“Let us dive deep into the waters of our faith and follow Christ with devotion”, was the paternal prayer and exhortation of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia to the thousands of Greeks, who at noon on Saturday, 6 January 2024, made their way en mass to the pier in the suburb of Frankston in Melbourne and participated in the service of the Blessing of the Waters and throwing of the Holy Cross.
The service was presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, who earlier liturgised at the celebrating Church of the Holy Epiphany in Frankston, where he also performed the Great Blessing of the Waters. Afterwards, he led a grand procession, and was joined by His Grace Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis, His Grace Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta and His Grace Bishop Themistocles of Nicopolis (Patriarchate of Alexandria), clergy of the Archdiocesan Districts of Melbourne and Northcote and a multitude of faithful, including the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Mr. Emmanuel Kakavelakis. The procession ended at Frankston Pier, where the service commemorating the Baptism of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Jordan River took place.
When the Holy Cross was thrown into the sea, around 50 young Greek faithful dived into the waters to retrieve it. The Cross was retrieved by the young Konstantinos Kopsaftis, who received the blessing of his Shepherd and Archbishop, as did the rest of the swimmers.
The Archbishop, in the short speech he delivered during the ceremony, first referred to the meaning of the great feast of Epiphany. “It is a powerful reminder of the cathartic and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, which renews and purifies both the elements of nature and our souls,” he emphasised, among other things, and pointed out: “Just as the waters of the Jordan received Christ and were sanctified, so we too are called to receive Him into our hearts, to reaffirm our faith in the Holy Trinity and to be transformed and renewed by His grace.”
His Eminence then implored everyone, as they set goals and resolutions for the new year, to make it a priority to commit to strengthening their connection with Christ. “Place Christ at the centre of your life”, was his paternal plea and exhortation, pointing out that our faith in the Lord and our identity as Orthodox Christians cannot be placed on the sidelines of our worldly priorities and pursuits. “May the throwing of the Holy Cross into the waters become an occasion to rekindle our desire to dive deeply into the waters of our faith and follow Christ with devotion”, he prayed in closing.