Consecration of St Paul Church, Victoria

Consecration of St Paul Church Dandenong Victoria Primatial Address

"How nice and beautiful for the brothers to be together".

Your Honour, Excellencies, Fathers, Members of the Board of Trustees, my brothers and sisters:

History is full of men and women who moved beyond minor inconveniences in order to passionately render their lives to the service of others. These remarkable individuals often speak of their committed services as though they were "called" from a higher power to serve. They exude all the gifts necessary for walking the charted path: humility, courage, faith and grace. Charted people serve whenever they can during the various seasons of their lives.

Parents who unselfishly give of their time and resources in order for their young to find their moral and spiritual path in life. The great thing in the Church is, you will not walk the path alone; you have countless parents, and grandparents, uncles and aunties who plough the field before you. They put the foundation of their Orthodox Church in this country.

When we speak of the Orthodox Church and its work, we speak of both God and man. According to God's will, cooperation is to be maintained in the work relating to the kingdom of God. As the scripture tells us, we do the planting and watering, while Our Lord assures us of the increase of our labours. We work for the Lord, and success depends on Him.

In the Church, there are numerous responsibilities to be fulfilled and no one person is capable of doing all types of work. It is true that we do not have equal talents and abilities, which means we cannot do all that is demanded in the work of the Church. However, each of us is blessed with some spiritual talents. We are co-workers together with God, and that makes the Orthodox faithful one in God's nobility.

I remember the story of a mother and her three children, who set out for a journey to the top of the mountain. After a long day of climbing, the children got hungry and very tired. They were complaining to their mother, crying and discouraged. But the mother was there to encourage and strengthen them.

On the second day, the road was steeper and much more thorny and rocky. At the end of the day, the children cried, and complained. Discouraged, they asked their mother to turn back. Mom encouraged them, hugged them warmly and gave them hope.

On the third day, the family began to climb. It was, by all means, the toughest day. At the end of the day, the company reached the top of the mountain, where a huge gate opened up. The children entered to find warmth, greenery, water, and the open arms of a loving father, welcoming them.

It was almost four years ago when this parish came together in a marriage of love and dedication in an endeavour for the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and His church, and to climb the mountain to reach the safety of the inner gate. Together we walked in the valley and we climbed to the top.

In the first years, we had some pessimism in our minds due to the rocky road, but it disappeared thereafter, as we opened up to the Holy Spirit to illuminate us. And, step by step, with confidence, prayer and trust in God's grace, we began to see our membership increase, our participation got deeper, our submission to His Lordship became enjoyable.

Your children were taught the faith. Many of them got close to their priests. Your heart was filled with joy to see them hugging and kissing and laying their heads on his shoulder with peace and contentment.

The choir, began singing with joy, commitment and love. Our teens were getting organized, active and becoming participants. The youth began studying the bible, working with the young and the Church. The Ladies Society, which has always been the backbone of the Church, went back to work with much zeal, love and dedication.

We remodelled, added on, bought, built. We made our Church, our hall, all our facilities, a place worthy of our people. Our church reached out to the Community, to the City and to the nation.

Today, we are again at a crossroads. Together, we will expand our facilities. We will repeat the proud dedication of the faithful of yesterday. We will give our children and grandchildren a better place to meet, worship, learn and socialise. We will not be basking on past achievements. Neither will we get drunk with present day glory. We will take both past and present, and use them as a force that will lead us into the future, where the well-being of the community and the manifestation of God's grace are our goals.

Today, this parish is not dependent on a person. It is organised to function according to the grace of the Holy Spirit and to the dedication, commitment and the love of all its faithful. The decisions we have made together, after long contemplation, prayer, and discussion, are vital for the future well-being of the parish. The building projects are an investment in the spiritual, educational and cultural future of our people, and especially of our children and our Nation.

I am deeply convinced that God planted us in this continent for a purpose, for the perpetuation and the glorification of His Holy Name. And you are the workers in this field. You are called to witness be disciples... and you have loving, and charismatic leaders of vision, who made Antiochian Orthodoxy in this area a Church to be proud of. You had the vision to take nationalism and tribalism out of the faith. You opened up the Church to the wind of the Holy Spirit, blowing in it, guiding it and leading it to where he wishes it to be.

The Antiochian Church is called to be the highway for this journey. It is called upon to be a leader, dedicated co-worker, with the Hierarch to reach the heights of God's will.

I know how long it took us to get over the insecurity and fear of the past. I know the heroic work and determination of some of the fathers, mothers, youth and adults of this parish, who helped take us out of the valley to the heights of the mountain.

I know about the generosity, prayer and work of the many who trusted me, and put their confidence in me, to lead them, and get them to where we are now.

On behalf of all the Archdiocese, clergy and laity, and on my own behalf, I congratulate Fr George and his wife, the Church council and all the faithful of St Paul on a job well done. I do pray that through the grace of the Holy Spirit, you may keep growing in the faith, through which you are enabled to reach the green pastures of salvation.

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