A Poly-hierarchical Divine Liturgy, presided by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia was celebrated with all due ecclesiastical splendour on Wednesday, 27 September, at the Church of the Resurrection of our Lord in Kogarah, Sydney. The worship service was a historic event for the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia because, on the one hand, it marked the culmination and conclusion of the historic 12th Clergy-Laity Congress and, on the other, because the Dismissal hymn of St Paisios the Athonite – recently proclaimed patron saint of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia – was chanted for the first time and which will henceforth be chanted at every Divine Liturgy in all the parishes of the local Church in the fifth continent.
The Honourable Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Australia, was present at the Concelebration as was the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Mr Yannis Mallikourtis. Concelebrating with Archbishop Makarios were the distinguished hierarchs from Greece, Their Eminences Metropolitans Chrysostomos of Messenia; Athenagoras of Ilion, Acharnes and Petroupolis; Gerasimos of Petra and Cherronesos; and Prodromos of Rethymnos and Avlopotamos as well as Their Graces Bishops Iakovos of Miletoupolis; Emilianos of Meloa; Silouan of Sinope; Kyriakos of Sozopolis; Christodoulos of Magnesia; Evmenios of Kerasounta and Bartholomew of Charioupolis.
The spiritually-edifying sermon was delivered by His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, representative of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Clergy-Laity Congress, who focused on aspects of the life, personality and teaching of St Paisios the Athonite. Moreover, His Eminence Nikitas expressed his gratitude to Archbishop Makarios of Australia as well as to the God-loving bishops, the reverend clergy and the pious people of the Holy Archdiocese for their profound love and for the warm hospitality they offered him during his stay in Sydney. Furthermore, he assured the congregation that upon his return to his see at the Archdiocese, he will remain noetically and prayerfully close with everyone, “because we are one family; we are the children of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”, as he characteristically pointed out. Lastly, the Archbishop of Great Britain welcomed the Australian Prime Minister on behalf of His All Holiness and the Mother Church of Constantinople, while also expressing his thanks for the support he has shown to the Greek community of Australia.
His Eminence Archbishop Makarios reciprocated with warm fraternal words, expressing his heart-felt gratitude to the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, as well as to Their Eminences, the hierarchs from Greece, who brightened the Clergy-Laity Congress of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia with their presence and participation.
At the same time, the Archbishop welcomed the distinguished presence of The Hon. Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Australia, for whom he acknowledged that he has repeatedly and practically demonstrated his respect and love for Hellenism and the Orthodox Church of the fifth continent. “Your presence among us today is not co-incidental” he stressed, “nor is your occasional participation in major events of Hellenism and the Church. On the contrary, they demonstrate that you acknowledge the immense contribution of the Greek people in the formation of contemporary Australian society. It also reaffirms the harmonious coexistence of faith and governance in our nation but also, if I may add, your genuine expression of friendship which you have extended to my humble person, from the very first moment of my arrival to Australia”. Concluding, His Eminence expressed the heartfelt gratitude of all to the Australian Prime Minister for the continuous support he provides to the Greek Orthodox community and remained confident of preserving this in the future, thus ensuring the flourishing of the Greek culture and heritage in Australia.
For his part, the Prime Minister spoke with equally warm words about the person of Archbishop Makarios as well as the local Church and the Greek community of this country. He emphasised, among other things, that the Archbishop is an emblematic personality and a faithful friend, who carries out exemplary work in Australia and stressed that he is moved by the spirit of the Orthodox Church and is inspired by it during the performance of his prime ministerial duties on behalf of the Australian nation. He also pointed out that he feels as if he is a member of the Greek community, even though he is not of Greek ancestry. His Eminence affirmed and confirmed that indeed the Prime Minister of Australia has every right to feel that he belongs to the Greek community, while the congregants concurred by giving a warm applause and exclaiming, “Worthy!”
It is noted that Archbishop Makarios of Australia also held a memorial service for the repose of the souls of all hierarchs, priests and deacons of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, and of all former members of the Archdiocesan Council and Clergy-Laity Congresses.