On 30 December 2014 we received a letter from Metropolitan Hilarion ratifying the decisions of our 2014 Annual General Meeting and invoking God's blessing on our parish. A copy of Vladyka's letter can be viewed here.
On Thursday 18 December and Friday 19 December we had services for the feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia, the lesser patronal feast of our parish. On Thursday evening All-night Vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served, and on Friday morning, Divine Liturgy. Our own parishioners were joined by a number of friends from Gosford. After the dismissal, the parish rector congratulated the warden, Nikolai N. Goura, on his name-day, wishing him continued patience, strength and wisdom in carrying out his duties. “Many years” was then intoned for him. Many of those present then gathered in the church hall for lunch and fellowship.
On Saturday 13 December and Sunday 14 December we had services for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Prophet Nahum (Seventh Century BC). On Sunday at Divine Liturgy there were a number of visitors in church, some local and some from as far away as Greece! Following the service on Sunday our parish held its 2014 Annual General Meeting.
On Sunday 14 December our parish held its 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM). At the AGM our 2013-14 Annual Report and 2013-14 Financial Report were presented. Our Warden Nikolai Goura was elected for a fourth consecutive three-year term, and the five regular members of the Parish Council – Anna Morhun, Irene Lupish, Lucy Szabunia, Anu Kinnunen, and Olga Bogacheva – were all re-elected. Matushka Marie Carles agreed to take on the role of Child Safety Contact Person. Subject to Metropolitan Hilarion’s ratification of the decisions of the AGM, the Parish Council will next meet in January 2015.
Our 2013-14 Annual Report and audited 2013-14 Financial Report are now available. These reports will be presented to our parish Annual General Meeting (AGM) this coming Sunday, 14 December 2014. The reports can be accessed by clicking on the embedded links. Parish members are encouraged to carefully peruse these documents before the AGM.
On Wednesday 3 December and Thursday 4 December we had services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. On Wednesday evening All-night Vigil with the blessing of five loaves and wheat, wine, and oil was served and on Thursday morning, Divine Liturgy. The services were quiet and prayerful, with a number of friends from the Gosford parish joining us on Thursday morning.
Our Summer 2014-15 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2014-15 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2014-15 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages are now available in church.
On Sunday 23 November the parish rector baptised Seraphim Rezk, the infant son of Rafail and Olesya Rezk and a younger brother to Sylvia, Ricky and Arseny. Seraphim was named in honour of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. His sponsors at baptism were Konstantin Belikov and Anna George. We warmly congratulate Rafail, Olesya, Konstantin and Anna, and pray that God will grant His newly-baptised servant Seraphim many years!
On Saturday 22 November and Sunday 23 November we had services for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Apostles of the Seventy Erastus, Olympas, Herodion, Sosipater, Quartus and Tertius. Receiving Holy Communion after having made her first confession of the previous day was Mia Corbett. At the dismissal a collection was taken up for the Fund for Assistance, raising $155.00. Following Divine Liturgy, it being the last service in our parish before the beginning of the Nativity Fast, a parish BBQ was held.
On Saturday 22 November one of the children of our parish, nine year-old Mia (Natalia) Corbett, made her first confession. Mia is a student at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Swansea and has been participating together with her classmates in the program of preparation for reconciliation, the name given to confession in the Roman Catholic Church. As there had been a formal service for her classmates to mark the end of this program of preparation, Mia – unable to participate in that service, of course – was keen to do something similar in her own parish. Arrangements were made for Mia to attend church on Saturday afternoon at which time the formal Order of Confession was served, with Mia herself reading Psalm 50 and the Creed. Joining Mia and her family for this service were the Principal of the wonderfully supportive Saint Patrick’s School, Mr Peter Green, together with his wife and some of Mia’s classmates and their families. Following the service the parish rector spoke about the importance of confession and, after explaining a little of the history of Russian Orthodoxy in Newcastle, served a brief moleben for those present before our “Newcastle” Icon of the Protection of the Mother of God. All were then given a printed copy of the icon to take home. A number of our parishioners have since expressed an interest in having the formal Order of Confession served for children making their first confession.
On Friday 21 November and Saturday 22 November we had services to observe the anniversary of the repose in 1977 of Archpriest John Lupish, the ever-memorable founder of our parish. A Great Panikhida (“parastas”) was served on Friday evening and on Saturday morning Divine Liturgy for the departed was served. Present on Saturday morning were Father John’s two sons, Subdeacon Vitaly Lupish and John Lupish, one of his granddaughters, and two of his great-grandchildren. Following Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke briefly about Father John’s labours in our parish and amongst Orthodox Christians in Newcastle and across the Hunter Valley during the years 1949-77 and emphasised the importance of remembering him in prayer. A small group later visited Father John’s grave in Sandgate Cemetery and served a memorial litia there.
