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Catholic parish hosts Greek Orthodox Easter after fire destroys church

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More than 1300 Greek Orthodox parishioners participated in a unique Easter celebration at a Catholic church in Adelaide after fire destroyed their church at Glenelg North last week.

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St Panteleimon Greek Orthodox Church was badly damaged by a fire on April 2, just days before the Greek Orthodox Easter.

Glenelg Catholic parish came to the rescue and offered Our Lady of Victories Church to the Greek Orthodox congregation.

Packed services were held from Thursday through to Sunday morning in the much larger Catholic church after being advertised on Greek radio and through social media.

Nick Kapolos, the parish president, said the parishioners were extremely grateful to the Catholic Church and it was great to be able to have space for so many people.

“We are only a small parish with a church that seats about 50 people – to go from the smallest church to one of the biggest in Adelaide meant that everyone could have a seat,” he told The Southern Cross.

Mr Kapolos said it was the first time in recent history that Greek Orthodox Christians would have worshipped in a Catholic church.

“I believe that when the Greeks first came to Australia they used an Anglican church while they were building the Greek one, they may have used Catholic churches too,” he explained.

“We’re lucky it wasn’t like last year when Easter occurred on the same weekend for both Churches – that only happens rarely.”

Only one Catholic Mass was affected by the Easter services, the Friday midday Mass, which was moved to an adjacent church hall to accommodate the Greek Orthodox community.

Mr Kapolos said Orla Wright, the Glenelg parish pastoral associate, had been very helpful and along with other parish leaders had shown them how everything worked in the church.

“It’s just beautiful, absolutely fantastic,” Mr Kapolos said.

“This is what it’s all about.”

Despite the widespread damage to the church, a gold-plated chest containing relics (bones) of St Panteleimon were found unharmed beneath the altar.

“The only thing we were worried about were the relics but the gold chest was glowing and when we opened the box instead of smelling ash there was still the fragrance of myrrh coming out of the bones,” he said.

St Panteleimon ‘the great martyr and healer’ lived around 301AD and learned the Greek language and studied medicine.

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