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District of Adelaide hosts the 44th annual Theophany celebration

With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, the Archdiocesan District of Adelaide again hosted the Glenelg Greek Festival with the Blessing of the Waters, in honour of the Orthodox Feast of Theophany, on the weekend of January 6-7, 2024. This year’s celebration was the 44th consecutive year that the feast has been celebrated – a remarkable streak that, by the grace of God, not even the COVID pandemic managed to break.

Building on the success of the previous two years, this year’s festival again ran for the full two days of the weekend. The weekend entertainment program included a number of performances by popular local Greek performers Paris Kontoleon with Orpheus and the Zorba band, as well as traditional Greek dance performances by the Pontian Brotherhood of SA, the Messinian Greek Dance Group (juniors and seniors) and St George College (juniors and seniors).

For the first time in recent memory, the festival was hit with a couple of significant rain events around lunch time on both days that dumped the equivalent of Adelaide’s average rainfall for the whole of January. However, on both days the skies cleared in the early afternoon and produced extremely pleasant weather – with this happening Sunday just in time for the Blessing ceremony itself. In effect, the extended all-day, two-day format had acted as a form of insurance against the stormy weather, and attendance was strong in spite of the brief inclement bursts.

As always highlight of the weekend festival was the celebration of the Blessing of the Waters – an extension of the celebration of Theophany (the Baptism of Christ), presided by the local Archiepiscopal Vicar His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope. As has become customary, the service began with a procession by His Grace flanked by the clergy and led by some of the young altar servers from neighbouring parishes, beginning at the monument on the foreshore and finishing toward the end of the Glenelg jetty. There the Blessing ceremony was conducted by His Grace and the Cross was thrown into the water. Seventy (70) participants raced to retrieve the Cross – with Mr Photi Karagiannis of Prophet Elias Norwood reaching it first. His Grace addressed the people and spoke about how, just as the Baptism of Christ ushered in change in the world, so too must we change our own lives for the better – and by doing so, to bring about positive change in the world by manifesting the grace of God in it. After this he gave a gift to all the participants, and then the procession returned to the shore for the official lunch and formalities.

In addition to His Grace Bishop Silouan and the clergy of our Archdiocese, the festival was also attended by the Premier Peter Malinauskas, as well as the Honourable Mr Tom Koutsantonis (Minister of Transport and Infrastructure), Stephen Patterson (the local State MP for Morphett, representing the Opposition Leader Mr David Spiers), newly-elevated Ambassador Mr George Psiachas, Mayor of the local council (City of Holdfast Bay) Amanda Wilson, and a number of other community representatives at local, state and federal level.

A number of these addressed the gathered crowd in the formal ceremony after the service was completed. The speeches culminated in another brief address by His Grace, who welcomed and thanked the invited guests, and remarked on what a blessing it was for us to be in the State of South Australia and the city of Adelaide and noted that the true ceiling of the Church is not that of the temple roof, but the skies under which we all congregated.

The event received significant financial support from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, as well as from major sponsors Marinis Financial Group and Gaganis and a number of other sponsors who all contributed to making the event a success. Equally impressive was the support received from the dozens of dedicated, hard-working volunteers who headed down to Glenelg over the course of the weekend to help – especially impressive when considering how their dedication was tested by the threat of unkind weather.