With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia and His Grace Bishop Nikandros of Dorileou, a group from the Greek Orthodox Christian Society, Sydney, along with some of their families visited three parishes in Perth on the weekend of 3-5th July.
Some of us had been to Perth before, for work or leisure, but this was the first time that a group of us representing the Greek Orthodox Christian Society was going there. We were therefore looking forward to meet Greek Orthodox Christians from Perth, to exchange views and experiences with them, and to help one another on our spiritual journey.
As we landed into Perth and travelled towards our accommodation, we saw a glimpse of how beautiful Perth is.
Saint Nectarios, in the suburb of Dianella, was the first parish we visited. We were welcomed by Fr John Athanasiou who explained to us the history of the parish and its challenges. A striking feature of the church is its dome, arguably the biggest Orthodox church dome in Australia. The Greek Orthodox School of St Andrews is also located in the same suburb of Dianella.
Greeks settled in Perth from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and built the first Greek Orthodox church in Australia, dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helen in the centre of Perth. A striking feature of the church is its old iconography. We were welcomed to this church by Fr Evan Batalis.
Not far away is the parish of the Annunciation of our Lady. Fr Emmanuel Stamatiou welcomed us and explained the parish’s many activities. The church has the blessing to possess a miraculous icon of the Annunciation, brought from Asia Minor, which continues to perform miracles to this day. The parish also boasts an extensive library of Orthodox Christian books.
Despite its relatively small Greek Orthodox population, Perth is also blessed to have a Monastery in the outskirts of the city. The Holy Monastery of St John has as its abbot Heiromonk Evagrios, who is accompanied by two monks. We had the blessing to attend the Divine Liturgy on Saturday at the Monastery, after which we embarked on a tour of the Monastery and its grounds, including its own olive oil factory. Following the tour and a common lunch provided by the Monastery, we re-entered the church where members of the Greek Orthodox Christian Society presented to the abbot, monks, priests and laity, the various aspects of the Society’s work. This will hopefully make it easier for people from Perth to access resources which are available in Sydney.
Throughout the visit, we had the opportunity to give sermons at the three churches, present talks on various topics related to our Greek Orthodox Faith, to chant during the Divine Liturgies, conduct Sunday School classes and sing songs and perform plays.
We were warmly received in Perth by all the faithful. We hope that this visit will be the beginning of a long lasting relationship that will benefit the Church both in Perth and in Sydney.