Service of the Veneration of the Cross  – Church of St Mary of Egypt, Monastery of St John the Baptist, Robertson, Western Cape

On Sunday 11 March, His Eminence Archbishop Sergios attended the celebrations of the Veneration of the Cross  at the Church of Saint Mary of Egypt in Robertson, with Archimandrite Zacharias Van Wyk, (resident priest at the Monastery), Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen and two visitors from Russia, Father Sergei and Deacon Maximos whose ship had docked in Cape Town on the way to the Antarctic.

The Service which was well attended was conducted in four languages,  Afrikaans, Greek, English and some Russian. A memorial Service was included for the late Michail Marathetis, Kyriacos Savvas and Andromachi Savvas.  His Eminence and Archmandrite Zacharias spoke about the meaning of this important Feast Day.

His Eminence explained that the Cross is not to be considered as a means of punishment but rather as a means to triumph over death. And on this Feast Day especially, the Cross is presented to give the faithful strength to continue the Lenten Fast leading up to the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.

After the Service a lunch was served which everyone enjoyed.


Father Zacharias with the tray


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The Christmas Karavaki 2017 – Metropolis of Good Hope (Cape Town)


Even the chilly winds whistling around us and shaking everything up did not affect the excitement of the children of St George’s Cathedral Parish youth in Cape Town, who once again revived the truly meaningful and cultural Orthodox Christmas tradition of the Karavaki held at the Archbishopric in Rondebosch on Saturday 9th December.

MC Pepe Sofianos reminded us that peace is the best gift of all and that this was the eighth annual celebration of the Karavaki which has now become a firm favourite in our activities calendar.

25188875_2068276723405214_9070093390685755850_oHis Eminence Archbishop Sergios, Metropolitan Bishop Cape Town gave his opening address, praising our children, parents and teachers for keeping these important core values and traditions of our Orthodox faith alive and well, especially in this time of uncertainty that has gripped the world.

As the twilight dimmed into darkness the age-old story of the birth of Christ unfolded for us in the most unusual way. The highlight of the evening was a delightfully artistic rendition of the Nativity play in the form of a shadow puppet presentation devised and put together by Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen. The shadow puppets enacted the events that led up to the birth of Christ while the story was told by the children reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke.


Everyone was enchanted by the children’s singing of good old fashioned Christmas carols and traditional Kalanda. The children were accompanied by their own little string quartet and the audience was encouraged to join in including our special guests Pater Nikolaos and Presbytera Maria, the Greek Consul Mr Thomas Matsoukas and President of the Hellenic Community Mr Fotis Sousalis.


Then it was time for the countdown to switching on the lights of the Karavaki and everyone oohed and aahd as the boat burst into phosphorescent shimmering light.

The mouth-watering aroma of the delicious kalamari stew prepared by Eftugia Spiratos tempted everyone to have seconds. The excellent meal was followed by very moreish nistisimo confectionery provided by Eftugia and Dora Wild and there was a lot of laughter, munching and chatting well into the night.Despite the high-force winds, everybody who attended was thoroughly satisfied and delighted with this memorable evening which felt like a happy relaxed family gathering and it certainly ushered in the Christmas season with a lot of goodwill.

We wish you all Kala Xristougena.

By  Pepe Sofianos.

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St Mamas Annual Pets Blessing Day 2017 – Metropolis of Good Hope, Cape Town

Ponies and pets, kiddies and sticky fingers are a fail-proof recipe for fun and happy memories which all happened on Sunday 3 September at our eighth annual St Mamas Pets Blessing which took place in the grounds of the Metropolis in Rondebosch.


Our prayers for  sunshine were answered  by St  Mamas and the afternoon  turned out  to  be a brilliant  Spring  day and was  a resounding success.

We had a rather rowdy start to the proceedings with dogs getting to know each other but everyone   soon settled down and we had a terrific time.


After lighting the candles and incense in front of the icon of Saint Mamas, His Eminence Archbishop Sergios  and  Pater Nikolaos  welcomed  everyone   with a   hymn  and  a prayer  for animals. Then we all lined up to have our pets blessed by Pater Nikolaos who has a special knack of calming even the most   wayward dogs!


