Archbishop Stylianos Official Opening of the St Spyridon College ‘Sports and Performing Arts Centre’
Distinguished guests, representatives of Local, State and Federal Governments, reverend clergy, president and members of the Parish Council, head of college, principals and staff, benefactors and donors, parents, grandparents and faithful, girls and boys of our School.
In the first instance, we give thanks to the Risen Lord under Whose providence St Spyridon College was established in 1983. As I have said on many occasions, this school is the ‘flagship’ of our Greek Orthodox Day Schools System in Australia. It is exemplary in setting the highest educational standards, and in preserving our Hellenic Ideals and our Orthodox phronema.
Precisely here, it is timely to remember that Hellenism does not belong to Greece alone, but to the entire world. And Orthodoxy, which remains true to the teachings of the Undivided Church of the first Christian millennium, belongs to the entire Universe. These are the precepts that make our schools esties, centres, for social harmony that enrich the broader community also.
Consequently, as I foretold in 1983, St Spyridon College has indeed become a bridge which renders our students well-balanced, bilingual and bicultural citizens of this Nation.
Furthermore, because our students come from 20 different cultural backgrounds and a plethora of Christian denominations and non-Christian religions, our students are often tri-lingual and tri-cultural. They are global citizens, strengthened by the ethos of human dignity, and the values of equality and respect taught in the school’s spiritual and pastoral programmes. Our students are proud to be Australian, and Australia has every reason to be proud of them.
Certainly, no school can operate in Australia without government assistance. Our Archdiocese is indeed very grateful for the recurrent funding provided to all of our schools by the Federal and State governments, as well as capital funding for buildings works.
On this memorable day, as we bless and officially open this brilliant ‘Sports and Performing Arts Centre’, we express our deep appreciation to State and Federal leaders who gave every assistance to St Spyridon College during the past 35 years.
Names that come to mind in chronological order include: Premier Neville Wran, Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen, Premier Barrie Unsworth, Premier Bob Carr, Prime Minister Paul Keating, Prime Minister John Howard, Premier Morris Iemma, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Premier Kristina Keneally, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
I am especially delighted that the Honourable Kristina Keneally is with us here today. I remember fondly that she represented Premier Morris Iemma at the Fiftieth Anniversary of St Spyridon Parish in 2008, and presented a cheque of one million dollars for this building which was to be built at some time in the near future. She has always been respectful towards my humble self, and proved to be a Premier of exceptional intelligence, with grace and dignity at all times. In addition, thank you Ms Keneally for your kind promotion of our Estia Foundation for Children with Special Needs. I look forward to the same sensitivity from the new State government.
It is my pleasant duty also to offer the gratitude of our Church to the current Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Julia Gillard, whose government has provided almost 3 million dollars towards this very impressive facility of St Spyridon College. The Building the Education Revolution scheme has assisted every school in the country. However, today is our turn to express the profound appreciation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia for making this dream come true. I ask Senator Thistlewaite to convey my personal thanks to the Prime Minister and my hope that recurrent funding will be guaranteed and maintained at present levels, to avoid further pressure on school fees.
Of course, at the same time, we acknowledge the enormous contribution of our own community. To the Benefactors and Donors, to the Parents, to our Clergy, to the Parish President Mr Elia Economou, to the Head of College – Mrs Efrosini Stefanou-Haag, to the Principals – Mrs Mary Hamer and Mrs Amelia Katsogiannis, to the Parish Executive Officer – Mrs Christina Tsaconas, to the architect – Mr Michael Avramidis, and to all who have made this Centre a reality, congratulations and thank you.
Finally to our beloved students of St Spyridon College, may the Risen Lord grant you wisdom and health at all times, not only to pursue excellence in your normal subjects, but also to take full advantage of this new facility to broaden your studies through sport, drama, music, fine arts and all the related subjects which are now available to all of you.
God bless you. Christ is Risen! Amen.