It was with evident joy that Bishop Silouan of Sinope joined a large congregation of faithful in the recently built church of Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Athelstone, Adelaide, for the service of the Great Paraklesis in the afternoon of Sunday 9 August.
The numerous priests and faithful were blessed by the presence of the accomplished Byzantine Ecclesiastical Choir of St John of Damascus who chanted with vigour in the expansive, pristine white and gold church; a setting fitting for a service exalting the purity and spiritual beauty of Our Lady, the Theotokos.
Following the service, the faithful proceeded to the parish hall to continue to be nourished, this time by the hospitality of the Central Philoptochos who with love and care had prepared individual plates overflowing with fasting food for every attendee. The generosity of the ladies was reciprocated by the faithful who participated in fundraising activities including a raffle and auction, which succeeded in raising over $4500 for the Central Philoptochos.
These funds will be entirely devoted to the charitable works and spiritual ministry of the Archdiocesan District of Adelaide, the fruits of which have already been evident in the recent establishment of a bookstore at the Archdiocese’s office.
The bookstore provides the faithful of Adelaide with a wide variety of spiritually edifying books, religious items for use in Orthodox worship and devotional life such as icons, prayer ropes and incense, as well as bonbonniere, baptismal items, wedding crowns and other such requirements for special ecclesiastical occasions.
Many of these items are locally and prayerfully made by our own Central Philoptohos ladies, who are also the ones who organised the Adelaide Book Centre and its beautiful presentation.
As an offering back to the Orthodox faithful of Adelaide, Bishop Silouan announced an exciting new initiative of the Central Philoptochos, a new quarterly publication titled “Diakonima” which will provide news, educational articles and spiritually uplifting material for all the Orthodox faithful in Adelaide.
This joy-filled and successful event was a testament to the desire of the faithful, including the parish priest of Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, Fr Efthymios Efthymiou, who with his parish committee selflessly hosted this event for the spiritual growth of the Church in Adelaide. Yet this can only be foreshadowed by spiritual work of the faithful; by the struggle of those who turn from consideration of appearances to that of the reality our souls as we appear before God and who entreat the Panagia to intercede on our behalf for the salvation of our souls.