On Thursday 31 December the parish rector baptised Sergei Teliatnikov, the infant son of Ivan Teliatnikov and Maria Schreider and a baby brother to Ksenia, Nikolai and Alexander. Sergei, who was baptised in honour of Saint Sergius the Wonderworker of Radonezh, had as his sponsors at Holy Baptism Mykola Kravchenko and Anna Kourbatov. We offer warm congratulations to Sergei’s parents and godparents, and wish the newly-baptised servant of God many years! This baptism was our twenty-first for 2016 and the one hundred and thirty-third in our church since it opened in April 2004.
On Saturday 19 December and Sunday 20 December we had services for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Ambrose of Milan (+397 AD). Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was the newly baptised Ariadna Sakhnova. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the remarkable circumstances surrounding the consecration of Saint Ambrose as bishop of Milan - Saint Ambrose was called to accept the episcopacy when he was still unbaptised - of of Saint Ambrose's composition of the "Te Deum" ("Тебе Бога хвалим"), a renowned hymn of thanksgiving. Noting that the appointed Gospel reading (Luke 17:12-19) concerned the importance of giving thanks to God, he emphasised living a life that showed such thanks for the many blessings granted to us.
On Saturday 5 December and Sunday 6 December we have services for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Right-believing Great Prince Alexander Nevsky. As it was the Afterfeast of the Great Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple our small church was beautifully vested in blue. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector blessed our new icon of the Holy Trinity. This icon, the work of iconographer Dimitri Lihachov, was commissioned in memory of Sophia Kfoury and Tatiana Elgin-Borodin, two much-loved parishioners who reposed late in 2014. After the dismissal, a memorial litia was served for Sophia and Tatiana together with Patriarch Alexis II (+5 December 2009), Archpriest Rostislav Gan (+8 December 1975), Tatiana Venttsel (+3 December 2012) and Igor Sukhov (+4 December 2013). A collection was then taken up for the Indonesian Mission, and it was announced that the proceeds of the parish collection during the Nativity Fast would benefit the Sunday School for Girls at the Holy Trinity Convent in Birsk, Bashkortostan.
On Saturday 5 December the parish rector baptised Ariana Sakhnova, the daughter of Grigory Sakhnov and Lyubov (Liya) Khmeleva. Ariana, who was given the name Ariadna in baptism, had as her sponsors Maria Kiseleva and Maxim Khmelev. We warmly congratulate Grigory, Liya, Maria and Maxim, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Ariadna many years!
On Saturday 28 November and Sunday 29 November we had services for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday, announcements were made concerning the forthcoming collection for the Indonesian Mission and the Diocesan commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the repose of ever-memorable Archprirst Rostislav Gan.
Our Summer 2015-16 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2015-16 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2015-16 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 Tuesday 17 November the 2015-16 Parish Council met for the first time. Joining returning members Rick Golovin, Kate Marcotrigiano, Bill Reid, Anna Kourbatov and Reader Paul Douriaguine was newly-elected member Anne Nielsen. The usual administrative, pastoral and financial reports were presented and applications for new and renewed parish membership were considered. Office-bearers were then appointed, with Kate Marcotrigiano accepting the role of Head Sister, Anna Kourbatov accepting the role of Treasurer, and Bill Reid accepting the role of Privacy Officer. As the parish does not have a Warden or Secretary Anne Nielsen agreed to coordinate the sale of candles and prosphora and the rector agreed to continue the work of Parish Secretary. Consideration was also given to the parish property purchase appeal, the need for Orthodox Christian educational work in the parish, and a charitable project during the Nativity Fast.
On Saturday 14 November and Sunday 15 November we had services for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Martyrs Acindynus, Pegasius, Anempodistus, Aphthonius, and Elpidephorus (+ c.341-345 AD). In his sermon the rector spoke of the steadfastness of the martyrs Acindynus, Pegasius, and Anempodistus, all servants in the court of the Persian King Sapor, and of how their example led to the conversion of Aphthonius, a pagan, and the encouragement of Elpidephorus, a Christian. He encouraged the faithful to be similarly steadfast in difficult times and so serve as an example to Christians and non-Christians alike. As the faithful came to the Cross a collection for the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was taken up. This collection, customarily taken up in all parishes of our Diocese each year during November, raised $382.00.
On Saturday 14 November the parish rector baptised Stefan and Lucas Karabaev, the twin sons of Alisher Karabaev and Daria Lebedyanskaya. The boys had as their sponsors at Holy Baptism Leonid Kovalchuk and Olga Kusnetsova. We offer warm congratulations to Alisher, Daria, Leonid and Olga, and wish the newly-baptised servants of God Stefan and Lucas many years!
This year our Diocese will also hold its fifty-first 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. This year’s conference – the theme of which is ‘The Apocalypse’ – will be held from 26-31 December in Melbourne and is open to young people aged 18 and over. For more information visit www.syezd.info.
