romania and its head, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel; His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Maroneia and Komotini, who represented the Church of Greece and its head, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos; His Eminence Metropolitan Georgios of Paphos represented the Church of Cyprus and its head, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos; His Eminence Metropolitan Andreas of Arkalochorion, Kastellion and Viannos represented the Eparchial Synod of the Church of Crete; and Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago along with Bishop Apostolos of Medeia represented the Archdiocese of America and Archbishop Elpidophoros; His Grace (now Metropolitan) Seraphim of Apollonias (now Sebasteia) was also present to welcome Archbishop Makarios. Other ecclesiastical guests included representation from the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Coptic churches.

Political dignitaries present at the event included: The Honourable Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of NSW; the Federal Immigration Minister David Coleman; the Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese; Sydney’s Greek Consul-General Mr Christos Karras; Mr Terence Quick, former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Hellenic Republic; and Cypriot High Commissioner to Australia Mrs Martha Mavrommati.

On this historic occasion, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios emphasised His desire to maintain loving communion with His entrusted spiritual children throughout the rest of His life; affirming that He belongs to both Christ and His Church and that He is here to self-sacrificially and lovingly serve the Orthodox faithful. He said that He will stand by each one’s side “like a compassionate father, an honest father and a blessed friend,” with His main wish being “to break down distances and spread love without discriminating.” His Eminence was unequivocal about the importance of young people and their relationship with the Church, highlighting that one of the Archdiocese’s core priorities will be the youth, “who are not only the future but also the present of the Church” while he stressed that on that point “we cannot wait any longer.” Australia’s new archbishop called on young people to come close to Jesus Christ and to trust the Church.

Indeed, the opening and closing remarks of His emotional enthronement address reflect the motivating spirit behind the above remarks regarding His ministry, and the manner in which He perceives it. After acknowledging His fellow hierarchs, He began:

Beloved Children in Christ,

“And the Lord said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still aura of a voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). 

In this passage from the Old Testament, the Prophet Elijah agonises and struggles to probe by which manner God reveals Himself, and ascertains that the “strong wind,” which “tears into mountains and breaks the rocks in pieces,” “the earthquake” that destroys, and the “fire” that obliterates, though appearing to announce the presence of God, in the end conceals it because God does not reveal Himself in an “excess of power.” God is not revealed either through power and enforcement, through the threat of the earthquake, or through the mania of the dissolution, nor through the fury of the flame, but reveals Himself calmly, faintly and peacefully, simply and quietly, like a gentle aura that refreshes, graces and frees the human person, and which opens for him the gate of heaven. It is in this gentle aura that God is hidden, precisely because He reveals Himself in an “excess of love.” 

And He concluded…

My dear sisters and brothers, 

I fervently beseech you to continually pray for your Archbishop. By God’s grace, “which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking,” I shall strive with all my strength to minister to you with an “excess of love,” which is true strength, which is the “bond of perfection,” so that my journey here, my ministry and my witness, might be as a “gentle aura” that shall comfort you and direct you to man’s eternal destination in Christ, Who is “the Alpha and the Omega”—“He Who is, Who was, and Who is coming,” “the First and the Last,” “the Beginning and the End.” 

Glory to God for all things! 

Watch the Video of Enthronement