At the request of Bishop George of Canberra, Administrator of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Australian parishes of our diocese will on Sunday 19 September serve the “Moleben sung in time of devastating epidemic and death bearing pestilence”. Noting “the turmoil in our country at the present time”, Bishop George has asked that the moleben be served after Divine Liturgy “so that God may have mercy on us and grant us peace and health”. As our church in Wallsend remains closed for public services the moleben will not be served in our parish. May our merciful God nevertheless deliver us from sickness, death, and strife amongst His people!
On Tuesday 31 August the Parish Council met by teleconference. The usual reports on parish life and finances were tabled and discussed. Our parish rector reported that a new seven-branched lampstand had been purchased for the sanctuary and that a new candle-stand had been purchased for placement before our icon of the Mother of God, "All Creation Rejoices in Thee". An update was given on ongoing renovations and a number of proposed improvements to the parish facilities and grounds; a decision on further work was set aside until the Parish Council can meet in person to discuss the matter. It was noted that places of worship in regional New South Wales had been closed to the public since the first week of August, and that it remained unclear when public services would again be possible. The Parish Council will meet again prior to the next public services.
In a Jubilee Epistle to the clergy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion writes: “In this special year of the 800th anniversary of the birth of the Holy Right-Believing Alexander, that wise diplomat and ruler, and the centennial of the I All-Diaspora Council – which took place from November 21 to December 2, 1921, in Sremski Karlovci – the Russian Orthodox people living in the Diaspora are called to augmented prayer, the doing of good deeds in all respects, and a private examination of the tablets of history, so that, by drawing from it much-needed strength and inspiration, they might continue in fortitude and renewal of spirit the patient bearing of their life’s cross. We celebrate anniversaries in our lives and honour the jubilee celebrant; so must we also unite ourselves in one common assembly and with great zeal confirm ourselves in Holy Orthodoxy, by no means shaming the memory of the Venerable Prince and of our ever-memorable forebears in the Diaspora, or the honour of our dear Mother – the Local Russian Orthodox Church”. The complete Jubilee Epistle can be read in Russian here and in English here.
In 2020 our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia observed the centenary of its foundation. To mark this historic anniversary, an academic conference will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, in November this year. Titled ‘Links between Times: Conclusions and Perspectives – On the Centennial of the Russian Church Abroad’, the conference has been organised by the Archive of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the website Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad. The conference will be broadcast live. A detailed program with information about registration is available here.
On Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August we had services for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils and the finding of the relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1903). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales, attendance at both services was limited to 32 people. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read and, following the Prayer before the Amvon, a brief moleben to Saint Seraphim was served. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils and of Saint Seraphim of Sarov as defenders of Orthodoxy, both intellectually and in their manner of life.
On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July we had services for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Martyrs Hilary and Proclus of Ancyra (+Second Century AD) and Venerable Michael Maleinos (+961 AD). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales, attendance at both services was limited to 32 people. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the lives and witness of the saints commemorated.
On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 July we had services for the Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Unmercenary Healers and Wonderworkers Cyrus and John (+ 412 AD). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related restrictions in New South Wales, attendance at services was limited to 32 people. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the commemorations of saints on the first three Sundays after Pentecost and of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
On Saturday 26 June and Sunday 27 June we had services for the First Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday of All Saints and the Day of Youth of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As a result of COVID-19 restrictions that took effect in New South Wales on Saturday 26 June, attendance at services was limited to 32 people. At the end of Divine Liturgy a brief moleben was served for the young people of our parish and for all ROCOR youth. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the history of the commemoration of All Saints on the First Sunday after Pentecost and of this day as the ROCOR Day of Youth.
On Saturday 12 June and Sunday 13 June we had services for the Seventh Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council and the Afterfeast of Ascension. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, prayers of blessing were read over two new sets of vestments for the altar and icon stands, one green and one blue, ordered by our Ladies' Auxiliary from the sewing workshop of Saint Elisabeth Convent in Minsk, Belarus. Prayers of blessing were also read over new icons of Martyr Natalia and Saint Nina, Equal-to-the-Apostles, gifts to our parish from the Kuleschow family. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the history and accomplishments of the First Ecumenical Council.
