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A General Service of Anointing with Oil (Holy Unction) - 14/04/2024

On the evening of Sunday 14 April we had a General Service of Anointing with Oil.  Twenty-five 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.

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A ROCOR Fund for Assistance appeal to the Australian-New Zealand Diocese - 07/04/2024

The Fund for Assistance (FFA) to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia has issued a Great Lent 2024 Appeal to the Faithful of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese.  The appeal has been made with support for needy clergy particularly in mind, and an undertaking that any donations made will be matched up until a target of US$10,000 is reached.  Donations can be made via the FFA website here.  Questions about the appeal can be asked here.

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The baptism of an adult convert to Orthodoxy - 07/04/2024

On Saturday 6 April, the eve of the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, the parish rector baptised an adult convert to Orthodoxy, Howard Trott.  In baptism Howard, who has been a regular worshipper at our parish for some time and is also a member of the Mid North Coast Mission, took the name Thaddeus in honour of Apostle Thaddeus.  Thaddeus had as his sponsor Gregory Alexandrovsky.  Afterwards, parishioners and friends gathered in the church hall for a festive afternoon tea.  We warmly congratulate the newly-baptised servant of God Thaddeus, wishing him good health, every blessing from above, and many years!

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Services on 6-7 April, the Third Sunday of Great Lent and the Great Feast of the Annunciation - 07/04/2024

On Saturday 6 April and Sunday 7 April we had services for the Third Sunday of Great Lent and the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God.  All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil, and five loaves was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served on Sunday morning.  At both services the parish rector was assisted by Deacon Michal Matys.  At Divine Liturgy the choir was conducted by Nikolai Morozoff.  Our church was full on Sunday morning, with visitors from the Central Coast and from the Serbian Orthodox parish in Broadmeadow joining our regular congregation.  Many took the opportunity to confess and receive Holy Communion.  Prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land, and the newly-baptised Thaddeus (Howard) Trott received Holy Communion for the first time.  Following the dismissal at Divine Liturgy all venerated the Precious and Life-giving Cross of our Lord.

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A service at Saint Symeon of Verkhoturye Orthodox Mission on the NSW Mid North Coast - 31/03/2024

On Sunday 31 March our parish rector visited Saint Symeon of Verkhoturye Orthodox Mission on the NSW Mid North Coast and conducted services for the Second Sunday of Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica  (+1359 AD).  The services were held the Wauchope Community Arts Hall, the Mission’s Port Macquarie-Hastings region “home” since April 2023.  The Hours and Divine Liturgy  were served on Sunday morning, with many of those present confessing and receiving Holy Communion.  At these services some new items were used for the first time: a portable altar table and table of preparation made by Michael Sokolsky, and a number of folding wooden icon stands made by Mission member Howard Trott.  As Saturday 30 March had been a day of commemoration of the departed, a memorial litia was served following Divine Liturgy.  All present stayed for a common meal afterwards. 

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Diocesan-wide collection for the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, NY - 23/03/2024

Each year on the First Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, parishes of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia take up a collection to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York. The Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary has for over seventy-five years been the main institution of higher education in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.  This collection provides financial assistance to students, covering tuition, room, and board.  As we don’t always have a service on the day of the collection and as in the post-COVID world people carry less cash, our parish now simply makes a donation from parish funds towards this collection.  Those who wish to make a direct donation to the Seminary may do so here.

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Save the date: Monday 6 May, Bright Monday and the day of commemoration of Saint George - 19/03/2024

This year Bright Monday, the second day of Pascha, will fall on 6 May, the day of commemoration of the Holy Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George.  The clergy of the Greater Sydney region have been asked to not schedule services in their own parishes on this day, but rather to celebrate Divine Liturgy together with Bishop George on the occasion of his name-day.  Divine Liturgy will be served at Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral in Strathfield on Monday morning – the time and any other relevant information will be shared as soon as it is known.  The faithful who wish to do so may also attend this service.

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Orthodox religious instruction for inquirers, catechumens, and the faithful - 17/03/2024

With Bishop George's blessing, from late May 2024 the English-language Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church, a parish of our Diocese in Brisbane, will be offering an online course of religious instruction in Orthodox theology and practice.  This course consists of 17 sessions, each comprising an online video (which can be watched at each participant's convenience), a revision task, and an interactive Q&A session via Zoom on Sunday evenings.  The course is suitable for inquirers, catechumens (i.e. those preparing for baptism), and those who are already Orthodox Christians.  The first Zoom session will be held on Sunday 26 May, with the course scheduled to finish in October 2024.  For more information please visit: HolyAnnunciation.net/Catechism.  To enrol, please visit: https://forms.gle/ce5DDCFxRitzuoAz6.