On Tuesday 18 November the November meeting of the Parish Council was held. The usual reports were presented by the parish rector, the Warden, and the Head Sister, and the October 2014 financial reports were reviewed. The Warden advised the Parish Council that the foundations of the church extension had been laid, and plans were made for the next stage of this project, the laying of the bricks. The forthcoming parish Annual General Meeting was discussed, and the design of the parish wall calendar for 2015 was reviewed. It was agreed that the Parish Council would not meet during December 2014, with the 2014-15 Parish Council to meet for the first time in January 2015.
On Saturday 8 November and Sunday 9 November we had services for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica (+306). At Divine Liturgy on Sunday, the parish rector concelebrated with Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery, Monkerai. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy, the parish rector read the prayers of blessing over new burial shrouds and English-language copies of the Prayer of Absolution and the coronets ("venchiki") used at Orthodox Christian burials. Also blessed were four new service books in Church Slavonic: a Lenten Triodion, a Pentecostarion, and two volumes of the Octoechos. Following the dismissal, Starosta N. N. Goura and Head Sister A. P. Morhun congratulated the rector on the recent celebration of his name-day (October 23/November 5, the day of commemoration of the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord) and presented him with a gift from the parish. The choir then sang "Many Years!" for him. In accordance with the Normal Parish By-Laws, the first announcement was then made concerning the parish Annual General Meeting to be held on Sunday 14 December 2014 (ARTICLE EDITED).
On Saturday 25 October and Sunday 26 October we had services for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the latter being commemorated each year on the Sunday on or after 21 October. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the declaration of the Seventh Council concerning the necessity of the Holy Icons and the sure defence of the Doctrine of the Incarnation that they provided. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the prayer of blessing was read over two new sets of service books, one for the First Week of Great Lent and one for Holy Week: "That the holy words of the hymns and reading speak unto the heart of them that are honouring them and listening to them" (PHOTOGAPH ADDED).
The Parish Council met on Monday 20 October 2014. The usual pastoral, administrative and financial reports were presented. The Warden, N. N. Goura, reported that the necessary clearance had been given for the laying of the foundations for our small church extension, and that work would commence in November 2014. Plans for the 2015 parish wall calendar to commemorate three ever-memorable bishops of our Diocese, Theodore (+1955), Theodosius (+1980) and Paul (+1995), were discussed and endorsed. It was agreed that the parish Annual General Meeting would be held on Sunday 14 December 2014. The 2013-14 Parish Council will meet for the final time on Monday 17 November.
On Monday 13 October and Tuesday 14 October we had services for the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God. This feast-day is of particular importance to our parish, the first Russian Orthodox church in the Hunter Valley – the small barracks chapel at the Greta Migrant Camp – having been dedicated in honour of it, and the parish possessing an icon of the Mother of God, “Protectress of Newcastle”. Because of this, in recent years we have come to observe it as a second patronal feast-day, with all-night vigil served on the eve and the Lesser Blessing of Water, Divine Liturgy and a moleben served on the day of the feast itself. This year the commemoration was of greater significance than usual, it being 65 years since the first services in the Greta Camp church. A small number of people gathered for the services, it being a working day and the weather inclement. At the end of the service "eternal memory" was sung for the ever-memorable Archpriest John Lupish, his matushka Maria, and all those departed amongst the faithful who laboured to establish Russian Orthodoxy in the Newcastle region.
On Saturday 11 October and Sunday 12 October we had services for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Mary of Palestine. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning the parish rector concelebrated with Hieromonk John (MacPherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW. At the Litany of Fervent Intercession the customary petitions for peace in Ukraine were intoned. At the veneration of the Cross a collection was taken up on behalf of the Fund for Assistance to assist its current campaign for the relief of refugees in Ukraine, raising $280.00. It being the name-day of Matushka Marie Carles, Father James congratulated her on behalf of both our parish and the Gosford parish, thanking her for her unassuming yet faithful service in both churches. Many years was then sung for her, after which our Head Sister, Anna Pavlovna Morhun, presented her with a bouquet of flowers. In the hall afterwards Matushka Marie was presented with more flowers and a beautiful cake baked by Julia Zyza, a friend of our parish and the proprietor of Kitchen Treasures.
On Saturday 27 September and Sunday 28 September we had services for the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross and in honour of Great-Martyr Nicetas the Goth (+372). Although we did not have services for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Holy Cross was set forth for veneration. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning the parish rector concelebrated with Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery, Monkerai. A greater than usual number of people were present on Sunday, a beautiful spring day, including some new faces.
