October 28 is Greek National Oxi Day and commemorates the stand against the forces of fascist tyranny and oppression by the people of Greece on this day in 1940. It is also acclaimed as an affirmation of true values like freedom, self-determination and perseverance in our Orthodox faith and heritage which cannot be compromised at any cost.
His Holiness Irinej Patriarch of Serbia, the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Serbs, honoured us with a visit on this important day and concelebrated the Holy Liturgy at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in Woodstock, Cape Town, with His Eminence Archbishop Sergios Metropolitan of Good Hope and His Grace Bishop of Sumadia Kir Jovan.
The service which included the Doxology for the Greek National Oxi Day was attended by the newly-arrived Greek Consul in Cape Town Mrs Despina Tsanakakis with her husband and two daughters. The Honourable Consul of Cyprus Mr John Phillippou and his wife, Mr Fotis Sousalis President of the Hellenic Community of Cape Town, Mr Michael Scholiades Vice-President of the Hellenic Federation and Mr Andreas Coulbanis President of NAHYSOSA were also present.
It was a splendid and rare occasion to see so many members of the clergy celebrating the Holy Liturgy together with all due pomp and pageantry. There was a good turnout by the Greek and Serbian communities of Cape Town who were also represented by children carrying the flags of Greece, Cyprus, Serbia and South Africa. After the service His Eminence Archbishop Sergios welcomed His Holiness Irinej who responded through an interpreter. His Eminence also presented a beautiful silver icon of the Theotokos from Kykkos Monastery in Cyprus to the Serbian Patriarch who was visibly delighted.
A celebratory lunch was held at the Helleic Community Centre in Green Point to welcome and honour the Patriarch and the entertainment included Serbian and Greek folk dancing. All in all, it was a very bright and inspiring day underlining the indomitable spirit and passion of both Greeks and Serbians who have had to shed the yoke of oppression.
In the evening the Patriarch and his entourage paid an official visit to the Metropolis of Good Hope in Rondebosch where he baptised two adults and two children from the Serbian community in a very moving and intimate ceremony in the Metropolitan Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene.
Compiled by Pepe Sofianos