Saint Nicholas' is an Orthodox Christian parish of Russian tradition serving Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. We are a parish of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Established in 1952, our parish is the oldest continuously-functioning Orthodox parish in the Hunter Valley.
Parish life and COVID-19
Updated 16 May 2020: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it are having a profound impact on social interaction around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this. Our parish is strictly complying with the directives of the civil authorities in this country including limits on the number of people present at services and registration of attendance. We have also introduced sanitary measures including the provision of hand sanitiser at the entry to the church; discouraging people from kissing the Holy Gospel, the icons, the chalice, the Cross, and the hand of the priest; cleaning icons regularly with methylated spirits; anointing the faithful with disposable cotton swabs rather than a single brush; the provision of disposable napkins for use when receiving Holy Communion; the provision of disposable cups from which to receive the warm water and wine (“zapivka”) after Holy Communion; and the cancellation of our usual “cup of tea” after services. In addition, as services resume we will mark places on the floor in church to help worshippers maintain appropriate distance from one another. Relevant statements from church authorities, public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes are available here.
Attendance at church services
16 May 2020: The three-step plan announced by the Australian Government on 8 May 2020 and the consequent relaxation of restrictions by the NSW Government with effect from Friday 15 May 2020 allow us to have ten people in church in addition to essential workers as of the weekend of 16-17 May 2020. Essential workers include clergy, servers, and singers. It is important to understand that our parish is not yet fully open for public services. For the foreseeable future, church attendance will be by invitation only. Each invitation to attend will be made on the basis of need for servers, singers and helpers at a given service; whether or not an individual or family has expressed interest via our website in attending; the regularity with which those seeking to attend usually worship in our parish; and the number of places available. As our church does not have services every week and as the number of places will be limited for the foreseeable future, for many people there will be few opportunities to be in church. We ask for your patience and understanding as we try and facilitate church attendance for as many of our parishioners and friends as possible. For the parish to be compliant with Government requirements, all those attending will need to be in good health, maintain distancing in church, and agree to have their attendance recorded. If anyone is unwell or unwilling to comply with these requirements, they should not accept an invitation to attend. Those wishing to receive Holy Communion are asked to attend the service on the preceding evening and to take the opportunity to confess then rather than immediately before Divine Liturgy. Exceptions will be made for those who have a significant distance to travel or who have no means of getting to church in the evening. There will be a sheet at the candle-desk on which to record attendance details. Please take care to record your details as soon as you arrive at church. The completed attendance sheets will be retained for four weeks, stored securely, and only released to the NSW Chief Health officer if required for the purpose of contact-tracing should there be an instance of community transmission of COVID-19.
Supporting our parish
Many people have asked how they can continue to materially support our parish during the period of church closures. Donations may be made directly to our bank account:
St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
BSB: 032-509 Account number: 281104
May the Lord bless you!
Services on 23-24 May, the Sixth Sunday of Pascha - 24/05/2020
On Saturday 23 May and Sunday 24 May we had services for the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Blind Man, and in honour of Saints Methodius and Kirill, teachers of the Slavs. This Sunday is so named because the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel gives an account of the healing of the man blind from birth (John 9:1-38). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in Time of Epidemic was offered. Once again, attendance was restricted by public health regulations to ten people in addition to essential workers.
Services on 21-22 May, the Feast of the translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas - 22/05/2020
On Thursday 21 May and Thursday 22 May we had services for the feast-day of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra in Lycia, modern-day Turkey, to Bari in Italy. These were our first services since 21-22 March, the Third Sunday in Great Lent, and attendance was restricted by public health regulations to ten people in addition to essential workers. On Thursday evening All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served. As this feast-day of Saint Nicholas is the patronal feast of our parish, the customary blessing of water was served early on Friday morning. A significant number of those present received Holy Communion. A moleben to Saint Nicholas was served immediately after Divine Liturgy, following which the usual prayers were offered for the Patriarch and the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Australian and Russian lands, parish office-bearers, the people present, and for our departed founders and parishioners.
