Canberra Greeks honour Independence Day with liturgy and annual wreath laying ceremony

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On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day with a special church service and visit to the Greek Australian War Memorial.

Celebrations commenced with a Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Kingston, Canberra. Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis officiated the liturgy for the last time before he relocates to Brisbane, Queensland to serve the local Greek Orthodox community there.

The service was attended by many distinguished guests, as well as students, teachers, and parents of the Greek School of Canberra.

On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
Father Petros (L) and Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis. All photos: The Greek Herald /Evelyn Karatzas.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.

Children from as young as five years old, stood proudly at the front of the church, holding the Greek, Cypriot, Pontian and Australian flags. They also recited poems to commemorate the heroes of 1821, and performed two songs – Saranta Palikaria and Feggaraki Mou Lampro (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).

On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.

Following the church service at St Nicholas, everyone was invited to attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Greek Australian War Memorial. The event, which was emceed by Terry Kanellos OAM, included the singing of the Greek and Australian national anthems, a minute of silence, speeches and the wreath laying ceremony.

Official guests who laid wreaths included Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis; the Ambassador of Greece in Australia, Stavros Venizelos; the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis, the President of the Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra (GOCCC), Pana Tsironis; and the President of the Hellenic Club of Canberra, Andrew Satsias; along with many other Presidents of local Greek and Cypriot community organisations and RSL Clubs.

On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
The High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
President of the GOCCC, Pana Tsironis.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.

The Ambassador of Greece to Australia, Mr Venizelos also gave a speech on the day, marking his first Greek Independence Day spent in Canberra.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate the birth of Greece,” Mr Venizelos said.

“We commemorate the fallen, the people who sacrificed everything for our freedom. Without their struggles over those six years of war, 1821-1827, we would not be free and would not be the country that we are today.”

On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
Ambassador of Greece in Australia, Stavros Venizelos.

The Secretary of the Hellenic RSL Sub-branch in Melbourne, Mr Kanellos said he had been presiding over the annual event for the last 18 years.

“The good thing about this event in Canberra is that everyone’s very tied together,” Mr Kanellos said.

“From my understanding there’s only one Greek Orthodox church in Canberra, and one in Queanbeyan, NSW, so the fact that you can bring the whole community together is really fantastic.

“It means a lot to me to be representing my community as well, especially having served in the military as well, which is something that connects me to these types of events.”

On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
Secretary of the Hellenic RSL Sub-branch in Melbourne, Terry Kanellos OAM.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.
On Sunday, March 31, the Greek community of Canberra celebrated Greek Independence Day.

Mr Kanellos said he felt proud to see the younger generations support events like Greek Independence Day and OXI Day.

“I love it when I see the Greek school kids hold their flags proudly, and they sing their songs and recite their poems, that’s a really beautiful thing as well,” he said.

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Evelyn Karatzas.

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