The Castellorizian Association of New South Wales (NSW) opened their new cultural center building in Sydney, Australia on Saturday.
Archbishop Makarios of Australia, the current archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia, blessed the new building, devoted to the cultural traditions of Greek-Australians from Castellorizo Island.
Impressive new building
The new building, which is located in Kingsford, Sydney, marks a historic moment for the long-established Castellorizian Association of NSW. At the grand opening, Archbishop Makarios blessed the building before proceeding with the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Also in attendance was the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley, who assisted Archbishop Makarios with the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Archbishop then made a speech congratulating the association for the great accomplishment of opening their new Cultural Center. He specifically mentioned the efforts of George Pizanis, the President of the Castellorizian Association of NSW, as well as work of the Board of Directors.
The Cultural Center will be used by the association to promote Castellorizian culture by preserving the stories of first-generation immigrants. It will also display information and objects about traditions, customs, and the wider history of Castellorizo Island.
Archbishop Makarios said in his remarks “Looking to the future, the challenge remains – to ensure that the younger generations will keep alive in their consciousness their Greek heritage.”
He gave his full support to the Castellorizian Association of NSW, saying he believed they were capable of keeping young Greek-Australians aware and appreciative of their Greek heritage.
Castellorizians in NSW
Castellorizians first started settling in Australia in the late 19th century, arriving at Fremantle in Western Australia and Darwin in the Northern Territory. By the turn of the century many had settled in Perth, and the first Castellorizian Corporation was established in Perth in 1912.
Following World War I, more Castellorizians began to migrate to Australia and settle across the country. Some Castellorizians, headed by Spiros Touloutsas, met to discuss creating an association in NSW in 1924.
The first annual general meeting took place on June 15, 1924 and was held at Lee House in Castlereagh Street. The 133 Castellorizians in attendance elected the first Committee comprised of Anastasios Finikiotis (President), Elias Leondis Secretary), Evangelos Gravas (Treasurer), Agapitos Economou, George Giorgiadis, Evangelos Stavrianos, Vasilis Photios, Vasilis Tsolakis and George Kailis.
Since then, the Castellorizian community in NSW has continued to grow, along with the association.
Castellorizo, or Kastellorizo, is the easternmost Greek island, with the exception of the nearby islet of Strongyli. They are situated in the Levantine Sea.
It is the largest island of the Kastellorizo archipelago comprising the islands and islets of Agios Georgios, Megisti, Agrielaia, Voutsakia, Megalo Mavro Poini, Mikro Mavro Poini, Polifados Ena, Polifados Dio, Ro, Savoura, Stroggili, Tragonera, Psomi and Psoradia.