OLYMPICS 2004: Swiftly in motion
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
DESPITE the last-minute fears, there was never any doubt that the
Olympics would happen, says Chris Saccali, the churchwarden of St Peter’s,
"This is Greece and it is how we do things. I applied over two years ago to
be a volunteer, and my training day and accreditation has come through now."
She pointed out that the Metro linking the airport to the city and Olympic
stadiums was finally open, and that other construction work around the city
would soon be finished.
St Peter’s has been directly affected by the Olympics, as the Kifissia area
is home to both the athletes’ village and main Olympic stadium. "Having it on
the doorstep means the church has been closed for the month. We meet in St
Catherine’s, the British Embassy School, which is being cordoned off and used
for a recreational centre for athletes and their families. This means it is out
of bounds for us because of security reasons. But a number of our members are
heavily involved in the games, including the opening ceremony," said Ms
Saccali. She is also a trainee layreader and a member of the Eastern
Archdeaconry Synod (Europe diocese) — an area which covers a large part of
St Peter’s is happy to comply with the inconveniences caused by the
heightened security in Athens. Four years ago St Peter’s was devastated by the
murder of Brigadier Stephen Saunders, the British defence attaché. Brigadier
Saunders was a churchwarden at St Peter’s, and attended with his wife Heather
and their children.
Heather Saunders appeared on BBC’s televised Olympic Songs of Praise from
Athens last Sunday, which featured English-speaking churches of various
denominations. It was filmed outdoors in the shadow of the Acropolis.
Mrs Saccali said: "We all knew Stephen and his family, so this was a
personal loss as well as a great tragedy. St Peter’s is a small church but is
very much part of the Greater Athens Anglican chaplaincy. It has not been an
easy time for us since then.
"Our previous chaplain had to return to England on health grounds. The Revd
Michael Counsell came out to help us briefly and stayed two years. But he is
retiring after the games, and at the moment we do not have anyone to replace