On Sunday 24 December, the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, the parish rector baptised the infant Eva, the infant daughter of Vitalii Athipov and Elena Arhipova and a younger sister to Matvei and Zahar. Eva was baptised in honour of the Holy Foremother Eve and had as her sponsors Reader George Karmadonoff and Lubov Pekhovkina. We warmly congratulate Vitalii, Elena, George and Lubov and wish the newly-illumined handmaiden of God Eva many years!
On Saturday 23 December and Sunday 24 December we had services for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Forefathers, the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh. On Sunday morning our small church was fuller than usual, friends from the Gosford parish and from Sydney having joined us for Divine Liturgy. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the faith and faithfulness of the Holy Forefathers, of putting off the old man and putting on the new (Colossians 3:4-11), and of constantly accepting by one's way of life the invitation to the Great Banquet (Luke:14-16-24).
On Monday 18 December and Tuesday 19 December, the lesser patronal feast of our church, we had services in honour of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served on Monday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Tuesday morning. Following the Prayer before the Amvon a brief moleben to Saint Nicholas was served at which our parishioners and their families, together with others who have asked for our prayers, were commemorated by name. After the dismissal, the rector congratulated parish Warden Nikolai Goura and Parish Council member Nicholas (Dean) Crawford, both of whom were celebrating their name-day. He thanked them both for their work for the parish and wishing them every blessing from God. Many years was then sung for them both, after which those present enjoyed a festive meal in the church hall.
On Saturday 9 December and Sunday 10 December we had services for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the "Directress" of the Russian Diaspora. At Matins on Saturday evening the faithful were anointed with oil from the lamp that burns before the original Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God in the Synodal Cathedral in New York, and prior to Divine Liturgy on Sunday an akathist was read in Slavonic and English before a copy of the icon. As Sunday was the six-month anniversary of the repose of our parishioner Vadim ("Jim") Zdanowicz a memorial litia was served after Divine Liturgy. Later in the day our parish rector visited the Russian and other Orthodox Kids' Camp being held in Toukley on the New South Wales Central Coast, there serving the customary moleben before the beginning of a good work.
Our December 2017 parish newsletter was published on 10 December 2017. It includes parish news for August-December, information about the month ahead, and the Epistle of the Holy Council of Bishops to the Clergy, Monks and Nuns and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church in both Russian and English. To read it click here. Copies are available in church and will be distributed together with the Summer 2017-18 Schedule of Services by post and email during the week beginning 11 December 2017.
In conjunction with Saint Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Church, Gosford, our parish has developed and published an explanation of the legal and church requirements for marriage in parishes of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. This information has now been comprehensively revised and updated to reflect the adoption by the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of the document ‘On the Canonical Aspects of Church Marriage’ (‘О канонических аспектах церковного брака’) on 2 December 2017 and the commencement of amendments to the Australian Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) on 9 December 2017. It includes an explanation of why weddings cannot be celebrated on certain days and dates and during certain seasons, and provides a helpful list of Sundays and Fridays on which weddings can be celebrated that has now been updated to include Sundays and Fridays in 2019. The information can be accessed here. Should anyone have any questions about this information, please contact us.
On Sunday 3 December and Monday 4 December we had services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. 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. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy the parish rector explained the history and significance of the feast and spoke of the importance of each Orthodox Christian being filled and formed by the life of the Church in order to worthily receive Christ.
On Saturday 25 November and Sunday 26 November we had services for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (+407 AD). In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the immense influence of Saint John on the life of the Holy Orthodox Church and about his personal example to each Orthodox Christian: ascetic struggle, a love for the Holy Scriptures, care for the poor, a willingness to stand up to the elites of this world, and an unshakeable commitment to the purity of the Orthodox faith. Following Divine Liturgy a memorial litia was served for the ever-memorable servants of God Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesenky), third First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (+21 November 1985); Archpriest John Lupish, the founder of our parish (+22 November 1977); and the Russian heroes of the White Movement who, fleeing the Bolshevik yoke, arrived in Gallipoli on 22 November 1920. A collection was then taken up to aid the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outisde Russia, raising $190.00.
Our Summer 2017-18 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2017-18 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2016-17 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 Saturday 25 November.
On Tuesday 21 November and Wednesday 22 November we had services in prayerful remembrance of the fortieth anniversary of the repose of the ever-memorable founder of our parish, Archpriest John Lupish. A Great Pannikhida or “parastas” was served on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, the anniversary of Father John’s repose in 1977, Divine Liturgy for the departed was served. Following a memorial litia and the blessing of koliva at the end of Divine Liturgy, our rector spoke briefly about Father John’s simple and steadfast service over twenty-five years in the parish and of the importance of remembering our leaders, those who have spoken the word of God to us (Hebrews 13:7). Gathered in church were family members including Father John’s two sons Subdeacon Vitaly Lupish and John Lupish and his youngest grand-daughter Elizabeth; former parishioners of Father John’s; and a small number of our current parishioners. Over lunch in the church hall Father John’s sons spoke movingly about his courage, his humility, his kindness, and his willingness to endure difficulty for the sake of others. After lunch a graveside pannikhida was served at Sandgate Cemetery. May Father John’s memory be eternal!