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The Great Lenten Epistle of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad - 17/03/2024

Metropolitan Nicholas writes: “Great Lent is approaching – a time set aside for delving into ourselves, for examining our lives, for repentance and correction. Great Lent is not only a time to refrain from certain types of food; it is a time for asceticism of the mind and senses, when we abstain from impure thoughts, separate ourselves from our habitual sins, entertainments, and harmful routines, when we fast, as St. John Chrysostom says, "with the mouth, the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies."  His letter can be read in full in English here and in Russian here.

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The appointment of new Child Safety Contact Persons - 17/03/2024

On Saturday 16 March 2024 the parish rector appointed Olga Bogacheva, Matushka Marie Carles, and James Savage to be the new Child Safety Contact Persons for our parish.  By virtue of their appointment, the Child Safety Contact Persons also become members of the parish Pastoral Council.  The Pastoral Council, which is comprised of the rector and other parish clergy, the Child Safety Contact Persons, and other persons with knowledge or experience relevant to child participation and safety, supports child-related work in our parish.  More information concerning child safety in our parish is available here.

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Services on 16-17 March, the Sunday of Forgiveness - 17/03/2024

On Saturday 16 March and Sunday 17 March we had services for the Sunday of Forgiveness, the final preparatory Sunday for Great Lent.  Matins was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served on Sunday morning.  At Divine Liturgy prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land.  In his sermon at Divine Liturgy, the parish rector spoke about the key themes of the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel (Matthew 6:14-21): forgiving one another if we hope for God’s forgiveness, fasting joyfully, and storing up treasure in heaven. Vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness was served immediately after Divine Liturgy.  At the Sunday services the parish rector was assisted by Deacon Michal Matys.

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Services on 2-3 March, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son - 03/03/2024

On Saturday 2 March and Sunday 3 March we had services for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the second preparatory Sunday for Great Lent.  Matins was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served at on Sunday morning.  At Divine Liturgy prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land.  In his sermon at Divine Liturgy, the parish rector spoke about the Parable of the Prodigal Son and preparation for Great Lent.

 

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The February 2024 meeting of the Parish Council - 27/02/2024

On the evening of Tuesday 27 February the Parish Council met by videoconference.  This was the second meeting of the Parish Council elected in December 2023.  The minutes of the January 2024 meeting were ratified, and the parish rector presented his usual report covering parish and Diocesan life, Orthodox life in Newcastle, and his own pastoral activity.  Brief reports were also presented by the Warden, the Treasurer, and the Head Sister.  Arrangements for a pancake evening on Friday 8 March, cashless payments in church, and waste disposal were discussed.  Importantly, a decision was made to formally engage a Central Coast-based firm, Beyond Space Residential Design, to develop a plan and undertake preparatory work for much-needed improvements to our church, amenities, hall, and grounds.  The Parish Council will next meet late in March 2024, again by videoconference.

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Our Autumn 2024 Schedule of Services - 25/02/2024

Our Autumn 2024 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May 2024 - is now available in digital format.  It includes all our services for Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha.  Our parishioners and friends are reminded that during Autumn 2024 we will have services on the first and third Sundays of each month and on other days as scheduled; we will return to our usual pattern of services on the second and fourth Sundays of each month during Winter 2024.  A copy of the English-language Autumn 2024 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2024 Schedule of Services is available here.  Printed copies are available in church as of the weekend of 24-25 February.

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Services on 24-25 February, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee - 25/02/2024

On Saturday 24 February and Sunday 25 February we had services for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the first preparatory Sunday for Great Lent.  Matins was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served on Sunday morning.  At Divine Liturgy the parish rector was assisted by Deacon Michal Matys and prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land.  In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14), noting in particular a verse from the Matins canon: “Let us make haste to follow the Pharisee in his virtues and to emulate the Publican in his humility. And let us hate what is wrong in each of them: foolish pride and the defilement of transgressions.”

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A Pastoral Conference of the Australian New-Zealand Diocese - 21/02/2024

On Tuesday 2 April and Wednesday 3 April, the clergy of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese will gather in Sydney for their customary Great Lenten Pastoral Conference.  On Tuesday 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 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.  Those of the faithful who have the opportunity to do so are encouraged to attend the service on Wednesday morning – smaller parishes like ours do not customarily have the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.  Those who wish to do so may – if properly prepared – receive Holy Communion.  Following Divine Liturgy the clergy will meet in the parish hall at Strathfield for lunch; to hear a number of short talks; and to discuss pastoral, liturgical and administrative matters.