On Saturday 13 September and Sunday 14 September we had services for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost and to mark the Church New Year. At these services we also commemorated Venerable Symeon the Stylite (+459) and Right-believing Prince Peter and Princess Fevronia, wonderworkers of Murom (+1228). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy, a brief moleben was served to Saints Peter and Fevronia, the patron saints of family, love and faithfulness, during which all the married couples in the parish were commemorated by name. The parish rector then blessed three new icons, all gifts to the parish: one of Saints Kyril and Methodius, another of Saint Silouan of Mount Athos, and another of a number of saints who have been given the grace of healing. Also on this day, the parish Russian-language playgroup celebrated the fifth anniversary of its establishment. A birthday cake was shared and the children held a puppet theatre on the lawn outside the church.
The Parish Council met on Monday 8 September. The usual reports were given by the parish rector, the Warden, and the Head Sister. Trends in parish life were discussed, with particular attention given to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on relationships within the parish and the wider Russian and Ukrainian communities in Newcastle. A decision was made to delay the 2014 Annual General Meeting, scheduled for 28 September 2014, to allow additional time for the finalisation of the Annual Report. The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 20 October 2014.
On Saturday 6 September the parish rector baptised Florence Crawford, the infant daughter of Stephen and Deborah Crawford. In baptism Florence was given the name Anastasia in honour of the Great-Martyr Anastasia of Rome, a patron saint that she shares with her paternal great-grandmother. Congratulations to Stephen and Deborah, and to Florence’s godparents Nathalie Crawford and Duncan Crawford. May God grant his newly-baptised handmaiden many years!
On Wednesday 27 August and Thursday 28 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. On Wednesday evening All-night Vigil was served and on Thursday morning – Divine Liturgy. The choir sang beautifully under the direction of Elena Gan. A number of our friends travelled from the Gosford parish to be with us for Divine Liturgy, and many people stayed afterwards for a festive “cup of tea”. The Dormition of the Mother of God has a particular significance for our parish as it was on this day in 1949 – 65 years ago this year! – that the first Orthodox services in the Hunter Valley were served.
Our Spring 2014 Schedule of Services - covering September, October and November - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Spring 2014 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Spring 2014 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages will be available in church as of Thursday 28 August 2014.
On Sunday 24 August 2014 following Divine Liturgy our former Warden Mr Oleg Kolokolow was presented with a parish Certificate of Appreciation ("Приходская Благодарность"). A second award, to be presented to Anatoly Tarasenko, a steadfast friend of the parish, was also announced. These awards, given on the occasion of sixty-five years of Russian Orthodoxy in the Hunter Valley and 50 years since the consecration of our church, were the first under the awards policy that our Parish Council adopted in 2013. Details of the individual citations are available here. Congratulations to Mr Kolokolow and Mr Tarasenko!
On Saturday 23 August and Sunday 24 August we had services for the Afterfeast of the Transfiguration and in honour of the Holy Martyr and Archdeacon Euplus. Matins was served on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning Divine Liturgy was served, with His Grace Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, presiding. Together with the parish rector, Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai and Deacon Constantine Moshegov of the Strathfield and Croydon parishes in Sydney concelebrated. Following the prayer before the Amvon a brief moleben of thanksgiving was served in observance of the sixty-fifth anniversary of the arrival in Australia of Archpriest John Lupish on 19 August 1949, the sixty-fifth anniversary of the first Russian Orthodox services in the Hunter Valley on 28 August 1949, and the fiftieth anniversary of the consecration of our church on 3 August 1964. After congratulating the parishioners on these significant milestones in parish life, Vladyka gave an edifying sermon on the Gospel reading for the day (Mathew 18:23-35), emphasising the importance of sincere forgiveness. At the dismissal, two parish awards were presented and eternal memory was sung for the departed founders, benefactors and parishioners of the parish. The parish rector thanked Vladyka for his pastoral care and presented him with a copy of the parish’s treasured icon of the Mother of God, Protectress of Newcastle. All afterwards gathered in the church hall for a Lenten banquet.
On Wednesday 13 August and Thursday 14 August we had services for the Procession of the Wood of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord and the Holy Maccabean Martyrs. Matins with the bringing out of the Cross was served on Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning Divine Liturgy was served, followed by the customary blessing of water. In accordance with Russian Orthodox tradition there was a blessing of honey, a gift of 60 jars of organic honey from the Wollombi Valley having been given to the parish. The opportunity was also taken to bless candles for church use and – some of the faithful having brought them to church in anticipation of the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – baskets of grapes and other fruit. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the way of the Cross and of the example of fasting given by the Maccabean Martyrs, who endured suffering and death rather than breaking the Old Testament dietary laws.