On Sunday 12 November the parish rector baptised the infant Sofiya, the second daughter of Adam and Evgeniya Hockley and a younger sister to Anastasia. Sofiya was baptised in honour of the Martyr Sofiya of Rome and had as her sponsor Anastasia Rotsey. We warmly congratulate Adam, Evgeniya and Anastasia and wish the newly-illumined handmaiden of God Sofiya many years!
On Saturday 11 November and Sunday 12 November we had services for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Hieromartyr Zenobius, bishop of Aegae in Cilicia, and his sister Martyr Zenobia (+285 AD). In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday, parish rector Archpriest James Carles explained that the persecuting judge had offered Zenobius two choices: “Life and death – life if you bow down before the gods, and death if you do not”. Zenobius’ reply, he said, had been that “Life without Christ is not life, but death; and death for Christ’s sake is not death, but life”, and so the courageous brother and sister had been tortured and put to death. Referring to the current debate in Australia around religious freedom Father James commended to the faithful the example of the martyrs and confessors, noting that a lack of religious freedom in earlier times had not prevented them from confessing Christ. Following the service parish Warden Nikolai Goura and Head Sister Anna Morhun congratulated Father James on his recent name-day – the day of commemoration of the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, on 5 November – presenting him with a gift on behalf of the parish and wishing him continued good health.
Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday 22 October Bishop George of Canberra presented awards to five of our parishoners. Nikolai Goura and Eugenia Millard were presented with parish Certificates of Appreciation and Subdeacon Vitaly Lupish, Irene Lupish and Anna Morhun were presented with the prestigious Diocesan Cross. Nikolai Goura received his award for his significant contribution over many years to the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in Newcastle and his twelve years of faithful service as the Warden of our parish, and Eugenia Millard was recognised for her work in our parish and in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Theophany in Mayfield, NSW. It was particularly noted on Eugenia's certificate that she has been exemplary in her devotion to both parishes; her fundraising; her care for the beauty and cleanliness of the church; and her faithful service as a reader and chorister. The Diocesan Crosses - the first awarded in our parish - were bestowed on the recipients in recognition of their distinguished service to the parish and the wider Russian Orthodox Church for over fifty years. We warmly congratulate Nikolai, Eugenia, Subdeacon Vitaly, Irene and Anna, and wish them every blessing in this life and in the age to come.
On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October we had services for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Apostle James, son of Alphaeus (+1st Century AD) and the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. To the great joy of our parish, Bishop George of Canberra presided at Divine Liturgy on Sunday. At the end of Divine Liturgy special prayers were again offered, in the context of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, for God's mercy and forgiveness, for the defeat of all impiety, and for the strengthening of lawful and blessed marriage. In his sermon Bishop George spoke about the raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-16), the power of prayer to change the course of our lives, and of the particular need for prayer given the contemporary attacks in Australia and throughout the Western world on Christian culture and tradition. Following the service a number of parish and Diocesan awards were presented, after which all gathered in the church hall for a festive lunch. Joining us for lunch was Father Dalibor Pavlovic, the rector of Saint Naum of Ohrid Serbian Orthodox Church in Broadmeadow, a number of his parishioners, guests from Sydney, and visitors from abroad. During the meal the parish rector welcomed Bishop George, thanking him for his pastoral attention and for his words of instruction and encouragement. He also welcomed the visitors and congratulated the recipients of the awards, praising their example of service to the parish.
On Friday 13 October and Saturday 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 in 1949. Because of this 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 to the Mother of God served on the day of the feast itself. Following the moleben the parish rector, congratulating the faithful on the feast, spoke briefly about the origin of the commemoration and of the many examples of the protection of nations, cities and individuals through the prayers of the Mother of God. Set in the middle of the church for veneration was the parish icon of the Mother of God, "Protectress of Newcastle".
This year our Diocese will hold its seventh annual Orthodox Teen Retreat. Established in 2011, our Diocesan Teen Retreats cater for young people aged 14-17. This year’s Teen Retreat will be held to the south of Sydney at Stanwell Tops from Sunday 17 December until Friday 22 December. The programme will include services on 18-19 December for the commemoration of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia. For more information visit www.rocorteenretreat.info.
On Sunday 8 October our parish held its 2017 Annual General Meeting. The 2017 Annual Report was presented and accepted and a draft 2017-18 budget was considered. Nikolai Goura was elected Warden for a further three-year term. Anna Morhun, Irene Lupish, Anu Kinnunen, Lucea Szabunia, Olga Bogacheva and Dean Crawford were again elected to the Parish Council, and Matushka Marie Carles and Olga Bogacheva were reappointed to the role of Child Safety Contact Persons.
