On Saturday, 20 January, the Vice-Presidents, the Secretary, the Treasurer and the members of the new Archdiocesan Council of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia were sworn in before his Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, as they emerged after the elections for their elevation, during the proceedings of the 12th Clergy-Laity Congress.
It was an emotional moment for many as after ten years the elections were held and many of the members were elected for their first term. A feature of the renewal is that the structure of the new Archdiocesan Council includes women for the first time.
After the swearing in, His Eminence, in his capacity as President of the Archdiocesan Council, welcomed the new members and wished them God’s strength and illumination, so that they would be found worthy of their mission. More specifically, the Archbishop emphasised: “For two reasons, your election and term in our Archdiocesan Council, at this time, is important and historic. Firstly, because you are called to seal the past and first centenary of our Archdiocese.
This, of course, is the easy part. It’s easy to close a door. But the difficult thing, and what burdens and tests your own ministry, is the opening of a new door. To open the door of our Archdiocese so that all people may enter. The Young and old, rich and poor, the literate and illiterate, the unknown and important. At the same time, let us open the door of our Archdiocese so that we, too, can get out of our comfort zone and our laze, from our introversion and the security that complacency provides us, and to reach out to the world. So we now close the first centenary and we are invited to start writing the history of the second. We have a responsibility before God and people.
Secondly, your tenure is important because we will have to prepare for the Apostolic Visit of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew next October. I ask you and urge you to roll up your sleeves and let us all do our best together to welcome the First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church and to celebrate together the great historical and nation-wide events of our Archdiocese”.
A fruitful discussion followed, and proposals were made regarding the anniversary celebrations. It was unanimously decided to mint commemorative coins, which will depict Patriarch Gregory (1924) and Australia’s first Hierarch and Shepherd, Metropolitan Christophoros (1924), as well as the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (2024) and the current Chief Shepherd of Australia, Archbishop Makarios (2024).
At the same time, a relevant souvenir will be given to all the students of the schools of the Holy Archdiocese throughout the nation, while an anniversary papyrus will be crafted with a relevant text for the dawn of the new centenary, which will be given in memory of the events and the visit of His All-Holiness to all the Christ-loving plenitude of Australia.
At the end of the meeting, after greetings were exchanged between the members of the Archdiocesan Council and the Archbishop, the period after Easter was set for the next meeting, which will confirm the details of the final program of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s Visit to the fifth continent.