The May 2020 meeting of the Parish Council - 13/05/2020
On Wednesday 13 May the Parish Council met by teleconference. Particular attention was given to the COVID-19 crisis, its impact on all aspects of parish life, and the possibility of recommencing open-door services, albeit with restricted numbers, from 15 May. After some discussion during which the difficulty of restricting attendance was discussed, it was agreed that services with ten worshippers present, in addition to essential workers, would begin as of 21-22 May, the feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas and the patronal feast of our parish. The Parish Council is due to meet again on Monday 22 June.
Services on 26 April, Thomas Sunday - 26/04/2020
On Sunday 26 April, Thomas Sunday, our parish rector served behind closed doors in the Gosford parish. Thomas Sunday is so named because the appointed reading from the Gospel (John 20:19-31) gives an account of the initial unbelief and subsequent confession of faith of the Apostle Thomas. At Divine Liturgy all the commemoration books of our parish were read. Following the Prayer before the Amvon the prayer at the breaking of the Artos was read and the artosi for both our parish and the Gosford parish were cut for distribution. The pieces of the artos have been frozen and will be distributed when the churches reopen. Following Divine Liturgy a general pannikhida was served in anticipation of Radonitsa (the "Day of Rejoicing"), a commemoration of the departed that in the Russian Orthodox tradition is customarily observed on the second Tuesday after Pascha. In accordance with the instructions of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia we commemorated their Beatitudes the ever-memorable Metropolitans Anthony and Anastassy; Metropolitans Philaret, Vitaly and Laurus; our ever-memorable Diocesan hierarchs Archbishops Theodore, Savva, Theodosy, Afanasy, and Paul; the departed clergy of our Diocese; all those who for Christ and the Russian Church laboured in divers lands, and the other archpastors, pastors, founders and benefactors of the Russian Diaspora; for the elect sons and daughters of the Church of Russia, who faithfully struggled for her unity, good estate and honour in the realms of piety, blessedness, governance, the protection of the persecuted and the veneration of the New Martyrs and Confessors; for all our righteous ancestors, and for their peaceful repose and blessed memory. At this service the names of the departed in all the commemoration books of our parish and the Gosford parish were read.
The funeral of Nicholas Markatcheff - 23/04/2020
On 23 April, Bright Thursday, our parish rector served the graveside funeral of 96 year-old Nicholas Markatcheff. Nicholas, who was born in Harbin, China, in May 1923, departed this life on Bright Monday. His funeral was served in Wallsend Cemetery according to the Paschal rite. We offer heartfelt condolences to Nicholas’ son Simon and his family. May God grant him rest!
Our parishioners are commemorated at services in the Gosford parish - 11/04/2020
During the period of the closure of our church in Wallsend, our parish rector has been serving behind closed doors in the Gosford parish. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday 5 April, the Fifth Sunday in Great Lent, and on Saturday 11 April, Lazarus Saturday, our parishioners were commemorated at Divine Liturgy. Following Divine Liturgy on both days a moleben was served to our heavenly protector, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia, at which all our parishioners were again commemorated.
Church & Community Life
Now available - the April 2020 issue of "Word of the Church" ("Церковное Слово") - 30/06/2020
The April 2020 issue of “Word of the Church” (“Церковное Слово”), the official journal of the Australian-New Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, has recently become available in our parishes. As usual, it contains a number of interesting articles in both Russian and English. This issue includes the Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion in Russian and English; “Домашнее Богослужение Воскресного Дня”; “How Saint Valentina of Minsk helped during the Great Patriotic War”; the text of episcopal statements, letters and decrees; materials relating to the coronavirus pandemic; and a directory of Diocesan parishes and clergy. Copies are $5.00. During the period in which our church is closed, we will post a copy to any of our parishioners who would like one.