On Saturday 7 October and Sunday 8 October we had services for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of one of the most beloved of Russian saints, Venerable Sergius the Abbot and Wonderworker of Radonezh (+1392). In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector referred to the words of Saint Sergius: “If you want to serve God, prepare your heart not for food, not for drink, not for rest, not for ease, but for suffering, so that you may endure all temptations, trouble and sorrow. Prepare for severities, fasts, spiritual struggles and many afflictions, for “by many afflictions is it appointed to us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Acts 14:22)”. At the end of the Sunday service special prayers were again offered for God's mercy and forgiveness, for the defeat of all impiety, and for the strengthening of lawful and blessed marriage, and the final announcement concerning the parish Annual General Meeting was made.
On Saturday 23 September and Sunday 24 September we had services for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, the Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and in honour of Venerable Theodora of Alexandria (+c.480 AD). As it was also the day of commemoration of Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam, Venerable Euphrosynus the Cook of Alexandria (+9th Century), and Venerable Silouan of Mount Athos (+1938 AD), icons of these saints – including one of saints Sergius and Herman blessed on their relics – were placed in the middle of the church for veneration. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was the newly-baptised infant Ella Martinov. After the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday special prayers were again offered, in the context of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, for God's mercy and forgiveness, for the defeat of all impiety, and for the strengthening of lawful and blessed marriage. At the end of the Sunday service the parish rector welcomed Ms Sonia Hornery MP, State Member of Parliament for Wallsend, presenting her with a Certificate of Appreciation acknowledging her support for the parish and the wider Russian-speaking community. Remarking on her ten years of parliamentary service, he wished for her God’s help in her work, strength, wisdom, and consolation in difficult times. Ms Hornery was also given flowers by the parish children and a copy of the parish icon of the Mother of God, “Protectress of Newcastle”. She afterwards joined parishioners in the hall for refreshments and a presentation of Russian-language songs and poems by students from our playgroup and Russian school.
On Saturday 23 September the parish rector baptised Ella Martinov, the infant daughter of Andrew and Holly Martinov. Ella was baptised in honour of Saint Helen, Equal-to-the-Apostles. Her godparents were Julianne Strelkoff and Kane Hermann. We warmly congratulate Andrew, Holly, Julianne and Kane, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Ella many years!
On Saturday 16 September the parish rector baptised Zivah Moorhead, the infant daughter of Alexander Limareff and Tahlia Moorhead. Zivah was baptised in honour of Martyr Zevina. Her godparents were Brenden Moorhead, Maria Limareff and Maureen Moorhead. We warmly congratulate Alexander, Tahlia, Brenden, Maria, and Maureen, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Zivah many years!
On Saturday 9 September and Sunday 10 September we had services for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Venerable Job, the abbot and wonderworker of Pochaev (+1651 AD). In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the life and missionary work of Saint Job and of his particular influence on the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. In a moleben at the end of the service special prayers were offered for God's mercy and forgiveness, for the defeat of all impiety, and for the strengthening of lawful and blessed marriage. A collection was taken up to assist the Synodal Liturgical Music Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and it was announced that the parish Annual General Meeting would be held on Sunday 8 October 2017.
On Saturday 9 September the parish rector baptised Sara Corbett, the youngest daughter of Brett and Vera Corbett and a sister to Mia and Ava. Sara was baptised in honour of Righteous Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Her godparents were Anthony Kloczko and Jeanne Clarke. We warmly congratulate Brett, Vera, Anthony and Jeanne, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Sara many years!
Our 2017 parish Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held at 12.00pm on Sunday 8 October 2017. A formal Notice concerning the AGM - including the agenda and important information for parish members - is available here.
Our parishioners and friends who wish to better understand what is at stake in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey are encouraged to visit the excellent Speak up for Marriage website, an initiative of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand. A great deal of useful information can also be obtained from the Coalition for Marriage and the Marriage Alliance. In addition, a number of excellent articles concerning the challenges to religious freedom posed by a change to the definition of marriage have been written by distinguished journalist Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of national newspaper The Australian.
Withe blessing of His Grace, Bishop George of Canberra, we will offer special prayers after the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday 9 September and every Sunday from 12 September until 5 November, the term of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. These prayers will be for God's mercy and forgiveness, for the defeat of all impiety, and for the strengthening of lawful and blessed marriage. The prayers of Saints Peter and Febronia of Murom, heavenly protectors of love, faithfulness, and honourable marriage, will be particularly invoked. May God help us!
