The Port Elizabeth Hellenic Community celebrates 80 years! 

14721676_1201758239885757_1237634592842274464_nThe Hellenic Community of Port Elizabeth comprising approximately 250 family members or 800 people is one of the oldest Greek enclaves in South Africa and this year they are celebrating the establishment of their community 80 years ago!

So it was Xronia Pola! and Opa!  everywhere as big  festivities were the order of the day on Saturday 15 October.

14731346_1201760919885489_8312262628321116834_nHis Eminence Archbishop Sergios,Metropolitan of  Good Hope in Cape Town, was invited by the Hellenic Community of Port Elizabeth to attend and bless this memorable occasion. He is well known to the community as he served as their parish priest when he first arrived in South Africa as Archimandrite.

A banquet was held on Saturday evening to celebrate this milestone in the history of the Greek Orthodox Church in Port Elizabeth. The church hall was filled to capacity with 300 people who all enjoyed the festivities recalling parishioners and priests and events of the past as most of the people who attended were linked in some way to those pioneers of 80 years ago.

The highlight of the evening was a heart-warming and exciting show of Greek dancing  presented by members of the professional Greek dancing academy from Johannesburg, established by the late Mary Vasiliou. They twirled and swirled in superb elaborate costumes   as they performed various folk dances representative of many parts of Greece and Cyprus.

14729159_1201761076552140_1947156627935721164_nIn his celebratory speech Mr Peter Clainos, Chairman of the Main Committee of the Port Elizabeth Community, said they could be proud of what they had achieved to date. It was all made possible by having the church as its “head” with religious and cultural and activities as its main focus. He underlined that the community has always been known to be a close-knit and friendly group, warmly welcoming visitors and newcomers.

On Sunday 16 October, the Service of the Holy Eucharist was held in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos and was officiated by Reverend Father George Giannakopoulos, who is the parish priest of Port Elizabeth. He was assisted by Reverend Father George Pittaras, parish priest of East London and Deacon Father Yiannis Tyropolis with His Eminence Archbishop Sergios in attendance. A memorial service was also held to acknowledge all the deceased members of their community.

In his address after the Service, His Eminence thanked Mr Thomas Matsoukas, the Consul from the Greek Consulate in Cape Town and Mr Fotis Sousalis, Chairman of the “Mother Hellenic Community” of Cape Town, for attending and sharing the celebrations.

He spoke of the past chairmen and made special mention of the important role the women and wives of the community have played in its evolvement of the decades.  He underlined that they formed the backbone of the community and kept things going, whether they served on the committees or not.

His Eminence was also happy to see the young generation present and mentioned a few names of those who are the descendants of families who are well-known to him from the time he served as parish priest in Port Elizabeth.

His Eminence said that the decision to house all community buildings on one property, namely the church and subsequently the hall, Greek school, priest’s residence  and the more recently- built Delphi youth hall, was the glue that has bound this community together. Having a Hellenic compound, as it were, allowed the community to function and interact as a whole, combining social, secular and religious activities. This rock became the corner foundation stone of their longevity as a church and a community, especially in these changing and worrisome times.

His Eminence also mentioned the late Archimandrite Porfyrios Marinakis who passed away in 1994  at the age of 82, having served his parish well for 36 years and  the late Panayioti Pitsilades, head of one of the founder families, who convinced the community to build the church first and not the hall as they had initially planned.

Then Archbishop Sergios thanked the past president and “godfather” of the church, Mr Andreas Christodolou and his wife for their many years of dedicated service.

He also thanked Mrs Dimitra Siachos, her daughters Evangelia and Maria and her late husband Nicholaos and late son Yiannis, for all their support and dedication in donating the space and establishing and running the mission of Saint Albans for so many years. And added his appreciation for the oldest members of the community, Mrs Irene Elefteriou and Mr Stelios Charalambous, who have been chanters in the church for many years. He made mention of Irene’s late husband Michalis Elefteriou, and the late Koula Charalambous, who were also regular psalters until they passed away.

He warmly thanked Reverend Father Giannakopoulos who is also the Greek teacher, Reverend Father from East London and the psalters.

Finally he congratulated the Chairman Mr Peter Clainos and his committee for the good work they are doing in the community and for organising this memorable event and said that he looked forward to celebrating the 100 year celebration of the church together with the Port Elizabeth community in twenty years’ time!

Posted in Archbishopric of Good Hope, Events, Orthodox Church Port Elizabeth | Comments Off on The Port Elizabeth Hellenic Community celebrates 80 years! 

