Thousands of people from Sydney’s Orthodox parishes and Greek communities, braved the light rain to converge on Yarra Bay Beach in Phillip Bay, to celebrate Epiphany on Sunday. It was the 28th year the event has been held there.

The event began with the blessing of the waters by Archbishop Makarios of Australia. About 100 swimmers took to the water to search for the Holy Cross that the archbishop threw into the sea. Anastasios Bakoulis, 27, of St Gerasimos Parish in Leichardt, was the one to recover the cross.

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Archbishop Makarios said that he said that one could not ignore the human and ecological disaster that is taking place in Australia. He said this year the Feast of the Epiphany was marked by a spirit of generosity and he thanked those who showed their generosity by helping those in need and called for a greater effort to raise more funds for the victims of the fires.

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There was live music with students and community groups performing regional dances. There were plenty of dishes of food to sample. The people attending did not seem to notice the rain that fell during the event but prayed that it would help to put out the fires that have afflicted New South Wales.

Among those present was the leader of the Labor Party in New South Wales, Jodi McKay, as well as members of parliament and Sydney city councillors. The Greek Consul General to Sydney, Christos Karras, his wife Ekaterini Gkikiza, and the Head of the High Commission of Cyprus in Australia, Martha Mavromatti, were among the dignitaries who attended.

Archbishop Makarios throws the cross into the waters of Yarra Bay during the Epiphany celebrations on Sunday.