On Saturday 26 August and Sunday 27 August we had services for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, the Forefeast of the Dormition, and in honour of the Prophet Micah. In anticipation of the Great Feast of the Dormition and in accordance with a resolution of the Holy Synod, on this day our parish observed the centenary of the 1917-18 Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Council, a momentous event in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church that culminated in the restoration of the Patriarchate and the enthronement of Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin), opened in the Dormition Cathedral on the day of the feast in 1917. A moleben to the canonised participants in the Council was served following the Prayer before the Amvon and an Epistle of Patriarch Kyrill on the occasion of the centenary of the Council was read aloud in Russian in place of a sermon. A link to the English-language text of the Epistle is available here. Following the service a memorial litia was served for the other participants in the Council.
Our August 2017 parish newsletter was published on 26 August 2017. It includes parish news for July-August, information about the month ahead, an important 'Pastoral Epistle concerning Marriage', and more. To read it click here. Copies are available in church and will be distributed by post during the week beginning 28 August 2017.
Our Spring 2017 Schedule of Services - covering September, October and November - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Spring 2017 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Spring 2017 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies are available in church.
On Friday 18 August and Saturday 19 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Prior to the service on Friday a reliquary containing portions of the relics of twenty-four New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia was brought to our church, remaining with us throughout the evening and on the following day. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was then served. On Saturday morning Divine Liturgy was served, after which there was the customary blessing of apples, grapes and other fruit. A moleben was then served to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, prior to which the parish rector spoke about the life and witness of three of them in particular – Saint Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev (+1918); Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (+1925); and Saint Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol (+1961).
On Saturday 12 August and Sunday 13 August we had services for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Righteous Eudocimus (Evdokim) of Cappadocia (9th C. AD). In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the life of Saint Evdokim, his veneration in the Russian Orthodox Church as an intercessor for families, and the need for his prayers at a time when many forces threaten family life. It being the anniversary of the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop Theodosy (Putilin) (+1980), Ruling Bishop of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese from 1970-80, a memorial litia was served for him following Divine Liturgy.
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 then 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 Greta Migrant Camp at that time. Father John went on to preside at five more burials at Greta: Wsewolod (Vsevelod) Shipilow (+1949, a boy of 18 months), Larisa Klebakin (+1950), Lydia Elagin (+1956), Alexander Melnik (+1970) and Ivan Elagin (+1977). In June 2015 our parish rector 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. This year’s memorial service was held on Saturday 12 August. As in 2015 and 2016, our rector was joined by Archpriest Michael Solomko, Irene Solomko's younger brother and the President 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 2018, God willing, the memorial service will be held on Saturday 18 August.
The August 2017 issue of the official journal of the Australian-New Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is now available in our parishes. In addition to Epistle of the Council of Bishops of ROCOR in both Russian and English, there is a range of interesting articles in both languages. In Russian: "На восстановление единства Русской Церкве была воля Божия"; "К 100-летию Февральской буржуазно-демократической революции"; "Успение Пресвятой Богородицы" and more. In English: "Bishop George of Canberra visits the Eastern American Diocese"; "The opening of the relics of our Father among the Saints Mardarije, first Serbian bishop of America and Canada", "The Life of Saint Mardarije of Libertyville (+1935)"; and more. Copies are $5.00.
Under the leadership of Sophia Mikhailovna Boikov, the Sydney-based Russo-Chinese Orthodox Mission is raising funds for the construction of a church in Shonoktui, a small village in the Borzinsky district of the Zabaykalsky Krai. The Zabaykalsky Krai, or Transbaikal Territory, is a federal subject of Russia that shares borders with China and Mongolia. The church is to be dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the wonderworker of Myra in Lycia, and will be within the Chita Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. The building project has the blessing of the Diocesan authorities in Russia and the collection of funds in this Diocese has the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop George. In July 2016 a cross was blessed at the site on which the church will be constructed. Donations can be made at the candle-desk in our church, or by direct deposit to the account of the Russo-Chinese Orthodox Mission (Commonwealth Bank of Australia BSB 062-130 ACN 10484933). This is a worthy project – please give generously!
From Wednesday 27 September until Monday 2 October this year, a Russian Orthodox Sacred Music Conference will be held in Brisbane. Organised by the Diocesan Liturgical Music Committee, the conference programme will include lectures from eminent guest speakers including Archpriest Andre Papkov from Chicago, USA, intensive choral workshops and rehearsals at Saint Seraphim’s church and Saint Nicholas Cathedral, common meals, and a hierarchical All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy at the church of Our Lady of Vladimir. The cost – not including accommodation – will be $200.00 per person and $150.00 for students, with discounts available for early registration. Details of accommodation packages will be made available in due course. See also: https://www.facebook.com/ROCSingersANZ/
Our June 2017 parish newsletter was published on 23 July 2017. It includes parish news for June-July, information about the month ahead, details of the forthcoming Russian Orthodox Sacred Music Conference, and more. To read it click here. Copies are available in church and will be distributed by post during the week beginning 24 July 2017.
