The first Greek settlers who arrived in Western Australia before 1900 found life to be both hostile and different to that of their original homeland. The language and culture were also alien to them, often enhancing problems of loneliness and isolation. To add to their anxieties, no organisation existed to help reduce the shock of transition for these early Greeks settlers. For Greeks, the institution that could best serve this purpose and help them to maintain their Greek language, customs, traditions and religion, was the Greek Orthodox Church.
Between 1905 and 1911, priests from the Eastern States, namely Fathers Phocas and Kantopoulos, made regular trips to Perth to fulfill the spiritual needs of the local Greek population i.e. liturgies, weddings and christenings; often conducting these services in the homes of Perth’s Greeks. Father Phocas made frequent visits to Perth as some of his family settled and married here. His son Alex Phocas would go on to become a foundation committee member of the Hellenic Club Association (Union) of Western Australia in 1918 and President and prominent member of the Hellenic Community during the 1920s.
1918 saw the formation of the Hellenic Association of Western Australia which catered for the social needs of Greek males. The Hellenic Association co-operated with the Castellorizian Association in their quest for the eventual building of a hall and church.
1923 saw the formation of the Hellenic Community of Western Australia, the interim President being Alex Phocas. This organisation took over the pan-Hellenic responsibilities from the Castellorizian Association and its primary concern became that of building an Orthodox church in Perth. The Hellenic Community of WA was incorporated one year later on 9 September 1924. Rule 2 of the original 1924 Constitution stated that:
“The object of the Association is the erection of a Greek Orthodox Church, Greek school and the improvement of the religious, moral, mental and social conditions of its members."
Fulfiling the religious and moral aspect of original constitution, the Hellenic Community carried on attempting to erect a Greek Orthodox church in Perth. The Castellorizian Association had already a year earlier purchased land along Parker Street in Northbridge, allowing it to be the vacant lot in which the church would be erected.
To make possible the purchase of vacant land on Parker Street and then help finance the construction of a hall and church, many fundraising activities were organised. Concerts, bazaars, actions and afternoon teas were conducted to collect funds. The women of the Greek community also played a significant role in these activities. English and Australian women married to Greek men liaised with the Greek community to form the Hellenic Women’s Association. People such as Mrs. Edith Gravas and Mrs. Pearl Michelides with their command of the English language and experience in fund-raising did a substantial amount of the work in those early years.
On the 24th July 1924, Metropolitis Knetes conducted the ceremony of blessing the foundation stone of the church. The honour of laying the foundation stone was given to Mrs. J. Michelides and Mrs. T. Kalafatas, two respected elders of the community.
However the Hellenic Community had decided to build a hall before the church as this was a more financially attainable goal. The hall was completed in 1925 and served as both a religious venue and social venue from which funds could be gathered and used to finance a suitable church building.
Between 1925 and 1936, the Hellenic Community continued its fundraising activities to collect money to pay off its debt to the E.S. & A. Bank for the Hellenic Hall. Another key figure in the money making ventures of the Hellenic Community was John Aris. Aris organised concerts throughout the 1920s and 1930s to raise funds so that a church could be constructed. The admission price from these performances went to the Hellenic Community. Volunteers recited poetry or music, performed dances or skits, and so on to entertain Perth’s Greek population.
The Depression stalled the Hellenic Community's fundraising activities throughout the early 1930's yet by 1934, with the worst of the depression over, economic stability returned to Western Australia. The Hellenic Women’s Association was particularly active during the mid-1930s. The Hellenic Community was also successful in pooling together the resources of the various Greek bodies and fraternities to assist in a final drive to raise monies for the church. Notably the Castellorizian Association and its membership endeavoured as much as possible to assist the Hellenic Community. A sixpence levy was re-introduced by the Castellorizian Association in which members of the Greek community pledged sixpence a week from their earnings to go towards a fund aimed at helping the Hellenic Community finance the construction of a church. An honour group of six to ten collectors were organised to go around to the homes of Greeks to collect their donations. This system of collecting pledges in Perth and Fremantle lasted until the Second World War, by which time the church had not only been built but, by 1942, had been paid for.
In late 1935, tentative measures were made about approaching various architectural firms to have designs for a church drawn up. A year later, items were now being transferred from the Hellenic Hall to the church. A local Greek artist, Vlase Zanalis, was also commissioned to paint the bare altar facade (iconostasis) with religious works and small icons. By December 1936 much of this had been accomplished and the Hellenic Hall finally had its dual role ended.
On Sunday 18th April 1937, the consecration ceremony for the Greek Orthodox Church of Saints Constantine and Helene was performed.
The church quickly became an integral feature of the lives of many Greek families and a district landmark within Perth. A whole new chapter of spiritual, cultural, social and even economic development for Perth’s Greeks had now been made possible. This was, in part, what many of the pioneering Greeks had wanted when they first called on their compatriots to unite together to form an organisation that would allow for the construction of a Greek Orthodox Church. For the many people who worked very hard and who struggled to carve out a future for themselves, their families, and prospective descendants, the building of a church was a major achievement. In a new and often uncompromising society, there emerged a unique structure, which embodied and symbolised (as it still does), not only our religious beliefs and customs, but our heritage and national identity. That building was the church of Saints Constantine and Helene.
As of 21st May 1972, the Church of Saint's Constantine and Helene was proclaimed a Cathedral.