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Adelaide: The Greek Orthodox Parish-Community of St George, Pt Pirie, celebrates its Feast Day

Port Pirie is a regional industrial centre of South Australia – the unofficial “capital” of the Mid North region of the State. Situated 223 km North of Adelaide, it is about a 2.5h drive from the capital. With a population of over 15,000, Pt Pirie is one of the largest regional centres in South Australia, and in 1952 it became the first regional centre in SA to be proclaimed a city. It is home to the largest lead smelter in the Southern Hemisphere (one of the largest in the world), smelting lead ore (and other metals) mined at Broken Hill. It is also home to the State’s second-largest port.

Being a town that was prospering with new industry at the time of the first wave of Greek migration, Port Pirie also attracted a large number of Greek migrants. In 1924, the first Greek Orthodox Parish-Community in South Australia was founded in Port Pirie (even before any were founded in Adelaide) and dedicated to St George. The town thus has a long and rich history of Orthodox culture and worship. Unfortunately, as with many regional centres in recent years, the city has suffered a population drain from the migration of young people and families to Adelaide and other major cities in search of work. This exodus has also affected the Orthodox community, which has become a shadow of its former self and has been without an active full-time priest for some years. However, the core faithful that remain are working hard to keep the Faith alive in their home town.

The Parish-Community of St George Pt Pirie traditionally celebrates its feast day on the first Sunday after the actual feast, which this year fell on Sunday the 1st of May – being the Sunday of Thomas and also the feast day of the Prophet Jeremiah. Local Archepiscopal Vicar, His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope, honoured the locals with his attendance on this important day to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, and co-celebrated with the local retired priest Fr Achillios Karamanidis and Fr Jeremy Krieg (CEO, Greek Welfare Centre). Being the Sunday of Thomas, His Grace read the Paschal Encyclical of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who wrote so beautifully, amongst other wise words, that “Pascha is the experience of the certainty that Christ is the Truth that sets us free”, and that “In the Risen Christ we know that evil, no matter what form it assumes, does not have the final word in the journey of humankind”. At the end of the service, His Grace also acknowledged the hard work of the committee and the presidents past and current, several of whom were present for the service.

The liturgy was attended by 60 people, comprised of locals, expats and pilgrims from Adelaide who came to support the local community. The Central Philoptochos was also able to be present with a small book display, that was enthusiastically received by the locals. A good portion of those who attended the liturgy also came to the luncheon after the service, hosted at the Community’s nearby St George Hellenic Centre and catered for by the hard-working members of the committee. Current Community president, Mr Foti Seindanis, addressed the attendees with some beautiful words noting the importance and the hard work required to keep the Orthodox worshipping community together and worshipping into the future.

In all it was a very pleasant afternoon and encouraging to see that the locals of Port Pirie are not giving up in the face of the formidable task to keep the Faith alive in oldest Orthodox community of their State.

Finally, all were extremely joyful to receive the heartfelt blessings and prayers of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios for the Holy Pentecost season. The proactive care and love that His Eminence has shown to our regional communities has created a resurgence of faith amongst our most vulnerable Orthodox congregations. Thank you, Your Eminence! To God be glory for all things.