Thousands attend Blessing of the Waters ceremony conducted by Papa Lefteris at Rye

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Thousands of people lined the Rye Foreshore in Victoria today as suspended priest, Father Eleftherios Tatsis (Papa Lefteris), conducted the traditional Blessing of the Waters service.

The event began with a small Divine Liturgy presided over by Papa Lefteris to mark the day of the Epiphany.

Divine Liturgy. Photo: The Greek Herald.

Parishioners then moved towards the Rye Foreshore to watch in excitement as many swimmers, young and old, endeavoured to be the first to retrieve the Holy Cross which was thrown into the sea by Papa Lefteris from a nearby boat.

Thousands lined the foreshore. Photos: The Greek Herald.

Ultimately, 20-year-old Lukas Kintidis retrieved the Holy Cross and told The Greek Herald exclusively on the day he was really excited and proud.

“It’s insane. I had no idea I was going to win. I just swam and I looked around and I was ahead of everyone so I just kept going,” Lukas said.

“I’m really proud of my Greek heritage and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I swam for the Holy Cross.”

Papa Lefteris with Lukas. Photo: The Greek Herald.

This Blessing of the Waters ceremony took place despite Papa Lefteris being suspended by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia in October last year.

In a statement at the time, the Archdiocese said the former priest at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kamariani in Red Hill was “dismissed from his duties.”

“From this point forth [October 5, 2022], every service and every sacrament that possibly may be performed by the said clergyman does not have validity” and is not recognised by the Archdiocese, the statement added.

At today’s Blessing of the Waters, Papa Lefteris again addressed this suspension and said he would continue serving the Greek community because “you are my church.”

*All photos copyright: The Greek Herald.

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