On Saturday, 12 August 2023, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia visited the city of Ballarat, in Victoria, which is a living “cell” of Hellenism in Australia which counts more than a century and a half of life.
The members of the Greek Orthodox community of Ballarat met their Shepherd, full of joyful emotions. And this joy was felt because it was the first time that the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church in Australia visited the place that became a second home for their ancestors and likewise for themselves.
The reception of the Archbishop took place at the Church of Saint Nicholas, where the Vespers service was held, and officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, whilst being joined by Their Graces, Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis, Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta and clergy from the Archdiocesan Districts of Melbourne and Northcote.
At the conclusion of the Vespers Service, His Eminence was warmly welcomed by the president of the Community, Mr. Andreas Grinos, expressing the deep respect and dedication of the expatriates of Ballarat to the local Church and to their Shepherd, as well as their thanks for this historic visit of the Archbishop to the city of Ballarat and to their church. In fact, the members of the Community, to show their gratitude that the Greek Orthodox Archbishop visited the city for the first time, with its many gold mines offered him a piece of gold, as it naturally found and comes out of the depths of the earth.
In response to the warm welcome, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia expressed his great emotion for the opportunity he had been granted to visit Ballarat, to preside over the Vespers at the Church of Saint Nicholas and encounter unique experiences alongside the Greek Orthodox flock of the city of Ballarat. “This is a historic moment not only for you, but also for the whole of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia,” he pointed out, addressing the congregation, adding that his vision and that of the local Church is to be in constant communication with the faithful of the large and the smallest parishes. “Because at the end of the day,” His Eminence continued, “what is most valuable is seeing not how many we are, but who we are. And you are people who have kept the Greek language, the Orthodox faith and the Greek Orthodox ethos and mentality. That is why I can say that it is an honour for me to be among you today.”
His Eminence’s paternal request to the Greek Orthodox faithful of Ballarat was to remain close to the Church and preserve the language, traditions and ethos of their ancestors. “Do not forget your roots and above all do not forget your faith”, he characteristically urged them, assuring them at the same time that he is not going to forget them and their needs either. “Do not think you are isolated. We are all in this together and I will try to come again and again and again. As often as possible. So that we all move forward together, united, for the glory of Christ and the glory of our Greek heritage”, he underlined in closing.