New Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria Enthroned
The enthronization of His Eminence Damaskinos, the new Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria took place in the Cathedral of St Constantine and St Helen in Johannesburg this morning. Most of the Orthodox Churches in Johannesburg were closed, and so there was a large congregation, with a couple of streets around the church closed off to provide parking. The ceremony was performed by the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodoros II, in the presence of several visiting bishops and most of the clergy of the Archdiocese.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy the new archbishop was led into the cathedral by his predecessor, Archbishop Seraphim, now Metropolitan of Zimbabwe. Archbishop Damaskinos, formerly Archbishop of Ghana, was invested with staff and mitre by the Pope.
The Patriarch gave an interesting history of the pastoral staff, saying that it was the one he had received when he himaelf was consecrated as a bishop. I could not follow it all as he spoke in Greek, but I think he said it had also belonged to the first Archbishop of Johannesburg, Isidore, who became Archbishop in 1924.
Archbishop Damaskinos gave his speech from the throne, taking as his text II Corinthians 12:14, “I seek not what is yours, but you” saying that each one is precious in the sight of God, and that there is amessage for each person from God, “that He loved us, he loves us, and loved us enough to give His only-begotten Son so that ‘all who believe in him will not perish but have life everlasting.'”
It is at this point that the centre and essence and weight and importance of the Church’s mission is found. The Kingdom of God begins at every human heart.
And now, at the hour when we are inaugurating my humble pastorate, I do not wish to extend my homily into an essay of details regarding the programme that I will follow, for the simple reason that it is the eternal programme of the Church. It is the same programme which the Church received at Pentecost, the programme of salvation in Christ and the theosis of souls though him.
One of the advantages of such diocesan occasions is that you see people you haven’t seen for a long time, and re-establish contact with hold friends. We saw several people we hadn’t seen for a long time, and one that we were most pleased to see was His Eminence Metropolitan Alexandros of Nigeria. We had not seen him for 13 years. We got to know him in 1987, when our parish was without a priest for a year. Father Alexandros (as he was then) was priest of the neighbouring parish of St Cosmas and Damian in Sophiatown, and he was asked to look after us as well, and we had combined Holy Week and Pascha services that year.
To our new Archbishop: Is polla eti, Despota! Many years!