On Wednesday 24 December we served an English-language moleben and akathist to the heavenly protector of our parish, the Great-Martyr Panteleimon. We now have two such services each month, one wholly in Church Slavonic and the other wholly in English. The next moleben and akathist – in Church Slavonic – will be at 7.00pm on Wednesday 14 January. Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, pray to God for us!
On Saturday 20 December and Sunday 21 December we had services for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Patapius of Thebes (Seventh Century AD). More people than usual were present for the Saturday evening service, and on Sunday morning our small church was full to overflowing with our regular parishioners and visitors from Sydney. Many people received Holy Communion. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the appointed Scripture readings (Colossians 1:12-18, Luke 17:12-19), emphasising the importance of giving thanks to God for material and spiritual blessings. Following the dismissal a memorial litia was served for Sophia Kfoury, the fortieth day of whose repose it was on Saturday 20 December. Nina Golovin and the Kfoury family had prepared a meal in Sophia’s memory, and many stayed to share in it and to enjoy one another’s company. A wonderful day in the life of our parish!
On 16 December 2014 we received a letter from Metropolitan Hilarion ratifying the decisions of our 2014 Annual General Meeting and invoking God's blessing on our parish. A copy of Vladyka's letter can be viewed here.
On Friday 5 December we learned with sorrow of the repose of one of our founding parishioners, Tatiana Elgin-Borodin. A small family group gathered that evening for the Office after the Departure of the Soul, and a memorial litia was served on Sunday 7 December, the third day of her repose. On Thursday 11 December Tatiana’s funeral was served at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Strathfield, in which she had been active for many years before moving to the Central Coast. Our parish rector served at the funeral together with Archpriest George Lapardin, the senior priest of the Cathedral, and a great many relatives and friends were present to pray for her soul and to pay their respects. Tatiana had been active in the life of our parish from the beginning, singing in the choir, working with the Ladies’ Auxiliary, and baking prosphora. May God grant her rest with the saints!
On Wednesday 10 December we served a moleben and akathist to the heavenly protector of our parish, the Great-Martyr Panteleimon. As of December 2014, there will be two such services each month, one in Church Slavonic and the other in English. This first service was in Church Slavonic, with the parish choir singing under the direction of our conductor Olga Ivanovna Itsikson. Many people prayed in church and put up their names for commemoration at the moleben. The next moleben and akathist – in English – will be at 7.00pm on Wednesday 24 December. Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, pray to God for us!
Our Parish Council met on Tuesday 9 December. This was the first meeting of the newly-elected Parish Council and the final meeting for 2014. In addition to the usual pastoral, administrative and financial reports, the Parish Council made plans for the celebration of the feast of the Nativity of the Lord on 7 January 2015 and considered the work of the parish bookstore. A detailed report was heard on the Saint Seraphim Community Russian School in Hornsby that operates in association with our parish and a decision was made to fund one full-year and two half-year scholarships in 2015, the total value being $1,600. The Parish Council will next meet on 13 January 2015.
On Saturday 6 December and Sunday 7 December we had services for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Great-Martyr Katherine of Alexandria. On Sunday the icons of Christ, the Mother of God and Saint Katherine were beautifully decorated with floral arrangements by Katia Waters. Immediately following Divine Liturgy a memorial litia was served for the newly-reposed servant of God Tatiana Elgin-Borodin, one of the founding members of our parish. The rector then congratulated six parishioners celebrating their name-day – Katya Lugovoy, Katya Korolkevich-Rubbo, Kate Marcotrigiano, Katia Waters, Katya Yakimov, and Katie Carles – after which the choir sang “Many Years!"
On Saturday 6 December the parish rector baptised Michael Lamanov, the infant son of Sergiy Lamanov and Svitlana Froklina and a baby brother to Sofia. Michael was named in honour of the Holy Archangel Michael and his sponsors at baptism were Dmitry Reznik and Nataliya Kravchenko. We warmly congratulate Sergiy, Svitlana, Dmitry and Nataliya, and pray that God will grant his newly-baptised servant Michael many years!
Our Summer 2014-15 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2014-15 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2014-15 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 Sunday 30 November our parish held its 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM). At the AGM our 2014 Annual Report and 2013-14 financial report were presented and a property purchase appeal was endorsed. Long-serving Parish Council members Vladimir Golovin, Bill Reid, and Kate Marcotrigiano were returned to the Parish Council for another year, together with Anna Kourbatov and Reader Paul Douriaguine. Elena Douriaguine was also elected to the Parish Council, and Susanna Bendevski and Alla Karmadonoff were appointed Child Safety Contact Persons.
On Saturday 29 November and Sunday 30 November we had services for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neo-Caesarea. A great many people were in church on Sunday morning, and at Divine Liturgy Priest Seraphim Slade of the Australian Orthodox Indigenous Mission concelebrated with the rector and parish deacon Father Martin Naef. The customary Diocesan-wide November collection for the Fund for Assistance was taken up at the dismissal, after which the parish held its 2014 Annual General Meeting.
Our 2014 Annual Report and audited 2013-14 Financial Report are now available. These reports will be presented to our parish Annual General Meeting (AGM) this coming Sunday, 30 November 2014. The reports can be accessed by clicking on the embedded links. Parish members are encouraged to carefully peruse these documents before the AGM.
On Monday 17 November and Tuesday 18 November our parish had a series of services for the repose of the soul of our dear friend and long-serving Parish Council member Sophia Kfoury. At 8.00pm on Monday evening her body was brought to the church and a Great Panikhida (“parastas”) was served, after which family and friends – in accordance with Orthodox custom – took it in turns to read each section ("kathisma") of the Psalter and the appointed prayers for the departed. This continued throughout the night, ceasing at around 8.00am on Tuesday. The Order of Preparation for Holy Communion was then read before the commencement of the Hours and Divine Liturgy. Concelebrating with the parish rector at Divine Liturgy were Archimandrite Alexis (Rosentool) of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Bombala and Hieromonk John (MacPherson) of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Monkerai. A great many people gathered for the funeral service, preceding which Archimandrite Alexis – a long-term friend of the Kroury family – spoke movingly about Sophia’s remarkable history and personal qualities. Following the funeral she was buried at Point Clare Cemetery alongside her beloved mother, the ever-memorable Nun Maria (Gafu) (+2004). A memorial meal was afterwards held at the Narara Community Centre. May God grant rest to His newly-reposed handmaiden Sophia!
On Saturday 15 November and Sunday 16 November we had services for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Martyrs Acepsimas the bishop, Joseph the priest, Aithalas the deacon (Persian martyrs of the Fourth C.) and the dedication of the original church of the Great-Martyr George in Lydda (modern-day Lod, Israel) (Fourth C.). Announcements were made about the 2014 Annual General Meeting of our parish and the November 2014 Fund for Assistance collection, both of which are scheduled for Sunday 30 November. Following the dismissal, a panikhida was served for the newly reposed Sophia Kfoury. It being our last Sunday service before the commencement of the Nativity Fast, many remained afterwards to share in a barbeque prepared by our Ladies’ Auxiliary.
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 11 November. Immediately before the meeting, Parish Council members and others gathered for a panikhida for the newly-departed handmaiden of God Sophia Kfoury, a member of the Parish Council since 2004. At the meeting the usual reports were presented. Particular attention was given to the recent acquisition by the parish of mobile technology allowing the bookstore – and, if need be, the church candle-desk – to receive payments by card through Paypal rather than cash. A proposed appeal for assistance with the purchase of a property was further considered and preparations for the Annual General Meeting were reviewed. The use of Skype for some Parish Council meetings was also discussed, two members of the Parish Council living over 50 kilometres from the church. The Parish Council will next meet on 9 December 2014.
On Tuesday 11 November we learned with sadness of the repose that morning – following a brief but grievous illness – of our greatly loved parishioner, Parish Council member and friend, Sophia Kfoury. Sophia had been involved in the life of our parish since 2002, and had served on the Auditing Committee and Parish Council since 2003. Born in Jerusalem in 1952 to an English father and a Romanian mother, Sophia spent her childhood and youth in the Russian Orthodox convent on the Mount of Olives and in the school of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission at Bethany, later moving to Australia with her mother. Here she married Nicolas Kfoury, an Orthodox Christian from Lebanon, and with him raised a family of five children. We offer heartfelt condolences to Nicolas and to their children and grandchildren. May her memory be eternal! (ARTICLE EDITED)
On Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November we had services for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Great-Martyr Artemius at Antioch (+362). As the Saturday was a day of commemoration of the departed, a general panikhida was served immediately before the evening service. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday, the parish rector read the prayers of blessing over new burial shrouds and English-language copies of the Prayer of Absolution and the coronets ("venchiki") used at Orthodox Christian burials. Also blessed were two sets of new service books for use during Great Lent - in Church Slavonic but printed in Russian font - and a number of icons of the Mother of God "Helper in Childbirth". These icons are to be part of a gift bag that our parish is preparing - in conjunction with the parish of Saint Nicholas, Wallsend - for distribution to expectant mothers. At the end of the service, the parish rector announced that the Annual General Meeting of parish members will be held on 30 November 2014.
On Sunday 26 October the blessing of the marriage of Alex Yakimov and Tammy Smith was served in our church. Alex, the grandson of parish founder and our first Warden, Alexander N. Yakimov, was an altar server at Narara and later in the early days at West Gosford. Our parish choir sang under the direction of O. I. Itsikson, and a great many family members and friends were in attendance. We warmly congratulate Alex and Tammy on their marriage, and wish them many years of happiness together!
Emmanuel Jesensky, the future Bishop Constantine, was born in 1907 in Saint Petersburg, where his father, a nobleman, worked in the Imperial Chancery. Taken prisoner in 1918, his father was executed by the Bolsheviks. His mother, on receiving this news, died of a heart attack, leaving eleven-year-old Emmanuel an orphan. Moving to be with his surviving family to Riga, Latvia, he finished school and worked in a pharmacy. At the same time he studied iconography under the masterful Old Rite iconographer, Pimen Sofronov. In 1928 New Martyr Archbishop John of Riga blessed him to enter seminary. He graduated in 1930 and went to Paris, where he undertook postgraduate theological studies. In 1932 he was ordained to the priesthood and sent to Berlin, serving in parishes in Germany until 1949, when he emigrated to the United States and served in parishes of the Eastern American Diocese. In October 1967 he was tonsured a monk and given the name Constantine, and in December 1967 he was consecrated Bishop of Brisbane, Vicar of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese. A deeply spiritual man who loved the beauty of God's house and the Divine Services, he served in Australia from 1967 until 1978 and then in the Eastern American Diocese and the Great Britain until his retirement in 1985. From 1991 he lived at a monastery in Texas where he reposed and was buried. Sadly, the monastery was later closed, and the property passed from the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. For many years the Synod of Bishops has endeavoured to have Bishop Constantine’s remains transferred from Texas to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. This has now become possible, and the parishes of our Diocese have been asked to assist in this good work. Those amongst the faithful who wish to help may obtain more information from the parish rector.
This year our Diocese will hold its fourth annual Orthodox Teen Retreat. Established in 2011, our Teen Retreats cater for young people aged 14-17. After three years in Sydney, this year’s Teen Retreat will be held in Melbourne, Victoria. For more information visit www.teenretreat.info.
This year our Diocese will also hold its fiftieth consecutive annual Diocesan youth conference or "Syezd". Established in 1965 at the instigation of the ever-memorable Archbishop Sava (Raevsky, +1976), these conferences have been an important spiritual and social event for the youth of our Diocese ever since. The Jubilee Syezd will be held from 26-31 December 2014 at the "New-Shamordino" Convent of our Lady of Kazan in Kentlyn, NSW, the site of the conference in 1965 and again from 1979-1985. The conference is open to young people aged 18 and over. For more information visit www.syezd.info.
On Saturday 18 October and Sunday 19 October we had services for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Apostle Thomas. Our small church was full on Sunday morning, regular worshippers having been joined by friends from Sydney and Canberra. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the Apostle Thomas, noting both his well-known doubt concerning the Resurrection of Christ and his lesser-known apostolic work in India. Recounting the story from the Life of Saint Thomas concerning King Gundafor’s Magnificent Palace, the rector emphasised the importance of giving money to the poor – to be found amongst us even in a prosperous country like Australia - and thereby building a mansion in the Kingdom of Heaven. Following the service, our Ladies’ Auxiliary cooked pizza for our parishioners and friends, the pizza dough having been kindly donated by Pizza Inn, Gosford.
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 14 October 2014. An update was given on the health of long-standing parishioner and Parish Council member, Sophia Kfoury, the Parish Council learning with sorrow of her increasingly grievous illness. The customary pastoral, administrative and financial reports were then presented, and consideration was given to a range of new security measures made necessary by a break-in at our church on Tuesday 7 October. The report of the external auditor having been received, it was agreed that the parish Annual General Meeting would be held on Sunday 30 November 2014. The Russian and English texts of an appeal for assistance in purchasing property were reviewed. The Parish Council also considered membership applications, the possibility of card-based transactions at church, and the purchase of green vestments for our altar servers. The 2013-14 Parish Council will meet for the final time on 11 November 2014.
On Saturday 11 October the parish rector baptised a young woman, Anna Maslova. Anna, an accountant, chose as her patron saint the Russian New-Martyr Anna (Ostroglazova), a young woman who was also an accountant and who stood firm in the face of Bolshevik persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church before her martyrdom in 1937. Anna’s sponsor at baptism was Elena Ushakova. We offer warm congratulations to Anna and to Elena. May God, through the prayers of the Holy New-Martyr Anna, grant His newly-baptised handmaiden many years!
On Monday 6 October, a beautiful spring day and the Labour Day public holiday in New South Wales, approximately forty parishioners and friends gathered at Heazlett Park, Avoca Beach, for our annual BBQ and picnic day. As usual, many of the children took the opportunity to hire pedal-boats on the lagoon and to swim while the adults relaxed in the shade by the water’s edge. Many thanks to Rick Golovin and his team of volunteers for setting everything up and for preparing lunch!
On Saturday 4 October and Sunday 5 October – in New South Wales, the Labour Day long weekend – we had services for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Apostle Quadratus of the Seventy (+130 AD) and the Hieromartyr Phocas, bishop of Sinope (+117 AD). On Sunday our regular parishioners were joined by holiday-makers from Sydney and by others new to our parish. Receiving Holy Communion at Divine Liturgy for the first time were the newly-baptised Maria Malysheva and Constantine Day. At the end of the service a collection was taken up for refugees in Ukraine, the funds collected to be passed to the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia for distribution.
On Sunday 5 October 2014 the parish rector baptised Anthony Mihai Harrison, the infant son of Matthew and Adriana Harrison and a baby brother to Thomas. His godparents are Razvan and Oana Popescu. We offer warm congratulations to Matthew, Adriana, Razvan and Oana, and pray that God will grant His newly-baptised servant Anthony many years!
On Saturday 4 October 2014 the parish rector baptised Ethan Day, the infant son of Mark and Elina Day and a baby brother to Daniel. Ethan was given the name Constantine in baptism in honour of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine the Great, on whose feast-day he was born. His sponsor at baptism was his maternal godmother, Rimma Nagikh. Following the service, Rimma presented our parish with two beautiful icons, one of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker and the other of All Saints of Ugreshk, both from the Nikolo-Ugreshky Stavropegial Men's Monastery in Moscow. This was Rimma's second such gift to our parish - in 2013 she presented us with a beautiful icon of Saint Pimen of Ugreshk (+1880), the long-serving abbot of the Nikolo-Ugreshky Monastery. We offer heartfelt thanks and warm congratulations to Mark, Elina and Rimma, and pray that God will grant His newly-baptised servant Constantine many years!
On Friday 26 September and Saturday 27 September we had services for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. On Friday evening All-night Vigil was served with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves and the bringing out of the Holy Cross. It being a Great Feast, our full choir again sang at the evening service under the direction of Olga Ivanovna Itsikson. A number of parishioners gathered for Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, followed by the singing of “Before Thy Cross” («Кресту Твоему») and the veneration of the Holy Cross, the symbol of Christ’s victory over sin and death and of our deliverance.
On Sunday 21 September 2014, the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the parish rector baptised Maria Malysheva, the four year-old daughter of Alexey Malyshev and Natalia Petrenko and a younger sister to Ksenia. Maria’s patron saint is Saint Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles. Her sponsors at baptism were Natalia Petrova and Andrii Vyaznikov. We offer warm congratulations to Alexey, Natalia, Natalia and Andrii, and pray that God will grant His newly-baptised handmaiden Maria many years!
On Saturday 20 September and Sunday 21 September we had services for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross, and the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Saturday evening. It being a Great Feast, our full choir sang at the evening service under the direction of Olga Ivanovna Itsikson. A greater than usual number of parishioners were present for the All-night Vigil, with many confessing in preparation to receive Holy Communion on the day of the feast. The following morning our small church was full, with regular parishioners being joined by visitors from Sydney and one or two new faces. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector blessed two new icons. The first, an icon of Saints Kyril and Mefody, Equals-to-the-Apostles and Enlighteners of the Slavs, was a gift from our parishioner Katerina Rubbo. The second, a copy of the "Feodorovskaya" icon of the Mother of God, was a gift from our parishioner Ekaterina Waters, and will be a blessing for young mothers in our parish, this icon being associated with the blessing of marriage and deliverance from difficulty in childbirth.
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 9 September 2014. The rector gave his usual report on he life of the parish and the Diocese, giving particular attention to the celebration of the parish feast-day on 9 August 2014. The generous help of many friends of the parish in making the celebration a success was acknowledged. It was decided that the parish Annual General Meeting, previously scheduled for Sunday 21 August 2014, would be postponed to allow additional time for the external audit. The success of the parish website - with over 14,000 visits since work on the new site was commenced in mid-2014 - was discussed and consideration was given to better use of the website for Orthodox Christian education, fundraising, and other worthy activity. The generous donation of $3000.00 towards our new commemoration table from the Russian Relief Association of Saint Sergius of Radonezh was noted with gratitude. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 14 October.
On 6-7 September we had services for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Apostle Bartholomew and the Apostle Titus of the Seventy. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the Letter of the Apostle Paul to Titus, a portion of which (1:1-4, 2:15-3:3,12-13,15) formed the second appointed Apostol reading, and the instructions for Christian living set out therein.
Our Spring 2014 Schedule of Services - covering September, October and November - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Spring 2014 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Spring 2014 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages are available in church as of the weekend of 6-7 September.
On Monday 18 August and Tuesday 19 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On Monday evening All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served. On Tuesday morning Divine Liturgy was served, after which grapes and other fruits were blessed in accordance with the custom of the Russian Orthodox Church. On this day the opportunity was also taken to bless honey, 60 jars of organic honey from the Wollombi Valley having been given to our parish. The blessed honey was afterwards distributed amongst our parishioners and friends.
On Saturday 16 August and Sunday 17 August we had services for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost and the Seven Youths (or “Seven Sleepers”) of Ephesus. It being the Dormition Fast, the church was vested in red, and icons of the Seven Sleepers and of the New-Martyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Cosmas of Aetolia, also commemorated on this day, were set in the centre of the church for veneration. After the dismissal “Many Years” was sung for our parishioner and long-serving Parish Councilor, Vasily (“Bill”) Reid, Bill having celebrated his name-day on Friday 15 August. As the faithful came to the Cross, the rector announced that the 2014 parish Annual General Meeting would be held on Sunday 21 September 2014.
On Saturday 9 August 2014 at the end of Divine Liturgy awards were presented to thirteen of our parishioners and friends. These awards, given on the occasion of our celebration of 10 years of parish life at West Gosford, were the first under the awards policy that our Parish Council adopted in 2012. A parish Certificate of Appreciation ("Приходская Благодарность") was presented to Olga Petroff, Nestor Petroff, Nina Golovin, Vladimir ("Rick") Golovin, Kate Marcotrigiano, Sophia Kfoury, Vasily (Bill) Reid, Olga Ivanovna Itsikson, Matushka Marie Carles, Paul Pereboeff, Claudia Kraiuhin, Craig Koppman and Anna Kourbatov. Details of the individual citations are available here. Congratulations to all who received awards!
On Friday 8 August and Saturday 9 August 2014 our parish celebrated the feast of our heavenly protector, the Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, and formally observed ten years of parish life at West Gosford. On the Friday evening His Grace Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, presided at All-night Vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil. Concelebrating were our parish rector, Priest James Carles, together with Protodeacon German Polorotoff (Saint Nicholas, Fairfield), our own Deacon Martin Naef, and Deacon Vasilli Konstantinidis (Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, Rocklea, QLD). The choir sang under the direction of long-serving choir conductor, Olga Ivanovna Itsikson, and many parishioners and friends were present for the service. On the following morning the parish rector served the lesser blessing of water, assisted by Deacon Constantine Moshegov (Sts Peter and Paul, Strathfield & All Saints of Russia, Croydon). Bishop George presided at Divine Liturgy. In addition to the parish clergy, five priests and four deacons concelebrated: Archpriest Ljubomir Dvojakovski (Saint George, Carlton), Hieromonk John (Macpherson) (Holy Trinity Monastery, Dungog), Priest Alexander Korjenevski (Saint George, Carlton), Priest Dionysios Halim (Saint John the Baptist Skete, Kentlyn), Priest Simon Nekipelov (Saints Peter and Paul, Strathfield), Protodeacon Alexander Kotlaroff (Saints Peter and Paul Strathfield), and the other deacons already mentioned. A great many people from a number of Sydney parishes arrived prior to Divine Liturgy, a bus having been generously arranged by John Wheatley Funeral Services. Bishop George gave an edifying sermon on the life of Saint Panteleimon, noting that the renowned Great-martyr and Healer was also the heavenly protector of his own monastery of the Holy Cross in West Virginia, USA. Following Divine Liturgy the clergy and faithful assembled before the church doors for a moleben to Saint Panteleimon. After the customary singing of Many Years and Memory Eternal, awards were presented to thirteen parishioners. A festive banquet was then held at the Narara Community Centre, the place in which our parish held services prior to the opening of our church in 2004. An article about our feast-day in the Russian-language weekly newspaper “Unification” can be viewed here, together with a selection of photographs.
On Friday 8 August 2014 Hs Grace Bishop George of Mayfield visited two monasteries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, both located in Mangrove Mountain here on the New South Wales Central Coast: Pantanassa Monastery and Holy Cross Convent. His Grace was accompanied by our parish rector, Father James Carles.
Arriving at Pantanassa Monastery shortly after 10.00am, Vladyka was greeted with the ringing of the monastery bells. Abbot Eusebios and his brethren had assembled before the main monastery building to welcome Vladyka, after which they escorted him to the chapel. There, Father Eusebios served a brief moleben for Vladyka’s health before greeting him with warm words of welcome, thanking him for his attention and asking for his prayers.
The brethren then received Vladyka in the monastery reception room, serving Greek coffee, nuts, dried fruits and Greek pastries. An edifying conversation followed, with Vladyka and the brethren sharing details of the life and struggles of their respective monasteries. The brethren asked for Vladyka’s thoughts with regard to the monastic life in particular and Orthodox Christian life in general, and all shared their concern with regard to troubling developments in contemporary life.
After walking over the monastery grounds, inspecting the new guest house and garage being constructed, and venerating the large Cross of Christ in a small outdoor chapel, the guests were invited to the refectory. There, Vladyka was given the place of honour, and as the brethren and their guests ate, the monastery’s newest monk, Father Theodoros, read from the Counsels of Elder Paisios.
Following lunch the entire brotherhood escorted Vladyka and Father James to the site of their new monastery, an imposing structure under construction high on the cliff above their present home. Vladyka was again welcomed with the ringing of bells, after which he was shown the new church and the future refectory, kitchen, library, office and monastic cells.
Father Eusebios and his brethren then bid Vladyka a warm farewell, asking for his prayers and expressing the hope that he might one day visit again.
Vladyka and Father James then drove the short distance to the Holy Cross Convent. Abbess Philothea and her sisters also greeted Vladyka at the monastery gates with the ringing of bells, escorting him to the public chapel while singing the troparion of the Cross in Greek. After taking refreshments in the convent dining room and discussing the two monasteries of the Holy Cross – in Mangrove Mountain and in West Virginia - the guests were given a brief tour of the buildings and grounds by Mother Philothea and her sisters, finishing at the site of the new church, the construction of which is soon to begin.
Vladyka and Father James then returned to our church for the all-night vigil for our patronal feast of Saint Panteleimon. Their visit to the monasteries was a most edifying one. The Greek Orthodox monastics greeted Vladyka with warmth and showed him great honour, also giving an inspiring example of what can be achieved with trust in God and steadfast commitment to His service. Glory be to God for all things!
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 5 August 2014. After briefly considering certain matters troubling the faithful - disturbances in the life of the Diocese and the impact on the Russian and Ukrainian communities in Australia of the grievous conflict in Ukraine - the Parish Council turned its attention to preparations for the parish feast-day and the visit of Bishop George of Mayfield. The 2013-14 financial records of the parish Ladies' Auxiliary were prepared for external audit, and Sunday 21 September 2014 was confirmed as the date of the 2014 Annual General Meeting of parish members. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 26 August 2014.
On Saturday 2 August and Sunday 3 August we had services for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Prophet Ezekiel. Deacon Martin Naef was not with us, having been asked to serve at the parish of All Saints of Russia, Croydon, together with the Dean of New South Wales, Mitred Archpiest Nikita Chemodakov. At Divine Liturgy prayers were once again offered for an end to strife in Ukraine.
On Sunday 27 July and Monday 28 July our parish clergy participated in services on the occasion of the patronal feast of Saint Vladimir's parish in Centennial Park, Sydney's oldest Russian Orthodox parish. At All-night Vigil on Sunday evening, presided at by His Grace Bishop George of Mayfield, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, Father James and Father Martin served together with parish rector Priest Daniel Metlenko, Hieromonk John (MacPherson) (Holy Trinity Monastery, Monkerai) Priest Alexander Korjenevski (Saint George's, Blacktown), Protodeacon Vasily Hadarin (Saint Michael's, Blacktown), Protodeacon Alexander Kotlaroff (Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Strathfield) and Deacon Constantine Moshegov (All Saints of Russia, Croydon). At Divine Liturgy on the following day Priest Simon Nekipelov (Strathfield) also served. To the great joy of all present, during the services Priest Daniel Metlenko was raised to the rank of Archpriest in recognition of his faithful service to the Church. Axios!
On Saturday 19 July and Sunday 20 July we had services for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Venerable Thomas of Mount Maleon and Venerable Acacius who is mentioned in The Ladder of Divine Ascent. To the great joy of our parish, Deacon Martin Naef and his family were back with us after two years in Europe. Following the dismissal at Divine Liturgy, the tragic loss of flight MH17 being very much on the minds of the faithful, a memorial litia was served for the souls of all the departed servants of God killed in the fratricidal strife in Ukraine.
The Parish Council met on Thusrday 17 July 2014. The rector presented his usual report on the life of the parish and the Diocese and the May and June 2014 financial reports were considered. Bookstore co-ordinator Anna Kourbatov gave a detailed presentation on the operations of the parish bookstore of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk. The design of the new parish Certificate of Appreciation ("Приходская Благодарность") was discussed, and it was noted that the number of visits to the parish website had in July exceeded 10,000 since the publication of the new site late in 2013. It was agreed that the Parish Council would next meet during the first week of August so as to finalise arrangements for the feast-day of Saint Panteleimon on 9 August 2014.
On Saturday 5 July and Sunday 6 July we had services in honour of the "Vladimir" Icon of the Mother of God. Following Divine Liturgy a memorial litia was served for our parishioner Alla Neal, the fortieth day of whose repose fell on Thursday 3 June, and Svetlana Iliuk, a friend of the parish who reposed on 25 June. May God grant them rest!
On Wednesday 25 June we learned with sorrow of the repose of Svetlana Iliuk, a well-known parishioner of the Protection of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta and a longstanding friend of our parish in Gosford. On Monday 30 July our parish rector and a number of our parishioners gathered together with Svetlana's family and a great many friends for her funeral at Cabramatta and burial at Rookwood Cemetery. May God give her rest, and make her memory to be eternal! We offer our heartfelt condolences to Svetlana's husband Vladimir and to their children Dimitry, Anna, Peter and Michael and their families. Peter and Michael lived on the Central Coast for a number of years, and both assisted in the building of our church in West Gosford.
On Saturday 28 June and Sunday 29 June we had services for the Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Tikhon, bishop of Amathus on Cyprus (+425 AD). A great many gathered in church on Sunday morning, both regular parishioners and visitors from Sydney. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy were the newly-illumined servants of God Gabriel and Anne. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector blessed a beautiful hand-painted copy of the “Reigning” ("Державная")Icon of the Mother of God, brought from Russia as a gift to our parish from the Teliatnikov family.
With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, on the afternoon of Saturday 28 June the parish rector received Belinda Terry into the Orthodox Church from Roman Catholicism by confession of the Orthodox Faith and by chrismation. Upon her reception into Orthodoxy Belinda took the name Anne in honour of Saint Anne, the mother of the Mother of God. Her sponsor was Elizabeth Terry. Immediately after her reception the marriage of Belinda and her husband Michael was blessed according the rites of the Orthodox Church. We warmly congratulate Belinda and Michael, and pray that God will grant His newly-illumined handmaiden many years!
On the morning of Saturday 28 June the parish rector baptised Samuel Sheptitsky, the infant son of Dmitri and Larisa Sheptitsky and a baby brother to Daniel and Evelina. Born on the feast of the Annunciation this year, Samuel was given the name Gabriel in baptism in honour of the Archangel Gabriel. His godmother is Eketerina Waters. We congratulate Dmitri, Larisa and Eketerina and wish the newly-baptised servant of God Gabriel many years!
On Saturday 14 June and Sunday 15 June, the First Sunday after Pentecost, we had services in honour of All Saints. It also being the day of Youth of the Russian Church Abroad, petitions for our youth were added to the Augmented Litany at Divine Liturgy and a prayer for their health and salvation was read. A great many people were present, and the church was beautifully decorated with flowers from the wedding of Andrew Martinov and Holly Nairn, married in the Wallsend parish on Friday 13 June. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy was the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Angelina Benson. Afterward the service, many stayed and enjoyed borsch and a chicken vegetable soup prepared by our Ladies’ Auxiliary.
The Parish Council met on Wednesday 11 June. As a number of members were absent, the focus of the meeting was on preparations for our patronal feast on 8-9 August and our Annual General Meeting on 21 September. The rector gave his usual report on the life of the parish and the Diocese and reports on parish finances and communications were heard. It was agreed that a collection would be taken up during the Apostles’ Fast to assist those suffering as a result of the current turmoil in Ukraine, with the proceeds to be passed to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church for distribution. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 8 July.
On Saturday 7 June the parish rector baptised Harper, the infant daughter of Michael and Melissa Benson. Harper was given the name Angelina in baptism, taking as her patron saint the Righteous Angelina of Serbia. Her godparents are Mark and Jodie Benson. Congratulations to Michael, Melissa, Mark and Jodie. May God grant his newly-baptised handmaiden Angelina many years!
On Saturday 31 May and Sunday 1 June we had services for the Afterfeast of the Ascension of the Lord and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. After a very quiet service on Saturday evening our small church was full on Sunday, with friends from Sydney and some new faces joining our usual congregation. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on Sunday was the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Emily Bendevski. After the dismissal, a collection was taken up for the Serbian people suffering as a result of recent devastating floods. UPDATE: The collection raised $400.05.
On Saturday 31 May the parish rector baptised Emily, the infant daughter of Victor and Susanna Bendevski and a baby sister for Philip, Melanie and Daniel. Emily’s patron saint is Saint Emilia of Caesarea, and her godparents are Christine Morozoff and Matthew Kirpichnikov. Congratulations to Victor, Susanna, Christine and Matthew. May God grant his newly-baptised handmaiden Emily many years!
On Sunday 25 May we learned with great sadness of the repose of our parishioner and chorister, Mrs Ella (Alla) Neal. Her funeral was served in our church on the afternoon of Thursday 29 May, the Great Feast of the Ascension, followed by burial in the old Russian Section at Rookwood Cemetery. We offer our sincere condolences to Alla's son and daughter Leo and Angela and their families, and ask our parishioners and friends to remember the newly-reposed handmaiden of God Alla in their prayers. May God give her rest!
On Wednesday 28 May and Thursday 29 May we had services for the Great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves and wheat, wine, oil was served on Wednesday evening, and Divine Liturgy was served on Thursday morning. As it was on the Great Feast of the Ascension in 2007 that the fullness of brotherly communion within the Russian Orthodox Church was re-established, the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Russian Orthodox Church was read.
On the evening of Tuesday 27 May, the Eve of the Leavetaking of Pascha, Paschal Matins was served. It is customary on this day to serve Matins in the same way as on the Sunday of Pascha and during Bright Week, with the service fully sung and the sanctuary doors open. As we were unable to have Divine Liturgy on the following day, 'Christ is Risen' was sung for the last time and the church was then prepared for the services for the Great Feast of the Ascension.
On Monday 9 June the Holy Trinity Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia in Monkerai, NSW, will celebrate its patronal feast. Divine Liturgy will begin at 10.00am, and will be followed by a moleben, a festive lunch, and a walk around the monastery grounds. The services will be in English and in Church Slavonic. More information is available here.
Our Winter 2014 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2014 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2014 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages are available in church.
On Saturday 17 May and Sunday 18 May we had services for the Afterfeast of Mid-Pentecost and for the fifth Sunday of Pascha, on which the Orthodox Church commemorates Christ's conversation with the Samaritan Woman by Jacob's Well (John 4:5-42). Following the Prayer before the Amvon, a Moleben of Thanksgiving was served, 16 May having been the tenth anniversary of the blessing by Archbishop (now Metropolitan) Hilarion of our church at West Gosford. At the dismissal, the parish rector congratulated long-time parishioner Irene Krikunov on her name-day, and said a word of farewell to parishioner Elena Fauris and her son Roman Blanloueil, with us for the last time before leaving Australia with their family to resettle in France. Many remained behind afterwards for a festive BBQ lunch and to share in a birthday cake baked by Olga Petroff.
The Parish Council met on Wednesday 14 May, the evening of Mid-Pentecost. The customary pastoral and financial reports were presented, and attention was given to the possibility of a property purchase. The celebration of our parish feast-day in August was discussed, with the rector advising that Bishop George of Mayfield was expected to preside at Divine Liturgy on Saturday 9 August. It was also noted that the end of the financial year was approaching, and with it the the need to prepare for an audit of parish finances and and Annual General Meeting of parish members. The Parish Council is due to meet next on Wednesday 11 June.
On the evening of Tuesday 13 May we had Matins for Mid-Pentecost, the feast-day marking the half-way point between the Great Feasts of Pascha and Pentecost. As it is customary in the Russian tradition to bless water on this feast-day, this was done after Matins that evening.
On Saturday 3 May and Sunday 4 May we had services in honour of the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women and of the Righteous Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. On Saturday evening the Paschal Canon was sung in English. On this weekend, two of our choristers, Anna Kourbatov and Ekaterina Waters, participated in the Seventh Diocesan Liturgical Music Conference in Canberra.
On the evening of Sunday 1 June 2014 a fundraising dinner will be held in the parish hall of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Church in Cabramatta, NSW, to assist the Building Fund of the Presentation Sisterhood in Bungarby, NSW. Abbess Anna, the sisterhood's superior, will be present at the dinner, as will some of the sisters. After dinner Archpriest Nicholas Karipoff, our Diocesan Secretary and the senior priest of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Cathedral in Melbourne, Victoria, will give a talk: "Christianity: Not a Religion". More information is available here. Please support the Sisterhood by attending this dinner or by making a donation to the Building Fund.
On Friday 25 April and Saturday 26 April, Bright Saturday, Paschal services were held in our church. At Matins on Friday evening the Paschal Canon was sung in English. At the end of Divine Liturgy, prayer having been offered for the bodily and spiritual health and blessing of those who would partake of it, the artos was cut and distributed to the faithful.
From the evening of Friday 11 April until Pascha, Sunday 20 April, there were ten services in our parish: Matins and Divine Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday (11-12 April); Matins for Great and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (13-15 April); Matins and Divine Liturgy for Great and Holy Thursday (16-17 April); Vespers of Great and Holy Friday with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ (18 April); Midnight Office, Paschal Matins, and Divine Liturgy (19-20 April); and Paschal Vespers (20 April). All the main services were well-attended, with many parishioners receiving Holy Communion at the three Divine Liturgies, and over one hundred people gathering for Paschal Matins at 12.00am on Sunday 20 April. Easter cakes, eggs and other festive foods were blessed after Paschal Matins at 1.00am and again at midday, immediately after Paschal Vespers.
A group of young families associated primarily with the Protection of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta, NSW, is organising a camp for children and young people aged 7-17 to be held in Toukley, NSW - here on the NSW Central Coast - in December 2014. For those interested, more information is available here. It should be noted that this year the Diocesan Teen Retreat - for young people aged 15-18, or in Years 9-12 - will be held in Victoria from 19 December-24 December.
On Wednesday 9 April a small group of parishioners gathered for the final Great Compline for 2014. In our parish it is the practice to have this service on the first four evenings of Great Lent and on every Wednesday evening thereafter, apart from Wednesday of the Fifth Week when Matins with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete is served. This year, fewer such services were possible because of the renovation of our church. After the service all present helped change the church vestments from black to green in preparation for Lazarus Saturday.
A meeting of the Parish Council was held on Tuesday 8 April. In additional to the usual reports on parish life, finances, membership and communications, the Parish Council heard a detailed report on the recent renovation and refurbishment of our church. Plans were made for the observance of Holy Week and Pascha, and the parish rector's arrangements to work part-time in secular employment as of the beginning of April 2014, with three days per fortnight for pastoral duties in this parish and in Wallsend, were discussed. The Parish Council plans to meet next on Wednesday 14 May, the evening of the feast of Mid-Pentecost.
On the evening of Monday 7 April, the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, our parish celebrated the Holy Mystery of Anointing with Oil. At the end of the service, the parish rector gave a brief sermon on the history and significance of the sacrament before anointing forty-four of our parishioners with the Holy Oil for the healing of soul and body.
On Saturday 5 April and Sunday 6 April, the Fifth Sunday in Great Lent, we had services for the Forefeast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God. These services, almost ten years to the day after our first services in West Gosford in April 2004, were the first services in our newly-renovated church. A great many people confessed on Saturday evening and before Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning so as to receive Holy Communion. Early on Sunday morning the Lesser Blessing of Water was served, following which the church was sprinkled with Holy Water. At the end of Divine Liturgy the parish rector congratulated Vladimir Golovin, Craig Koppman and all who assisted with the renovations. That afternoon, our parish rector joined Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Miodrag Peric, Serbian Orthodox Dean of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, local rector Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Nenad Djurasinovic, and the Serbian Orthodox faithful of the Central Coast and Newcastle and their guests at a festive lunch in Mangrove Mountain, not far from the parish of the Synaxis of Serbian Saints in Peats Ridge. The occasion was the patronal feast of the parish Ladies Auxiliary, named in honour of Saint Mary of Egypt.
Late in 2013, it was agreed that work would be undertaken during 2014 to reonovate and refurbish our small church in preparation for the celebration of ten years of parish life at West Gosford. Early in 2014 the decision was made to do this work before Pascha, a decision that regrettably made it necessary to miss services on one Saturday evening and Sunday morning during Great Lent, in addition to seven lesser services (Sunday evening Vespers and Passia on three evenings, Great Compline on two evenings, Matins with the Great Canon of Saint Andrew on Thursday of the Fifth Week, and a general pannikhida). The work began on the afternoon of Sunday 16 March with the church being emptied of its furnishings, icons and other contents. On the following day, repairs to the ceiling began. In the three weeks that followed, the lower parts of the church walls was panelled and stained, the walls and ceiling were repainted, old lights were repaired or replaced, new lights were installed, a storage shed was erected, a new electric oven and gas cooktop were installed, the icons cases were cleaned inside and out, and a number of other maintenance and cleaning tasks were undertaken. When the renovations were completed, the icons were re-hung, some changes in position being necessary because of the new panelling. Taking the lead in all this work was Vladimir ("Rick") Golovin, our long-serving Parish Council member and the original builder of our church. Rick was ably assisted by Craig Koppman, Rick's son-in-law and a steadfast friend of our parish for many years. Many parishioners came to help at different times in whatever way that they could, ensuring that our church was ready for services on the weekend of 5-6 April. The first services in West Gosford were on the weekend of 3-4 April 2004, which that year was Palm Sunday.
This year, the parish of Saint John the Forerunner in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, will host the Seventh Diocesan Liturgical Music Conference ("Певческий Съезд"). The conference will begin on Thursday 1 May and end on Sunday 4 May with a concert in Canberra. God willing, Metropolitan Hilarion will preside at All-night vigil and Divine Liturgy. Participating in a program across four days will be Father George Johnson (ROCOR, USA), Georgiy Safonov (Danilov Monastery, Moscow) and Abbot Sergei (Shatrov) (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Bombala, NSW). More information is available from the Canberra parish website here.
On Tuesday 25 March and Wednesday 26 March our parish rector participated in the customary Great Lenten Pastoral Retreat and Conference for clergy of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. A report and photographs can be viewed on the Diocesan website here.
On Saturday 15 March and Sunday 16 March we had services in honour of Saint Gregory Palamas. As the Saturday was a day of commemoration of the departed we had a general memorial service before Matins that evening, with approximately 20 parishioners gathering to pray for their departed family and friends. During Divine Liturgy on Sunday, prayers were again offered for the Ukrainian land and people. A great many people, both adults and children, received Holy Communion, amongst them the newly-baptised infant Maria Yakimov, receiving the Holy Mysteries for the first time. A collection to assist the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, was taken up after the service, raising $247.00. Later in the day, all the icons and furnishings were removed from the church in preparation for renovations beginning on Monday 17 March.
A meeting of the Parish Council was held on Tuesday 11 March. The usual reports were considered, with particular attention given to financial control systems and plans for renovations during March and April. Rick Golovin reported that the renovations would include repainting the church interior, panelling the lower part of the church walls, repairing water damage to the church ceiling, repairing and cleaning the chandeliers, remodelling the kitchen and installing a gas oven and cooktop, erecting a small storage shed for the BBQ and cleaning items, and cleaning up the church exterior. It was agreed that the parish collection for Great Lent this year would again be for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, the same collection last year having been a great success. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 8 April 2014.
At 6.00pm on Sunday 9 March, the First Sunday in Great Lent, a small number of the faithful gathered for Vespers with the first Passia and the reading of Chapters 26 and 27 from Saint Matthew's Gospel. The beautiful stichera from Great and Holy Friday were sung, and the faithful venerated the Holy Gospel with prostrations. Sadly, as our church will be closed on the evenings of the Second, Third and Fourth Sundays of Great Lent, this was the only time that Sunday evening Vespers and the Passia will be served in 2014.
On the afternoon of Sunday 9 March, the parish rector baptised Thomas Matei Strezea, the infant son of Marius and Teodora Strezea of Bucharest, Romania. Thomas' godparents were Matthew and Adriana Harrison, whose own son Thomas was baptised in our church in November 2008. Marius and Teodora were married here on the New South Wales Central Coast in January 2013. We warmly congratulate Marius, Teodora, Matthew and Adriana, and pray that God will grant his newly-baptised servant Thomas Matei many years!
At 7.00pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the First Week of Great Lent we had the service of Great Compline with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. The Odes of the Great Canon were read by the parish rector alternately in Slavonic and English, and of those who attended the services, many took the opportunity to assist with the reading of the psalms and prayers at Great Compline.
At 1.00pm on Saturday 15 March 2014 'Russian Embers: A Journey in Search of Home', a book written by our parishioner Anya Nielsen, will be launched at Book Bazaar, a bookshop in West Street, Umina Beach. The guest speaker at the launch will be Chis Holstein MP, the Member for Gosford in the NSW Legislative Assembly. Our parishioners and friends are welcome to attend. Those planning to do so should RSVP on 0415-479220.