On Saturday 22 July and Sunday 23 July we had services for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves (+1073 AD), the founder of Russian monasticism. At Divine Liturgy the customary Prayer for Ukraine was read. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the life and monastic struggle of Venerable Anthony, the continuing importance of the monastic life, and the opportunities to practice humility and obedience when living in the world. It being a sunny winter day, the parish children played soccer together in the churchyard following the service.
On Saturday 8 July and Sunday 9 July we had services for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, one of the great spiritual treasures of the Russian Orthodox Church. Traditionally understood to be the work of the Apostle Luke, the icon was kept in Constantinople for many centuries before coming to Russia in the 1300s. Taken to the United States in 1949, it was triumphantly returned to the Tikhvin Monastery in Russia’s north in 2004. After serving a brief moleben before a copy of the icon at the end of Divine Liturgy on Sunday, the parish rector spoke about its history and the experience of Christian people receiving answer to prayers offered before it. At the end of the service prayers of blessing were read over new incense received from the Saint Elizabeth Skete in Mohawk, New York.
An article about Orthodox Christianity entitled 'Feasts and fasts: the Eastern Orthodox Church', appeared in the July 2017 edition of Aurora, the magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Written by our parish rector at the invitation of Aurora's editor, the article briefly summarises the history, beliefs and spiritual life of the Orthodox Church. The article can be read here.
On Wednesday 28 June we learned with sadness of the repose that day of one of the oldest members of our parish, Peter Latunin (b.1920). Peter's wife Antonina (+2008) was the daughter of Mitred Archpriest Mychajlo Mursa (+1966), a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. His funeral was held in our church on the afternoon of Friday 30 June, following which he was laid to rest beside his wife in Sandgate Cemetery. Speaking at the funeral, our parish rector noted that Peter was one of a remarkable generation of men and women who, having endured revolution, famine and war, made a new life in Australia whilst preserving their Orthodox Christian faith. We offer our sincere condolences to Peter's daughters Larissa and Anna and their families, and ask our parishioners and friends to remember the newly-reposed servant of God Peter in their prayers. May God grant him rest!
Our June 2017 parish newsletter - the first in nearly five years - was published on 25 June 2017. It includes parish news, the recent Epistle of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, news about Diocesan youth activities, and more. To read it click here. Copies are available in church and will be distributed by post during the week beginning 26 June 2017.
On Saturday 24 June and Sunday 25 June we had services for the Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Onuphrius the Great (+4th C. AD) and Venerable Peter of Mount Athos (+734 AD). As many of our parish founders came from Belarus, in addition to the icon of Saints Onuphrius and Peter and the other saints commemorated on this date, the parish icon of All Saints of Belorussia was placed in the centre of the church for veneration. Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday Matushka Marie helped the parish children to make candles for home use by recycling the stumps from our church candles.
On Saturday 10 June we learned with sadness of the repose of our parishioner Vadim (“Jim”) Zdanowicz. Jim arrived in Australia at the age of 10 in 1949 and had a long involvement in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in New South Wales - his father, Gennady Ivanovich Zdanowicz, was a key figure in the early life of the Diocese who served as Warden of both Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Strathfield, and the Church of All Saints of Russia, Croydon. Jim prepared himself carefully for the end of his life, receiving Holy Communion for the last time just a few hours before his repose. Our parish rector presided at Jim’s funeral at the Croydon church on Thursday 15 June and at his burial afterwards alongside his parents, Gennady Ivanowich and Anna Dmitrievna, in the Russian Orthodox section of Rookwood Necropolis. Jim is survived by his wife Eleanor and his children George and Kathy, to him we offer heartfelt condolences. May his memory be eternal!
On Saturday 10 June and Sunday 11 June we had services for the Sunday of All Saints, the First Sunday after Pentecost. Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday a collection was taken up to assist the construction of a memorial church in Sremski-Karlovci, Serbia, raising $359.00.
From Friday 14 July to Monday 17 July this year, Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral will host a four-day youth symposium in honour of the Royal Martyrs of Russia. The keynote speaker at the Symposium will be His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen), retired First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America and now a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. All-night Vigil for the Royal Martyrs will begin at 10.00pm on Sunday 16 July and be followed by a midnight Divine Liturgy. More information is available at www.syezd.com.au.
On Tuesday 30 May 2017 we learned with sadness of the repose that day of 88 year-old Alma Kaiko, a long-term friend and supporter of our parish. Alma's husband of 57 years was Wlodzimierz (Walter) Kaiko (d. 2007), one of our church builders and for many years our senior altar-server, and together with him Alma did much for the benefit of Saint Nicholas'. Lutheran by faith, Alma's funeral was held at the LifeWay Lutheran Church in Broadmeadow on Wednesday 7 June with our parish rector Archpriest James Carles, Subdeacon Vitaly Lupish and his family, and Head Sister Anna Morhun in attendance. Alma was afterwards laid to rest beside her husband in Sandgate Cemetery. We offer condolences to Wlodzimierz's and Alma's children Leo, Ralph, Elizabeth and Alexander and their families, and pray that God will give rest to his departed servant.