The Parish Council met on Monday 11 August 2014. The rector gave his usual reports on the life of the parish and the Diocese. The Warden, N. N. Goura, reported on the status of plans to extend the church, advising the meeting that the foundations would be laid before the end of 2014. A decision was made to contribute financial support to the preparation of a commemorative book to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Metropolitan Hilarion's consecration as bishop. Information to be provided to local funeral directors to assist them in arranging services at our church was discussed and approved for distribution, and plans for the visit of His Grace Bishop George on Sunday 23 were finalised. The 2013-14 Parish Council will meet for the final time on Monday 8 September 2014.
On Saturday 9 August and Sunday 10 August we had services in honour of the Smolensk "Hodigitria" (or "Directress") Icon of the Mother of God. Set forth in the middle of our church for veneration at these services was a very old hand-painted copy of the wonderworking Smolensk Icon. This copy, painted in Russia and later taken to China before coming to Australia, was badly burned many years ago but has since, through the grace of God, wondrously restored. The icon belongs to the Erzikoff family who, in an act of great kindness, permitted us to have it in our parish for the day of the icon's commemoration. Most Holy Mother of God, save us!
On Saturday 26 July and Sunday 27 July we had services in honour of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday prayers were again offered for an end to the strife in Ukraine. In his sermon, the parish rector spoke of the enduring importance of the work of the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils and of their example of uncompromising adherence to the faith of the Apostles. That evening and on the following day, the parish rector participated in feast-day services at Saint Vladimir's Russian Orthodox Church, Centennial Park (Sydney), the oldest Russian Orthodox Church in NSW.
The Parish Council met on Monday 21 July. The customary reports on the life of the parish and the Diocese were given by the Rector. The Warden, N. N. Goura, advised the Parish Council that the Newcastle City Council had given its approval to the parish’s development application to build a small extension to the church, and plans to commence this work were discussed. The financial reports for the 2013-14 financial year were considered in some detail, and attention was given to the next stage of the parish iconography project and to the need for consistent information concerning weddings, funerals and other services of need. Against the background of the tragic loss of Flight MH17, the Parish Council discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine with great concern, affirming the need to continue in prayer for an end to the strife. The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 11 August, the meeting being scheduled earlier in the month than is usual so as to prepare for the visit to our parish of Bishop George of Mayfield on Sunday 24 August.
On Thursday 17 July the funeral of Frances Mursa (1935-2014) was served in our church. Frances was the daughter-in-law of Mitred Archpriest Mychajlo Mursa (+1966), a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and was received into Orthodoxy at the time of her marriage to Benjamin Mursa, fifty years ago this year. Frances reposed on Friday 11 July after a prolonged illness. Her funeral was followed by a burial service in the Greek Orthodox section of Sandgate Cemetery. We offer our sincere condolences to Ben and his family, and ask our parishioners and friends to remember the newly-reposed handmaiden of God Frances in their prayers. May God grant her rest!
On Saturday 12 July and Sunday 13 July we had services in honour of the Holy Apostles. Concelebrating with the parish rector at Divine Liturgy was Hieromonk John (MacPherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector blessed nine new gold altar server vestments, the work of Mother Christina of the Presentation Sisterhood in Bungarby, NSW, and icons of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, the Nativity of Christ, and the Mother of God, gifts from friends of the parish. After the dismissal a memorial litia was served for two longstanding friends of our parish, Michael Kallaur and Frances Mursa, both newly-reposed. May God grant them rest!
On Tuesday 1 July Anastasia Rowan, the infant daughter of Ricky and Anna Rowan and a baby sister to Annabelle and Alexander, was baptised by the parish rector during a pastoral visit to the Great Lakes-Manning Valley region. Anastasia's patron saint is the Royal Martyr Anastasia of Russia, and her godparents are Nadezhda Rakova and Vladimir Rakov. We congratulate Ricky, Anna, Nadezhda and Vladimir, and pray that God will grant His newly-baptised handmaiden Anastasia many years!
On Tuesday 1 July the parish rector undertook a pastoral visit to the Great Lakes–Manning Valley region of mid-northern New South Wales, baptising a child in the village of Darawank and visiting Orthodox Christians and other friends of our parish in Taree and Forster-Tuncurry. This was the first such visit since December 2005, when with the blessing of Archbishop (now Metropolitan) Hilarion, Divine Liturgy was served in a Roman Catholic chapel in the township of Forster. During 2006 some effort was made by a small group of Orthodox Christians living in the area to establish a mission, but to no avail. Consideration is now once again being given to some form of regular pastoral work there, whether it be an occasional Divine Liturgy, an akathist, or gatherings for fellowship and discussion. Those wishing to know more should contact the parish rector.
