The Greek Orthodox Community of Port Adelaide in South Australia observed Epiphany today with the annual Blessing of the Waters ceremony.
More than 150 people, under strict COVID measures, turned up to mark the historic event as it was the first time in 60 years the Blessing of the Waters took place on the actual day of the Epiphany and Bishop Silouan of Sinope presided over the ceremony.
“Today is a big day for Christianity and the Blessing of the Waters is a significant event not only for us Christians, but for the whole community and humankind,” Bishop Silouan told The Greek Herald.
The day began with a Hierarchical Orthros and Divine Liturgy at the Greek Orthodox Church of The Nativity of Christ in Port Adelaide, which was led by Bishop Silouan and parish priest Father Ioannis Choraitis.
Among those in attendance were the President of the Greek Community of Port Adelaide, John Douvartzidis and members, as well as Susan Close MP.
His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia had to cancel his scheduled attendance after contracting COVID-19, but the clergy and faithful prayed for his speedy recovery multiple times during the event.
Later, all those in attendance marched towards the Fisherman’s Wharf, Port River waterfront, where the Blessing of the Waters took place.
The clergy began the traditional prayers as they stood on one side of the wharf, whilst a number of young men stood opposite them preparing to jump into the water to retrieve the Holy Cross.
Ultimately, 21-year-old John Kokolakis, who is studying to become a teacher, won the Holy Cross and received a gold cross necklace from Bishop Silouan as a congratulatory gift.
“I’m feeling very good. I did it for my family as well as myself,” Kokolakis told The Greek Herald after the event.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone but I think the blessing is something that can help and benefit everyone and obviously I think everyone who participated is also blessed so I’m very grateful.”
Commenting on the participation of youth in this year’s Epiphany, Bishop Silouan also expressed his gratitude and said that “youth are not only our future but also the present.”
“Young people are our compass and our duty is to keep them close to the Church,” he concluded.
*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Argyro Vourdoumpa.