It was a truly blessed weekend for Victoria to receive His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios from Friday the 6th of March till Tuesday the 10th of March. The five day visit was fruitful with services held at different parishes, allowing the community to come together during this holy period of Lent.
On the evening of Friday the 6th, His Eminence served the First Akathyst at Saint George’s Cathedral in Thornbury; a service honouring the Mother of God on our journey to Pascha. Following the service, His Eminence gave a lecture in the Cathedral entitled, ‘The Akathyst: in Hymns and Icons’ where he explained the history of the Akathyst service and how it became incorporated into Great Lent. His Eminence then began to explain some of the hymns from the service and how they’re represented in icons. He also showed how the Theotokos is expressed in these hymns through symbolism from the Old and New Testaments. Light refreshments were served following the service.
His Eminence also presided over the Board of Trustees meeting, with all its national members gathered together in order to discuss crucial agendas for the future of the Archdiocese.
On Sunday the 8th March, His Eminence returned to St. George’s Cathedral to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and the first Sunday of Lent: The Sunday of Orthodoxy. The Sunday School children took part in the procession, holding their favourite icons from home. Following the service, the parishioners and clergy gathered in the community centre to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the AOS (Australian Orthodox Stewards) with a wonderful performance by the stewards. Later that evening, clergy and parishioners from across Victoria gathered for Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers. Another procession of icons took place, which included people from all of parishes, displaying a myriad of beautiful icons. In a word following the Vespers, His Eminence reflected on the history of the restoration of the icons in the Church and highlighted the difference between veneration and worship of iconography. Following the Vespers, the faithful shared in a meal of love and fellowship.
On Monday the 9th, His Eminence presided over the Great Compline service at St. Paul’s Church in Dandenong with a full Arabic and English choir complete with junior members of Melbourne’s new St. Ephraim Choir. After he led the service, the parishioners broke bread with His Eminence in the hall for fellowship. An impromptu chanting performance for His Eminence then began from the youth members who were gifted icons upon testing of their ecclesial knowledge.
On Tuesday the 10th, the final day of the visit, Saint Mary’s Church in Yarraville was blessed to have His Eminence for the service of the Great Compline. Afterwards, refreshments were provided and the parishioners had a chance to speak with His Eminence during fellowship. His Eminence then took some time to meet with the youth who were present that evening, speaking with them about the meaning and importance behind Great Lent and the reasons for why we fast. He then answered any questions the youth had about Lent and fasting, as well as any general questions too.
It was an honour to have His Eminence in Melbourne during this time of spiritual growth and reflection in the Great Fast. The youth greatly appreciated the talks they had with His Eminence and it was truly beautiful to see all the faithful from Victoria coming together.
A blessed Lenten journey to all +