On Saturday 21 June and Sunday 22 June we had services in honour of All Saints who have shone forth in the land of Russia. At Divine Liturgy, Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW, concelebrated with the parish rector. In the absence of our conductor, Nataliya Rahim, the choir was ably led by Elena Gan. After Divine Liturgy a moleben was served for the coordinator of our playgroup, Anastasia Harwood, shortly to travel to Russia with her family.
The Parish Council met on Monday 16 June. The rector gave his usual report on the life of the parish and the Diocese and reports were heard from the Warden and the head of the Ladies’ Auxiliary. Progress on a number of parish projects was also reviewed. The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 21 July, at which time the draft 2013-14 Annual Report will be considered.
On the afternoon of Friday 13 June, in the presence of approximately 80 people, the parish rector presided at the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony for Andrew Martinov and Holly Felicity Nairn of Karuah, NSW. Concelebrating were Priest Dionysios Halim of the English-language community of All Saints in Kentlyn, NSW, and Protodeacon German Polorotov of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Fairfield, NSW. Our parish warmly congratulates Andrew and Holly and wishes them many years of happiness together!
On 7-8 June we had services for the Great Feast of Pentecost, the day of commemoration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Disciples. As is usual in the Russian Orthodox Church, the church was decorated with green branches and bright flowers in honor of the Life-Giving Trinity. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves and wheat, wine and oil was served by the parish rector on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning Divine Liturgy was served, with Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW, concelebrating. A great many people gathered for the feast-day, and visitors from as far away as Brisbane and Sydney joined us. In accordance with Orthodox practice, Divine Liturgy was followed by Vespers with the three long “kneeling prayers”. Following the services the family of the ever-memorable N. E. Goura, a founder of our parish and the father of the current Warden, N. N. Goura, was joined by a number of parishioners for a memorial service to mark the thirteenth anniversary of his repose and burial.
On Saturday 24 May and Sunday 25 May we had services for the sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Blind Man. On this day we also commemorated the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra in Lycia (Asia Minor) to Bari (Italy), the patronal feast of our parish. On Saturday evening, all-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves and wheat, wine and oil was served. On Sunday morning the parish rector served the Lesser Blessing of Water before concelebrating Divine Liturgy with Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW. After Divine Liturgy there was a moleben to Saint Nicholas with a procession around the church. A collection taken up at Metropolitan Hilarion's request to assist the Serbian people suffering as a result of recent devastating floods raised $375.00. Many of those present, including friends from the Gosford parish, then gathered in the church hall for a festive meal.
On Monday 19 May there was a meeting of the Parish Council at which the usual pastoral and financial reports were presented. The parish Warden, N.N. Goura, reported on the status of the planned extension to our church to provide for an enlarged vestry. Plans for the forthcoming patronal feast of the parish were discussed. Consideration was also given to commencement of a further stage in our parish iconography project, but in view of the possibility of commencing the extension this year, a decision was made to not proceed. The Parish Council plans to meet next on Monday 16 June.
Our Winter 2014 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2014 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2014 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages will be available in church as of Saturday 24 May.
On Saturday 10 May and Sunday 11 May, the Sunday of the Paralytic, Matins and Divine Liturgy were served. Concelebrating with the parish rector at Divine Liturgy was Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW, and assisting in the sanctuary was Subdeacon Nicholas Martinov, well-known throughout our Diocese for his faithful service over many years. On this day the readings and the hymnody of the Orthodox Church take as their theme the account in Saint John's Gospel (5:1-15) of the healing, by the Pool of Bethesda, of the man who had been paralysed thirty-eight years. In his sermon the rector, noting that scholars had openly doubted the existence of this pool until archaeological finds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries showed the Gospel account to be true, warned of the folly of doubting the experience of Christ’s Church. At the customary cup of tea after the service, it being Mothers’ Day, “Many Years” was sung for Matushka Marie and all the mothers of our parish, and our Ladies’ Auxiliary presented Matushka with flowers and chocolate.
In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the second Tuesday after Pascha is Radonitsa, the “day of rejoicing”, a day of commemoration of the departed. In our parish, Matins was served on the evening on Monday 28 April and Divine Liturgy was served on the morning of Tuesday 29 April. Following Divine Liturgy a general pannikhida was served in church. Afterwards a group of parishioners travelled to Wallsend and Sandgate Cemeteries where many parishioners and family members have been laid to rest. After litias at a number of graves, those present shared in a festive meal in memory of the departed. Other graves where then visited, and the rector later also visited East Maitland and Martinsville Pioneer Cemeteries.
