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Adelaide: Lenten Vespers with Talk and Fundraiser for St Andrew’s Noarlunga, S.A

The Sunday Vespers are a beautiful part of the Lenten cycle of worship services. Beginning with the Vespers of Forgiveness, the services are unique in that they straddle the liturgical transition from weekend worship to the more solemn Lenten weekdays. This transition is expressed by the change in colour of vestments and liturgical coverings from bright colours to purple, dimming of lights, and the recitation of the Prayer of St Ephraim.

On Sunday, the 7th of April 2024, the third Sunday of the Great Fast, we commemorated the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. It was fitting, therefore, for the Sunday Vespers to be held at the new parish of Holy Cross, Glenelg North. With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope appropriated the occasion to deliver a Lenten talk after the service (in both Greek and English).

In his talk, His Grace conveyed the pastoral blessings and prayers of His Eminence and spoke on the power of the Cross and the importance of appropriating the opportunity of repentance that Great Lent presents to us – which in spite of its solemnity and penitential character is nonetheless a time of great joy. After the talk, the attendees were treated to a light Lenten supper prepared by the ladies of the Central Philoptochos.

The evening was always intended to be a fundraiser for the ongoing missionary works of the Archdiocese. However, with the sad news of the fire causing significant damage to the Church of St Andrew’s Noarlunga the previous weekend, it was decided (not incompatible with the original purpose) to direct the proceeds of the evening towards the restoration works of that parish.

The Parish Priest of St Andrew’s, the newly-appointed Fr Armando Manafis, was extremely grateful and moved by the gesture, and was prayerfully hopeful with the people about the future of the parish. He noted that (perhaps because of the fire) attendances at his Lenten Great Compline services had significantly increased – reflecting that sometimes the blessings of God come to us in the wake of apparent tragedy.

Through God’s grace, it was a very successful and edifying evening and a wonderful opportunity for the clergy and laity alike to be strengthened on their Lenten journey. May the remaining Sundays (and indeed every day) of Great Lent likewise edify and inspire us in our very own penitential journey.