During an online event on “Greek Diaspora – the importance of preserving the Greek language in the Greek community”, organised on the occasion of this year’s World Greek Language Day by Frederick University and the Office of the Presidential Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios of Australia gave a speech.
As reported by vema.au.com, the event, which took place on Thursday, the 18th of February, was attended by prominent linguists and representatives of diaspora organisations and by hundreds of expatriates from the United Kingdom, France, Australia, the Americas, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and rest of the world, but also Cyprus and Greece.
Archbishop Makarios of Australia, in his message that was transmitted at the beginning of the event, congratulated the organisers on their initiative to focus on the Greek Diaspora and the fundamental importance of preserving the Greek language. “One of the most important day I will always remember was when I was called to give a short greeting to the Greek diaspora who welcomed me at the airport. I remember speaking in Greek and I suddenly paused, probably giving the impression that I had finished my speech. Then one of the Hierarchs told me to speak in English as well. Since then, in my speeches, whether in my homilies or at social events, I make sure to speak in both languages, Greek and English. However, in the course of time, I realised that many times this specific need did not exist,” he said.
Subsequently, the Archbishop noted that it was a common finding that the Greek Diaspora in Australia “has largely retained all the elements that compose the identity of the Greek Nation, including the Greek language.”
“Our Archdiocese is struggling in various ways to contribute in this direction”, he continued, “encouraging the expatriates, on the one hand, to speak Greek in their homes and, on the other hand, to be taught the Greek language at school”. “From the parishes and the catechism schools to our educational institutions, a huge effort is being made”, he pointed out, referring to St. John’s College in Melbourne, which two years ago was about to suspend its operation. “We decided that it remain open and we struggled to make it prosper and grow.
The Archbishop also referred to the Theological School of Apostle Andrew in Sydney, where an additional year was added to the curriculum and courses will be given in Greek. He also recalled the recent matter in relation to the Greek Studies Programme at La Trobe University in Melbourne, which the Holy Archdiocese of Australia saved from being cancelled.
Archbishop Makarios pointed out: “The challenge we have before us is to inspire young children to learn the Greek language, that is, to acquire an inner need to speak the language of their ancestors, and at the same time to find answers to the claim that the Greek language will not be useful to them in their professional careers. It may be necessary for us to work more closely with the governments of Greece and Cyprus and to give professional incentives, which will make the Greek language more attractive for the children of the Greek Diaspora.”
Concluding his greeting, the Archbishop of Australia referred to the important role that the Greek language played in the cohesion of the Greek Diaspora and in the preservation of the Greek identity.