Parishioners at St Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Church in Blacktown, Sydney have launched a petition urging the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia “to rethink” the decision to move Father Sotirios Papafilopoulos to Cairns in northern Queensland.
The petition was launched on Monday evening and has received over 600 signatures.
The author of the petition, Elaine Tsigounis, raised concerns on the effect this would have on the community and his family.
“Father Sotirios is a great man and a huge part of our community, he makes each and every person feel welcomed into our church, Greek Orthodox or not, he ensures we all feel safe and welcomed… (He) is a father of 5 kids, imagine how broken his children will be,” she said.
The petition also urges parishioners to send correspondence directly to the Archdiocese to reconsider this decision.
“Within days of Father Sotirios announcing his departure to a devastated congregation on Sunday, 20 August 2023, I have received countless messages from family and friends in complete shock, disbelief, and sadness at the fact that Father Sotirios will no longer be with us. (He) has by far, been the most influential priest we have had in Blacktown, and I, like so many others, stand by that statement.” a letter, viewed by The Greek Herald, read.
“(He) was held in high regard and esteem by the late Archbishop Stylianos, and this was due to his qualities as a true leader, a Greek patriot, a helpful and caring soul, and above all, an exemplary man of God.”
Fr Sotirios has served at the Blacktown church for 17 years. His final Divine Liturgy at Saint Paraskevi church will be this Sunday, August 27.
The parish committee have invited parishioners to a farewell gathering in the church hall following the Sunday service to commemorate his tenure at St Paraskevi church.