SYDNEY — On the Sunday of the Paralytic, 23 May, at the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, Sydney, with the permission and blessing of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia raised Fr Peter Mavrommatis to the rank of protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne.
Deeply moved, His Eminence read the Patriarchal Beneficence Letter and then warmly congratulated the honoured priest, urging him to continue with the same devotion as his God-loving and fruitful priestly ministry towards the ruling and suffering Church of Constantinople. "This office is obviously an honour but, at the same time, it is a responsibility", he stressed addressing Fr Peter and pointed out, "because from today, and for as long as God grants you years, you should be, as I am and as we all should be, an ambassador of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, which we see struggling daily and going through difficulties as it carries its cross. From today, be an even stronger ambassador for the ruling and suffering Holy and Great Church of Christ. Uphold the rights of our Patriarchate and confess your devotion and obedience to our Ecumenical Patriarch. This will be the most satisfying and greatest gift that you could offer both to me and to our Archdiocese."
In closing, the Archbishop wished the new protopresbyter many years to rejoice in this blessed high office, which is the highest honour that a married clergyman can receive.
In his address, Fr Peter Mavrommatis expressed his gratitude to His Eminence Archbishop Makarios as well as to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, promising to continue to defend the proper order and canonical rights of the Great Mother Church of Christ and the Nation.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, a memorial service was conducted for the repose of the victims of the Battle of Crete. The Archbishop spoke to the congregation about the heroic and sacrificial mindset with which the Cretans fought in the Spring of 1941, recalling that they refuted the belief of the Germans that the occupation of the island would be an easy task. In addition, he mentioned the contribution of the Allied forces in the defense of the island, as well as the participation of Australian fighters. He even referred to the moving dialogue he had the previous day with veteran ANZAC, Mr Alf Carpenter, at the memorial service in Sydney's Martin Place. Mr Carpenter shared with His Eminence the memories he had from his acquaintance with clergy and monks in Heraklion and Rethymno, where he fought in 1941, as well as from his acquaintance with the then Metropolitan of Heraklion and the then Archbishop of Athens, who had both visited him in hospital where he was treated after being injured. In the end, deeply moved, Archbishop Makarios conveyed the desire of the 104-year-old Australian veteran to have His Eminence conduct his funeral when he departs this life.
With this opportunity, His Eminence focussed his speech on the strong ties that were forged between the peoples of Greece and Australia during World War II and urged for these to be maintained in the current climate of peace. "The Battle of Crete is of particular importance to Australia," he said, "because children left from here and went and fought to liberate our country. We were united in war," he continued, "and we must remain united in peace. Let us not forget our historical ties and let us be grateful for each other."
Finally, a brief speech on the Battle of Crete was delivered by the Greek state senator, The Honourable Mr Peter Poulos, representing the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism The Honourable Dr Geoff Lee.