Sydney’s Greek Orthodox Parish of St Spyridon was the venue for a historic milestone for Orthodoxy in Australia, where Archbishop Makarios presided over the first-ever English Hierarchical Vespers Service in the nation.
Accompanied by a number of Reverend Clergy and Deacons who participated in the unforgettable service, and with scores of youth in the congregation, Archbishop Makarios used the opportunity of the feast-day of the brave fifteen-year-old Great Martyr Marina, who is the Patron Saint of the NSW Central Youth Committee, to reach out to the young people by conducting an all-English service.
With the blessing of Archbishop Makarios, the chanter of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of our Lady, Mr Asterios Zouriakas, composed the service in English and in Byzantine music. He was surrounded by young chanters, both male and female, who relished the occasion to honour St Marina in the language that they know best and which resounds in their hearts.
Parish President of St Spyridon, Dr Thomas Savoulis, welcomed Archbishop Makarios, who in his sermon spoke about the faith of St Marina the Great Martyr as a model for Christian life.
“What an example the fearless love of this young saint is for us, today,” exclaimed Archbishop Makarios and pointed out that, “The love that she harboured in her heart for Christ was so strong and resolute that it conquered the fright of the most dreadful and horrific tortures that she endured. It gave her wings to soar to the heavens and to boldly face even attacks from demons.”
He emphasised that, “We are also called to love Christ and the Church in the same fearless manner and to conquer the obstacles and difficulties that come our way.” Archbishop Makarios paternally advised the young people to love Christ with all their hearts and “be united with each other and ready to sacrifice yourselves for your neighbour. Only in this way, can we move forward as individuals, as an Archdiocese, as a community, and as a Church.”
The number of faithful attending the parish was restricted due to the regulations for the Coronavirus pandemic, however, the service was live-streamed and watched by thousands of faithful around the country.
A dinner was held after Vespers, in the presence of Archbishop Makarios and where Eleni Mavrolefteros addressed the enthusiastic young people on behalf of the NSW Central Youth Committee.
Further similar initiatives will take place around Australia as a commitment of the Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia’s to both young people and in bringing Orthodoxy to the broader Australian community.