Hundreds of Greek Australian parishioners flocked to church on Sunday after weeks of staying away, as a ban on mass gatherings to curb the spread of coronavirus was eased.
Whilst only ten people at a time were allowed inside churches, it was still a special moment for many as they heard the melodious chants of the Sunday liturgy in person for the first time in eight weeks.
“I was moved when I came to church today because it’s something we couldn’t do for a while. But I hope the pandemic will disappear and we will be able to return to normal,” said Margarita Kapetanaki with tears in her eyes, after attending a service at St Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church in Burwood.
Another parishioner from St Nectarios, Stella, also expressed how happy she was to be able to attend church for her mother’s 17 year memorial.
“It’s a pleasure to be here for my mother’s 17 year memorial and to see everyone at church today,” she said.
However, the reopening of Greek Orthodox churches across Australia was no easy feat. Parishioners were asked to sit in designated seats and those who weren’t lucky enough to get inside, had to adhere to social distancing measures in outdoor courtyards.
Disposable gloves and antiseptic were also available at the entrance, and worshippers had their temperature taken on arrival.
Father George Liangas from St Nectarios Burwood said these preparations to reopen the church were worth it as it was good to see parishioners attend services again.
“It was difficult to have holy services with no parishioners, so I’m very happy that we are now able to open our churches again. It was moving to interact with everyone, which is what the church is about,” Father Liangas said.