On 26-27 April, Bright Saturday and Thomas Sunday, Matins and Divine Liturgy were served. In the place of a sermon on this day, Metropolitan Hilarion’s Paschal Epistle was read aloud. At the end of Divine Liturgy, prayer having been offered for the bodily and spiritual health and blessing of those who would partake of it, the artos - the large round loaf blessed on the Sunday of Pascha - was cut and distributed to the faithful.
From the evening of Saturday 12 April until Pascha, Sunday 20 April, there were seven services in our parish: All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy for Palm Sunday (12-13 April); Matins with the reading of the Twelve Gospels on Great and Holy Thursday (17 April); Vespers of Great and Holy Friday with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ followed later in the day by Matins with Lamentations before the Tomb of Christ (18 April); and Vespers with the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on the morning of Great and Holy Saturday, followed by Midnight Office and Paschal Matins early in the evening (19 April). An early Paschal service was held as or parish rector was to serve at midnight in the Gosford parish. Many people were in church on the eve of Palm Sunday for the blessing pf palms and pussy willow branches and on the morning of Holy Saturday, assisting with the fifteen Old Testament readings and taking the opportunity to receive Holy Communion before the Tomb of Christ. Over one hundred people gathered from across the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast for Paschal Matins on the evening of Saturday 19 April. Easter cakes, eggs and other festive foods were blessed immediately after the end of that service. In 2015, God willing, there will be a midnight Paschal service in our parish.
The April 2014 meeting of the Parish Council was held on Monday 7 April, the Great Feast of the Annunciation, immediately after Divine Liturgy that day. The meeting was held earlier than usual in the month to allow the Parish Council to prepare for Holy Week and for Pascha. The usual reports concerning parish life and finances were heard and plans were made for the important services ahead. The Parish Council plans to meet next on Monday 19 May.
On Sunday 6 April and Monday 7 April we had services for the Great Feast of the Annunciation. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Sunday evening, and Divine Liturgy was served on Monday morning. Afterwards those present gathered in the church hall for a light festive lunch, all enjoying the relaxation of the fast for the sake of the Great Feast.
On the evening of 3 April, the Thursday of the Great Canon, the parish rector presided at a general service of anointing. He was assisted by Hieromonk John (Macpherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW. Approximately 20 of the faithful attended and received anointing seven times for the healing of soul and body. In view of the small number of clergy and people who usually attend this service, it is the practice in our parish to anoint the laity present after each of the seven sets of readings and prayers. In larger parishes and when a greater number of priests are present, the anointing is often done only at the end of the service.
On Saturday 29 March and Sunday 30 March we had services for the departed and for the Fourth Sunday in Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint John, Abbot of Mount Sinai and author of the The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a spiritual book of immense significance in Orthodox spirituality. As the Saturday was a day of commemoration of the departed, a general panikhida was served immediately before the evening service. In his sermon on Saint John the parish rector made particular reference to Saint John's advice in The Ladder to laymen: "Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not be arrogant towards anyone; do not be absent from divine services; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another man's domestic happiness, and be content with what your own wives can give you. If you can behave in this way, you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven" (Step 1:21).
On Saturday 22 March and on Sunday 23 March, the Third Sunday of Great Lent, we had services in honour of the Holy Cross. Matins with the bringing out of the Cross was served on Saturday evening, and the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great was served on Sunday morning. Concelebrating with the parish rector was Hieromonk John (MacPherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW. A number of the faithful confessed and received Holy Communion. Following the dismissal at Divine Liturgy and the singing of "Before Thy Cross", the faithful venerated the Holy Cross, the sign of Christ's victory over sin and death.
On Tuesday 18 March the funeral of George Timonin (1948-2014) was served in our church. The Timonin family has a long association with our community and George, although a resident of Sydney for many years and a parishioner of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Strathfield, was a friend and benefactor of our parish. The funeral was followed by a burial service at Sandgate Cemetery. Our parishioners and friends are asked to remember the newly-reposed servant of God George in their prayers. May God grant him rest!
