Father Panteleimon Toumbelekis will serve as the new parish priest at St Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church in Leichhardt, Sydney, after his ordination by Archbishop Makarios of Australia on Sunday, May 7.
In a speech during the service, Father Panteleimon assured the congregation he would devote himself to the parish and said “the doors of the church will be open to all who have any need.”
His ordination comes after the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia announced last week the “ecclesiastical suspension” of Father Leslie Kostoglou, who previously served at St Gerasimos for over 20 years.
In their announcement, the Archdiocese said the ecclesiastical suspension will be reviewed once Father Leslie “returns to the treasury of the Parish of St Gerasimos in Sydney, the money he has embezzled or there is a relevant settlement with the Board of Directors of the Parish.”
This allegation of misappropriating funds came after The Greek Herald first reported that the Parish committee were considering a proposal to move Father Leslie to St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church at St Marys.
Parishioners at St Gerasimos launched a petition at the time, voicing their anger and calling on the committee “to reconsider” their proposal to move Father Leslie. So far, the petition has received over 5,000 signatures.
The Archdiocese’s latest suspension announcement on Facebook also received multiple comments from angered Greek community members. They voiced their disappointment at the suspension of Father Leslie, and said it was inappropriate to make public allegations of embezzlement prior to a proper investigation.
The Archdiocese has since limited who can comment on the post.