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The first ever Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy held in Port Macquarie

History was made last Sunday 21 January 2024 when the inaugural Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy was held on the NSW Mid-North Coast town of Port Macquarie.

Port Macquarie is a town of 50,000 people, located 400km north of Sydney. The town has steadily grown in size over the last few decades, as a popular relocation destination for those wanting to escape from the stress and the hustle and bustle of city life. It is also a popular holiday destination, known for its beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails and a diverse range of activities.

The Greek presence in Port Macquarie has accordingly also grown. It is estimated that over 250 Greek Orthodox people live in the town of Port Macquarie, and over 1000 Greek Orthodox faithful living on the mid-North Coast. Many of those have relocated from Sydney in the last 20 years. The main thing missing for them is a Church; the closest Greek Orthodox Church being the Church of the Holy Apostles in Newcastle; a 2.5-hour drive away. Some of the locals have been reaching out for a Church in the area. It was therefore an amazing occasion for them that a Divine Liturgy could be held for them on 21 January.

The priest conducting the Liturgy was Father George Liangas, parish priest of St Nectarios Church Burwood in Sydney. Fr George was spending a few days in the area with his family, and sought permission from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia to conduct the Divine Liturgy. The Archdiocese was extremely encouraging and supportive.

The Divine Liturgy was held in the historic Church on Horton Street. Like the Church of St Nectarios in Burwood, it was previously a Methodist Church. And in an delightful coincidence, the Horton St Church was built in 1846, the year of St Nectarios’ birth.

Over 70 people attended the Liturgy. Chanters for the Liturgy were Fr George’s nieces and daughter; their angelic voices mesmerising the congregation. Reflecting on the Gospel of the Ten Lepers, Fr George in his sermon reflected that gratitude is an indicator of a graceful heart, responsive to all of God’s gifts, and especially for the gift of the Holy Eucharist.

In echoing the words of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, Fr George reflected that the biggest ingredient in forming and growing the local Greek Orthodox community was that of unity amongst its members, in solidarity with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Unity is created when everyone values the position and opinion of the other as much as their own.

Amongst those present at the Divine Liturgy was local Member of Parliament Leslie Williams, and also Councillor Nik Lipovac, highlighting the solidarity within the Port Macquarie and Mid North Coast communities.

The Divine Liturgy was followed by a morning tea at the Town Green, fostering connections and further celebrating the occasion.

The inaugural Divine Liturgy at Port Macquarie is another example of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s commendable efforts to minister to regional areas. His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia has visited many of the regional Churches. Many more of these congregations are being serviced with visiting priests. And who can forget the epic travels of His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope, among others, traversing the South Australian and Northern Territory outback to minister to the most isolated Greek Orthodox faithful.

This event undoubtedly marks a historic first for the Greeks of Port Macquarie. It was deeply hoped that the inaugural Divine Liturgy at Port Macquarie is not an isolated event, but the first of many services, and the fostering of the coming together of the Greek Orthodox community of the area.