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Services on 10-11 February, the Thirty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - 11/02/2024

On Saturday 10 February and Sunday 11 February we had services for the Thirty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of All Saints of Ekaterinburg, amongst whom are the Royal Martyrs of Russia and Venerable Symeon of Verkhoturye, the heavenly protector of our North Coast Mission.  Matins was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served on Sunday morning. At both services the parish rector served alone, Deacon Michal Matys having been invited to serve at the Cabramatta parish on the occasion of Bishop George’s visit.  At Divine Liturgy prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land.

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Services on 27-28 January, the Thirty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost - 28/01/2024

On Saturday 27 January and Sunday 28 January we had services for the Thirty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Venerable Paul of Thebes (+341 AD) and Venerable John Calabytes the Hut-dweller (+Fifth Cent.AD).  Matins was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served on Sunday morning.  At both services the parish rector served alone.  At Divine Liturgy prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land.  In his sermon the parish rector spoke about Saint Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, the rules for Christian living set out in it, and the examples of Christian living provided by Saints Paul and John, the saints commemorated on this day.

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2024 - The year ahead - 23/01/2024

In 2024 we will celebrate a number of major anniversaries in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Hunter Valley – 75 years since the first Russian Orthodox service on the Great Feast of the Dormition in Greta in 1949; 60 years since the consecration of our current church of Saint Nicholas; 30 years since the establishment of the Theophany parish in Mayfield, and 15 years since its closure; 40 years of service as a reader and subdeacon by Vitaly Lupish; and 20 years of service as a reader and subdeacon by Luke Goura.  We plan to mark these anniversaries with a hierarchical service and a festive lunch.  An important priority this year will be the finalisation and implementation of a ‘Master Plan’ for improvements to our church and grounds – our church porches need reconstruction, and we hope to improve our outside toilet facilities and lay better paving.  We will continue to support people visiting our parish with a desire to learn more about Orthodox Christianity.  This year new arrangements for the celebration of Pascha will commence – the midnight service will now alternate between the Gosford and Wallsend parishes from year to year, beginning with Wallsend.

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The January 2024 meeting of the Parish Council - 23/01/2024

On the evening of Tuesday 23 January the Parish Council met by videoconference.  This was the first meeting of the Parish Council elected in December 2023.  The minutes of the November 2023 meeting were ratified and the parish rector presented his usual report on parish life.  Office-bearers were reappointed to their roles and plans for the year ahead were reviewed and endorsed.  Plans were made to meet with an architectural firm in February 2024 to discuss improvements to our church, hall, and grounds.  The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 27 February 2024, again by videoconference.

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Services on 18-19 January, the Great Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany) - 19/01/2024

On Thursday 18 January and Friday 19 January we had services for the Great Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany).  All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Thursday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy with the Great Blessing of Water was served on Friday morning.  At both services the parish rector was assisted by Deacon Michal Matys and at Divine Liturgy prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land. Following the blessing of water a brief moleben of thanksgiving was served for the benefits bestowed upon the faithful of Newcastle through the life and the work of the former Theophany parish (est.1994) in Mayfield, Newcastle, the remaining members of which joined our parish fifteen years ago, in 2009.  After the dismissal, ‘Eternal Memory’ was sung for the departed parishioners of the Theophany parish, and the parish rector congratulated the faithful on the occasion of the feast.  Some photographs taken on Friday morning can be viewed on the parish Facebook page.

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Services on 13-14 January, the Thirty-Second Sunday after Pentecost - 14/01/2024

On Saturday 13 January and Sunday 14 January we had services for the Thirty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday before Theophany, the day of commemoration of the Circumcision of the Lord, and in honour of Saint Basil the Great (+379 AD).  Matins was served on Saturday evening and the Hours and Divine Liturgy were served on Sunday evening. At both services the parish rector was assisted by Deacon Michal Matys and prayers were offered for peace in Ukraine and peace in the Holy Land.  At Divine Liturgy we were joined by friends from the Central Coast, Sydney, and the Serbian Orthodox parish in Broadmeadow.  These were our first services for 2024.

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2024 - The year ahead for the Mid North Coast Mission - 10/01/2024

In 2024 we hope to have services in the Port Macquarie area on 31 March (the Second Sunday in Great Lent) and 29 September (the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost) and in the Coffs Harbour area on 30 June (the First Sunday after Pentecost) and 29 December (the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers).  Our plans for this year involve acquisition of a number of items: a portable altar table and table of preparation; folding icon stands that are easier to store and move; a ‘pop-up’ iconostasis to give a better sense of church space in the secular halls that we are using for services; and candle stands that use sand and so are easier to clean.  We expect Howard Trott to be baptised in the first half of the year.  We will continue to grow our community and to gain the experience and resources necessary for more regular services.  Please keep us in your prayers!

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