The Federation of Greek Senior Citizens’ Associations of Melbourne and Victoria the largest body of Diaspora in the State, with 115 member associations and over 20,000 members gathered for a Christmas celebration on Sunday December 10 at Stars International Reception Centre in Preston.

The master of ceremonies was veteran radio journalist Rena Frangioudaki OAM, and short greetings were given by the following:

The President of the Federation of Greek Senior Citizens’ Associations of Melbourne and Victoria, John Kostoulias

The Bishop of the Archdiocese of Northcote District Archdiocese Evmenios, representing the Archbishop of Australia Makarios.

The Federal Labor MP Peter Khalil.

Kat Theophanous MP and John Kostoulias. Photo: Con Deves

Liberal State MP Trung Luu, representing the Opposition leader of the Liberal Party, John Pesutto

Labour MP Kat Theofanous, a Member of the Northcote seat, representing the Victorian government

Cr Michelle Kleinert OAM, the former mayor and current Manningham Councillor

PRONIA President Elpis Korosidis

All spoke highly of the federation and the president, John Kostoulias, who said that the event’s success “exceeded the expectations of the organisers” and was held in honour of the volunteers who make up the boards of the clubs.

L-R Rena Frangioudaki OAM, Federation president John Kostoulias and Federal Labor MP Peter Khalil. Photo: Con Deves

Bishop Evmenios stressed that “the elderly have contributed the most and continue to contribute to the Greek community, and the great responsibility of all of us is unity”.

Kostoulias, thanked everyone for their participation and support and thanked the Board of Directors members and volunteers. He made a special mention of the coordinator, Maria Katergari, and the sponsors who contributed to the successful outcome of the event and wished everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

Giorgos Kotsiras, the Deputy Minister for the Greek Diaspora, sent a special message to the federation.

John Kostoulias and Bishop Evmenios. Photo: Con Deves

“Given we are near Christmas and the New Year, I address you with a joyful mood but also with respect both for the course of each of you and for the tireless support of all of you to the homeland.”

The deputy minister said that while thousands of kilometres “separate us, ” the distance does “not prevent us from following your action from afar, rejoicing in your successes and learning from your valuable experience.”

“Your contributions to your adopted nation and you have kept Greece alive in your memory and your hearts, you have preserved our language, you have promoted the virtues of our people in hospitable Australia, you have toiled and prospered, thus honouring your Greek roots.”

Cr Michelle Kleinert OAM, MP Peter Khalil, John Kostoulias, Bishop Evmenios, Kat Theophanous MP, Elpis Korosidis and others. Photo: Con Deves

Kotsiras said seniors have been an “integral and irreplaceable part of Hellenism.”

“The issues that concern you, that concern our active Greek community and the improvement of the daily life of all Greeks around the world, are a priority for the Government.”

He then pointed to removing restrictions on the Diaspora vote and introducing the postal ballot for European elections.

Kotsiras thanked everyone for their contributions and wished them all a happy holiday season, “a Merry Christmas, with health and happiness for the New Year.”

*The next Federation event will take place on Sunday, 21 January 2024, at the magnificent location of Rye.