On Saturday 22 May and Sunday 23 May we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Paralytic. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the forty-day celebration of the Resurrection of Christ in the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church and of Christ as a compassionate God able to raise us up who are “paralysed grievously by all manner of sins and unseemly deeds” (from the kontakion for the Sunday of the Paralytic).
On Friday 21 May and Saturday 22 May we had 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 was served on Friday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. Divine Liturgy was preceded by the Lesser Blessing of Water and followed by a moleben to Saint Nicholas with a procession around the church. Praying in the altar during Divine Liturgy was Priest Theodor Postelnisescu of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Australia and New Zealand, and we were joined in church by friends from the Gosford parish. Following the services our parish rector spoke about the veneration of Saint Nicholas throughout the Christian world, thanked Father Theodor for his prayers, and congratulated all present on the patronal feast-day of the parish. A festive BBQ lunch was then held in the church hall and grounds, the first major social gathering in the parish since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our Winter 2021 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. Services of note during this period include those for Saint Seraphim of Sarov on 31 July-1 August, for the beginning of the Domition Fast and the Procession of the Wood of the Cross on 13-14 August, and for the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on 27-28 August. A copy of the English-language Winter 2021 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2021 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies in both languages will be available in church as of the weekend of 22-23 May.
On Saturday 8 May and Sunday 9 May we had services for the Second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. All-night Vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy, the Prayer at the breaking of the Artos was read. In place of a sermon, the parish rector read aloud Metropolitan Hilarion’s Paschal Epistle in Russian and in English. After the veneration of the cross, pieces of the Artos were distributed to the faithful.
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.
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.
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, 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)".
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Saturday 27 March and Sunday 28 March we had services for the Second Sunday of Great Lent. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday 27 March was a day of commemoration of the departed, Matins was preceded by a general panikhida during which prayers were offered for the ever-memorable Emperor Paul I of Russia (+23 March 1801), Metropolitan Laurus (Shkurla) (+16 March 2008), Russian Orthodox clergy victims of the coronavirus, 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 Gregory Palamas and his defence of the Orthodox Christian experience of God in prayer. On Sunday a collection was taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York.
On Saturday 21 March the Mid North Coast Orthodox community learned with sadness of the repose of Donald John (“Don”) Sleaford after a grievous illness. Don, who was born in the United Kingdom in February 1936, was received into the Orthodox Church in October 2020. On Friday 12 March, the end of his earthly course drawing near, Don received the sacraments of Anointing with Oil and Holy Communion. His funeral was served on Friday 26 March in the chapel at the Memorial Gardens in Everingham Lane, Frederickton. We offer heartfelt condolences to Don’s wife, Liubov, and to his son Paul. May God grant him rest where there is no more sickness or sorrow, but life everlasting!
On Tuesday 30 March and Wednesday 31 March many of the clergymen of our Australian-New Zealand Diocese will gather in Sydney for their customary Great Lenten Pastoral Conference. On Tuesday evening the clergy will meet at the church of All Saints of Russia, Croydon for the Rule of Preparation for Holy Communion at 5.00pm and Lenten Matins and confession at 6.00pm. On Wednesday morning from 8.00am the Hours and the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts will be served at Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral, Strathfield, with Bishop George presiding and the clergy concelebrating. Our parish rector Archpriest James Carles plans to attend. Those of the faithful who wish to do so are welcome to attend the service on Wednesday morning and – if properly prepared – to receive Holy Communion. Following Divine Liturgy the clergy will meet privately to discuss a range of pastoral, liturgical and administrative matters.
On Saturday 13 March and Sunday 14 March we had services for the Sunday of Forgiveness. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer in time of Devastating Epidemic was read and the newly-baptised infant Gabriel Golovodovski received Holy Communion for the first time. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about forgiveness, the Lenten obedience of fasting and the approach to it set out in the Holy Scriptures, and Great Lent as a time to “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). Vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness was served immediately after Divine Liturgy.
