Today, on the Feast Day of the glorious and pre-eminent Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul—both of whom nourished the whole world with the Word of God—our Holy Archdiocese of Australia pauses to celebrate the four-year enthronement anniversary of another apostle of Christ, our revered Spiritual Father and Chief Shepherd of Christ here in the Antipodes, His Eminence our Archbishop Makarios of Australia. With an all-consuming fervour for Christ, together with a deep sense of profound archiepiscopal responsibility for the Church of our Lord here in Australia, on this auspicious day at his enthronement four years ago, Archbishop Makarios pledged his undivided and unqualified dedication to the unifying ministry of Christ here in Australia. Four years on, we behold a Leader who has remained not only steadfast and faithful to his initial promise, but also tireless in his endeavours to unite the entire flock of Christ of this great Nation of ours. He has continued to pay visits to all those distant—yet equally significant—country parishes throughout all of Australia which had not necessarily seen a bishop for many years; indeed, doing so with the same all-consuming and Spirit-filled zeal to bring to these people the grace of truth, mercy and comfort, together with the loving presence of Christ; all heavenly gifts coming down from above.
Indeed, upon reflection, we discern a Spiritual Leader who, since his arrival and enthronement four years ago, has selflessly aspired to unite the faithful people of God more intimately with Christ—in whose loving embrace the apostle Peter teaches that we truly rejoice “with indescribable and glorious joy [χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ καὶ δεδοξασμένῃ]” (1Pt 1:8)—and with one another, a reality which is actualised when, according to St Paul, God’s people assemble together and within the context of the Holy Eucharist become “one-soul and of one mind [σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες]” (Phil 2:2); namely, together united in the person of Christ becoming His one Body in the Holy Spirit. This, the Archbishop has sought to achieve by continuing to heal old dividing wounds which marred the Church’s unity, knowing the will of our Lord that not “even one of these [sheep] … should perish” (Mt 18:14). With unparalleled integrity and fidelity, with nobility and gentility, our Archbishop has continued to sow the seeds of faith, to tend to the fruits that gladden our hearts, to draw all to the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—steadfast in his devotion to keep alight and united the shining and unfading light of Christ in every corner of this great country of ours here in the Antipodes.
Equally, his sublime spiritual disposition has allowed our Archbishop to continue undeterred in the Christ-loving work he began four years ago, despite the immense difficulties he continues to face on a daily basis, for he knows that without toil and labour the kingdom of heaven cannot be gained. Fully cognisant of the fact that the path leading the Church to the joy of our Lord’s eternal kingdom is often ridden with hindrances and countless obstacles, His Eminence has remained steadfast in his love for Christ, resolute to bring to completion this God-pleasing work to lead the faithful of the Church before our Lord’s eternal kingdom. In light of this and like the apostle Paul, he has taught us all to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4), a reality that emerges only when we place our hope in Christ and his future kingdom. It is precisely this quality of hope—which he keeps close to his heart at all times—that makes it possible for the Archbishop to rejoice always, and ‘in the Lord’, because, even amidst the difficulties, he knows that we have Christ’s comfort, His consolation, His love and undying hope to help us all along the way. Indeed, to Christ our Lord, and to Him alone, does His Eminence constantly enjoin all the faithful to entrust and commit themselves to, so as to be in a position to accept both the good and the bad with the same equanimity.
For this and so much more, we give thanks and praise to our all-gracious God for our genuine Father and Chief Shepherd in Christ; we extend our gratitude with one voice and one heart to His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and to the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for their solicitude and concernment to the Church here in Australia in their God-inspired and unanimous election of Archbishop Makarios to assume the helm of the Orthodox Church in this Fifth Continent. We hope and pray that our loving Lord will continue to grant to our Archbishop many blessed years in his difficult yet sacred mission, in the service of Christ so that He may continue to “rightly teach the Word of truth” (2Tim 2:15), strengthen the faith and guide the Church into God’s heavenly kingdom, that gladsome reality of that unending eighth day, God’s new creation where we will all be as one, united to our Lord, eternally in his everlasting beatitude.
On the 29th day of June 2023
Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne
Fr Christophoros Krikelis