This year our Diocese will hold its fifth annual Orthodox Teen Retreat. Established in 2011, our Diocesan Teen Retreats cater for young people aged 14-17. After three years in Sydney and one in Melbourne, this year’s Teen Retreat will be held on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast from Sunday 20 December until Thursday 24 December. For more information visit www.teenretreat.info.
On Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 December the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia will prayerfully commemorate the fortieth annversary of the repose of Archpriest Rostislav Gan, an influential spiritual father, exemplary pastor and noted liturgist who was a priest in China before serving as rector of the Protection of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta for over 20 years. Further information is available in English here and in Russian here.
On Sunday 1 November the parish rector presided at the wedding of Arthur Tane and Natasha Markuardt in the presence of a small group of family and friends at our church in West Gosford. A visiting choir sang beautifully under the direction of Andrei Lapteff. We warmly congratulate Arthur and Natasha on their marriage and wish them many years of happiness together!
On Saturday 30 October and Sunday 1 November we had services for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint John of Kronstadt. After an absence of one month whilst travelling abroad, the parish rector presided at these services. Following the dismissal at Divine Liturgy an announcement was made concerning the forthcoming Diocesan-wide collection for the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
On Sunday 18 October we had services for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost and for the commemoration of the Holy Hierarchs and Wonderworkers of Moscow: Peter, Alexis, Jonah, Phillip, Macarius, Job, Hermogen, Philaret, Innocent, Macarius, Tikhon and Peter. In the absence of the rector who was visiting the Ufa Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church as part of a delegation accompanying the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, Archpriest Ljubomir Dvojakovski again presided at Divine Liturgy. As our long-serving choir director Olga Itsikson remains unwell, Matushka Marie Carles directed the choir. Father Ljubomir gave an edifying sermon on the theme of the Gospel of the day (Luke 6:31-36) in Russian and in English, encouraging the faithful to keep Christ’s commandment to love their enemies, assuring them that the Lord himself would give them strength for this. Following the service, Father Martin made an announcement concerning the Annual General Meeting and planned activities of Diocesan charitable organisation Orthodox Action.
On Monday 5 October, a warm and cloudless spring day and the Labour Day public holiday in New South Wales, approximately sixty parishioners and friends gathered at Heazlett Park, Avoca Beach, for our annual BBQ and picnic day. The adults relaxed and socialised in the shade of the beautiful Moreton Bay figs while the children played in and on the water. Many thanks to Rick Golovin, Craig Koppman and all who helped on the day!
On Sunday 4 October we had services for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost and for the Leave-taking of the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. In the absence of the rector who was visiting the Yekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church as part of a delegation accompanying the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, Archpriest Ljubomir Dvojakovski presided at Divine Liturgy. The choir sang under the direction of Matushka Marie Carles, long-serving choir director Olga Itsikson being absent because of illness. At the end of the service Father Ljubomir gave a sermon in Russian and in English.
On Sunday 20 September our parish held its 2015 Annual General Meeting. The 2015 Annual Report was presented and accepted, a Parish Council for 2015-16 was elected, and two new Child Safety Contact Persons were appointed. Those elected to the Parish Council were Rick Golovin, Kate Marcotrigiano, Bill Reid, Anna Kourbatov, Reader Paul Douriaguine and Anne Nielsen, and Matushka Marie Carles and Sophia Captain were appointed to be Child Safety Contact Persons. We now await Bishop George’s ratification of the decisions of the Parish Council.
On Saturday 19 September and Sunday 20 September we had services for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, for the Forefeast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, and in honour of the Martyr Sozont (+304). Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector read the prayers of blessing over a new oil lamp to be hung before the icon of Saint Panteleimon, a representation of the Crucifixion of Christ (a “Golgotha”) for our new memorial table, and two new bookmarks for the Holy Gospel. These items were a gift to the parish from Ekaterina Waters, a parishioner who had recently returned from a brief trip to Russia. At the end of the service the third and final announcement concerning the parish Annual General Meeting was made, and many people gathered in the parish hall to enjoy meat, potato, cabbage and apple piroshki freshly cooked by our Ladies’ Auxiliary.
On Saturday 19 September the parish rector baptised Jason Gregory Mylnikov, the son of Daniil Mylnikov and Alesia Mylnikova. Jason Gregory, who was baptised in honour of Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, had as his sponsor at Holy Baptism Oleg Khaborov. We offer warm congratulations to Daniil, Alesia and Oleg, and wish the newly-baptised servant of God Gregory many years!
Our 2015 Annual Report, including the independently audited 2014-15 Financial Statements, is now available. The 2015 Annual Report will be presented to our parish Annual General Meeting (AGM) this coming Sunday, 20 September 2015. A copy of the report is available in PDF form here. Printed copies will be posted to parish members prior to the meeting so as to allow adequate time for careful perusal. We encourage our parishioners and friends with questions or comments to contact us.