The Parish Council met on Monday 17 March. The usual pastoral, financial and administrative reports were heard. The parish rector advised that the title to the parish property at 3 Irving Street had at last – through the good offices of Mr William (“Bill”) Reid, a solicitor and a member of the Gosford parish – been formally transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church (NSW) Property Trust, opening the way for a development application to be lodged with Newcastle City Council for the planned extension to our church. The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 7 April, immediately after Divine Liturgy on the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God
On Saturday 8 March and Sunday 9 March, the First Sunday of Great Lent, we had services in honour of the Triumph of Orthodoxy and the First and Second Findings of the Head of Saint John the Baptist. On Sunday the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great was served, with the choir singing beautifully under Nataliya Rahim’s direction. In accordance with the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, a moleben “for the conversion of those in error” was served following the Prayer before the Amvon. In this service, the Church prays that the faithful will be preserved from division, whether by heresy or schism, and that the minds of those who have turned away from faith will be enlightened. As the faithful approached the Cross at the end of the service, a Diocesan collection for the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, was taken up.
On the evening of Sunday 2 March, the Sunday of Forgiveness, vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness was served in our parish. In accordance with the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church, the vestments were changed to black at the mid-point of the service and the singing of the solemn Lenten melodies began. After the dismissal, approximately 20 parishioners venerated the icons and asked forgiveness of one another as the choir sang the beautiful Stichera of Pascha.
On Friday 28 February our parish Ladies’ Auxiliary organized a pancake night at the John Gebhardt Centre in Waratah, the home of the Newcastle and Hunter Region Ethnic Communities Council. In this, much help was received from Elena Ferguson, Family Worker at Northern Settlement Services, and from Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian ladies from across the Hunter Valley. Over 120 adults and children attended, enjoying pancakes and a range of traditional foods. The week beginning Monday 24 February was Maslenitsa – Orthodox Shrovetide – during which the people customarily relax and enjoy festive foods before the beginning of Great Lent. Over $2400.00 was raised on the night, money that will help the Ladies’ Auxiliary in its work. Many thanks to all who helped, and to all who attended!
On the afternoon of Friday 28 February, in the presence of approximately 100 people, the parish rector served the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony for parishioners Vladimir Shatrov and Cheryl Juliana Hayward. Our parish warmly congratulates Vlad and Cheryl and wishes them many years of happiness together!
On Saturday 22 February and Sunday 23 February we had services for the departed and for the Sunday of the Last Judgment. As the Saturday was a day of commemoration of the departed, a general panikhida was served immediately before the evening service. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning prayers were offered for the Ukrainian land and people and the newly-illumined servant of God Jani Piiroinen received Holy Communion for the first time. Following the Prayer before the Amvon the parish rector blessed nine beautiful new red sticharia for our altar-servers, the work of Mother Christina of the Presentation of the Mother of God Convent in Bungarby, NSW. These sticharia will be used by our altar-servers during Great Lent.
On Saturday 22 February Jani Piiroinen was received into the Holy Orthodox Church according to the Office of Receiving Converts from the Lutheran Confession and by Chrismation. Jani’s sponsors were Nicholas Crawford, Lucea Szabunia, Pekka Sinkkonen and Sirpa Sinkkonen. Also present was Jani’s wife, Anu Kinunnen, an Orthodox Finn and a member of our Parish Council, with whom he is now united in the Orthodox faith. May God grant his newly-enlightened servant Jani many years!
The Parish Council met on 17 February 2014. The rector gave his usual report on the life of the parish and of the Diocese, with particular attention given to Metropolitan Hilarion’s visit on 26 January for the blessing of our new Cross and the receipt on the previous day of new red sticharia for our altar-servers. Parish finances and communications were considered and the parish renovation plan was reviewed and updated. A decision was made to increase the parish membership fee to $30.00, effective immediately, and to limit expenditure over the coming year to projects already approved, the most important of which is the extension of the church to allow for a new vestry. UPDATED: The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 17 March.
On Friday 14 and Saturday 15 February we had services for the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord. On Friday evening All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served. On Saturday morning the parish rector concelebrated Divine Liturgy with Hieromonk John (MacPherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW. In accordance with Orthodox custom, candles were blessed following the Prayer before the Amvon. Fruit was also blessed, a seasonal custom of the parishes of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
On Saturday 8 February and Sunday 9 February we had services for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and in honour of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on the Sunday was the newly-baptised servant of God Martin Kalyniuk. Also with us that day were iconographer Dimitri Lihachov, his wife Rosemary, and their daughters Kira and Nika.
On Saturday 8 February the parish rector received into Orthodoxy a young convert from Roman Catholicism, Martin Kalyniuk. With Metropolitan Hilarion's blessing, 'The Office for Receiving Converts from the Roman-Latin Confession' was used in the place of the 'Prayers at the Making of a Catechumen', followed by the Holy Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation. Martin's sponsors were Nikolai Goura and Evgenia Millard, and his heavenly protector is Saint Martin of Tours (+397), one of the great saints of the Orthodox West. May God grant his servant Martin, newly united to the Holy Orthodox Church, many years!
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...
