The Feast day of the Nativity of St John the Baptist (24th of June) fell on a Saturday this year (2023), making it a good opportunity for the Archdiocesan District of Adelaide’s annual pilgrimage to the Parish of St John the Baptist in Port Augusta. With the blessing of Archbishop Makarios of Australia, Vespers and Divine Liturgy were celebrated in this historic Church.
The Vespers were celebrated on Friday night by a small team that went up early to prepare the Church. The next morning, Bishop Silouan presided at the Divine Liturgy, assisted by Fr Jeremy Krieg and Deacon John Saredakis. A small group of pilgrims from Adelaide (including a bus organised by the Central Philoptochos), together with a few locals, made up a 25-strong congregation. The service was followed by a fish luncheon catered by the Central Philoptochos.
The fact that there is a Church dedicated to St John the Baptist is quite miraculous since even at its peak there were only around 15-20 Greek families in Port Augusta. It was particularly through the efforts of one couple, who had a special affinity with the Saint and felt a calling to build a church in his honour. Through their incredible dedication, hard work and piety, the Saint honoured their efforts by assisting them to build the Church. In his sermon, Bishop Silouan honoured those that were present and made reference to the fact that they were also representing those who were unable to be there – especially those who worked to build the Church but have since moved on (some into the next life).
Bishop Silouan mentioned that he aims to try and maintain the custom of celebrating the memory of St John the Baptist in his Church at least twice per year (at his nativity and his beheading feast days). Through the blessings and prayers of Archbishop Makarios of Australia, we all look forward to returning again in August.