On Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 January we had services for the Sunday after Theophany and in honour of the Holy Martyrs Hermylus and Stratonicus (+315). With great joy, on Sunday morning we welcomed Metropolitan Hilarion to our parish for the first time since 2009. Concelebrating at Divine Liturgy were Priest James Carles, our parish rector; Priest Alexander Filchakov, former rector of the Theophany parish in Mayfield, NSW and current rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Protection of the Mother of God (Moscow Patriarchate) in Blacktown, NSW; Priest Theodor Postelnisescu, rector of the local Romanian Orthodox Community of ”Sfântul Apostol Andrei” (“Holy Apostle Andrew”); Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov), accompanying the Metropolitan; and Protodeacon Alexander Abramoff, a member of the Diocesan Council and a cleric of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Cathedral in Melbourne, Victoria. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, Metropolitan Hilarion blessed our beautiful new Cross, the work of Sydney iconographer Dimitri Lihachov. Afterwards, all gathered in the church hall for a festive meal. Speaking in the hall, Father James noted that 2014 is an important year for our parish, one in which we celebrate sixty-five years of Russian Orthodoxy in the Hunter Valley, fifty years since the consecration of our church, twenty years since the establishment of the Theophany parish of the Moscow Patriarchate, and five years since that parish closed its doors and joined with our parish of Saint Nicholas, thereby uniting the Russian Orthodox faithful of Newcastle. He thanked Vladyka for his pastoral care despite the burden of many and great responsibilities, and congratulated Dimitri on his beautiful work, the first step in the refurbishment of our small church.