Of course,  Deanne  Hathaway’s   popular ponies  were very much in demand as even the tiniest tots wanted to have a ride and Pepe’s fun lucky draws and prizes got the kids buzzing   with excitement.


Yummy  refreshments were  served  and  finally it  was  time to  wind down with the traditional  marshmallow  bonfire which is always very popular with the children.Everyone went  home with pet  goody bags  and  a special  message from  Saint Mamas to  treasure  our pets and help spread  his example of  goodwill to all living creatures.

See you next year!


By Pepe Sofianos.

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Feast Day celebrations of Saints Cyril and Methodius — Orthodox Centre, Cape Town.

On Sunday 21 May 2017 the Service of the Holy Eucharist and an Artoclasia in honour of  the Feast Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius was held, at the Cathedral of Saint George in Woodstock, Cape Town.  His Eminence Archbishop Sergios, Metropolitan Bishop of Good Hope, Reverend Father Nikolaos Giamouridis, parish priest of Cape Town, Deacon Father Michael Simos and Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen officiated at the service. Father Danil Lugov, parish priest of the Russian Community in Johannesburg  and Father Isaljo , parish priest of the Serbian community in Johannesburg,  joined us for the day and also participated in the service.

It was a truly blissful winter’s day in Cape Town and after the service there was a festive lunch and entertainment laid on at the Orthodox Centre in Lansdowne where everyone got together to enjoy sharing the blessings of the day as an integrated pan-Orthodox community.


Pepe Sofianos welcomed everyone on behalf of the Welfare Committee of the Metropolis and introduced the clergy and dignitaries present who were: the Consul of Greece Mr Thomas Matsoukas, the Honorary Consul of Cyprus Mr  Johnny “Babi” Philippou, the Consul General of Russia Mr Roman Evgeny Ambarov, the President of the Hellenic Community of cape town Mr Foti Sousalis and the  Chairman of the Russian Club in Cape Town Dr Mishag Galukhin.

IMG-20170525-WA0000_resized (1) croppedHis Eminence Archbishop Sergios opened the proceedings and the afternoon started off with an informative and very interesting video presentation by Deacon Father Nicholas Esterhuizen which documented the lives and works of these two great saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the interaction between Byzantium and the Balkans in the early days of Christianity.

Anastasia Esterhuizen and her friend then sang two very beautiful and moving hymns in Russian.  After we all sang “Christos Anesti”, his Eminence blessed the food and the feast began.

The table was laden to the hilt with traditional Greek, Russian, Serbian and Bulgarian dishes  including a very South African bobotie and everything was prepared by the ladies of the Welfare Committee and ladies of the different communities.

But that’s not all the dessert table with an array of decadent treats was unveiled and everyone discovered each other’s favourite confectionery goodies and then there was lots of recipe-swapping going on!

IMG-20170525-WA0004_resized (1) main table

The children meanwhile had loads of fun learning to write the Cyrillic alphabet and drawing their favourite saints.

IMG-20170525-WA0002_resized (1)

IMG-20170525-WA0001_resized (1)The event ended on a high note with Chanter Meletios and three friends from the Congo who sang “Christos Anesti “ in French and two African languages.

It was a happy hectic day honouring two revered saints in great style and already diaries are being checked for next year’s festivities!

By Pepe Sofianos

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Official visit from The Greek Deputy Minister of foreign affairs to Cape Town, South Africa

The Greek deputy minister of foreign affairs visited paid an official visit to Cape Town after having visited The Patriarchate of Alexandria and Ethiopia.

At the start of his stay in Cape Town he visited the Metropolis of Good Hope where he spent time with His Eminence Archbishop Sergios Metropolitan Bishop of Cape Town.


His Eminence and the Minister exchanged ideas and views on the Greek people living in Africa and other important issues pertaining to the Hellenic Communities which fall under the Metropolis of Good Hope.

