10th National Youth Conference
Brisbane, 29th September - 1st of October 2013

10th Youth ConferenceHundreds of youth and young adults gathered in Brisbane for one of the largest Youth Conferences ever held by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The 10th National Youth Conference was organised this year by the Parish and Community of the Dormition of the Theotokos at Mt Gravatt. The previous National Youth Conference, which was also held in Brisbane between 25th-28th of January, 2007, had the general topic “The responsible of Youth in modern Society.” This National Youth Conference likewise attempted to offer deeper insight into the problem of the responsibility of Youth. Consequently, looking at how the ”names” and their corresponding ”meanings” are ”differentiated” (in various periods of time), in order for this Conference”s theme to arise: “The terminology and the psychology of socio-political developments in modern times”.


BLESSING AND OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE BRIBIE ISLAND RETREAT AND RECREATION CENTRE

As part of the Youth Conference over 400 guests from around Australia attended the Blessing and Official Opening of the Bribie Island Retreat and Recreation Centre at Woorim on Bribie Island.

The day commenced with a Divine Liturgy at the Panagia Theotokos Chapel. The Blessing and Official Opening commenced at 11am. His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Apollonias blessed the Centre on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos in the presence of their Graces Bishops Ezekiel and Nikandros. Many dignitaries were present to witness this special event. They included Mr Wyatt Roy MP, Federal member for Longman and Jenny Harrison, Lynne Nicholas and Darren Hooper, Federal Government departmental represenatives. Other guests included Mr Tsambico Athanasas, Deputy
Consul of Greece in Queensland (representing the Consul-General of Greece, Mr Jim Raptis) Harry Jordan from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Theo Bacalakis and Michael Anastas from the Archdiocesan Council, Dr Eve Fesl – Elder of the Gubbi Gubbi people, Parish Presidents and Mrs Athena Vafeas.
Following the speeches His Grace Bishop Seraphim unveiled the commemorative plaque with the assistance of Jenny Harrison – a milestone in the development of this Centre. Lunch followed with guests being able to view the cabins and facilities. Ladies from the Auxiliaries and Philoptochos of the four SE Qld parishes prepared and served the food. After lunch youth gathered and walked the 100m to the beach to enjoy the afternoon by the sea. The guests were overwhelmed with the facilities and look forward to their return when their parishes and communities organise to book the Centre. For more information or to make a booking, please contact Helen Passaris.

SPEECH OF HIS GRACE BISHOP SERAPHIM AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF BRIBIE ISLAND

HisGrace10thYouthYour Graces, Bishops Ezekiel and Nikandros, the Honourable Wyatt Roy – Federal Member for Longman, Mr Tsambico Athanasas – Deputy Consul of Greece in Queensland representing the Consul-General of Greece, Mr Jim Raptis, Ms Jenny Harrison – Branch Manager, Federal Government, Department of Employment, Ms Lynne Nicholas – Assistant Director, Federal Government, Department of Employment, Mr Darren Hooper – Qld State Manager, Federal Government, Department of Employment, Reverend Father Dimitri Tsakas – Vicar- General for Queensland, Dr Eve Fesl – Elder of the Gubbi Gubbi peoples, Mr John Panaretos – Chair of the Bribie Island Retreat and Recreation Centre Management Committee, Reverend Clergy, Presidents and Repre-sentatives of the Various Parish-Communities of Queensland, other distinguished guests, delegates of the 10th National Youth Conference of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It was indeed a great honour and joy today to conduct the Agiasmos service for the official opening of this Centre. Very shortly, we will open this wonderful Retreat and Recreation Centre here on Bribie Island – this multi-purpose youth and community facility which will encourage the spiritual, social and cultural development of our youth in an Orthodox Christian framework. A truly historic moment for our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia!

I’m sure that I speak on behalf of all here present today, in expressing our sorrow, that His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, due to a small health issue, was not able to be present with us here today. His Eminence always had a dream that such a Centre for our youth be established – but for many years, due to financial constraints this could not be realized. Today, however, we see that His Eminence’s dream and vision has become a reality!

His Eminence was responsible for making direct contact with the then responsible Minister, the Honorable Anthony Albanese and requesting if there was any possibility of assisting us in developing such a Centre. Finally, after many meetings with the Minister, His Eminence was successful in securing a federal government grant to complete what we see in front of us here today. It was these actions by His Eminence, which have brought us to this wonderful moment to be here today and to be opening this first-class Centre in an official way.

On behalf of His Eminence, our Archdiocese, and all the faithful throughout Australia, I would like to express our thanks to the Federal Government for the generous grant of 1.9 million dollars. There are many people who have assisted in this endeavor from the very beginning: from when we first received the land to today. But, I do not wish to talk about the long history of Bribie island. Only I would like to mention the Tom Lemnos family. What I would like to do, however, on behalf of His Eminence, is to thank all those who have worked so hard, firstly for the Church to be built followed by the construction and completion of the modern self-contained accommodation cabins together with maintaining the wonderful surroundings here. Moreover, I would like express warm thanks to all those who, from last year in May, when the federal grant was first announced and received, have worked tirelessly, sacrificing their time, their families in order to make this happen today.

