On Friday 18 December and Saturday 19 December we had services in honour of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia, the heavenly protector of our parish. Although our parish has as its patronal feast the May commemoration of Saint Nicholas, the December commemoration is always solemnly observed. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Friday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. At the end of Divine Liturgy a brief moleben to Saint Nicholas was served. The parish rector then congratulated the Starosta, Nikolai N. Goura, on his name-day, and many years was intoned for him.
On Thursday 10 December we learned with sadness of the repose that day of our parishioner, Natalia Ivanovna Tarasenko (b. 15 March 1918 in Kuldja, China). Her funeral was served in our church on Tuesday 15 December, after which she was laid to rest beside her late husband, Ivan Trofimovich, at Sandgate Cemetery. Natalia had a long association with our parish and with the Russian Orthodox Church of the Theophany (Moscow Patriarchate) in Mayfield. She is survived by three daughters and two sons – Raisa, Nickolay, Tatiana, Peter, and Nadejda – and by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom we offer our condolences. May God grant rest to His newly-departed handmaiden!
On Saturday 12 December and Sunday 13 December we had services for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. Joining us were friends from Sydney and the Central Coast. It being the Nativity Fast, a number of people took the opportunity to confess and receive Holy Communion. Following the dismissal at Divine Liturgy a collection was taken up to assist the Indonesian Mission. This collection, taken up in all parishes of our Diocese at Bishop George's request, raised $195.00.
On Tuesday 1 December our playgroup "Teremok" had its final gathering for 2015. All the children were given presents. Three children were attending for the last time as they will be starting school in 2016: Vika Origan, Matthew Martin and Liam Parish. We wish them all the best in their future studies! "Teremok" will resume classes in the second week of February. In 2016 there will be gatherings on two days each week, Tuesdays and Fridays. Until then!
Our Summer 2015-16 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2015-16 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2015-16 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 from the evening of 3 December 2015.
On Monday 23 November the 2015-16 Parish Council met for the first time. Joining returning members Anna Morhun, Irene Lupish, Olga Bogacheva, Lucy Szabunia and Anu Kinnunen was newly-elected member Dean Turnbull. Unfortunately the Warden, Nikolai Goura, was absent because of illness. The usual administrative, pastoral and financial reports were presented and progress on various church projects - the extension of the altar, the replacement of the choir stairs, and the painting of a new icon - was reviewed. Office-bearers were then appointed, with Anna Morhun accepting the role of Head Sister, Anu Kinnunen accepting the role of Treasurer, Lucy Szabunia accepting the role of minutes secretary, Irene Lupish accepting the role of membership and records secretary. In addition, Mrs Lupish and Ms Szabunia agreed to act as parish Privacy Officers. The Parish Council will next meet on Monday 25 January 2016.
On Saturday 21 November and Sunday 22 November we had services for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius of Ephesus (+3rd-4th C. AD) and the Venerable Matrona of Constantinople (+492 AD). In his sermon on Sunday the rector spoke about the approaching Nativity Fast and the importance of being faithful to the Lord in small ways such as fasting so to be ready to be faithful to Him in bigger ways. Following Divine Liturgy a pannikhida was served for the ever-memorable founder of our parish, Archpriest John Lupish (+1977), the anniversary of whose repose it was. As the faithful came to the Cross a collection for the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was taken up. This collection, customarily taken up in all parishes of our Diocese each year during November, raised $350.00.
On Saturday 7 November and Sunday 8 November we had services for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Demetrius of Thessalonica and the deliverance of Constantinople through his prayers from a great earthqauke in 740 AD. The parish rector presided at both services, having returned to Australia on 29 October following his trip to Russia accompanying the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at divine Liturgy on this day was the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Ivy Mae (Eve) Stankovski.
This year our Diocese will also hold its fifty-first consecutive annual Diocesan youth conference or "Syezd". Established in 1965 at the instigation of the ever-memorable Archbishop Sava (Raevsky, +1976), these conferences have been an important spiritual and social event for the youth of our Diocese ever since. This year’s conference – the theme of which is ‘The Apocalypse’ – will be held from 26-31 December in Melbourne and is open to young people aged 18 and over. For more information visit www.syezd.info.
This year our Diocese will hold its fifth annual Orthodox Teen Retreat. Established in 2011, our Diocesan Teen Retreats cater for young people aged 14-17. After three years in Sydney and one in Melbourne, this year’s Teen Retreat will be held on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast from Sunday 20 December until Thursday 24 December. For more information visit www.teenretreat.info.
On Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 December the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia will prayerfully commemorate the fortieth annversary of the repose of Archpriest Rostislav Gan, an influential spiritual father, exemplary pastor and noted liturgist who was a priest in China before serving as rector of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta for over 20 years. Further information is available in English here and in Russian here.
On Saturday 31 October the parish rector baptised Ivy Mae Stankovski, the infant daughter of Lupco and Nina Stankovski and a sister to big brothers Darcy and Archer. In baptism Ivy Mae was given the name Eve in honour of our Holy Foremother Eve. Her sponsors were Jacqueline and Photi Mandicos and Brett and Vera Corbett. We warmly congratulate Lupco and Nina and the godparents, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Eve many years!
On Sunday 25 October we had services for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. In the absence of the rector who was in the United States following three weeks in Russia as part of a delegation accompanying the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, Archpriest Ljubomir Dvojakovski presided at Divine Liturgy.
On Sunday 11 October we had services for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Chariton the Confessor. In the absence of the rector who was visiting the Yekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church as part of a delegation accompanying the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, Priest Theodor Postelnisescu, rector of the Romanian Orthodox parish of Apostle Andrew, presided at Divine Liturgy. Father Theodor served in English and Romanian, and the choir, singing under the able direction of Elena Gan, responded in Slavonic and English. At the end of the service Father Theodor gave an encouraging sermon in English on the theme of the appointed reading for the Holy Gospel (Luke 5:1-11) and presented all present with icon-cards of the Mother of God.
On Sunday 27 September our parish held its 2015 Annual General Meeting (AGM). The 2015 Annual Report was presented and accepted, a Parish Council for 2015-16 was elected, and two new Child Safety Contact Persons were appointed. Those elected to the Parish Council were Anna Morhun, Irene Lupish, Lucea Szabunia, Olga Bogacheva, Anu Kinnunen and Dean Crawford, and Matushka Marie Carles and Olga Bogacheva were appointed to be Child Safety Contact Persons. We now await Bishop George’s ratification of the decisions of the Parish Council.
On Saturday 26 September and Sunday 27 September we had services for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves and the bringing out of the Cross was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Elena Gan directed the choir. After the dismissal and the veneration of the Cross, the parish rector made the third and final announcement concerning the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the parish.
On Sunday 20 September and Monday 21 September we had services for the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. 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. On Monday morning we were joined by friends from the Gosford parish, and a small choir sang under the direction of Elena Gan.
Our 2015 Annual Report, including the independently audited 2014-15 Financial Statements, is now available. The 2015 Annual Report will be presented to our parish Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday 27 September 2015. A copy of the report is available in PDF form here. Printed copies will be posted to parish members prior to the meeting so as to allow adequate time for careful perusal. We encourage our parishioners and friends with questions or comments to contact us.
On Monday 14 September the 2014-15 Parish Council met for the final time. In addition to the usual business, the Parish Council reviewed and endorsed the draft 2015 Annual Report; discussed arrangements for the rector’s absence during October 2015; finalised plans for the parish Annual General Meeting on Sunday 27 September; and considered the status of the parish iconography project and the church extension. God willing, the 2015-16 Parish Council will meet for the first time in November 2015.
On Saturday 12 September and Sunday 13 September we had services for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Placing of the Venerable Sash of the Mother of God in Constantinople in 395-408. A greater than usual number of people were in church on Sunday, including our friends from the Gosford parish. As this day was also the commemoration of the translation of the relics of Saints Peter and Febronia of Murom, heavenly patrons of family, love and faithfulness, a moleben with special petitions and a prayer to the saints was served at the end of Divine Liturgy. During the moleben, all married and engaged couples in the parish were commemorated by name. Following Divine Liturgy, the rector made the second announcement concerning the parish Annual General Meeting to be held on Sunday 27 September 2015. He then congratulated Anastasia Harwood and her helpers on the sixth anniversary of the establishment of the Russian-language playgroup “Teremok”, wishing them continued success in their important work. Parishioners, playgroup participants and friends later gathered in the church yard for a small concert to mark the anniversary, and to share in the birthday cake.
A group of young families associated primarily with the Protection of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta, NSW, is organising a camp for children and young people aged 7-17 to be held in Toukley, NSW - just to our south, on the Central Coast - from 13 December - 19 December 2015. For those interested, more information is available here. It should be noted that this year the Diocesan Teen Retreat - for young people aged 14-17, or in Years 9-12 - will be held in on the Queensland Sunshine Coast from 20 December-24 December.
Our Spring 2015 Schedule of Services - covering September, October and November - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Spring 2015 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Spring 2015 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages have been available in church from Saturday 22 August.
From Monday 28 September until Thursday 29 October 2015, our parish rector will be travelling abroad as part of a delegation of clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia accompanying a visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to the Yekaterinburg and Ufa Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Other participants in the delegation include His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese; Archpriest Stefan Pavlenko (a cleric of the Western American Diocese and Rector of the parish of All Russian Saints in Burlingame, California); Archpriest Vladimir Boikov (a cleric of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese and Dean of New Zealand); and Protodeacon Alexander Kichakov (a cleric of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America and senior deacon of the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois). The delegation will meet in San Francisco and venerate the incorrupt relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco before travelling to Russia. The official visit will begin in Yekaterinburg on Thursday 1 October and end in Ufa on Thursday 22 October. Following this, Father James will return to the United States and visit places of significance in the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
On Thursday 27 August and Friday 28 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Thursday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Friday morning. A number of friends from the Gosford parish joined us on the day of the feast. As it was sixty-six years to the day since the first Russian Orthodox services in the Hunter Valley, prayers of thanksgiving were offered at Divine Liturgy during the Litany of Fervent Supplication. Following the dismissal, the parish rector announced that the parish Annual General Meeting would be held on Sunday 27 September 2015.
On Saturday 22 August and Sunday 23 August we had services for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, the Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and in honour of the Martyr and Archdeacon Lawrence of Rome. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on Sunday was Kenneth Cross, received into the Orthodox Church on the previous day.
On Saturday 22 August 2015, with the blessing of Bishop George, the parish rector received Ken Cross into the Holy Orthodox Church by Chrismation. Ken, a long-standing friend of our parish and of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Theophany (Moscow Patriarchate) in Mayfield, has as his patron saint in Orthodoxy Saint Kenneth of Aghaboe. Also present was Ken's wife, Mary Cross, with whom he is now united in the Orthodox faith. May God grant his newly-enlightened servant Kenneth many years!
With the blessing of Bishop George of Canberra, on Saturday 22 August a memorial service was held at the cemetery in Greta, NSW, a village significant in the history of immigration in Australia. It was at Greta that a Migrant Camp was established after World War 2, and it was here that many Orthodox Christians from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other places found a first home in this country. Just four days after his arrival in Australia on 19 August 1949, Archpriest John Lupish served the funeral of one year-old Irene Solomko. She was later laid to rest in the Greta Cemetery together with a number of other infants who died in an epidemic of measles that swept through the camp at that time. Father John went on to preside at five more burials at Greta: Wssewolod (Vsevelod) Shipilow (+1949, a boy of 18 months), Larisa Klebakin (+1950), Lydia Elagin (+1956), Alexander Melnik (+1970) and Ivan Elagin (+1977). Following a visit to Greta by our rector in June this year, it was resolved that a memorial service would be held in the cemetery there each year on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of that first burial. Concelebrating were our parish rector and Archpriest Michael Solomko, Irene Solomko's younger brother and a priest of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Australia and New Zealand. At the service prayers were offered for the repose of the ever-memorable Archpriest John (+1977), his matushka Maria (+1979), and all those Orthodox Christians buried in the Greta Cemetery, amongst whom are a great many Ukrainian Orthodox, and kutiya was blessed. In 2016, God willing, the memorial service will be held on Saturday 20 August.
On Friday 21 August family, friends and parishioners gathered in our church for the funeral of Michael Katonin, one of the builders of our church. Michael, born on 12 September 1918, departed this life on 15 August 2015. After the funeral service, his body was laid to rest beside that of wife, Maria (+2005), in Wallsend Cemetery. May God give rest to his newly-departed servant!
On Thursday 13 August and Friday 14 August we had services for the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord and in honour of the Holy Maccabean Martyrs (+166 BC). Matins with the bringing out of the Cross was served on Thursday evening and on Friday, the first day of the Dormition Fast, Divine Liturgy was served. The Lesser Blessing of Water followed, it being the custom of the Russian Orthodox Church to bless the waters on this day in commemoration of the Baptism of Rus’ in 988 AD. It is also the custom on this day to bless new honey, and as in previous years a quantity of organic Wollombi honey – a gift from friends of our parish – was blessed and given to those present.
On Saturday 1 August and Sunday 2 August we had services for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Glorious Prophet Elijah (+ 9th Century BC). Following the Prayer before the Amvon the prayers of blessing were read over a new icon of the Holy Equal-to-the Apostles Great Prince Vladimir, enlightener of the Russian people, a gift to our parish from Anna Rowan and her family. In his sermon the rector spoke of the example of Prophet Elijah's faithful service to God at a time when everyone seemed to have turned from the true faith. Speaking separately to the parish children, Matushka Marie described the times in which Prophet Elijah lived and explained his battle against the wicked Queen Jezebel and the priests of the pagan god, Baal.
On Saturday 25 July and Sunday 26 July we had services for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils. In anticipation of the commemoration of the Holy Equal-to-the Apostles, Great Prince Vladimir, enlightener of the Russian people, on Tuesday 28 July, the parish rector read aloud the Epistle of His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill regarding the 1000th anniversary of repose of Holy Great Prince Vladimir. Following the service we received a gift from Anna Rowan, a friend of our parish, and her family: an icon of Saint Vladimir. God willing, this icon will be formally blessed on Sunday 2 August.
On Saturday 11 July and Sunday 12 July we had services for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy, Glorious and Al-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Saturday evening, and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. The beautiful icon of Saints Peter and Paul placed in the centre of church for veneration was a new one acquired by our parish especially for this year’s celebration of the feast.
On Thursday 2 July a small group of family, friends and parishioners gathered in our church for the funeral of Raisa Wielowski (nee Kallaur). Raisa, born in Belarus on 1 March 1928, departed this life on 27 June 2015. After the funeral service, her body was laid to rest beside that of her husband, Henryk (+1997), in Whitebridge Cemetery. May God give rest to his newly-departed handmaiden!
In conjunction with Saint Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Church, Gosford, our parish has developed and published a list of Sundays and Fridays on which weddings can be celebrated in 2015 and 2016, together with an explanation of the reasons why weddings cannot be celebrated on certain days and dates and during certain seasons. This information, which can be accessed either here or via our ‘Needs’ page under ‘Weddings’, has been prepared to help our parishioners and friends when planning weddings in parishes of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Should anyone have any questions about this information, please contact us.
On Saturday 27 June and Sunday 28 June we had services for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow and wonderworker (+1461 AD). It being the Apostles’ Fast, a greater number of people than usual were in church on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, with many taking the opportunity to confess and receive the Holy Mysteries. On Saturday evening we learned with sadness of the repose of Regina (Raisa) Wielowski, a long-term member of our parish and the eldest daughter of one of our church builders and trustees, the ever-memorable Anton Kallaur (+1990). May God give her rest! During the sermon on Sunday, Matushka Marie spoke separately to the children about the Sacrament of Confession and – in her capacity as parish Child Safety Contact Person – about the importance of safe and friendly play.
On Sunday 14 June the parish rector baptised Sofia Marshall, the infant daughter of Tony and Iryna Marshall. Sofia’s patron saint is the Martyr Sofia and her godparents are Natalia Khyzhniak and Igor Masalitin, her maternal uncle. We warmly congratulate Tony, Iryna, Natalia and Igor, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Sofia many years!
On Saturday 13 June and Sunday 14 June we had services for the Second Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday of the commemoration of All Saints who have shone forth in the Russian Land. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday our choir sang under the direction of Elena Gan. In his sermon, the parish rector spoke about the standard set in the Gospel readings (Matthew 10:32-33,37-38,18:27-30; Matthew 4:18-23; and Matthew 6:22-33) on the first three Sundays after Pentecost – that we prioritise our relationship with God over all other relationships, that we leave all worldly cares behind and follow Him, and that we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness – and the way in which this standard was reflected in the lives of all the saints of the Russian Land. During the sermon, Matushka Marie spoke separately to the parish children about the ministry of the deacon in the life of the Orthodox Church, explaining the deacon’s prayers during the service, his vestments and the history of his role.
On Sunday 7 June the parish rector presided at the blessing of the marriage of Scott Jardine and Liudmila Kuznetcov in the presence of their family and close friends. Our choir - under the direction of Elena Gan - sang the service in English. Following the dismissal, Scott and Liudmila were presented with a set of wedding icons, a gift from our parish on the occasion. We warmly congratulate them, and wish them many more years of happiness together.
Our Winter 2015 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2015 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2015 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 from Saturday 13 June.
Our parish celebrates its patronal feast on 22 May, the day of the commemoration of the translation of the relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra in Lycia (modern-day Turkey) to Bari in Italy. In view of the Great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord falling this year on 21 May, we transferred our festive services to the following weekend, Saturday 23 May and Sunday 24 May. Unfortunately Bishop George was unable to be with us, it also being the patronal feast of Saints Kyrill and Methodius Mission in Tweed Heads. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Saturday evening, the service for Saint Nicholas being combined with that of the Sunday and of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. The Lesser Blessing of Water was served on Sunday morning, followed by Divine Liturgy and a moleben to Saint Nicholas. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of Saint Nicholas’ renown as a man of prayer and an intercessor for all. Noting that Saint Nicholas was one of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, he also spoke of the saint’s zeal for the defence of Orthodoxy and his stand against Arianism. During the moleben there was a procession of the cross around the church in the bright autumn sunshine, with the parish children participating by carrying icons. Afterwards, approximately fifty parishioners and friends gathered in the church hall for a festive meal.
On Wednesday 20 May and Thursday 21 May we had services for the Great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Wednesday evening. At Divine Liturgy on Thursday morning the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Russian Orthodox Church was read, it being on the Great Feast of the Ascension in 2007 that the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate was signed. In addition, the ever-memorable Patriarch Alexis II (Ridiger) and Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla), chief signatories of the Act, were commemorated at the Great Entrance. Present with us for Divine Liturgy were a number of friends from the Gosford parish.
On Saturday 9 May and Sunday 10 May we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was the newly-baptised servant of God Alexander Jardine. Following the dismissal, a memorial litia was served for the ever-memorable Archbishop Theodore (Rafalsky) (+1955), first Russian Orthodox Bishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, the sixtieth anniversary of whose repose and burial it was during the preceding week. Before these prayers were offered, the parish rector gave a brief account of Vladyka Theodore's life and his work in laying the foundations of the Australia-New Zealand Diocese, noting that our parish, established in 1952, was one that Vladyka Theodore himself had visited, and that a number of our old parishioners still remembered him.
On the afternoon of Saturday 2 May a moleben and akathist to the Mother of God was served before the parish’s treasured icon of the Mother of God “Protectress of Newcastle”. This icon was painted for our parish in 2009 to mark the sixtieth anniversary of both the first Orthodox services in the Hunter Valley – on the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on 28 August – and the establishment of the first Orthodox church in the region – the church of the Protection of the Mother of God at Greta Migrant Camp – and shows the care of the Mother of God for the Orthodox faithful here over the decades since. It is hoped that this service will, from June 2015 onwards, become a regular feature of parish life.
On Saturday 2 May the parish rector baptised Alexander Jardine, the infant son of Scott Jardine and Liudmila Kuznetcov. Alexander, who was baptised in honour of Saint Alexander Nevsky, had as his godparents Robert Dzurovski and Natalia Khyzhniak. We warmly congratulate Scott, Liudmila, Robert and Natalia, and wish the newly-baptised servant of God Alexander many years!
On Saturday 25 April and Sunday 26 April we had services for the Third Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the faithful and courageous service of the Myrrh-bearing Women and of Saint Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who, overcoming their fear and doubt, became witnesses to the Resurrection renowned throughout the world and models of Christian service.
On Monday 20 April and Tuesday 21 April we had services scheduled for Radonitsa, the day of commemoration of the departed that is customarily observed on the second Tuesday of Pascha. Matins was served on Monday evening as scheduled but later that evening wind and rain struck the New South Wales coast with great intensity, the effects being felt with particular severity in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, and on the Central Coast. As only four parishioners were able to make it to church on Tuesday morning Divine Liturgy and the usual cemetery visits were cancelled and a general panikhida was served at church. Thanks be to God, our church building was undamaged by the storm. However, many of our parishioners were without power for a number of days, and some had their homes damaged by water and by falling trees.
On Sunday 19 April, Thomas Sunday, Deacon Constantine Moshegov was raised to the rank of Protodeacon by Metropolitan Hilarion during Divine Liturgy at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Strathfield. Protodeacon Constantine - also a well-known eye surgeon - has served in our parish a number of times, most recently when Bishop George visited us in August 2014. We warmly congratulate Father Constantine on his elevation and wish him many more years of faithful service to the Holy Orthodox Church. Axios! A Russian-language article with photographs is available on the Diocesan website here.
On Friday 17 April and Saturday 18 April we had services for Bright Saturday, the first Saturday of Pascha. Paschal Matins was served on Friday evening and on Saturday morning Paschal Divine Liturgy was served. Following the Prayer before the Amvon there was a procession around the church with the banners and icons, the singing of the Paschal irmosi, and the reading of the Gospel. At the end of the procession the Prayer at the cutting of the Artos was read and the blessed bread was distributed to the faithful. In place of a sermon, the parish rector read aloud the 2015 Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion.
On Thursday 16 April and Friday 17 April our parish rector, Priest James Carles, participated in festive services to mark the commencement of Bishop George’s service as Diocesan Administrator and Bishop of Canberra, Vicar of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. At Divine Liturgy on Friday morning thirty-eight priests and deacons of our Diocese concelebrated with Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop George, Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese, and clergy from the Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches. Subdeacon Luke Goura and his son Daniel and Parish Council members Irene Lupish and Lucy Szabunia were also present for Divine Liturgy, with Irene and Lucy later representing the parish at the official luncheon together with Father James. We welcome Bishop George to our Diocese and look forward to his first pastoral visit to our parish as Diocesan Administrator. A Russian-language article with photographs is available on the Diocesan website here.
From the evening of Great and Holy Wednesday until the Sunday of Pascha there were six services in our parish: Matins of Great and Holy Thursday, Vespers of Great and Holy Thursday with the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, Vespers of Great and Holy Friday with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ, Midnight Office late in the evening of Great and Holy Saturday, Paschal Matins, and Paschal Divine Liturgy. The Paschal services were particularly well-attended, and our choir sang lightly and beautifully under the direction of choir-mistress Nataliya Rahim. At Paschal Divine Liturgy the Apostol was read in Slavonic, English and Finnish, and the special prayer for peace in the Holy Land was read after the Augmented Litany. Following Divine Liturgy a number of the faithful gathered in the church hall for a festive meal.
On Monday 6 April and Tuesday 7 April we had services for the Great Feast of the Annuciation of the Mother of God. On Monday evening All-night Vigil - Great Compline, Matins and the First Hour - was served with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves. At Great Compline, the psalms and prayers were read in Slavonic, English and Finnish. On Tuesday morning the Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours, Typica, Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom were served. It being a working day, a small number of people were present, including friends from the Gosford parish and the Serbian Orthodox community in Newcastle. Almost everyone present received the Holy Mysteries.
On Friday 3 April and Saturday 4 April we had services commemorating the resurrection of the Righteous Lazarus, the friend of our Lord. Matins was served on Friday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. A great many people confessed and prepared for Holy Communion, such that almost everyone present on Saturday morning received the Holy Mysteries. The first to approach the chalice was the newly-illumined Cecilia, received into the Holy Orthodox Church on the preceding day. In anticipation of the commemoration on Sunday 5 April of the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, palms and pussy-willows were blessed following the Prayer before the Amvon. At the dismissal a collection was taken up to benefit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, raising $250.00.
On Friday 3 April, with the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, Kelly Hailstone was received into the Holy Orthodox Church according to the Office of Receiving Converts from the Roman-Latin Confession and by Chrismation. In Orthodoxy Kelly was given the name Cecilia in honour of the Martyr Cecilia of Rome, a saint with whom she has had a connection since childhood. Her sponsor was Larissa Lupish. Also present was Kelly’s fiancé, Alexander Lupish, with whom she is now united in the Orthodox faith. May God grant his newly-enlightened handmaiden Cecilia many years!
On Saturday 21 March and Sunday 22 March we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent and in honour of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (+c.320AD). In addition to an icon of the Forty Martyrs, one of Saint John of the Ladder (+606AD), the renowned Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai, was placed in the centre of church for veneration, the Fourth Sunday in Great Lent being customarily a commemoration of Saint John. Many people prepared for and received Holy Communion. In the hall afterwards many years was sung for Vitaly Korotkich, a parishioner who celebrated his ninetieth birthday during the week preceding the service. Mr Korotkich, a steadfast member of our parish from the earliest days, has served on the Parish Council and the Auditing Committee and as a singer in our choir. He is also the sole remaining member of the Building Committee that oversaw the construction of our church in the early 1960s.
On the morning of Saturday 21 March the parish rector presided at a General Service of Anointing with Oil. Approximately 25 of our parishioners, both young and old, gathered to pray and receive anointing with oil for the healing of soul and body. Some information about the Sacrament of Anointing with Oil provided to our parishioners and friends before the service is available here.
The Parish Council met on Monday 16 March. The parish rector gave his usual detailed report on the life of the parish and the Diocese. Financial reports for February and March were presented, and an account was given of the activities of the Ladies’ Auxiliary. The Warden, N.N. Goura, reported on progress with the church extension. He noted that the brickwork had been completed up to the level of the floor and that a carpenter had now been engaged to complete the framework. Sketches of the work planned on the exterior of the church were discussed, and it was resolved to commence the second stage of the iconography project, a large standing frame with an icon of the Mother of God, “All of creation rejoices in thee” (“Отеберадуется”). When completed, this icon will stand on the right-hand side of the church.
On Saturday 7 March and Sunday 8 March we had services for the Second Sunday of Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint Gregory Palamas (+1359 AD), the Archbishop and Wonderworker of Thessalonica. A greater number than usual of children was present, and during the period after the reading of the Holy Gospel Matushka Marie spoke to them about the history and significance of priestly vestments. During his sermon the parish rector spoke about Saint Gregory Palamas and the defence of Orthodox Christian experience. Following Divine Liturgy a collection for the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, was taken up, raising $150.00.
On Saturday 7 March, the Second Saturday of Great Lent, the revered Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the "Directress" of the Russian Diaspora, visited our parish. Brought from Sydney by the parish rector, the icon arrived at approximately 9.30am. At 10.00am a moleben with an akathist was served before the icon, after which the faithful venerated it and received a copy of the icon printed on card. Our parishioner and chorister Elena Gan kindly made available a small vessel of holy oil from the lampada that burns before the icon in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York, the icon's home, and the faithful were anointed with it. In addition to many of our own parishioners, a great number of Serbian Orthodox faithful were present, together with members of an Anglican society dedicated to the Mother of God of Walsingham. A collection to benefit the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia was then taken up, raising $419.00.
Our Autumn 2015 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2015 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2015 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 from Saturday 7 March.
On Wednesday 18 February we learned with sadness of the repose that day of our parishioner, Anastasia Szabunia (b. 29 November 1925). Her funeral was served in our church on Tuesday 24 February, after which she was laid to rest beside her late husband, Anton, at Sandgate Cemetery. Anastasia and Anton had a long association with our parish, having arrived in Australia in August 1949 aboard MV Fairsea together with the ever-memorable Archpriest John Lupish and his family. She is survived by four daughters and a son – Lucy, Olga, Valentina, Lydia and Anatoly – and by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom we offer sincere condolences. May God grant rest to His newly-departed handmaiden!
On Saturday 21 February and Sunday 22 February we had services for Cheesefare Sunday, the Sunday of Forgiveness. In accordance with the customary practice of parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, Vespers was served immediately after Divine Liturgy. At the mid-point of the service, the choir began to sing the Lenten melodies and the Ladies’ Auxiliary changed the church vestments to black. As the faithful asked forgiveness of one another, the choir sang the beautiful Stichera of Pascha, “Let God arise” (“Да воскреснет Бог”). At the end of the service, a collection was taken up for Orthodox Action, a Diocesan charitable fund based in Sydney and Melbourne. Taken every year during February, this collection is for needy persons, destitute children and orphanages in Russia, Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union. This year, our parish contributed $250.00. In the church hall after the service, many again enjoyed pancakes for the last time before the beginning of Great Lent.
On Saturday 21 February the parish rector baptised Joshua Alfarah, the three year-old son of Michael Alfarah and Marije Alfarah-Bos and a younger brother to Zara. Joshua’s sponsors at baptism were Peter Alfarah and Eleni Simmons. We offer heartfelt congratulations to Michael, Marije, Peter and Eleni, and pray that God will grant his newly-baptised servant Joshua many years!
On Friday 20 February, the Friday of Cheesfare Week (“Maslenitsa”), a traditional pancake evening was held in Newcastle. This event was organised by our parish Ladies’ Auxiliary together with members of the Russian-speaking community of Newcastle and the wider Hunter region. Over 130 guests were fed, including 20 children. The ladies prepared 700 pancakes and served them with a variety of fillings. A range of traditional appetisers preceded the pancakes, and for dessert there were pancakes with cottage cheese, honey cakes, chocolate cakes, and fruit with tea. A highlight of the evening was the entertainment provided by Tanya Hall (accordion) and Bob Pakvet (guitar), a duet who played a range of popular Russian folk songs. They met with an enthusiastic response and there was much fun, dancing and singing. We offer thanks to those who took an active part in making the evening such a success: Elena Ferguson, Irina Lupish, the Zyza family (Raisa, Henry, Michael, Julia and Matt), Lucy Szabunia, Anastasia Grib, Jenny Millard, Valentina Parks, Lena Davidson, Olga Martin, Asya Harwood, Luba Totoev, Natasha Rahim, Lara Lupish, Oksana Grim, Anna Shvets, Catherine Shakhray, Galina Evteev, Olga Hall, Magdalina Savonov, Lydia Vasilik, Alexandra Shinkorenko, Anu Kinnunen, Tanya Hall and Bob Pakvet.
On Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 February we had services for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and in honour of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Matins with the singing of the magnification was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At the dismissal on Sunday, a collection was taken up to assist an elderly woman and her daughter living in Leonidovka, Penza Oblast, Russia. The two women, Galina Kraushkina (77) and Tatiana Andreeva (57), are the aunt and cousin of a good friend and steadfast supporter of our parish. Their home and all their possessions were destroyed by fire on the evening of 24 December 2014. Both women suffered burns in the fire. This collection raised A$775.00, an amount that the Parish Council increased to A$1000.00 from parish funds.
On Saturday 24 January and Sunday 25 January we had services for the Sunday after Theophany and in honour of the Martyr Tatiana of Rome. As this was the last Sunday before the beginning of the use of the Lenten Triodion (Постная Триодь), the service book containing all the special material relating to Great Lent, the appointed Sunday Gospel was that concerning the repentant publican Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10). In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the Martyr Tatiana and of Zaccheus as examples of courageous faithfulness and sincere repentance respectively.
On Sunday 18 January and Monday 19 January we had services for Theophany, the Great Feast of the Baptism of Christ. On Sunday evening All-night Vigil (Great Compline and Matins) with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served. The following morning, Divine Liturgy was followed by the Great Blessing of Water, for which our small congregation was joined by visitors from the Central Coast and friends holidaying to the north of Newcastle. This feast-day holds particular significance in Newcastle, a small parish of the Moscow Patriarchate dedicated to the Theophany having existed in the suburb of Mayfield from 1994 until 2009.
The 2014-15 Parish Council met for the first time on the evening of Monday 12 January. In addition to the usual pastoral and administrative reports, consideration was given to applications for the renewal of parish membership, a request for charitable assistance, the organisation of a pancake evening during February 2014, and progress on church renovations and improvements. The Parish Council is due to meet next on Monday 16 March, the February meeting having been set aside because of the beginning of Great Lent.
On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 January we had services for the Sunday after the Nativity and in honour of the Holy Kinsmen of Christ Saint Joseph the Betrothed, David the King, and James, Brother of the Lord. A greater number of the faithful than is usual were present on Sunday for the sake of the feast. At the end of Divine Liturgy Metropolitan Hilarion’s 2015 Nativity Epistle was read aloud by the rector. Following the service many remained behind to share in a festive meal in church hall, the highlight of which was the singing of Christmas carols in Russian and English by the parish children and a visit from Father Christmas.
On Monday 5 January and Tuesday 6 January we had services for the Eve of the Nativity of Christ and in honour of the Martyr Eugenia of Rome. Matins was served on Monday evening and on Tuesday morning, Vespers with eight Old Testament readings and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. Following the dismissal at Divine Liturgy, all gathered in the centre of the church to sing the troparion (“Thy Nativity, O Christ our God”) and the kontakion (“Today the Virgin giveth birth”) of the Nativity for the first time.