The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia convened an emergency meeting under the chairmanship of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios to consider how to move forward with the religious calendar and forthcoming liturgical services given the rapid rise of coronavirus cases in Australia.
Following the meeting, the Archdiocese announced its conclusions which include the decision to cancel: Epiphany Day services, cutting of the Vasilopita, and the National Clergy Assembly.
Following the full announcement:
of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia
An Extraordinary online Meeting of the Bishops of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia took place today, on the 30th of December 2021, under the Chairmanship of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, on the occasion of the rapid increase in coronavirus cases, primarily in the States of New South Wales and Victoria. Both His Eminence, our Shepherd, and their Graces, the Bishops, having a strong sense of their responsibility before God and their fellow human beings, examined the current situation and were officially informed by the competent Ministry of Health in relation to the relevant developments. Based on the new data, and desiring, as the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, to protect our fellow human beings, as much as possible, from any suffering that may be caused to them or their families due to the coronavirus, we announce to the gracious clergy and Christ-loving people of Australia the following:
a. For the protection of our fellow citizens and in order to limit the spread of the virus, all Services for the Sanctification of the Waters on the feast day of the Epiphany in the States of New South Wales and Victoria, scheduled to take place in the respective harboursides, are cancelled. Following this, the celebratory lunches and all other festal functions that had been scheduled at the same venues after the service are also cancelled.
b. For the same reason, the services for the cutting of the Vasilopita in Sydney (January 3), in Melbourne (January 2) and Northcote (January 3), at which all clergy, parish committees and the people of God would have been present, are cancelled. Instead of the common Service for the cutting of the Vasilopita, both His Eminence the Archbishop and their Graces the Bishops will conduct this service immediately after the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great on the 1st of the new year at the holy Churches where they will liturgise.
c. The National Clergy Assembly scheduled to take place in Sydney on the 18th of January 2022 is postponed.
d. The official celebratory dinners which had been scheduled, on the occasion of the patronal feast day of His Eminence our Archbishop—on the 16th of January in Melbourne and the 19th of January in Sydney—are cancelled.
e. His Eminence the Archbishop and the their Graces, the Bishops, urge our gracious clergy and pious people to be careful, as much as they can, and to observe the prescribed measures, so that they themselves do not become ill or be the cause for spreading the virus to our fellow human beings. Primarily, however, they urge our people to pray and to exercise spiritually alertness. The phenomenon of the pandemic and the increase in cases confirms, for one more time, the weakness of humanity and the need for us to turn to God. At the same time, on the occasion of the beginning of the new year, His Eminence our Shepherd and their Graces wish all the faithful of the Holy Archdiocese that they have a happy and blessed new year for 2022. May God’s mercy preside over the world and redeem it from the current trial of the pandemic and from any other evil which afflicts the soul and body of every human person.
END OF COMMUNIQUE