Stylianos Harkianakis was the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia having served as inaugural and permanent Chairman of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Churches in Australia and Dean of Saint Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College.
A theologian specialising in ecclesiology and also an award-winning poet he served the Greek Orthodox church Down Under tirelessly for 44 years, until his passing on Monday 25 March 2019 at 6pm after a long battle with cancer. The Greek Orthodox education system in Australia would not exist in its current form and breadth if it weren’t for his efforts.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia announced the Archbishop’s passing in an official letter, seen below.
Following the announcement of his passing many Greek and Australian leaders have offered their condolences, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also took to Twitter to express her sympathy.
Matt Thistlethwaite MP wrote on his account: “Vale Archbishop Stylianos, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia. Our thoughts & prayers are with our friends in the Greek community on the loss of their inspirational spiritual leader whom i and @KKeneally joined on many occasions in our local area.”
His deepest sympathy also shared the Former Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann, saying:
Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew upon hearing the passing of Archbishop Stylianos, during a liturgy he was performing at the church of Evangelismos tis Theotokou in Vafeochorion, he stopped to pray for him. The Patriarch performed a Trisagion, chanting “Eternal Be His Memory”.
Many members of the Greek Community took to social media to reminisce and talk about important life events such as christenings and weddings that were blessed by the late Archbishop. Melbourne restaurateur John Rerakis, sharing photographs from his wedding day, wrote: ” It is with great sadness that our Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church His Eminence Stylianos passed away tonight. My wife and I were honored to have him conduct our wedding. We will never forget his speech and his love and passion for Crete.Eternal be his memory. Αιώνια η μνήμη…”
Born in Rethymno, Crete (29-12-1935), Archbishop he studied at the Theological School of Halki in Constantinople. In late 1957, he was ordained to the Diaconate. Upon graduating and being ordained to the Priesthood in 1958, he received a scholarship from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to complete postgraduate studies in Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion in Bonn, W. Germany (1958-1966). In order to become a Doctor of Divinity from an Orthodox Theological Faculty, rather than from an analogous western Faculty, he submitted in 1965 his doctoral dissertation entitled ‘The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology’ [in Greek], to the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens.
Stylianos was also a recognised essayist and poet, having published 37 collections of poetry (all of these in Greek and some translated Bilingual editions). For his outstanding contribution to European culture, and after being , The University of Lublin, Poland, conferred on him an honorary doctorate (1985), while the Sydney College of Divinity awarded him its first ever honorary doctorate (2001). In 2005, he was acknowledged as a Professor by an independent academic panel of the Sydney College of Divinity. In 2014, he received Honorary Doctorate from the University of Crete. Archbishop Stylianos is also Dean and Founder (in 1986) of St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College, Sydney, where he continually lectures in Systematic Theology.
As a poet, he had 37 collections of poetry, mainly in Greek with some translated in English and has been nominated by the distinguished Philologist of the University of Vienna, Professor Albin Lesky, receiving the Gottfried von Herder international award in Vienna back in 1973 for his outstanding contribution to the European culture. In 1980, having been nominated by the renowned writer Pantelis Prevelakis Archbishop Stylianos received the Award for Poetry from the Academy of Athens.