His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios blesses The Good Shepherd Parish with his presence on the sixth anniversary of his election to the Archiepiscopacy.

Parishioners and friends of The Good Shepherd Orthodox Church in Melbourne were blessed to have His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios visit on Sunday 19th November 2023.

His Eminence served Matins and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with V. Rev. Fr. Geoff Harvey, Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Fraser and Subdcn. Timothy Grace. Visiting clergy for the day were Rev. Fr. Andrew De Silva, Forty Holy Martyrs’ Mission, together with Dcn. Ignatius Hanna and Subdcn. Clovis Haddad.

The Main Chapel within the Religious Centre at Monash University, where The Good Shepherd is based, was filled with late Spring light and warmth during His Eminence’s visit. In front of the iconostasis and surrounded by icons and the faithful, he explained the Gospel reading for the day (Luke 12:16-21) with reference to St. John Chrysostom’s teaching on wealth and poverty – the wealthy exist for the sake of the poor and the poor exist for the salvation of the wealthy. He drew three points from the parable, which he considered as not an attack on rich people but on a certain mentality about how to use wealth. To watch his sermon, visit The Good Shepherd’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJOfl0euJ5c from 52:00).

Before the Liturgy commenced, His Eminence laid hands on Fr. Nicholas to make him a father confessor to help meet the spiritual needs of the parish, and to have the authority of the Church to witness confessions. Axios! (He is worthy!)

Towards the end of the Liturgy, Mary and Mercurios, who had recently returned from their honeymoon, had their marriage crowns removed and were welcomed back with applause.

Prospective catechumens, who have been participating in the Foundations of Orthodox Christianity course this year, had the opportunity to meet with His Eminence after the Liturgy.

The clergy and faithful then crossed the road to Mannix College and enjoyed a three-course fasting meal in the Dining Hall to celebrate the Patronal Festival of The Good Shepherd. We were honoured to have Prof. and Mrs Afif Hadj and Mr George Ibrahim, Board of Trustees, with us.

Before the food was blessed by His Eminence, the junior Sunday School children chanted the Jesus Prayer that they had been learning. His Eminence presented Dr. Barbara Mattar, Director of the Sunday School, with an icon of St. Theophan the Recluse, the patron of the Archdiocese’s church schools.

His Eminence shared the news and details of the Holy Synod’s approval and announcement of the sainthood of Nicholas and Habib Kasha of Damascus. He remarked on these modern saints, martyred in 1917 and 1948, being father and son, both married priests, living in the world and giving their lives for Christ. To learn more about them and the criteria for sainthood in the Orthodox Church listen to The Divine Lantern podcast https://open.spotify.com/episode/1kpG7lIwrwH6p1iKW5Qi9E and the soon-to-be-released second part.

It is a tradition at The Good Shepherd to celebrate name days, birthdays and anniversaries each week in the Narthex after the Liturgy. For our Patronal Festival, a large cake had been decorated with Christ, the Good Shepherd, surrounded by sheep on green pasture. Four birthdays, the 50th wedding anniversary of Prof. Afif Hadj and Mrs Carol Hadj, and the sixth anniversary of His Eminence’s ordination by the hand of His Beatitude John X as Metropolitan Archbishop on 19th November 2017 in Balamand, Lebanon, were commemorated. https://www.thegoodshepherd.org.au/meet-metropolitan-basilios .

The large gathering of parishioners, including many children, sang “God grant you many years” and the Troparion for The Good Shepherd before His Eminence was joined by the children to cut the cake.

Parishioner, Mrs Pamela Whitely, had written an icon of the Theotokos and Christ often called “the tender kiss” to raise funds for our future building. Over several months a silent auction had been held and the winning bid was announced at lunch – $3,800 – and the icon was presented to the representative of the new owner, Mr Victor Makaroff.

To conclude the day, Fr. Geoff presented a gift from the Parish of an embroidered ‘sword’ depicting the icon of the Holy Trinity to His Eminence for him to wear on liturgical occasions.

It was a blessed day and fitting for the Patronal Festival of The Good Shepherd to be celebrated with our chief shepherd, His Eminence, on the day of his anniversary to the Archiepiscopacy. Many years Master!