Archbishop Makarios of Australia made historic visits to the New South Wales regional cities of Wagga Wagga and Albury over the weekend.
Archbishop Makarios first visited Wagga Wagga on Saturday, June 17 to preside over the Hierarchical Vespers Service at the Holy Church of the Dormition of Our Lady.
The event was the first time in 43 years a Greek Orthodox Archbishop had visited Wagga Wagga.
During the service, there were a number of officials and VIP guests in attendance including the Archiepiscopal Vicar of Canberra, Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis; the Catholic Bishop of Wagga Wagga Mark Edwards OMI; the Independent Member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr; the President of the Wagga Wagga Greek Orthodox Community, Kosta Papaioannou; and the President of the Greek Community of Canberra, John Loukadellis.
When addressing the congregation on the day, Archbishop Makarios expressed his thanks to those present and said he would always support the local Greek Orthodox community.
“We want you to feel that all together we are a family working towards the glory of Christ and the Church,” the Archbishop said. “I do not want you to think that you here are forgotten souls. We love you, we have you in our thoughts and prayers.”
Wagga Wagga MP Dr McGirr also gave an address and explained his personal connection to the local Greek community and thanked them for keeping the flame of Hellenism alive.
“The hospitality and community spirit of the Greek Orthodox Parish & Community of Wagga Wagga is wonderful to see,” Dr McGirr said.
The next day, on Sunday, June 18, Archbishop Makarios paid his first-ever visit to Albury, which is located on the border of NSW and Victoria. He presided over the Matins and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the church of The Holy Archangels.
The Archbishop was welcomed to Albury by the local Greek community; Bishop Bartholomew; Member for Albury, Justin Clancy; Albury Mayor Kylie King; Albury Deputy Mayor Steve Bowen; and the President of the Parish – Community of The Holy Archangels, Elias Andronikos.
In a speech at the church, Archbishop Makarios thanked the community and stressed that Bishop Bartholomew and Father Agathangelos Masteas will continue to serve the local communities.