In preparation for The 200th Anniversary of The Greek War of Independence, an Archdiocese National Committee of Celebrations (1821-2021) was formed in mid-2020, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia, and comprising representatives from each District. In WA, the members of the National Committee were His Grace Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea and Dr Angela Evangelinou-Yiannakis.
Meetings commenced immediately for the preparation of commemorative events, both on a national level and at the local archdiocesan district level. Whilst everyone chose to maintain a positive outlook regarding the possible ongoing impact of COVID-19 in their planning of events, there was also a degree of caution and understanding that not all events may come to fruition, as proved to be the case.
In Perth, a full and well-rounded Program of Events was prepared, however, due to the impact of COVID-19 in 2021, several eastern states guests and performers had to be re-scheduled and then, eventually, removed from the Program as travel to WA was not possible. Therefore, a more localised but equally as engaging Program of Events was organised, comprising of the following lectures and presentations, all held at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan District of Perth Offices in Dianella:
Tuesday 13 April at 6pm
Lecture by Historian Dr John Yiannakis OAM on the topic: Palassis (Vlase) Zanalis: Orthodox Iconographer and Illustrator of the Indigenous
This lecture was live streamed as Dr Yiannakis was invited to present nationally as well as locally. Well-attended by the local community and by an online audience, the lecture, accompanied by a highly engaging PowerPoint Presentation that included key artwork and iconography by Zanalis, ignited many questions and initiated a lively discussion from the audience. The lecture was an excellent start to the WA Lecture Series that followed.
Tuesday 8 June at 6pm
Lecture by Reverend Father Terry Gerovasilis on the topic: March 25, 1821: Greek Independence and the Importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
This was the first lecture of the 4-Lecture Series. Father Terry gave an animated and very interesting presentation on the topic, accompanied by an excellent PowerPoint Presentation. The topic set the scene for the lectures that followed in the series, providing a rounded and all-encompassing overview of the important role played by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Struggle of Independence.
Tuesday 22 June at 6pm
Lecture by Educator and Academic Dr Angela Evangelinou-Yiannakis on the topic: The Secret Schools – Keeping the Greek Language Alive, Then and Now
After a brief introduction of the important role played by the clergy in the ‘Secret Schools’ of an Ottoman-occupied Greece, Dr Evangelinou-Yiannakis offered a comprehensive historical overview of the teaching of the Greek language in WA from 1915 through to 2021. Accompanied by a substantive PowerPoint Presentation, emphasis was also placed on the role of the clergy in establishing and maintaining the first after-hours Greek School in WA, and the ongoing involvement of the Church in Greek education thereafter.
Tuesday 13 July at 7pm
Lecture by Academic and Cathedral Scholar Dr Bill Leadbetter on the topic: Byzantium and The Great Idea
Unaccompanied by a PowerPoint Presentation, Dr Leadbetter held the audience captive as he offered a highly engaging and interesting lecture on the topic, making a strong connection between Byzantium and The Great Idea. Furthermore, his lecture drew links to the previous two lectures, with reference to the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to the Secret Schools during Ottoman Rule.
Sunday 1 August at 11.30am
Lecture by Deacon Athanasios Athanasiadis on the topic: The Contribution of the Clergy during the Ottoman Occupation of Greece
Presented in the Greek language, Deacon Athanasios gave a thorough and all-encompassing presentation on the topic, accompanied by a PowerPoint Presentation that included links to short documentary excerpts and dramatisations regarding the role and contribution of the clergy during the Ottoman occupation of Greece. His presentation drew further links with the information presented in earlier lectures and was a fitting conclusion to the 4-Lecture Series.
Tuesday 21 September at 7pm
Lecture by Historian Dr John Yiannakis OAM on the topic: Death and Burials of Early Greek Arrivals to WA, 1891-1914
A riveting conclusion to the entire Program of Events was offered by Dr Yiannakis who provided insight into one of his latest research projects. Once again, the audience was held captive as Dr Yiannakis walked everyone through a brief but very interesting and intriguing history of some of WA’s early deaths and burials or non-burials, as the case was for some early Greek settlers. The journey left the audience wanting to learn more about some of the individual stories. Pre-empting this lecture was a special memorial service held at the Church of Sts Constantine and Helene and officiated by His Grace Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea on Sunday 8 August, to pray for the earliest Greek settlers who passed away between 1891 and 1914, and who may not have received an Orthodox Funeral Service.
The six lectures offered during the course of 2021 were a tribute to The 200th Anniversary of The Greek War of Independence. As such, they were supported by the presence of His Grace Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea, The Honourable Consul of Greece, Mrs Georgia Karasiotou, the clergy, as well as members of the local Greek and wider community.
Dr Angela Evangelinou-Yiannakis
Member of the Archdiocesan National Committee of Celebrations (1821-2021)