On the afternoon of Thursday, September 7, on the eve of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Great Archdiocesan Vespers was celebrated with splendor and with the participation of a large number of faithful at the celebrating Holy Monastery of Our Lady of Camarianis in Red Hill near Melbourne.
Archbishop Makarios of Australia presided over the Divine Liturgy along with Bishops Kyriakos of Sozopolis and Evmenios of Kerasounta, Archiepiscopal Vicars of Melbourne and Northcote respectively, and Bishop Themistocles of Nicopolis, of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Many clergy from the two Archdiocesan Districts of Victoria also participated.
At the end of the Service, the Archbishop addressed a short speech to the congregation, expressing first of all his paternal gratitude for the massive participation of clergy and faithful, who in unison, with a fraternal and loving spirit, came to venerate and honor the Virgin Mary. “What you see tonight is the Church,” he emphasized, adding that “isolation and autonomy are not the Church.”
Referring to the feast of the Theotokos, the Archbishop discerned that “birth” means beginning, life, hope, light, and future, concepts that have been identified with the holy person of the Most Holy Theotokos, which is so revered by Orthodox Christians.
Afterwards, Archbishop Makarios thanked warmly Bishop Themistocles of Nicopolis for his presence at the Holy Feast of Our Lady of Kamariani and for his regular visits to Australia, while he congratulated him for the missionary work he carries out in West Africa, with a focus on Sierra Leone. The Bishop, after expressing thanks to the Archbishop, spoke to the congregation about the theological background of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, noting that the Virgin Mary is the best role model for all girls in modern times.