I do not wish to mention names here because there are so many people who have helped and I am afraid I will leave somebody out. I have to refer, however, to:

  • Mr John Panaretos, the current Chair of the Centre Management Committee and the members of his committee;
  • The Architect, Mr Steve Costi, who submitted the original plans;
  • But also to Mr Theo Bacalakis, President of the Parish of Cairns and and his son-in-law, Mr Costas Stratikopoulos, the Project Manager who has been instrumental with Government compliance issues.

I would also like to thank the priests of Brisbane and more broadly of Queensland who, in different ways, have helped in keeping the Bribie Island project alive in organising Retreats, celebrating Liturgies and so many other events, responsible for frequently bringing people together here at this place. Moreover, I would like to thank the representatives, from the various Government departments who, throughout the entire work, helped us, so that this Centre could comply with Government policies. From today, therefore, my beloved youth, you, who are all present here today, it is with great pleasure that we will declare this Centre open; and it will remain open for all the youth of Australia. It will be our joy to see characters and personalities formed in a way that our Church wants, but also in a way that will be for the good of the community at large, namely a place where our youth will learn “their yes to be a yes, and their no a no”, to recount the passage from the Bible which so beautifully summarised what was said yesterday during the Conference deliberations.

A sincere thank you to everybody; and I end by conveying to you all the paternal love and blessings of our Archbishop and Father of our Church, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos. Thank you!

SPEECH OF JOHN PANARETOS CHAIR, BRIBIE ISLAND RETREAT AND RECREATION CENTRE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

JohnPanaretos10thYouth

Welcome to the Bribie Island Retreat and Recreation Centre at Woorim on beautiful Bribie Island. I welcome you on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos. I welcome Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis, Bishop Seraphim of Apollonia and Bishop Nikandros of Dorileou.

I would also like to welcome the Honourable Wyatt Roy, Federal Member for Longman, Mr Tsambico Athanasas, Deputy Consul of Greece in Queensland representing the Consul-General of Greece, Mr Jim Raptis, Ms Jenny Harrison, Branch Manager, Federal Government, Department of Employment, Ms Lynne Nicholas, Assistant Director, Federal Government, Department of Employment, Mr Darren Hooper, Qld State Manager, Federal Government, Department of Employment, Reverend Father Dimitri Tsakas, Vicar-General for Queensland, Dr Eve Fesl, Elder of the Gubbi Gubbi peoples, Reverend Clergy, Presidents and Representatives of the Various Parish-Communities of Queensland, other distinguished guests, delegates of the 10th National Youth Conference of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Ladies and Gentlemen.

We thank His Grace Bishop Seraphim for the Opening Blessing (AGIASMOS) of this Centre on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos. We welcome you all with open hearts and with the generous support of our Queensland parishes and the State Philoptohos Society of Qld that today will be a highlight of your Conference. This journey started some 40 years ago when Tom Lemnos, a humble man and not a wealthy man, was inspired by a vision of the Panayia to leave his worldly wealth to the Church for the benefit of future generations. Despite difficulties, this nest egg was shepherded by the Vafeas and Costi families and with the foresight of His Eminence and people such as Jim Fouras, Stathi Efstathis and Harry Jordan, the idea for a youth camp was conceived. Father Gregory formed the original committee that was instrumental in finding this magnificent seaside acreage. Stage one – the Church of Panagia Theotokos, the infrastructure and amenities block was then completed.

The number of people who have contributed to its success makes me reluctant to list them all. Nevertheless, I have to mention a few and beg forgiveness of those I neglected:

  • Fr Dimitri Tsakas and the Greek Community of St George who have donated equipment, furniture and time as well as financial help
  • The Reverend Fathers from all parishes in South East Queensland who along with their parishioners have donated money and time and who support us by organising Divine Liturgies and other events
  • The 10th National Youth Conference Organising Committee – Dormition of the Theotokos, Mt Gravatt
  • Kastellorizian Association of Qld
  • The Philoptohos Societies who work tirelessly for us
  • Parish of St john the Baptist in Cairns
  • AHEPA Assoc of Qld
  • All the Associations including the Rhodians, Cretans, Samos and others
  • Families who have directed donations to Bribie at funerals of their loved ones
  • And of course, my Committee, the countless number of volunteers and helpers who are here come rain or shine, including Helen Passaris and her mother Stella, Peter and Barbara Cassimatis and Ann Dommett, and all who support our events.

At this point I make mention of Peter Antonopoulos of Le Sands Restaurant in Sydney who facilitated the meeting with His Eminence and the then federal Minister for Infrastructure Mr Anthony Albanese, who both had the belief in the project and faith in its potential to unite people in a common cause along with the youth of today and future generations. They have inspired us to look beyond ourselves and generously give of our time to inspire our youth to greater things. The centre provides cabin accommodation for 54 and a hall catering up to 250 people. We look forward to the energy and drive of young people filling this Centre with their activities, discussions and music. You will agree this is $1.9 million well spent.

But look outside!! With this money we’ve built half a circle of cabins. We intend to complete the circle to cater for groups of over 100. We need your help to fit out the hall and to complete the vision. Delegate, all we ask of you is when you return to your homes in the various parts of the country, that you tell your communities and your parishes and schools about Bribie Island Retreat and Recreation Centre, inspire them to bring their youth to support the activity programs that this Centre will host.

This project was delivered in partnership between the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and the federal government of Australia which provided the $1.9 million grant. We thank them both.