With indescribable feelings of joy and emotion, the members of the Greek Orthodox community of the city of Wagga Wagga, welcomed their Shepherd, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia. His Eminence’s visit took place on Saturday, June 17, and was historic, as it was the first time in 43 years that the Greeks of this small regional town in New South Wales welcomed their Archbishop and Spiritual Father.
His Eminence Archbishop appeared equally moved with emotion, and who, after his officiating during the Vespers Service, in the Holy Church of the Dormition of Our Lady, addressed the congregation with words of gratitude, on the one hand to the current expatriate residents of Wagga Wagga and on the other to the first generation immigrants, who created this dynamic cell of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in an area of Australia far from the major urban centres.
“The first immigrants worked hard and honoured Hellenism and the motherland,” he remarked. “But they also honoured our faith, our Church and our Orthodox Faith”, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios added, expressing his heartfelt thanks to those present and prayed for the repose of the souls of the members of the community who had passed away.
At the same time, the Archbishop assured of the stable and strong support of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia to the Greek Orthodox community of Wagga Wagga. “The Holy Archdiocese is close to you”, His Eminence underlined with emphasis, adding that “we want you to feel that all together we are a family working towards the glory of Christ and the Church.
I do not want you to think that you here are forgotten souls. We love you, we have you in our thoughts and prayers.”
In support of this, he referred to the appointment, from 2019, of His Grace Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis as Archiepiscopal Vicar of Canberra, with responsibility and the ministry of the Greek Orthodox flock of Wagga Wagga, as well as in the appointment of Fr. Agathangelos Masteas, who has undertaken to serve on a consistent basis the spiritual and pastoral needs of the faithful of the Riverina Region, and namely the cities of Wagga Wagga and Albury.
Finally, His Eminence assured the omogeneia that he will visit their city as often as he can, while he thanked everyone for their warm welcome and hospitality, and wished them to have God’s grace abundantly in their lives and in their godly works.
He closed his address with a request to pray for the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who fights for the unity of the Orthodox and for achieving peace throughout the world.
It is noted that the Vespers Service was attended by, among others, His Grace Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis, who welcomed the Archbishop on behalf of the Greek Orthodox community of the city, as well as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Wagga Wagga Mark Edwards, the President of the Wagga Wagga Greek Orthodox Community, Mr. Costa Papaioannou, and the President of the Saint Nicholas Parish – Community of Canberra, Mr. John Loukadellis.