A cameo history of the Port Elizabeth Hellenic Community


This long-standing bastion of the Hellenic community in South Africa was established 80 years ago by immigrants from the Motherlands of Greece and Cyprus, seeking to find ways of making a living and helping their families back home, after the devastation of Greece and the Balkans due to the many wars in Europe.

The first recorded arrival in Port Elizabeth of a Greek person was in 1897 and the first Greek Orthodox service was held at St Peter’s Anglican Church in South End on 2 July 1905, with about 70 Greeks attending the service, as no Greek Orthodox Church had yet been built.

In 1936 there were approximately 17 Greek families living in Port Elizabeth and so the community formally established itself as the Hellenic Community of Port Elizabeth and Eastern Province. It took nearly 50 years after the first Greek set foot in the friendly city!
The actual church edifice as it stands now was built 60 years ago after the purchase of the Parsons Hill site. Herbert McWilliams, one of the city’s leading architects, was commissioned to design the church, including the adjoining school and presbytery. So he went to Greece to see for himself how to build a typical Greek church.

The church we see today was the result and has been touted as the best example of Byzantine cruciform church buildings in South Africa. On Sunday 17 August 1958 the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Father Porfyrios Marinakis. The Church had been consecrated and was named the Dormition of the Theotokos to honour the Mother of God.


Three years later the adjoining plot was purchased and the Hellenic Hall was built which gave the community a central pivot around which they could keep up their heritage and traditions.

Compiled by Pepe Sofianos

Posted in Archbishopric of Good Hope, News, Orthodox Church Port Elizabeth | Comments Off on A cameo history of the Port Elizabeth Hellenic Community

Feast Day celebrations of St Sergios and St Bacchus and St Sergius of Radonezh – Metropolitan Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, Cape Town.

The Vespers Service for the Feast Day of Saint Sergios and Saint Bacchus and Saint Sergius of Radonezh was held on Thursday 6 October. His Eminence Archbishop Sergios officiated at the service, which included an Artoclasia for the saints, beside Father Nikolaos Giamourides, Deacon Father Michael Simos and Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen . Also present were the Consul of Greece Mr Thomas Matsoukas with members of his consular staff, Mr Johnny Philippou honorary Consul of Cyprus and Mr Foti Sousalis, President of the Hellenic Community of Cape Town.


After the Service Father Nikolaos thanked His Eminence for his many years of service to the Church in Cape Town and that we were privileged as a Community to have the Metropolis based in our City. He made mention of the various successful projects that His Eminence had initiated and completed to date and wished him many years.

In his address after the Service His Eminence said that Father Nikolaos was his “right hand” and thanked him for his ongoing support. He also thanked Father Michael and Father Nicholas. psalters and proto psalter Gregory Manolellis from East London.  His Eminence spoke about the martyr Saints Sergios and Bacchus and about Saint Sergius Radonezh whose name he bears.


He also thanked Consul Mr Matsoukas and consular staff and the newly appointed honorary Consul for Cyprus Mr Babi Philippou for their ongoing support of the Metropolis and mentioned that there is a an ancient Orthodox  Monastery dedicated to the Saints Sergios and Bacchus in occupied Cyprus. And that it is one of the  many Churches dedicated to these Saints in other parts of Cyprus. He said that we must never give up hope that the issue will be resolved and that Cyprus would get back what was rightfully hers.  He welcomed Mr Foti Sousalis and said that he wished him strength because he had taken on a big task and that it was good to see the progress being made with the repairs to the Cathedral of Saint George which was happening simultaneously to the roof being erected on the building that the Metropolis was building in preparation for the mission in Khayelitsha.

Finally His Eminence thanked everyone present who had come to celebrate his name day with him and the Welfare Committee for all their support with regards to the projects of the Metropolis. After the Service everyone enjoyed refreshments served by the Welfare Committee and a  Service of the Holy Eucharist was held on Friday morning 7 October.



Posted in Archbishopric of Good Hope, Feasts, Metropolitan church | Comments Off on Feast Day celebrations of St Sergios and St Bacchus and St Sergius of Radonezh – Metropolitan Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, Cape Town.

Love Your Enemies…

christ-lampToday, on the Second Sunday of Luke, we hear Jesus’ challenging words about loving our enemies. He starts by saying that we should treat others as we would wish to be treated. This so-called “Golden Rule” is found in various religions, and is really common sense if we wish to live together with other people in harmony. However, Jesus then goes further and tells us that we should also love our enemies and do good to them.