On Saturday 25 January the parish rector baptized Ava Barton, the infant daughter of Michael and Michelle Barton and a younger sister to Zac. Ava is of Serbian Orthodox heritage, and her family has as its heavenly protector the Holy Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George. Congratulations to Michael and Michelle, and to Ava’s godparents Adam Barton and Karen Flood. Through the prayers of Saint George, may God grant his newly-baptised handmaiden Ava many years!
On the morning of Friday 24 January, the Parish Council met for the first time in 2014. The meeting was scheduled at this time so as to enable the entire Parish Council to be present when the parish’s new standing Cross, due to be delivered that day, arrived. Prior to the delivery of the Cross, the Parish Council heard the rector’s customary report on parish and Diocesan life, including his participation on Thursday 23 January in the first meeting of the newly-elected Diocesan Council. Parish finances were considered, and preparations were made for Metropolitan Hilarion’s visit on Sunday 26 January, the focus of which would be the blessing of the new Cross. Other items discussed included possible arrangements for clergy remuneration, renewal of parish membership, communications, and the design of a parish gramota, a key element of the parish awards policy. During the course of the meeting, iconographer Dimitry Lihachov arrived with the new Cross, at which time the Parish Council adjourned for an extended period. The Cross was unwrapped and placed in church, after which the troparion “Save, O Lord, Thy people” was sung. The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 17 February 2014 at 7.30pm.
On Friday 17 January and Saturday 18 January we had services for the Eve of Theophany, with the Great Blessing of Water served on Saturday following Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating with the parish rector at the Saturday services was Hieromonk John (MacPherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai, NSW. Following the dismissal and the singing of the festive troparion and kontakion, the parish rector congratulated all with the approach of the feast, making special mention of the parishioners of the former Theophany Parish of the Moscow Patriarchate (1994-2009) in Mayfield, a neighbouring suburb of Newcastle. He noted that 2014 was both the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of that parish and the fifth anniversary of its closure and the joining of its flock with the Wallsend parish, reminding all of the importance of preserving the memory of all that was accomplished for the glory of God in the Theophany parish during the fifteen years of its existence. Afterwards, many remained behind for refreshments and fellowship in the church hall.
On Saturday 11 January and Sunday 12 January we had services for the Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ and in honour of Saints Joseph the Betrothed, David the King, and James the Brother of the Lord. At the end of Divine Liturgy, the parish rector read the Nativity Epistle of Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia. As it was our last service for 2013 according to the Julian calendar, a year during which the four-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Romanoff Dynasty was celebrated, a brief moleben to the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia was served after the Prayer before the Amvon, and following the dismissal ‘Eternal Memory’ was sung for all the pious Tsars and Tsarinas and all the departed members of the All-Russian Imperial House. Later that day the parish rector travelled to the studio of iconographer Dimitri Lihachov on Scotland Island to see our beautiful new “Golgotha” Cross, due to be delivered to our parish on Friday 24 January. Some simple photographs of the new Cross can be seen on our Facebook page.
On Monday 6 January and Tuesday 7 January we had services for the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ. A great many people from Newcastle and the Central Coast were present for All-night vigil on Monday evening, with others having travelled from as far away as Port Macquarie. In honour of the Great Feast, for the litia at the end of Great Compline there was a procession around the church, with the first and fifth prayers of intercession intoned before the church doors, and the other prayers intoned in turn at each of the other three sides. A great many people gathered again on Tuesday morning for the festive Divine Liturgy, at which the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Juliana received Holy Communion for the first time. At the end of Divine Liturgy the customary moleben of thanksgiving was served to mark the anniversary of the deliverance in 1812 of the Russian Church and Empire from the invasion of the French and twelve other nations. A festive lunch for parishioners and friends was then held, with some 60 people gathering. At lunch a short Nativity play was presented by the parish children, and afterwards there was a visit from Father Christmas.
On Saturday 4 January 2014 there were two baptisms in our parish. The first, in the mroning, was of Cheryl Hayward, a young woman preparing for marriage in our church in February 2014. In baptism, Cheryl received the name Juliana in honour of the Righteous Juliana of Lazarevo. Her sponsor at baptism was Anka Radmanovich. We congratulate the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Juliana on her reception in the Holy Orthodox Church, and pray that God will grant her many years. The second baptism, that afternoon, was of Dominic Rahim, the infant son of Reza Rahim and our choir conductor Nataliya Rahim. Dominic, who is a younger brother to Alexander, received the name Domety in baptism. His godparents were Alexander Drobyshev and Ksenia East. Our warmest congratulations to Reza, Nataliya, Alexander and Ksenia. May God grant his newly-baptised servant Domety many years! On this day we also...