Paul I (1754-1801) was Emperor of Russia from 1796 until his assassination on 24 March 1801. Devoted to Russia and steadfast in the Orthodox faith from his childhood, he opposed the revolutionary and anti-religious currents that were then disturbing Europe. During his brief reign he improved the circumstances of peasants, serfs and soldiers, and did much to aid the education and living conditions of the Orthodox clergy. He was brutally murdered by members of the nobility and military leaders who resented his reforms. Emperor Paul’s memory having long been revered by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia has directed that prayers be offered in his memory on the Saturday closest to the two-hundred and twentieth anniversary of his assassination, Saturday 27 March. In this parish he will be commemorated at the general panikhida to be served at 5.00pm that day.
The information on this website concerning weddings in the Russian Orthodox Church has been updated to address modesty of attire and the visibility of tattoos and piercings during the wedding ceremony. The updated information can be viewed here. Any questions about this information should be directed to the parish rector.
On Saturday 27 February and Sunday 28 February we had services for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke about the willingness of our Heavenly Father to accept our repentance even though we, like the Prodigal Son, have been insolently wasteful with all that God has given us. On Sunday a collection was taken up to benefit a Diocesan charitable organisation, Orthodox Action.
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.
On 18 February 2021 Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, published an Archpastoral Epistle to the Clergy and Flock of the Eastern American and Australian-New Zealand Dioceses. The full text of the Epistle can be read in English here and in Russian here. An extract: "Dear fathers, brothers, and sisters! Bowing reverently before the memory of the above-mentioned giants of the Russian Church, let us take an interest in their lives, labors, and legacies, and let us take up the “exhausting and difficult task” of working on ourselves during the approaching Great Lent. Let us augment our prayers and reading, and take care for the doing of good deeds, taking hold of ourselves and declaring war on our sinful habits. It is truly comforting to observe how, in preparation for this salvific time, full of the most beautiful and meaningful services of the Church year, the pandemic has begun to die down, quarantine measures are being relaxed, and the normal flow of life is gradually returning. Nevertheless, I call on the rectors of the parishes and monasteries to continue to act with careful circumspection, adhering to common sense, sanitary norms, and the regulations set by local authorities, taking the recommended precautionary measures as circumstances dictate, while the order of receiving Communion should remain unchanged. Manifestations of disobedience and "zeal not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2) on these matters, as the pandemic has shown us, lead not only to outbreaks of sickness, but also to serious divisions among the people, to say nothing of every manner of other temptations. Therefore, obey readily and without complaint the directives of the Hierarchy and local governments, which in the present circumstances are being undertaken precisely for our benefit. Calling on God’s aid, let us also call on doctors and medics to offer assistance in the parishes, remembering the words of the most wise Sirach: "the Lord hath created the physician… and medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them" (Sirach 38:1,4). The great luminaries of Christ’s Church respected doctors and medical science. The Holy Hierarch Basil the Great says, “Humanity is the regular business of all you who practice as physicians… for health we are dependent on your skill” (Letter to Eustathius the Physician). In his Letter to Olympias, the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom asks for remedy for himself, and counsels others to make use of the aid of physicians and medicines".
On Saturday 13 February and Sunday 14 February we had services for the Thirty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Zaccheus Sunday; the Forefeast of the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple; and in honour of Martyr Tryphon (+250 AD). Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Prayers for deliverance from the coronavirus were offered at Divine Liturgy. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-9) as a model of repentance and on the importance of allowing the possibility of repentance in others, no matter their way of life.
On Saturday 23 January and Sunday 24 January we had services for the Thirty-Third Sunday after Pentecost and for the Sunday after Theophany. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy with the Great Blessing of Water was served on Sunday morning. Following the blessing of water a moleben with prayers of thanksgiving was served for the founders, benefactors and parishioners of the former Theophany church (1994-2009), all of whom joined our parish in 2009.
On Saturday 9 January and Sunday 10 January we had services for the Thirty-First Sunday after Pentecost and for the Sunday after the Nativity of Christ. Matins was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. In place of a sermon at Divine Liturgy, the parish rector read aloud the Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
On Tuesday 5 January, our parish rector served the funeral of 97-year-old Anna Morhun, our long serving Head Sister and a tireless worker for our church. In view of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic, the funeral was a small gathering of close family and friends. Following the service, the newly reposed Anna was laid to rest in Sandgate Cemetery beside her beloved husband Ivan (+1998).