Outgoing President of Canberra’s Greek Community John Loukadellis says ‘future is bright’

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When I first met John Loukadellis about two years ago, he was just starting to make waves as President of the Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra (GOCCC). His passion for Hellenism and determination to help the Greek community thrive in the Australian Capital Territory was clear for all to see as he spearheaded a number of innovative initiatives.

From raising Greek flags across the territory for Greece’s Independence Day to getting iconic buildings lit up in blue and white, Mr Loukadellis made leaps and bounds in putting the GOCCC on the map.

Today, Mr Loukadellis is taking a small step back from the GOCCC after stepping down as President during the Community’s recent Annual General Meeting on November 19. He is now a Director at the Hellenic Club of Canberra.

In recognition of his efforts, I sat down with the proud Greek to hear all about his term as President of the GOCCC, Chairman of the St Nicholas School Limited, and Principal of the Greek School of Canberra.

Why did you decide to join the Greek Community of Canberra all those years ago?

I had relocated to Canberra for work in 2014, I was only meant to be there for one year. My eldest son was only six months old at the time. I had attended St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and after a few weeks was made a life member of the GOCCC. I am one of those people who always look to find something ‘Greek’ anywhere I go and at that time, I found that haven with GOCCC and of course also became a member of the Hellenic Club of Canberra.

Since then, what initiatives are you most proud of spearheading as President?

I joined the committee in 2018 and became President in 2019. The main reason was to help improve and increase the Greek School education and numbers. Considering I spent 12 years as President of the Antissian Association of NSW in Sydney, I felt I could try and give back to the Canberra community by building a small Greek language program.

Fast forward four years to the end of my tenure as President, we were successful in having over 110 kids enrolled every year for four years in a row. The Greek language program went from one day a week only to two days a week and we included an Adults Greek program too. Greek was the fastest growing languages in the region according to the ACT Languages Program, and we won the maximum community languages grant of $10,000 every year for four years.

john loukadellis
Mr Loukadellis has helped spread Hellenism throughout Canberra.

For this I am incredibly grateful to our wonderful Greek teachers who have and will continue to bless our children with the gift of learning Greek and I thank the parents and Canberra Greeks who trusted us to provide and grow this program.

A huge thanks of course to the Hellenic Club of Canberra for all their support too because as the Greek school grew in numbers, the clubs premises became our school and they provided meals for the kids during the break so who wouldn’t love learning Greek and eating souvlakia!

What have been your biggest challenges and successes?

The Greek School was always my focus so I say the school, both the children face-to-face and the adults online national learning program.

A few other big successes were that we were one of a few stakeholders to have been successful to host the Australian Ecumenical Parliamentary Church service for the first time ever in a Greek church at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Canberra in February 2022. Working closely with Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis and Federal Members of Parliament, after a solid few months of work and meetings on Capital Hill, the day we were advised we were going to host this event in our church for the first time was a true blessing for Canberra Greeks and St Nicholas Church.

Also the Ancient Greek Exhibition and our contribution to the showcase for the five months it was held in Canberra. Being able to promote the ACT at both a national level and in Greece made me very proud of the region I now call home after almost a decade living here. Knowing that we hosted 170 items from the British Museum and that the Hellenic Club if Canberra became a community sponsor and being there almost daily with tour groups from around the country and that Canberra Greeks were in the spotlight – made me super proud.

john loukadellis

Of course on Greek National Days (25 March and 28 October), I was immensely proud seeing 40 Greek Flags flying proudly for two weeks at a time and federal government buildings going blue on National Days to commemorate and remember the Greek sacrifices. This ensured we shone bright not just in Canberra but around the world as proud Greeks of the diaspora.

john loukadellis

The annual National Multicultural Festival in Canberra and our involvement in that, especially in the last two years where our new President Pana Tsironis and I have been working closely with ACT Government events team to ensure the strong involvement of the Greek community and the success of the GLENDI, which is the Sunday event at the three-day event. This year, we had a record of 380,000 attendees and it raised $20.1 million for the ACT Government and it promoted Hellenism to our broader Canberra community.

Finally – I am most proud of the good people of St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, who embraced me as a new member to their community back in 2014 and made me their own. Their continued love, support and friendship is something my family and I are most proud and thankful for.

john loukadellis
john loukadellis

What is the future of the Community?

The future of the community looks good. Our new committee led by our new President, Pana Tsironis, have all the experience and passion for the Greek Community to succeed as I did. I wish them all the best in everything they do. I will always be their biggest supporter as they know and am always free to help where possible.

What do you believe to be your legacy?

I hope that one day in the future, if one of the kids from the Greek school remember how hard I worked for the Greek language program in Canberra I will be a happy man. There are a number of things we are working on at the moment too, hopefully being remembered for my efforts towards St Nicholas Church and the Greek school and that I was just a good guy that did his best to lift Hellenism in Canberra, then I am satisfied.

john loukadellis

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I want to thank everyone in the Canberra Greek community for the faith, love and support you showed me over the last five years.

To all the State and Federal Government politicians, as well as the diplomatic community here in Canberra, thank you for the strong support and laughs we had. I am sure you will continue to support and invite the new leaders of our community to events that allow us to have our voices heard and acted on.

john loukadellis

To our Father Petros, what an amazing person we are blessed with in the ACT. His spiritual guidance and friendship to me in the last nine years since we have been in Canberra is priceless. Having had the privilege to work closely with him on St Nicholas Church will remain with me forever.

Thanks also to the Hellenic Club of Canberra for all their support during my Presidency. Absolutely amazing and I now look forward to serving the Board as a Director in my new chapter of Greek Community work in Canberra.

john loukadellis
john loukadellis

Finally, to my wonderful wife Natalie and three sons, who have sacrificed so much for me and our community due to all the family time away from them doing this. I thank them and am truly blessed to have them in my life. More games of cricket and a relaxing end of year with family is what I am most looking forward to now. God Bless you all and thank you The Greek Herald for supporting my journey.

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