As of 7 June 2017, our postal address will be PO Box 545 Wallsend NSW 2287. We ask our parishioners and friends to amend their records accordingly.
On Saturday 27 May and Sunday 28 May we had services for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha, the Afterfeast of the Ascension, and in honour of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the history, purpose and enduring significance of the Council. Addressing the congregation after the dismissal, he spoke further about the visit of the relics of Saint Nicholas to Russia and of the participation of Metropolitan Hilarion and other bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in the consecration of the new church dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ and to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia at Moscow's Sretensky Monastery.
On Sunday 21 May and Monday 22 May we services had for the feast-day of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra in Lycia, modern-day Turkey, to Bari in Italy. On Sunday evening All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served. As this feast-day of Saint Nicholas is the patronal feast of our parish, the customary lesser blessing of water was served early on Monday morning. It being a working day, only a small number of parishioners and friends were present. Divine Liturgy followed, and then a moleben to Saint Nicholas with a cross procession and the sprinkling of the Holy Water. Following the moleben the usual prayers were offered for the Patriarch and the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Australian and Russian lands, parish office-bearers and all present, and for our departed founders and parishioners. Congratulating the people with the feast-day, the parish rector spoke about Saint Nicholas and the help that Christians have received through his prayers over many centuries. He also noted the particular joy with which this feast-day had been prepared for in Russia this year, a portion of Saint Nicholas’ relics being due to arrive in Moscow from Bari. Following the service many of those present gathered in the church hall for a convivial feast-day lunch.
Our Winter 2017 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2017 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2017 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 Saturday 13 May and Sunday 15 May we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (John 4:5-42). In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about Christ’s mercy to the Samaritan Woman and about her response. Following Divine Liturgy a memorial litia was served for Mitred Archpriests Michael Li and Michael Klebansky, long-serving priests of our Diocese who both departed this life on 12 May 2016. It being Mothers’ Day, our Head Sister Anna Morhun then presented Matushka Marie with flowers, after which “Many Years” was sung for all the mothers of our parish.
The April 2017 issue of the official journal of the Australian-New Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is now available in our parishes. In addition to Metropolitan Hilarion's Paschal Epistle in both Russian and English, there is a range of interesting articles in Russian and English. In Russian: "Любимый ученик Христа: Апостол Иоанн Богослов"; "Подвижники Божии ХХ век: Игумен Ипполит (Халин)"; "Игуменья Тамара и паломники Елеонский горы". In English: "The Ascension of the Lord"; "Not Abdication of the Tsar, but Abdication from the Tsar", the text of a lecture given by Tatyana Mironova at the International Historical-Theological Conference at Tsarkoye Selo; an interview with Metropolitan Onuphry (Berezovsky) about the newly-reposed Archimadrite Kirill (Pavlov); and more. Copies are $5.00.
On Monday 1 May 2017 there was a meeting of the Parish Council. The usual pastoral, administrative, and financial reports were then presented and progress on parish governance, decorative and building projects was reviewed. The Parish Council is scheduled to meet next on 19 June 2017.
On Monday 24 April and Tuesday 25 April we had services for the second Tuesday of Pascha and in honour of Venerable Basil the Confessor, bishop of Parium, modern-day Kemer in Turkey. Saint Basil (+8th C. AD) was a steadfast defender of the veneration of icons. From ancient times the second Tuesday of Pascha been one on which prayers for the departed resume after Holy Week and Bright Week. Following Divine Liturgy on Tuesday morning a general memorial service was served in church. As in Australia it was Anzac Day, prayers were offered for the souls of all Orthodox soldiers who had fallen in battle. The parish rector and the faithful then proceeded to Wallsend and Sandgate Cemeteries for services by the graves of their departed relatives and friends.
On Saturday 22 April and Sunday 23 April we had services for the Second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. At All-night vigil and at Divine Liturgy the choir again sang under the direction of Matushka Marie Carles. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy, the parish rector read the Prayer at the Cutting of the Artos, pieces of which were later distributed amongst the faithful. In place of a sermon, the Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion was read aloud in Russian and in English.
This year, our parish 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 13 April, Vespers with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ at midday on Friday 14 April, Matins with Lamentations before the Tomb of Christ in the evening on Friday 14 April, and Divine Liturgy in the morning on Saturday 15 April. On Saturday evening we had an early Midnight Office and procession followed by Paschal Matins and the blessing of Easter eggs and cakes. During Bright Week, Divine Liturgy with a Paschal procession was served in the morning on Monday 17 April.
