An Interview with Metropolitan Amphilochios of New Zealand
by Peggy Dokou
August, 11, 2009
Romfea.orgThe Metropolitan of New Zealand Amphilochios is found in Rhodes during his summer intermission for the occasion of the first ordination of an Orthodox priest from the Islands of Fiji, whose name is Bartholomew.The ordination will be performed by the Metropolitan of New Zealand himself at the Monastery of Thari, which is expected to take place next month. Interestingly the new cleric will remain in Rhodes to train for his new office and then he will go to his future parish on the Island of Fiji.
The Sacred Metropolis of New Zealand has been characterized by the Ecumenical Patriarch as an office that is missionary in nature. It has under its oversight New Zealand and the Islands of the South Pacific, which includes Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and the nearby island groups. In 1970 it was established by the Archbishop of Australia – whom it was under at that time.His Eminence the Metropolitan of New Zealand spoke about his visit to Rhodes which is his particular homeland.“The goal of my visit to Rhodes is to come to my homeland every time leisure permits, which brings me joy, strength and courage towards the continuance of my work which I am accomplishing on the far side of the world. New Zealand is a country that is developing very slowly. The people there are good and we live harmoniously.”
What is your Orthodox flock there like?
We are 5,000 Greeks and approximately 10,000 of Slavic descent (Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians, etc.). And beyond that we have started to expand also toward the native element. The New Zealanders are either of Anglo-Saxon descent or the indigenous Maori.
Are there problems in New Zealand with the Diaspora?
The future of Orthodoxy looks auspicious. Many express a desire to embrace Orthodox Christianity which inspires in them respect and trust. Now we have baptized quite a few who are from the Island of Fiji, situated in the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and being at a distance of three hours from New Zealand by flight.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate supports us very much and oversees the Metropolis of New Zealand. The Patriarchate desires to be ubiquitous and be the first to step into these areas, for there are problems in the lands of the Diaspora along with the other Orthodox Patriarchates (Russian, Serbian, etc.).
We try to be organized and to offer what we can to Orthodox and whoever desires to embrace our religion.
His Eminence Archbishop of New Zealand and Exarch of Oceania Amphilochios (Adamantios Tsoukos in the world) was born in Rhodes in 1938. After completing his elementary studies at his birthplace in Rhodes, he joined the Ecclesiastical School of Patmos.He later studied at the Theological School at Halki where he was ordained as a Deacon in 1962 and as a Priest in 1963 by the most memorable Metropolitan of Stavroupoleos Maximos. He was appointed a spiritual tutor at the above Theological School.He was a resident priest of various monasteries and a preacher at Patmos near his spiritual father Elder Amphilochios Makris and lecturered at the Patmos School (1964-1972, 1978-1989). During his missionary time in Africa offering his services in Kenya, Tanzania and Zaire he was elevated by the then Patriarch of Alexandria Nikolaos to Archimandrite in 1974.
He was Abbot of the Archangel Michael Monastery of Thari in Rhodes and chief preacher of the Metropolis of Rhodes (1990- 2005).
On the 15th of June 2005 he was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod to become Bishop of Erythron and suffragan Bishop to the Metropolitan of Rhodes Kyrillos. On 13th of October of the same year he was unanimously elected to become Archbishop of New Zealand.
(For more information on the Holy Archdiocese of New Zealand and the missionary work of Metropolitan Amphilochios, please visit their website here.)