Swimmers vie for honour of retrieving Greek cross at Pirie beach

Marco Dimou plunged into the sea in the wake of an ancient ceremony involving the River Jordan.

The youth was vying with other swimmers to retrieve a holy cross in the Greek Orthodox Church’s Theofania or The Epiphany.

Watching from the Solomontown Beach jetty were members of the Greek community and new priest Father Angelo.

After Marco returned to the jetty with the icon, he was blessed by Father Angelo.

The Epiphany is a yearly “blessing of the waters” that signifies the moment that St John The Baptist left the River Jordan to christen Christ.

The ceremony was on January 5, 6 and 7 with everyone named John or Joanne celebrating their “name day” on the Sunday.

On the first two days, Father Angelo and community president Emanuel Skorpos visited 80 houses in the region to confer blessings with Holy Water on families and their dwellings.

Mr Skorpos offered a message to the community.

“We wish everyone in our community and the broader population a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018,” he said.

“We encourage our community to be involved in traditions and cultural activities that will be presented during the year.”

Now, another year has begun since The Epiphany … across hundreds of years and thousands of kilometres from the River Jordan in the Middle East.

The Greek community embraces the tradition as a lifeblood of the church and culture expressed locally in goodwill, food and pastimes.

An “epiphany” is described in the dictionary as a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand.

The community has origins dating back many decades in Port Pirie and members gather regularly at the St George Hellenic Centre.

This site, in Florence Street, was originally the home of the now-defunct Hellas Soccer Club.

In recent times, a number of prominent identities including hairdresser Mick Mavromatis, have died and are mourned by the community.

The church is more than 90 years old.