This text comes immediately after what are known as the Beatitudes (which we sing during the Liturgy on most Sundays), in which Jesus Christ really turns the world’s values on their head. In contrast to our society that values the rich, the powerful, and the popular, He tells us that it is the poor and those who hunger who are blessed, and that we should consider ourselves fortunate when people hate us and exclude us. And, moreover, He advises us to respond to them with love and forgiveness.

These are harsh words that we can too easily try to rationalise away, for who can live up to them? The key is given when Jesus tells us to “be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Indeed, it is by looking at Christ Himself that we find the answer, for He is the ultimate example of the One who was rejected and betrayed, even to death, and yet He did not respond in kind. By loving His enemies and praying for those who persecuted Him, Jesus Christ opened up the possibility for us of a different way of responding. And it was in this way that He ultimately conquered death.

We cannot do this on our own, for it goes against the norms of our fallen world, which also sit deeply within us. But it is the path Jesus Christ calls us to, and by following Him we too can learn – gradually, and sometimes by falling and getting up again – what it means to lay down our lives for those around us. But we will only be able to do so by remaining close to Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts.

Posted in Inspiration, Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary | Comments Off on Love Your Enemies…

The Fear of God

01-anonymous-christ-and-the-miraculous-catch-duomo-di-monreale-monreale-sicily-itToday we hear Saint Luke’s account of the miraculous catch of fish. The disciples had been fishing all night, but had caught nothing. However, when Jesus instructed them to “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” they nevertheless obeyed Him. They acted in faith, and, having done so, they caught such a quantity of fish that their nets started to break and they had to call others to help them bring them all in.

The disciples were “astounded” at what had taken place, and Saint Luke tells us that the Apostle Peter fell on his knees before Christ saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” We see here something of the awe and amazement that occurs from realizing that we are in the presence of God. But Jesus responds, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men.”

The fear of God can be a difficult concept for us to understand today. After all, we believe that God is love and God can hardly want us to be afraid of Him. But there is also another – positive – kind of fear of God that we see in this Gospel passage. We hear this repeated in the prayers of the Church, notably when the priest calls out in the Liturgy inviting us to receive Holy Communion: “With fear of God, with faith and love, draw near.”

This positive sense of fear is something like amazement, awe, or wonder. It is the awareness that we are confronted with something totally outside our normal frame of reference, which we can neither domesticate nor control. And it makes us aware of our own smallness and sinfulness, in contrast to the inexpressible Holiness of God.

This encounter with the Living God is at the heart of the Church’s life. Yet it is often all-too-easy for us to take God for granted and lose this awareness of His greatness. This is why the Fathers of the Church teach that the fear of the Lord is something that we need to cultivate and guard, being careful that we never take God’s gifts for granted.

Posted in Inspiration, Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary | Comments Off on The Fear of God

Whoever Loses their Life will Save it

Ravenna Transfiguration Cross (brighter)Today, on the Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we hear Jesus’ challenging words about cross in our own lives. By His victory over death on the Cross, Jesus Christ has conquered death and has opened up for us the possibility of new life. He has provided us with a way that we can follow in order to encounter the new life that He offers us.

However, if we are to enter into this new life and make it our own, then we will also encounter suffering and death in one way or another. Sometimes this will be the apparent suffering that results from letting go of those things in our lives that are not in keeping with God’s will for us. Sometimes it will mean sacrificing a lesser good in order to attain a greater good. But sometimes it will also mean the suffering that we experience as a result of our own brokenness and the brokenness of our world.

The victory of Jesus Christ on the Cross does not remove suffering from our lives or suddenly make everything miraculously better. Rather, He provides us with an example of how to face suffering so that it becomes life-giving and does not destroy or embitter us. And He assures us that He is with us in our deepest need, for He Himself knows what it is to be abandoned, rejected, and apparently defeated.

To turn to Christ in prayer is to be honest about the reality of our own lives. But it is also to find Him there, in the middle of our suffering and pain. When we call out “Lord, have mercy, Kyrie eleison,” we are inviting Jesus Christ into our pain and the pain of the world. If we are really honest, the suffering of our lives is too much for us. But, if we ask Him, He will come to us in our need, and He will help us to carry it.

