On the sixth Sunday of Matthew, 24 July, the events both in memory and honour of the fighters and those who fell for the freedom and independence of Cyprus culminated at the Holy Archdiocese of Australia.
His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia along with His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis and Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis conducted a memorial service at the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Sydney for the repose of the souls of the late Archbishops of Cyprus – Kyprianos and Makarios III, the Ethnomartyrs of the 9th July 1821, and those who fell during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
Among those present were the Shipping Deputy Minister to the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Vassilios Demetriades; the High Commissioner for the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Mrs Martha Mavromatis; the heads of the Pan-Australian Justice for Cyprus Coordinating Committee (PASEKA), the NSW Justice for Cyprus Coordinating Committee (SEKA), as well as representatives of other Cypriot organisations.
In the introduction to his talk, His Eminence stressed the need for the historical memory to be preserved and, in fact, to also become the acquisition of younger generations in order to prevent the brutality of familiarity with historical events that have hurt their homeland be forgotten with the passage of time.
He subsequently spoke with words of gratitude for those who fought and shed their blood for the freedom of the island, pointing out that “we do not forget and we always stress that Cyprus is still enslaved and there are still people who are refugees in their own homeland.”
Taking occasion of a phrase from the Gospel passage that was read during the Divine Liturgy, the Archbishop wished to send a resounding message to the congregation and to all Cypriots. It was the phrase-exhortation: “Take heart, my son” that Christ addressed to the paralytic in Capernaum. “This is what I want to say today from Sydney, Australia, through the Minister to all our Cypriot brethren, to the President of the Republic of Cyprus, to the Council of Ministers, to His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus and to all the Cypriot people: Have and be of good courage and God will never forsake us. God will always be close to us and by our side,” said His Eminence.
Concluding his speech, the Archbishop announced the unanimous decision of the Bishops of the local Church to award the High Commissioner of Cyprus, Mrs Martha Mavromatis, in view of her imminent departure from Australia, with the medal of the Order of the Christ-loving of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia. This honorary distinction was a recognition of Mrs Mavromatis’ conscientious service and her dedication to the Church and the ideals of the nation. His Eminence, having addressed fervent paternal words to the honoured diplomat, wished her all the best in her career as she assumes her new duties in China. “Just as you honoured the Republic of Cyprus with your presence here in Australia,” he noted, “in the same way in China, make Cyprus known to the people of this great country.”
The visibly moved Mrs Mavromatis thanked the Archbishop for the great honour given to her by the local Church. She then praised the Greek and Greek-Cypriot diaspora, stating that she will be accompanied by the best memories from her five-year tenure in Australia, while making special mention of His Eminence, remembering his paternal affection and concern. “I leave Australia wiser, after five beautiful years, albeit far from my family – my husband and children. And you, Your Eminence, were my family”, she said, wishing Archbishop Makarios: “May God give you strength to continue your wonderful work for the good of the Greek community, for the good of Orthodoxy and for Hellenism in general.”
The emotion-laden atmosphere at the Cathedral was further enhanced by the heartfelt wishes received by Archdeacon Athenagoras Karakonstantakis from the Archbishop, clergy and the faithful on the occasion of his nameday, as he bears the name of St Athenagoras the Apologist. His Eminence wished the Archdeacon to have God’s blessing in order to continue serving the Church with much love, self-sacrifice and devotion, just as he does to this day. Henceforth, he mentioned the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, a truly great Patriarch who, in fact, contributed significantly to ecclesiastical issues faced by the island during his Patriarchy.
It is noted that after the Memorial service, Archbishop Makarios had a meeting in his office with the Shipping Deputy Minister to the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Vassilios Demetriades, the High Commissioner of Cyprus, Mrs Martha Mavromatis and executive members of PASEKA and SEKA NSW. During this meeting, they discussed issues concerning Cyprus and the needs of the Greek Cypriot community in Australia.