A group of young families working under the auspices of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta, NSW, is again organising a camp for Russian and other Orthodox children and young people aged 8-17 to be held in Toukley, NSW - to be held not far from us on the Central Coast - from 10 December - 16 December 2017. The cost will be $399.00 per person. For those interested, more information is available here.
On Saturday 8 April and Sunday 9 April we had services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday. On Saturday evening All-night vigil with the litia, the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine, oil, and the blessing of palms and pussy willows was served. On Sunday morning there was a great many people in church, the majority of whom received Holy Communion. After the dismissal a memorial litia was served for the newly-reposed Archdeacon Eugene Burbelo, with the parish rector speaking briefly about Father Eugene’s long and distinguished service to the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. The customary collection for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem was then taken up.
On Saturday 25 March and Sunday 26 March we had services for the Fourth Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of Saint John of the Ladder. As Saturday 25 March was a day of commemoration of the departed there was a general pannikhida prior to the service on Saturday evening. This year being the centenary of the Russian Revolution, prayers were again especially offered for "the repose of the departed servants of God who innocently died, endured suffering and torture, were exiled and imprisoned and tasted bitter death" during the harsh years of Soviet persecution. Also commemorated was the ever-memorable Emperor Paul I of Russia (+1801), it having been the anniversary of his assasination on Thursday 23 March. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday many of the faithful received Holy Communion. In Lena Gan’s absence the choir sang under the direction of Matushka Marie Carles. Following the service on Sunday the parish rector and the warden, Nikolai Goura, visited the Serbian Orthodox parish of Saint Naum of Okhrid in Broadmeadow on the occasion of the first pastoral visit to Newcastle of His Grace Bishop Siluan, Ruling Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand.
On Saturday 11 March and Sunday 12 March we had services for the Second Sunday in Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint Gregory Palamas. As Saturday 11 March was a day of commemoration of the departed there was a general pannikhida prior to the service on Saturday evening. This year being the centenary of the Russian Revolution, prayers were especially offered at this memorial service for "the repose of the departed servants of God who innocently died, endured suffering and torture, were exiled and imprisoned and tasted bitter death" during the harsh years of Soviet persecution. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on the 100th Anniversary of the Tragic Revolution in Russia and Beginning of the Godless Persecutions was read in place of a sermon. Following the service a collection was taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, raising $280.00.
On Saturday 11 March the parish rector baptised Sofia Jardine, the infant daughter of Scott and Liudmila Jardine and a baby sister to Alexander. Sofia, who was baptised in honour of the Martyr Sofia, had as her godparents Diane Jardine, William Lynch and Natalia Khyzhniak. We warmly congratulate Scott, Liudmila, Diane, William and Natalia, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Sofia many years!
In conjunction with Saint Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Church, Gosford, our parish has developed and published an explanation of the reasons why weddings cannot be celebrated on certain days and dates and during certain seasons. It incorporates a list of Sundays and Fridays on which weddings can be celebrated that has now been updated to include Sundays and Fridays in 2018. 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 25 February and Sunday 26 February we had services for Forgiveness Sunday, the final Sunday before the beginning of Great Lent. As is the practice in many parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, Vespers with rite of asking forgiveness was served immediately following Divine Liturgy. A collection was taken up to benefit Orthodox Action, raising $240.00. After the rite of asking forgiveness on Sunday many people gathered in the parish hall to enjoy pancakes prepared by the Ladies' Auxiliary.
On Friday 24 February, the Friday of Cheesfare Week (“Maslenitsa”), a pancake evening was held in our parish hall in Wallsend. This event was organised by the parish Ladies’ Auxiliary together with members of the Russian-speaking community of Newcastle and the wider Hunter region. 73 adults and 9 children were present. The ladies prepared 500 pancakes and served them with a variety of toppings, both savoury and sweet. Traditional appetisers (“zakuski”) preceded the pancakes, and dessert included pancakes with cottage cheese, “Mishka” cake, and fruit with tea. The hall was beautifully decorated with Russian items. The evening was enjoyed by all, and nearly $2,000 was raised to help the work of the Ladies’ Auxiliary. We offer thanks to those who worked so hard to make the evening a success: Elena Ferguson, Irina Lupish, Raisa Zyza, Lucy Szabunia, Dean Crawford, Olga Martin, Oksana Grim, Anna Shvetz, Magdalina Savonov, Anu Kinnunen, Lydia Vasilik, Lena Gan, Anna Kalamoutsis, Klavdia Dalheeva, Tatiana Parish, Julia Dzhalilova, Julia and Sasha Petevskih, and Julia Dulah.
Our Autumn 2017 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May 2017 - is now available in PDF format. It includes all our services for Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha, in addition to Radonitsa and our parish feast of Saint Nicholas on 22 May. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2017 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2017 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies are available in church.