Posted in Inspiration, Liturgical year, Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary | Comments Off on Whoever Loses their Life will Save it

The Exaltation of the Holy & Life-giving Cross

exaltationToday we celebrate the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. On this day we commemorate two specific incidents. The first is the finding of the Cross upon which Christ was crucified by the Empress Helena during her travels in Palestine in 326 A.D. On reaching Golgotha she ordered that the pagan temple be destroyed and when this was done three crosses were found on its site. Uncertain which one was the Cross of the Lord, they were placed on a dying woman who was miraculously healed when the True Cross touched her. The second incident commemorates the recovery of the True Cross in 628 A.D. after it had been captured by the Persians. Continue reading

Posted in Feasts, Inspiration, Liturgical year | Comments Off on The Exaltation of the Holy & Life-giving Cross

12 th Memorial Service held for the late Patriarch Petros VII – Cathedral of St George, Cape Town

14238362_1841900606042828_5354281597312482939_nOn Sunday 11 September, His Eminence Archbishop Sergios Metropolitan Bishop of Cape Town officiated at the Service of the Holy Eucharist together with Father Nikolaos Giamouridis and Deacon Father Michael Simos.  The Service was followed by a Memorial Service for the late Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, Petros VII. In his address after the Service, His Eminence made reference to the upcoming Feast Day of the veneration of the Cross and that all of us have our own cross to bear in this life.  And that and it is a heavy one for everyone –  for the Clergy and laity alike and that only through the Cross will we receive salvation.

His Eminence than spoke of the the 12th Memorial Service for the late Patriarch Petros VII saying that he was a very well respected Patriarch and his life ended tragically together with sixteen other Bishops, clergy and laity who were travelling with him. He was a man who was committed to sharing the message of Christ all over Africa and was well known for his vision and hope for Africa, and that there is no doubt that Patriarch Petros is close to God and his saints and continues to pray for his flock.


Referring to the refugee crisis in Greece, His Eminence said that the Greek people are doing their Christian duty by treating them as brothers and doing whatever they can to assist them. He said that as Greeks we have many examples of  “philitimo”  –  in Ancient Greece Zeus was the God of hospitality and in the old testament Abraham offered the three strangers hospitality who were actually Angels and representative of the Holy Trinity.

He thanked the president of the Hellenic Community Foti Sousalis for taking on the task of overseeing the repairs to the Cathedral which has a history of one hundred and sixteen years, and urged everyone to support the committee in this difficult and expensive task and said that whatever amount we donate, however small we will be rewarded more than one hundred times over.


His Eminence ended by mentioning  Mr Jimmy Kapoutsis who was holding a memorial Service for his late parents who died in Greece and thanked him for his support and contribution to the Hellenic Community of Cape Town.


Posted in Archbishopric of Good Hope, Cape Town, News | Comments Off on 12 th Memorial Service held for the late Patriarch Petros VII – Cathedral of St George, Cape Town

The Son of Man Must be Lifted Up

cross-iconToday, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we hear Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, who had come to ask Him about salvation. And at the heart of this salvation that Jesus Christ came to bring to our world is the great mystery of the Cross. For it is through His death and apparent defeat on the Cross that He has in fact conquered death and opened the way to life for all who follow Him. Continue reading

Posted in Inspiration, Liturgical year, Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary | Comments Off on The Son of Man Must be Lifted Up

The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos

nat-theotokos-2Today we celebrate the birth of the Mother of God, or Theotokos, one of the twelve Great Feasts of the Church. Most of the direct references to her birth come from one of the apocryphal gospels, the Protoevangelium of James, which have been taken up and further developed in the liturgical texts of the Church. However, although the Scriptures do not refer to the actual birth of the Mother of God, they are full of indirect references to it, for the whole history of the Old Testament is a preparation for the coming Christ into our world. And a key part of this preparation was the preparation of the one who was to give birth to the Son of God. In the words of Saint Andrew of Crete:

The radiant and bright coming-down of God for people ought to possess a joyous basis, opening to us the great gift of salvation. Such like also is the present feast day, having as its basis the Nativity of the Mother of God, and as its purposeful end the uniting of the Word with flesh, this most glorious of all miracles, unceasingly proclaimed, immeasurable and incomprehensible. The less comprehensible it is, the more it is revealed; and the more it is revealed, the less comprehensible it is. Wherefore the present God-graced day, the first of our feast days, showing forth the light of virginity and as it were the crown woven from the unfading blossoms of the spiritual garden of Scripture, doth proffer creatures a common joy. Be of good cheer it says, behold, this is the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin and of the renewal of the human race! The Virgin is born, she grows and is raised up and prepares herself to be the Mother of God All-Sovereign of the ages. All this, with the assistance of David, makes it for us an object of spiritual contemplation. The Mother of God manifests to us Her God-bestowed Birth, and David points to the blessedness of the human race and wondrous co-kinship of God with mankind.

Posted in Feasts, Inspiration, Liturgical year | Comments Off on The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos