Updated 17 January 2023: The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and the public health measures implemented to manage it have together had a profound impact on life around the world. Our parish, our Diocese, and the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole have not been exempt from this.
As Orthodox Christians have done during the many other outbreaks of contagious illness – epidemics and pandemics – throughout history, our parish has offered prayers for God’s mercy, for deliverance from sickness, for the pacification of troubles, and for the strengthening of the faithful with hope. As of January 2023, we are continuing to offer these prayers.
Attending to the wise guidance of Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral, +16 May 2022), First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and Ruling Bishop of our Australian-New Zealand Diocese at the commencement of the pandemic, we took the COVID-19 public health risk seriously and complied with the precautionary measures mandated by the civil authorities in our state of New South Wales. These measures included closure of our church for a period of time and then, when our church reopened, limits on the number of people present and on singing, registration of attendance to assist with contact tracing, and the wearing of facemasks. Despite opposition within both the Diocese and our parish, we offered obedience to these restrictions with the understanding that, as Metropolitan Hilarion noted, they had been put in place for our benefit.
We also maintained several simple sanitary measures at parish level. The customary form of receiving Holy Communion remained unchanged. In July 2020 we prepared a COVID-19 Safety Plan and registered as a COVID-safe place of worship. In 2021, our parish rector accepted vaccination in order to be able to visit hospitals and nursing homes, particularly for end-of-life care. His decision to do so proved to be of help to the faithful both within our parish and beyond it.
This page was added to our website in March 2020. During 2020 and 2021 it was updated regularly. At various times it presented statements and guidance from the higher church authorities and other church figures and organisations, public health information, a selection of prayers, and links to streamed liturgical services from other parishes. The information provided was carefully selected from authoritative sources so as to provide reliable and helpful material that did not confuse or distress the faithful.
In 2021 Holy Trinity Seminary Press published The History of the Russian Church in Australia: From Siberia in Sydney (Jordanville, New York), an updated second edition of Father Michael Protopopov’s 2006 book, A Russian Presence: A History of the Russian Orthodox Church in Australia (Piscataway, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2006). In his 2021 book, Father Michael offered some preliminary comments on the impact of the pandemic on the life of the Diocese, focusing almost entirely on the perceived severity of public health orders. No attention was given to the willingness of the faithful to accept these restrictions for the sake of their own health or that of others, or to the history of the Russian Orthodox Church engaging constructively with campaigns for vaccination. These are important matters that await fuller consideration by our hierarchs, theologians and church historians.
In October 2022 our Twentieth Diocesan Assembly passed a resolution it which it was acknowledged that “the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it of the civil authorities has affected every aspect of life, church life included, and has also been a cause of confusion and division amongst our clergy and faithful”. It went on to declare a commitment to the healing of divisions within the Diocese, stating that “as Australia and New Zealand emerge from the pandemic, we are determined to reinvigorate church life and to gather to ourselves those who, for various reasons, have drifted away.” Our parish is fully committed to the overcoming of this confusion and division, and to the hoped-for reinvigoration of church life.
30 June 2021: Святейший Патриарх Кирилл благословил усилить в московских и ставропигиальных храмах меры по профилактике распространения коронавирусной инфекции
20 May 2021: Итоговый документ круглого стола «Вакцинация: этические аспекты в свете православного вероучения»
30 April 2021: Paschal Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
18 February 2021: Archpastoral Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, to the Clergy and Flock of the Eastern American and Australian-New Zealand Dioceses
4 January 2021: Nativity Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
18 November 2020: Jubilee Epistle of His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad
25 August 2020: Message of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to the episcopate, clergy, monastics and laity on the invasion of a harmful infection this year
3 May 2020: Послание Святейшего Патриарха Кирилла в Неделю 3-ю по Пасхе, святых жен-мироносиц
27 April 2020: Распоряжение Святейшего Патриарха Кирилла об ответственности за несоблюдение указаний, направленных на ограничение распространения коронавирусной инфекции
27 April 2020: Заявление Рабочей группы по координации деятельности церковных учреждений в условиях распространения коронавирусной инфекции
6 April 2020: Encyclical Letter of Metropolitan Hilarion concerning compliance with public health measures:
3 April 2020: Patriarchal Epistle to the Reverend Archpastors, clergy, monastics and lay people of Dioceses in Russia:
1 April 2020: Appeal of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia to the God-Loving Flock, in Connection with the Coronavirus Pandemic:
20 March 2020: A decree of the extraordinary conference of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia:
17 March 2020: Инструкция настоятелям приходов и подворий, игуменам и игумениям монастырей Московской епархии в связи c угрозой распространения коронавирусной инфекции:
12 March 2020: The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church issues a statement on the Coronavirus situation:
New South Wales Government information about COVID-19:
Australian Government information about COVID-19:
Updated 7 August 2021: The petitions and prayer in Slavonic and English that we are now using at Divine Liturgy can be accessed here: https://www.eadiocese.org/files/resources/liturgical/augmented/PestilencePetitions.pdf
The following prayer in Slavonic and English was used until December 2020:
A Prayer in Time of Epidemic
O Lord, our God, look down from Thy Holy Heaven on the supplication of us, Thy sinful and unworthy servants, who have angered Thy graciousness by our transgressions, and have provoked Thy deep compassion, and enter not into judgement with Thy servants. But do Thou turn aside Thy fearsome anger that justly has seized us, appease the destructive threatening, avert Thy terrible sword that, although invisible, is cutting us grievously, and spare Thy poor and needy servants. Enclose not with death the souls of us who have fallen down in repentance with broken hearts and tears before Thee, our kindhearted, condescending and accommodating God. For Thine it is to show mercy and to save, O our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Молитвы во время смертносныя заразы
Господи Боже наш, призри с высоты святыя Твоея на молитву нас грешных и недостойных рабов Твоих, беззаконьми нашими Твою благость прогневавших, и милосердие Твое раздраживших, и не вниди в суд с рабами Твоими, но отврати страшный гнев Твой праведно на нас движимый, утоли губительное прещение, устави грозный Твой меч, невидимо безвременно секущий нас, и пощади нищих и убогих рабов Твоих, и не затвори в смерти души наша, в покаянии сокрушенным сердцем и со слезами к Тебе, Милосердому, Благоуветливому, и Благопременительному Богу нашему припадающих. Твое бо есть еже миловати и спасати нас, Боже наш, и Тебе славу возсылаем, Отцу и Сыну и Святому Духу, ныне и присно и во веки веков. Аминь.
They, and the following prayer, may also be used at home:
A Prayer for Protection from the Coronavirus composed by Patriarch Daniel of Romania
Lord, our God, You who are rich in mercy, and with careful wisdom direct our lives, listen to our prayer, receive our repentance for our sins, bring an end to this new infectious disease, this new epidemic, just as You averted the punishment of Your people in the time of King David. You Who are the Physician of our souls and bodies, grant restored health to those who have been seized by this illness, raising them from their bed of suffering, so that they may glorify You, O Merciful Saviour, and preserve in health those who have not been infected. Lord, bless, strengthen and preserve, all those who out of love and sacrifice care for the sick in their homes or in the hospitals. Remove all sickness and suffering from Your people, and teach us to value life and health as gifts from You. Give us Your peace, O God, and fill our hearts with unflinching faith in Your protection, hope in Your help, and love for You and our neighbour. For Yours it is to have mercy on us and save us, O our God, and to You we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
And this prayer may be offered for medical workers:
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Lover of Mankind, Physician of our souls and bodies, who didst bear the pain of our infirmities, and by whose wounds we are healed; Who gave sight to the man born blind; Who straightened the woman who was bent over for eighteen years; Who gave speech and sight to the mute demoniac; Who not only forgave the paralytic his sins, but healed him to walk; Who restored the withered hand of a troubled man; Who stopped the flow of blood of her who bled for twelve years; Who raised Jairus’ daughter to life; And brought the four-day-dead Lazarus to life; And who heals every infirmity under the sun: Do now, O Lord, grant Thy grace to all those here gathered who have laboured and studied hour upon hour, to go into all the world, and to heal by the talent Thou hast given to each of them. Strengthen them, by Thy strength, to fear no evil or disease. Enlighten them to do no evil by the works of their hands, and preserve them and those they serve in peace, for Thou art our God, and we know no other, and to Thee we ascribe glory together with Thy Father who is from everlasting, and Thy most Holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.