The bells of Perth’s first Greek Orthodox Church, Saints Constantine and Helene, chimed long and loud on Sunday, 16 September, in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Church’s consecration. Completed in late 1936 after years of effort and endurance by the local Greek population, and then consecrated the following year, the Church has long been one of the main centres for Orthodox worship in Perth. The 1937 Consecration Service was conducted by Metropolitan Timotheos, the then Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia.
The State Heritage listed Church is an important part of Perth’s culture and history and when it was consecrated, the inner city precinct of Northbridge where it is situated was the heart of ethnic communities and their businesses. Therefore, the celebrations marked an important milestone for the Church, its parish, the Hellenic Community of WA, and the city. A large congregation was in attendance to witness the auspicious occasion. The Church celebrations included:
A Divine Liturgy conducted by various local priests, namely:
• The Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St John of the Mountain, Archimandrite Evagrios Koutouzis
• The Parish Priest of Sts Constantine & Helene, Archimandrite Elpidios Karalis
• The Assistant Priest of Sts Constantine & Helene, Rev. Fr John Athanasiou
• The Rev Fr Kosmas Damianides
• Rev Deacon Evangelos Battalis
A Memorial Service for all the founders of the Church;
A special blessing of the loaves service for all the Church parishioners;
A procession around the Church with the icon of Saints Constantine and Helene.
At the end of the service, Parish Priest Archimandrite Elpidios Karalis read the names and then presented special medallions to recognise those parishioners still alive who were present at the Consecration Service in 1937.
Archimandrite Elpidios also read a congratulatory message from His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos and then said a few words of his own reflecting on his connections with the Church when, as a youth, he was an altar boy. He then added, “These celebrations give us the opportunity to reflect on the past. Firstly, we pay tribute to the blessed and ever memorable founders of our holy church who had both the foresight and enlightenment from above to undertake the sacred task of building the first Greek Orthodox Church in Western Australia. The primary role of our church was always (and still is) to meet the spiritual needs of the Greek Orthodox faithful in Western Australia as well as providing any assistance possible to the local Perth community at large.
Secondly, we direct our thoughts to all the living who bring offerings and do good works in our holy and all venerable church; for the men and women who labour in its service. May our Lord continue to grant them strength, patience and faith to continue, under the direction and guidance of our spiritual father, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, the sacred work of their pioneers for the glory of God and for the progress of our church.”
The Church and its congregation has been a long-time supporter of the local community, even helping with fund raising for the Australian war effort during World War II. Today, this charitable work continues with support for the annual Homeless Connect Event in Northbridge, as well as a charity food drives throughout the year to those in need. It has also been involved as a conduit for the collection of funds for causes in Greece including during the recent economic hardship facing the country.
After the Church service, members of the local Greek community attended a special luncheon celebrating the landmark event. Over 460 people attended the joyous gathering where a number of VIPs addressed the crowd, including the former Governor of WA, Dr Ken Michael; the President of the Hellenic Community of WA, Gary Mitchell; and historian, Dr John Yiannakis. Overseeing proceedings was MC, Dr Angela Evangelinou-Yiannakis. A special commemorative anniversary book, written by Dr John Yiannakis, was distributed to all those in attendance as a memento of both the day and the Church’s 75 year history.
Dr John N Yiannakis
(Source: Greek-Australian Vema, October 2012)