On Saturday 1 March and Sunday 2 March we had services for the Sunday of Forgiveness and in honour of the Holy Hieromartyr Hermogenes (Ermogen), Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. During the Augented Litany at Divine Liturgy, prayers were offered for the Ukrainian land and people and for the grievously ill Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis, a well-known and greatly-respected former cleric of our Diocese now serving in the Cathedral of the Mother of God, “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco. Vespers was served immediately after Divine Liturgy, followed by the rite of asking forgiveness. Many parishioners and friends then stayed behind to enjoy blini prepared by our Ladies’ Auxiliary and to prepare the church for the services during the first week of Great Lent.
On Sunday 23 February the parish rector baptised Alexander Sukhov, the infant son of the late Igor Sukhov and his widow Natalia, and a baby brother to Victoria. Alexander's patron saint is the Holy Right-Believing Grand Duke Alexander Nevsky, and his godparents are Vitaly Brusentsev and Lilia Ishutina. We warmly congratulate Natalia, Vitaly and Lilia, and pray that God will grant his newly-baptised servant Alexander many years!
On Saturday 22 February the parish rector baptised the infant Maria, the second daughter of Eric and Katya Yakimov and a baby sister for Tatiana. Maria's patron saint is Saint Mary of Egypt, and her godparents are Veronica Paznikov and Alexis Yakimov. It was fitting that Maria's baptism was the one-hundredth in our church at West Gosford since it opened in April 2004: her great-grandfather Alexander Yakimov was the founding Starosta of our parish, he and his son Constantine Yakimov - Maria's grandfather - were builders of our church, and Eric was an altar-server both at the Narara Community Centre and at West Gosford. Congratulations to Eric, Katya, Veronica and Alexis. May God grant his newly-baptised handmaiden Maria many years!
On Saturday 15 February and Sunday 16 February we had services for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and for the Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector blessed two new icons, both gifts to our church. The first was an icon of Saint Pimen of Ugreshk (+1880), the long-serving abbot of the Nikolo-Ugreshky Monastery in Moscow glorified in 2004. This icon was a gift from Rimma Nagikh, whose grandson Daniel was baptised in our church in March 2013. The second was an icon of Saint Mary of Egypt and the Righteous Zosima. This icon was brought to us from the Holy Land by our parishioner Sergei Schreider. Through the prayers of Saints Pimen, Mary and Zosima, may God bless his servants Rimma and Sergei and their families!
A campaign is underway to preserve the main monastic community for men in the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, the Holy Transfiguration Monastery near Bombala, NSW, from the effects of 120 industrial wind turbines to be constructed on an adjoining property. Our parishioners and friends can find out more by visiting the campaign website and Facebook page.
Our Parish Council held its February meeting on Tuesday 11 February 2014. As it was the eve of the fortieth day of John Gordeyeff's repose, "Eternal Memory" was sung after the opening prayer. The parish rector gave his customary report on the life of the parish and the Diocese, and the usual reports concerning parish finances and communications were considered. Arrangements were made to pay Haiti Orthodox Family Relief our parish's usual annual donation of US$1570.00, being US$1200.00 family sponsorship, US$120.00 towards debt reduction for our priests there, and US$250.00 towards a teacher's salary. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 11 March 2014.
On the evening of Thursday 6 February 2014, the day of commemoration of Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg, the heavenly patron of our Ladies’ Auxiliary and a beloved helper of many of our parishioners, a moleben and akathist to Blessed Xenia were served in our church. Following the moleben, many years was intoned for Ksenia Teliatnikova and Ksenia Shevchenko, two of our parishioners celebrating their name-day that day. Afterwards, most present remained behind to share tea and cake. Holy Blessed Mother Xenia, pray to God for us!
On Saturday 1 February and Sunday 2 February we had services in honour of Saint Euthymius the Great (+473). At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the first of the readings from the Holy Gospel was that relating to Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10), a model of repentance, customarily read on the last Sunday before the use of the Lenten Triodion begins. In his sermon, the parish rector spoke of how the Church was now turning us from the contemplation of the Incarnation of our Lord to our response to His coming amongst us. In accordance with Metropolitan Hilarion's request, following the service a collection was taken up to benefit the family of the infant Maxim Lvov. UPDATE: This collection raised $470.00.
On Saturday 18 January and Sunday 19 January we had services in honour of the Great Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy with the Great Blessing of Water was served on Sunday morning. A great many of the faithful gathered in church on Sunday morning, with regular worshippers being joined by friends from Sydney holidaying on the Central Coast and further north. As is customary, the parish rector visited the homes of the faithful around the Central Coast and in the Hornsby region that afternoon and on the days following, sprinkling them with the Theophany Water.
Our Parish Council held its January 2014 meeting on Tuesday 14 January. As it was the feast of the Circumcision of the Lord, the meeting began with the singing of the troparion “O Jesus, Who in the highest” («На престоле огнезрачнем»). The usual reports on parish life and finances were presented and considered, and Father James and Rick Golovin reported on their participation in the Seventeenth Diocesan Conference in December 2013. A number of other issues were then discussed, including the operation of the parish bookstore of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, parish communications, and ongoing parish initiatives relating to risk management and child safety. Applications for renewal of parish membership were tabled and accepted and a plan for celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the opening of our parish centre at West Gosford was agreed upon. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 11 February 2014.
On Friday 10 January 2014 the funeral service for 61 year-old John Gordeyeff was held in our church. John reposed in the Lord on 4 January 2014, having suffered grievously in recent months from a serious illness. After his burial at Point Clare Cemetery, family and friends returned to our church hall for a commemorative meal. On the following day, Saturday 11 January, 'Eternal Memory' was sung for the newly-departed servant of God John at the summer camp of the National Organisation of Russian Scouts (Национальная Организация Русских Скаутов), John having been a member of that organisation in his youth and remembered by many of the current leaders. Our parishioners and friends are asked to keep John in their prayers. The fortieth day of his repose will fall on Wednesday 12 February 2014.
On Saturday 4 January and Sunday 5 January we had services for the Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord. Our church was again full, with many taking the opportunity to confess and receive Holy Communion at our last parish service before the Nativity of Christ. As it was also the last service for 2013 according to the Julian calendar, a year during which the four-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Romanoff Dynasty was celebrated, a brief moleben to the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia was served after the Prayer before the Amvon. Later, a memorial litia was served and ‘Eternal Memory’ was sung for all the pious Tsars and Tsarinas and all the departed members of the All-Russian Imperial House. Our 2014 commemorative calendars were distributed to parishioners and friends, and at our customary "cup of tea" the Ladies’ Auxiliary drew their Christmas raffle.