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Canon Georgia marks 40 years of service

Georgia Katsantonis, PA to every but the first Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, this week marks four decades working for the Diocese.

She took up her post on 1 March 1984, having been told the job requirements were simply the ability to speak English and Greek. Fortunately for the Diocese, Georgia’s skillset far exceeds that. She rapidly became a key figure in the administration of the central office in Nicosia, as well as the wider Province in her later role as Provincial Secretary, offering unstinting support—and friendship—to successive bishops and their families.

At her installation in May 2023 as an ecumenical lay canon at St Paul’s Cathedral in Nicosia—the first such canon in the Diocese—Bishop Michael noted Georgia’s “remarkably long and devoted service and her accumulated shrewd wisdom and knowledge: an observant Orthodox laywoman who knows more about the ways and varieties of worldwide as well as local Anglicanism than most Anglicans”.

Canon Georgia’s reflections on her early days at the office speak to the dramatic change in the interconnectedness of the world, and the Diocese, in the intervening years.

“I started working as the Bishop’s PA just seven years after the Diocese was established, and was the only full-time member of the Bishop’s staff in those early years,” she recalls. “Back then, communication with the rest of the Diocese was very difficult—it was only the Bishop’s regular travels across the two archdeaconries that maintained essential connectivity between their many different jurisdictions.” 

Indeed, she did not meet her first boss, Bishop Harry Moore, until a month after she began working for him, when he returned from a three-month tour of the Gulf. The office had no fax or telex, and telephone contact with many countries of the Diocese was near-impossible.

“While Bishop Harry was away, I had no communication with him at all.”

The first Synod Georgia attended, in 1984 at the Lordos Beach Hotel in Larnaca, was the first joint Synod of the Cyprus and Gulf archdeaconries. “I still remember members’ heart-warming pledge that never again would they have separate synods,” she says. “They were thirsting to hear news from each other—it was like a family reunion.”

There was that same sense of family when, 15 years later, members from the north of Cyprus were welcomed to the Synod held in the UAE, at a time when contact with the Republic in the south was severely restricted.

“There was such excitement when Kyrenia was first able to be represented by laity, at the 1999 Synod meeting at a small hotel in Ras Al Khaimah—where members were also guests at the wedding of one of our priests. Again—such a sense of being part of a large and loving family.”

Now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sixth Bishop of the Diocese, the Reverend Sean Semple and his wife, Jenny, Georgia reflects on the predecessors she has served over the years.

“Each has been different. Yet all, on leaving their post here, talked about how they grew to love this complex and exciting Diocese, and how they anxiously strived to keep it together, amidst its many ups and downs.”

Below: Canon Georgia with Bishop Michael