Honouring Andreas Christodoulou

honand

When the Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, Theodoros II, visited Cape Town in May this year on the occasion of the inauguration of the Holy Metropolitan Church of Saint Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, it was decided  that the very special honour of the Order of Saint Sava, the nobleman, would be conferred on Mr Andreas Christodoulou. Originally from Cyprus, Mr Christodoulou is a well-known and much-respected member of the Greek community of both East London and Port Elizabeth.

However due to illness, Mr Christodoulou was unable to attend the ceremony in Cape Town, so His Eminence Archbishop Sergios was given the responsibility to confer the award on him at a more suitable time.

So on Sunday, 17 June 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Sergios, accompanied by the Bishop of Botswana and his parents, duly honoured Mr Andreas Christodoulou  with the Order of Saint Sava in the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Port Elizabeth. The ceremony took place after the Service of the Divine Liturgy before worshippers and members of the Board of Directors of the Greek Community of Port Elizabeth.

In his address to the congregation, Archbishop Sergios referred to the personality of the honoree as follows:

“As we have heard today in the reading of the Gospel there is a true perception of the Church regarding  the distinction of special treatment between people. The issue is so wide that I will confine myself to telling you that any apparent distinction between people is based primarily on the character and the special effort on the part of each believer in promoting issues of personal salvation and that of his brothers. God already knows what’s in the heart of each one of us and rewards each one’s efforts accordingly.  So when we highlight some specific believers  or people in administrative positions in the Church, it is both a tribute to these fine persons  as well as away to create role models in our society.”

“Especially as we are so far from our Orthodox homelands, there is an urgent need within our parishes and communities to uphold and continue the Greek Orthodox traditions. We feel an obligation to keep them going as a good institution. Therefore, the  Patriarchate of Alexandria has instituted this special honour to showcase worthy people who have done good work in the Church and have withstood many difficult moments along the way. They have been supporters not only of the clergy but also of ordinary Christians.”

“In this context, today we are honouring Andreas Christodoulou with the Order of Saint Sava, by the venerable command of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, Theodoros II. “

“Andreas Christodoulou was nurtured in his love of the Greek Orthodox Church in his home community on Paphos, Cyprus.  At the age of 17, he came to South Africa via Egypt and as a student he was welcomed by the first Bishop of Good Hope in South  Africa into the Eastern Cape community in East London.”

“Andreas was always active in the Church but he had it in his mind that the Orthodox church needed to maintain contact with the people in this faraway land. He became a donor and benefactor for many parishes and communities in South Africa, especially for the Holy Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Port Elizabeth. He has stood by us through good times and bad, working with priests for 36 years in the community including the blessed vicar Porphyry Marinakis. He was also loved and respected by my blessed predecessor Archbishop Paul and he also maintained  regular contact with the late blessed Patriarch Petros, which bonded them together in a spiritual relationship and mutual respect.”

“We should remember the act of love which our honoree today, Andreas Christodoulou and his wife Thelma, carried out regularly by visiting Bishop Paul in his bed of pain in Cape Town. The late Patriarch Petros also appreciated  all Mr Christodoulou’s efforts and his  constant support.  Andreas has met the current Patriarch Theodoros  during his visits to the Patriarchate of Alexandria and reciprocated by showing His Beatitude warm hospitality while on his first visit to our diocese.”

“At this moment I do not want to elaborate on or mention the help, support and assistance that I personally received so generously from Andreas Christodoulou during the 15 years of my ministry in South Africa, both as parish priest in Port Elizabeth and as the Archbishop of Good Hope, because today honours the Church and not myself.”

“I would also like to refer to another aspect of his contribution to the Orthodox colony, our activity in the community and the multifaceted contribution to the advancement and enhancement of this community as a model and example for the rest of our communities. He served as President of the committee for many years and was an active member of the Board of Directors and today he still serves on the audit committee of the Community. “

“During the many years of his service he has always demonstrated a zeal for conveying the values and principles of the leaders and pioneering members of the first generation of young Greeks who had the opportunity to work out here. Today, the Greek Orthodox community life is in a transition period and when we look to a redefinition of purpose of our existence and the smooth functioning of our communities, the rich character of Andreas Christodoulou is indeed, a fine example to imitate.”

“In times of transition, in order to survive, we need to rediscover the representatives of the first generation, the genuine exponents of the spirit that characterises them and we must renew the interest  in  continuity and persistence of the Greek Orthodox element in South Africa.”