20170225_185430On Sunday 26 February Minister Quick attended the Liturgy at the Cathedral of Saint George. In his address after the Service, His Eminence welcomed the minister to the Cathedral of Saint George which is the first Orthodox Church to have been built in South Africa in 1902 by some of the first Greeks to have arrived in Cape Town.

His Eminence said that there are many Greeks in South Africa and we are proud because we hold the flag of our motherland high, we are proud because we speak our language which is also the language of Holy Scripture, and we set a good example to others around us.  And that with humility we pray for this beautiful and rich country to take the right path – as we also pray for Greece and Cyprus.

He said that Africa has lots of needs and our Clergy play a vital role in assisting both our own communities and the communities at large. He thanked the minister for the clergy that Greece sends to our parishes and subsequently introduced the parish of Cape Town, p Father Nikolaos who has been in this country for twenty five years, Deacon Michael Simos who was born in this country and studied at a Theological school in Greece, Deacon Father Nicholas, a local Afrikaner who converted to Orthodoxy and the sub deacon Petros Khaya who is from the Eastern Cape. His Eminence also mentioned that we are fortunate to have translated the Orthodox Services into all the local languages of South Africa as have other African countries.

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St Georges Sunday school Christmas Karavaki 2016- Archbisnhopric of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa

“The Church is like a boat, even if you forget yourself and fall asleep, it will still take you to the other side.’’ Saint Paisios of The Holy Mountain

15349831_1885446005021621_3907031138756758741_n-1 Once again the air was alive with the sounds of little voices celebrating the spirit of Christmas!

The children of St George’s Cathedral Sunday School in Cape Town delighted everyone at our annual presentation of the traditional Christmas Karavaki held at the Archbishopric in Rondebosch on Saturday 3 December 2016.

His Eminence Archbishop Sergios with Father Nikolaos, Parish Priest in Cape Town

His Eminence Archbishop Sergios with Father Nikolaos, Parish Priest in Cape Town

His Eminence Archbishop Sergios gave the opening address. He welcomed the official guests who included Father Nikolaos, Parish Priest of Cape Town and Presvytera Maria, Mr Babi Phillipou, honorary consul of Cyprus, Mr Foti Sousalis, president of the Hellenic Community of Cape Town and committee member Andreas Coulbanis who is also the newly elected president of Nahysosa.

He thanked the teachers of the Sunday School for their continued efforts to share our Faith with the children and also the parents for ensuring that their  children participate in the life of the Church. And said that the Orthodox Faith is a “living” faith and therefore children need to experience it in a natural way, firstly through participating in the Sacramental life of the Church and secondly, by actively sharing in events which are organised by the Church.

His Eminence drew attention to the fact that in these times the family unit is under attack everywhere and events such as these support family life in a natural environment. He stressed that it is important that the children should not feel any pressure to perform their parts but rather that it should be an enjoyable experience for them. Finally, he thanked the children and wished everyone a blessed Nativity season.


This year our programme included the very “littlies” who simply stole our hearts with their charming renditions of Greek Christmas carols and also the older children who performed readings and festive songs as well as a charming nativity play.


The musical moments were provided by a talented quartet of young violinists and  a cellist and all the guests were encouraged to sing along with the children karaoke-style, following the words of well-loved and popular Greek kalanda and English carols, on a big screen.


At the end of the performances we all tucked into a splendid festive feast of nistisimo  snacks and mouth-watering Greek confectionery provided by the ladies of The Welfare Committee. The children, meanwhile, were busily icing Christmas biscuits as special gifts for their parents, a messy but marvellous task!

Afterwards, as the moon came up, we started the countdown to switching on the lights of the Karavaki. Once again it was a vision to behold — a truly magical little boat decked out in shimmering phosphorescence and twinkling lights. 

It was a very laid-back and happy evening and a perfect way to start the Christmas season with family and friends.

This year marks the seventh Karavaki festivity and, as always, everyone shared the love and enjoyment that has made the Karavaki a signature event in our Orthodox Christmas calendar

We wish everyone Καλα Χριστουγεννα και Χρονια πολλα για το νεο ετος

By Pepe Sofianos.

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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!

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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

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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.



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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.

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