This letter was received by Neos Kosmos (Greek edition) from Father Vanikiotis letting people know that Evangelismos is due to open soon now that restoration works are complete:
Dear fellow citizens, brothers and sisters, may you rejoice always having the joy and peace of Christ in you,
Since this coronavirus pandemic does not allow us the joy of personal contact, conversation and common participation in the divine worship in the Temple of God, it is with great pleasure that through the newspaper of our parish Neos Kosmos I communicate with you all, as the new priest of the historic church The Annunciation of Our Lady of East Melbourne.
His Eminence Archbishop Makarios ordained me a priest in the first Orthodox Christian Church in Melbourne and I consider it a great honor and blessing to serve in this historic church. Thank you very much. I also thank the Board of Directors of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria for their love and trust in me and the good cooperation we have had so far.
First of all, I wish to recommend to all calmness, courage, patience and above all to have deep faith, trust and fervent prayer in the Lord Jesus Christ during the coronavirus pandemic. He is above everyone and everything, who rules the world, provides, protects and gives health to all everywhere, especially in the holy churches where God is worshiped. Let us stay close to Jesus Christ, especially during the trial we are going through.
It is a great ordeal for all members of the Church that the places of worship remain closed to the faithful. Undoubtedly, the broadcast of the Divine Liturgy on television or the internet can not replace our living presence in the Church of God and personal participation in divine worship where we receive the Grace of God and receive the holy communion.
That is why it is imperative that the churches be opened as soon as possible. The Holy Archdiocese and priest Father Eumenios have been working very diligently and intensively for this purpose. It is imperative that we all mobilise for this purpose, first with our fervent prayer to God and then by signing the petition that the Archdiocese is circulating on the internet. Our wish and hope is for the churches to open soon and gradually to be filled with congregation in order to strengthen our faith in God and our connection to Christ as Greek Orthodox citizens of this country.
I would also like to inform the Greek community, especially all our parishioners who attend the church of The Annunciation of Our Lady coming from near or far and those who maintain some emotional ties with it, be it because it was the church where your parents got married, where you were baptised or got married, that for a few months now with the help of God and the ambitious efforts of our contractor Loukas Stavrias, renovation works of our church have already begun.
Up until today, towards the back of the church where it had burned down, a woman’s house has been built, along with a new staircase leading to it and the first of the walls has been passed with insulating material to absorb moisture after cleaning the church with hoses. A disabled toilet has been included in the architectural plan and new wiring of the church was completed. We have also ordered the new windows for the back of the church that will arrive in a few weeks from now and in two weeks the new bronze hood will be placed on the roof, where the candles will be lit.
Then the ceiling will also be repaired and so the church will be ready to open for the faithful just before Christmas. The front of the church was also tidied up as best as possible. The portable icons were hung on the walls and the large image of the Last Supper was brought back into the church from the storeroom and placed on the top of the iconostasis, along with the old Russian icon of the Virgin Mary on the wall.
I am sure that with the wishes and paternal guidance of Archbishop Makarios, the support of the Archdiocesan Commissioner of Northcote Archimandrite Father Eumenius and the Board of Directors of the church and my friends, committee of the church and above all the philanthropic support of all our Greek community in Melbourne, we will have the joy and blessing to show off our Church as we desire and as it deserves. We need all of your support and above all, your prayers.
Every Sunday we broadcast the Divine Liturgy live on our Facebook page. I pray fervently to the Lord for all of you, especially in these difficult times we are going through and in every Divine Liturgy I mention you all in the offering. Thank you very much for all your love and support so far, your phone calls and donations to the church of The Annunciation of Our Lady. I wish you all, from the bottom of my heart health, good strength and every blessing of God. I will gladly accept your phone calls on my mobile 0422 077 282. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much to the management of the newspaper Neos Kosmos for the opportunity and the hospitality it offers me to communicate with you. It is the newspaper of the parish that is always near us in the joys and sorrows and in the difficult moments that we all go through now with the coronavirus. Thank you very much.
Priest Fr. Antonios Vanikiotis
Pastor of the Church of the Annunciation
186 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne