Saint Nicholas' is an Orthodox Christian parish of Russian tradition serving Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. We are a parish of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Established in 1952, our parish is the oldest continuously-functioning Orthodox parish in the Hunter Valley.
Parish life and COVID-19
Updated 26 April 2021: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage has had a profound impact on social interaction around the world. Our Holy Orthodox Church is not exempt from this. Our parish takes the COVID-19 public health risk seriously and continues to comply with the directives of the civil authorities in this country including limits on the number of people present at services and registration of attendance. We have also introduced sanitary measures including the provision of hand sanitiser at the entry to the church; giving the faithful the option of not kissing the Holy Gospel, the icons, the chalice, the Cross, or the hand of the priest; cleaning icons regularly with methylated spirits; the provision of disposable napkins for use when receiving Holy Communion; the provision of disposable cups from which to receive the warm water and wine (“zapivka”) after Holy Communion; limits on the number of people singing in the choir; and the cancellation of our usual “cup of tea” after services. We have registered as a COVID-safe place of worship. Our parish COVID-19 Safety Plan, relevant statements from church authorities, public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes are available here.
Attendance at church services
Updated 26 April 2021: Attendance at indoor religious services throughout New South Wales has, since Saturday 13 February 2021, been subject to the two square metre rule. We are permitted 65 people in church because the total area of our church and choir loft is approximately 130 squares metres. On those occasions when more than 65 people attend we will manage the numbers in church so as to give as many people as possible the opportunity to venerate the icons, light candles and participate in the services. This means that all are welcome to attend services on the understanding that at larger gatherings, such as Pascha, it may not be possible to enter the church immediately or to remain inside for the entire service.
We will continue to have a sheet at the candle-desk on which to record attendance and contact details. Care should be taken to sign in upon arrival at church. The completed attendance sheets will be stored securely, retained for four weeks, and only released to the NSW Chief Health Officer if required for the purpose of contact-tracing should there be an instance of community transmission of COVID-19.
Supporting our parish
Our parish is a small one that relies wholly on community support to make ends meet. If you have found this website to be of interest or of use, please consider helping us. Donations may be made directly to our bank account:
St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
BSB: 032-509 Account number: 281104
May the Lord bless you!
Forthcoming services and activities
Services on 8-9 May, the Second Sunday of Pascha - 09/05/2021
On Saturday 8 May and Sunday 9 May we will have services for the Second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. All-night Vigil will be served at 6.00pm on Saturday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Sunday. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy, the Prayer at the breaking of the Artos will be read and pieces of the blessed bread will be distributed to the faithful.
Services on 21-22 May, the feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas - 22/05/2021
On Friday 21 May and Saturday 22 May we will have services commemorating the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra in Lycia to Bari, Italy, in 1087 AD. This is the patronal feast-day of our church. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves will be served at 6.00pm on Friday and Divine Liturgy will be served at 9.00am on Saturday. Divine Liturgy on Saturday will be preceded by the Lesser Blessing of Water at 8.15am and followed by a moleben to Saint Nicholas with a procession around the church. Upon completion of the services on Saturday we will have a festive barbeque in the church grounds. All are welcome! For friends from Sydney and further afield, information about visiting the Hunter Valley is available here.
A pastoral visit to the New South Wales Mid North Coast - 30/05/2021
With the blessing of Bishop George, our parish rector will be making a seventh pastoral visit to the New South Wales Mid North Coast on the weekend of Saturday-Sunday 29-30 May. On Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, Divine Liturgy will be served in Barraganyatti. The Russian Orthodox community on the Mid North Coast is under the heavenly protection of Saint Symeon of Verkhoturye. Those interested are welcome to contact us.
Holy Week and Pascha in Newcastle, 2021 - 02/05/2021
This year, our parish again had a number of traditional services for Holy Week and Pascha. Matins with the reading of the Twelve Passion Gospels was served in the evening on Thursday 29 April, Vespers with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ at midday on Friday 30 April, Matins with Lamentations before the Tomb of Christ in the evening on Friday 30 April, and Divine Liturgy in the morning on Saturday 1 May. On Saturday evening we had an early Midnight Office and procession followed by Paschal Matins and the blessing of Easter baskets with cakes, eggs, and other festive foods.
Services on 24-25 April, Palm Sunday - 26/04/2021
On Saturday 24 April and Sunday 25 April we had services for Palm Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Great Lent and the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil, and five loaves and the blessing of palms and pussy-willows was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Prior to the services our small church had been cleaned and beautifully decorated with palm branches. On Sunday we were joined by friends from the Gosford parish for our largest service since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many of those present received Holy Communion. As 25 April was Anzac Day, the major day of commemoration in Australia of those fallen in war, Divine Liturgy was followed by a memorial litia for all Orthodox Christian soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses who have fallen in the field of battle, and for all Orthodox Christians who have died in war. A collection was then taken up to benefit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jersualem, raising over $500.
A General Service of Anointing with Oil - 21/04/2021
On the evening of Tuesday 20 April we had a General Service of Anointing with Oil. Together with the parish rector, thirty of our parishioners gathered to pray and receive anointing with oil for the healing of soul and body. For Orthodox Christians this service, otherwise served only for individuals who are grievously ill, is a customary part of Great Lent.
The April 2021 meeting of the Parish Council - 12/04/2021
On Monday 12 April the Parish Council met by teleconference. The usual reports on parish life and finances were tabled and discussed and an update was given on our renovations and other proposed improvements to the parish facilities and grounds. The arrangements for managing attendance at the Easter services were considered, together with plans for our patronal feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas on 21-22 May. It was noted that the Ladies' Auxiliary, having received donations for this purpose, would be purchasing new blue and green covers for the altar table and icon stands. The Parish Council is due to meet again in mid-May 2021.
Services on 10-11 April, the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent - 11/04/2021
On Saturday 10 April and Sunday 11 April we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday 10 April was a day of commemoration of the departed, Matins was preceded by a general panikhida during which prayers were offered for the newly-reposed Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (+9 April 2021), Russian Orthodox clergy victims of the coronavirus, the ever-memorable departed clergy of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese, and our departed founders, benefactors, parishioners and relatives. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about Saint John of the Ladder and the significance of his life and work.
Our Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services - 25/02/2021
Our Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May 2021 - is now available in digital format. It includes all our services for Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha and our patronal feast of Saint Nicholas. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2021 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies will be available in church from the weekend of 27-28 February.
Church & Community Life
The 2021 Paschal Epistle of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia - 09/06/2021
The 2021 Paschal Epistle of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia may be read in English here and in Russian here. An extract: "From year to year, from century to century, from millennium to millennium, this thanksgiving triumphantly resounds throughout the world – resounds despite all temptations, hardships and ordeals. And it does not stop today, when the world is suffering from the baneful pestilence. At these trying times it is particularly important to support those diseased and infirm, those grieving over the loss of their relatives and friends, those who have lost their livelihood, those who cannot come to church. Let us do what we can to help the afflicted, let us not walk with indifference past the people in need of our concern, attention and care".
The 2021 Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia - 09/06/2021
The 2021 Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, may be read in English here and in Russian here. An extract: "Together, as we send up gratitude to God, Who has spared our souls from death, for the preservation of our life and the opportunity to spend the present highly-exalted days in church, we should not forsake those lessons that are given to us by current events. Let us not neglect the health measures implemented for staving off the coronavirus infection, as the Sacred Scriptures say: “before you fall ill, take care of your health” (Sirach 18:19). This means that precaution is itself a lifesaving medicine. Let us also not forsake prayer that the plague – which has distressed many with the fear of death – will pass, that the Lord, just as in the Old Testament, will relent “concerning the disaster” and say to the Angel who is afflicting us, "Enough! Withdraw your hand" (2 Samuel 24:16)".
Now available - the April 2021 issue of "Word of the Church" ("Церковное Слово") - 31/07/2021
The April 2021 issue of “Word of the Church” (“Церковное Слово”), the official journal of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, has recently become available in our parishes. This Paschal edition continues the beautiful glossy colour format introduced in December 2021. Content includes Metropolitan Hilarion’s Paschal Epistle in Russian and English; details of ordinations and clergy appointments; a list of living and departed clergy of the Diocese for commemoration in prayer; a letter from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in Australia to the NSW Attorney-General concerning confession and mandatory reporting of child sexual offences; a directory of clergy and parishes; ‘Christian Morals and Values Shaping the Future of the Russian World’, a paper presented at a seminar in Germany in 2015; and more. Copies are $5.00.