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Historic Paschal celebrations in the Archdiocesan District of Adelaide 2024

With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, the various parishes of the Archdiocesan District of Adelaide celebrated the services of Holy Week and Pascha. Pleasingly, the number of faithful (which had been down in recent years since the COVID epidemic) seemed this year to have strongly recovered to pre-COVID levels (if not greater). The Archiepiscopal Vicar for the District of Adelaide, His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope, was able to represent His Eminence at all the parishes in Adelaide over the course of the week.

One highlight of this year’s Holy Week celebration was the Holy Saturday Matins and the procession of the Epitaphios, celebrated on Friday night, which was memorable and historic for two distinct reasons. Bishop Silouan chose to support the newly relocated parish of Holy Cross, which this year was celebrating its first Holy Week at its new location. In spite of its significantly enlarged capacity (up to 200 people), the Church was still filled to overflowing with people outside on the street. The Epitaphios service at Holy Cross was also significant for another reason: In Greece, it is quite common for parishes to be close enough to other for their processions to meet. In Australia this is rare, but with the relocation of the parish of St Panteleimon to Holy Cross and the subsequent re-opening of St Panteleimon as English-speaking parish, there were now two parishes simultaneously celebrating the Epitaphios service within 10 minutes’ walk of each other. With the blessing of His Eminence, His Grace took advantage of this opportunity for the two parishes to meet at a park midway between them. This was a memorable, historic first for the Archdiocesan District Adelaide and was found very moving by all the faithful – many of whom did not know that this was happening until they saw the lights from their neighbouring parish approaching. At the park up to 500 faithful from the two parishes embraced each other and celebrated the processional litany together, before returning to their respective Churches for the completion of the service.

On Saturday evening, the Service of the Resurrection of Our Lord took place at the Archiepiscopal Church of St Sophia (The Wisdom of God) and was led by Bishop Silouan, assisted by visiting priest Fr Haralambos Koutantos, as well as Fr John Saredakis who was celebrating his first Holy Week as a priest and full-time rector of the parish.

There was a strong turnout of faithful to chant Χριστός Ανέστη and to receive the paschal blessings. Many of the faithful stayed through to the very end of the service – a testimony to their dedication, faith and joy at celebrating the Resurrection. The parish committee and philoptochos was blessed to be able to honour all present with hospitality in the early hours of the morning, with a light supper and the traditional paschal eggs.

The Paschal celebrations were rounded out with the District-wide celebration of the Vespers of Love – held for the second time at the Archiepiscopal Church of St Sophia at 11:00am. In spite of the fact that they had only arrived home a few short hours earlier from the celebration of the Paschal liturgy, most of the District’s metropolitan clergy and several dozen faithful came to hear the Gospel proclaimed in Greek, English, Latin, German and Indonesian. His Grace addressed the people, conveying the blessings and paschal greetings of His Eminence. After the service, and before everyone returned home for their own Paschal celebrations, morning tea was provided by the sleepless parish philoptochos, featuring the obligatory koulourakia and dyed red eggs.

In all it was a beautiful, spiritual and prayerful Paschal celebration, with many historic firsts. 2024 will go down in the history of the District of Adelaide as a Pascha to remember.