On Saturday 11 February and Sunday 12 February we had services for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and in honour of the Three Hierarchs: Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. In view of the extreme temperatures expected - Wallsend was expected to reach 47 degrees celcius on Saturday! - a decision was made beforehand to have the shorter service of Vespers on Saturday evening. At the end of Divine Liturgy on Sunday three new icons for our church were blessed: All Saints of Ekaterinburg, All Saints of Ufa, and Saint Joseph the All-Comely. A memorial litia was then served in anticipation of the anniversary of the repose of the ever-memorable Archpriest Nicholas Grant - active in the life of the Diocese as a layman and clergyman for 45 years - and Archbishop Paul (Pavlov) - former Bishop of Stuttgart and Ruling Bishop of our Diocese from 1980 until 1992 - close friends who reposed on 14 February and 15 February 1995 respectively. Both Vladyka Pavel and Father Nicholas were great friends of our parish. May their memory be eternal!
On Saturday 11 February the parish rector baptised sisters Syanna (3 years old) and Sofia (3 months), the daughters of Scott Unwin and Bogdana Cankova-Unwin and sisters to Gabrielle. Their godparents were Vyara Caneva and Timothy Moss. In baptism Syanna was given the name Alexandra in honour of the Martyr Alexandra the Empress, and Sofia was baptised in honour of the Martyr Sofia. Congratulations to Scott, Bogdana, Vyara and Timothy. May God grant His newly-baptised handmaidens Alexandra and Sofia many years!
On the evening of Sunday 28 May 2017 a fundraising dinner will be held at the Fontana Amarosa Reception Centre, next to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Liverpool, NSW, to assist the Presentation Sisterhood in Bungarby, NSW and the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Bombala, NSW, monastic communities of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. During the evening there will be a performance by the Melisma Ensemble, a slideshow presentation by Abbot Sergei of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery on ‘Hagia Sophia: The Mother of Churches’, and a performance from the Russian Orthodox Choir. Child-minding will be available. Tickets are $50.00 for adults and $15.00 for children aged 15 and younger. Seating will be at round tables of 12. More information, including information about a fundraising raffle, is available at https://cabrapokrov.org/fundraising-for-monasteries.
On Thurday 26 January, the Australia Day public holiday, our parish had the great honour of receving a visit from the miraculous myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God, "Softener of Evil Hearts". Having visited the Gosford parish earlier in the day, the icon arrived in Wallsend soon after 2.00pm. Gathered in church to welcome the icon were many of our parishioners, together with members of the Serbian and Romanian Orthodox communities in Newcastle. A moleben with an akathist was served before the icon, with the sections of the akathist to the Mother of God read alternately in Slavonic and English and all those present commemorated by name. The parish rector thanked the custodian of the icon, Sergei Fomin, for bringing it to Australia from Moscow, and spoke of the importance in these times of spiritual, social and military conflict of softness of heart. The faithful then venerated the icon and were anointed with the holy oil. Although the visit of the icon was brief, the service before it was uplifting for all those present. Glory be to God! For those wishing to learn more about the icon, information is available in English here and in Russian here. The icon's schedule for the remainder of its time in Australia is available here. The final service will be an akathist at 7.00pm on Tuesday 7 February 2017 at Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral, Strathfield, at which Bishop George and the clergy of the Greater Sydney region will concelebrate.
On Saturday 21 January and Sunday 22 January we had services for the Thirty-First Sunday after Pentecost and the day of commemoration of Hieromartyr Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (+1569). It being also the Sunday after Theophany, following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday a brief moleben was served for the founders, parishioners and benefactors of the former Theophany church, a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate that functioned in Mayfield, Newcastle, from 1994-2009. After the Dismissal the parish rector spoke of the good work done by the Theophany parish during the fifteen years of its existence - of the prayers offered and the good works accomplished there - and congratulated all those former parishioners present. He then served a memorial litia for the departed members of that community.
On Tuesday 17 January and Wednesday 18 January we had services for the Eve of Theophany, the Great Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Matins was served on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday morning - a day on which the temperature in Newcastle exceeded 40 degrees celcius! - Vespers with the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great was served together with the Great Blessing of Water. At Vespers, many of those present assisted with the thirteen appointed readings from the Old Testament. As is common at this time of year, were joined for the service on Wednesday by friends from Sydney holidaying in the region.
On Saturday 8 January, the Second Day of the Nativity of Christ, we had Divine Liturgy for the Synaxis of the Most-Holy Mother of God and in honour of Saints Joseph the Betrothed, David the King and James the Brother of the Lord, kinsmen of the Lord customarily remembered on the Sunday after the Nativity of Christ. Our choir sung under the direction of Elena Gan. In place of a sermon, the parish rector read aloud in Russian and in English the Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. Many stayed afterwards to share in a festive meal and to enjoy a visit from Father Christmas.