Community members, dignitaries and priests gathered at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on Saturday, July 28 to commemorate the 15 years celebration of St Dionysius Indian Orthodox Church based in West Auckland.
The church group, when started in 2003, had only five families visit the place and today the church has grown to over 75 families visiting every Sunday. The church has also established groups in Hamilton, Wellington, Palmerston and Christchurch.
Members of the Malayali community who are baptised in the orthodox faith come to the church on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the Holy Eucharist which is led by an ordained priest of the church. After the prayer session is over various other activities are conducted for the visitors to the church of different age groups.
The church conducts Sunday school for the children, Mar Gregorios Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM) is organised for the youth and the students, for the working youth up to the age of 40 the church has Orthodox Christian Youth Movement (OCYM), prayer groups for the elders and Morth Mariam Samajam for the women.
For the crystal jubilee celebrations, the church invited Diocesean Metropolitan H.G. Dr Yuhanon Mar Diascoros from Chennai, MP for Te Atatu and Housing Minister Phil Twyford, List MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Honorary Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon.
The event commenced with welcoming the guests, followed by the New Zealand national anthem, acknowledgements from the guests and hymns by the choir present. The celebrations continued with a cultural programme including various folk dances from Kerala such as Thiruvathira, fishermen’s dance, Parichamuttu, Ottamthullal and it ended with a fusion dance.
Beside conducting Sunday prayer and special sessions for the worshippers, the church celebrates Christmas during Parish Day and also the state festival of Kerala, Onam in Auckland.