On Tuesday 8 September the 2014-15 Parish Council met for the final time. In addition to the usual business, the Parish Council evaluated the celebrations of the feast-day of Saint Panteleimon on 8-9 August; reviewed and endorsed the draft 2015 Annual Report; discussed arrangements for the rector’s absence during October 2015; and finalised plans for the parish Annual General Meeting on Sunday 20 September. God willing, the 2015-16 Parish Council will meet for the first time in November 2015.
On Saturday 5 September and Sunday 6 September we had services for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Hieromartyr Eutyches (+ 1st C.). Saint Eutyches was a disciple of the Apostle and Evangelist John and a companion of the Apostle Paul. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy was the newly-baptised infant Mila Kobeleff. The appointed reading from the Gospel was the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14). In his sermon, the rector spoke of the need to weave by one’s manner of life a garment fitting for the eternal wedding feast to which all are invited. Following the service, the second announcement concerning the forthcoming parish Annual General Meeting was made.
On Thursday 3 September the parish rector baptised Mila Kobeleff, the infant daughter and first child of Daniel and Megan Kobeleff. Mila, who was baptised in honour of the Holy Martyr Ludmilla, princess of the Czechs, had as her sponsors at Holy Baptism Stephen and Alicia Owen and Alexander and Nadine Lucas. We offer warm congratulations to Mila's parents and godparents, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God many years!
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 Central Coast - from 13 December - 19 December 2015. For those interested, more information is available here. It should be noted that this year the Diocesan Teen Retreat - for young people aged 14-17 - will be held in on the Queensland Sunshine Coast from 20 December - 24 December.
From Monday 28 September until Thursday 29 October 2015, our parish rector will be travelling abroad as part of a delegation of clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia accompanying a visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to the Yekaterinburg and Ufa Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Other participants in the delegation include His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese; Archpriest Stefan Pavlenko (a cleric of the Western American Diocese and rector of the parish of All Russian Saints in Burlingame, California); Archpriest Vladimir Boikov (a cleric of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese and Dean of New Zealand); and Protodeacon Alexander Kichakov (a cleric of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America and senior deacon of the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois). The delegation will meet in San Francisco and venerate the incorrupt relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco before travelling to Russia. The official visit will begin in Yekaterinburg on Thursday 1 October and end in Ufa on Thursday 22 October. Following this, Father James will return to the United States and visit places of significance in the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
Our Spring 2015 Schedule of Services - covering September, October and November - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Spring 2015 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Spring 2015 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages have been available in church from Saturday 16 August.
On Tuesday 18 August and Wednesday 19 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves and wheat, wine and oil was served on Tuesday evening with our full choir singing under Olga Itsikson’s direction. Following Divine Liturgy on the day of the feast we had the customary blessing of fruit. There was also a blessing of honey, a number of jars of organic honey again having been given to our parish. The blessed honey was afterwards distributed amongst the faithful.
On the weekend of 15-16 August we had services for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost and for the Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on Sunday were two young brothers, Timothy and Paul, baptised in our church on the previous day. Following the service, the first announcement concerning the parish Annual General Meeting was made.
On the weekend of 8-9 August our parish celebrated its patronal feast-day of the Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon. All-night Vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served on Saturday evening, with many of our parishioners and friends present and the full parish choir singing under the direction of Olga Ivanovna Itsikson. Our rector, Priest James Carles, was joined for this service by parish cleric Deacon Martin Naef and by Deacon Simon Polorotov, a cleric of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Fairfield, a suburb in Sydney’s west. On the following morning the lesser blessing of waters was served, during which our parishioners and many friends from Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra arrived. His Grace Bishop George of Canberra presided at Divine Liturgy, being joined by Father James, Deacons Martin and Simon, and by Protodeacon Constantine Moshegov, a cleric of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Strathfield and the All Saints of Russia parish in Croydon. At the end of Divine Liturgy Bishop George gave an edifying sermon on the life and prayerful intercession of Saint Panteleimon, after which a moleben was served to the Great-Martyr. Awards were then presented to four parishioners: Olga Ivanovna Itsikson and William Reid received the prestigious Diocesan Cross, and Ekaterina Waters and Wassim Ayoub received parish Certificates of Appreciation. The great majority of those present then gathered for a festive lunch at the East Gosford Progress Hall.
On Thursday 6 August our parish received its new commemoration table, ordered in 2014 to mark the ten-year anniversary of services in West Gosford. This table, purchased by the Ladies’ Auxiliary with assistance from the Russian Welfare Association and a number of private donors, is the work of renowned woodcarver Protodeacon Basil Hadarin. The parish rector read the prayers of blessing over the commemoration table immediately prior to the commencement of the All-night Vigil on Saturday 8 August, the eve of our patronal feast. The new table is a beautiful addition to our small church and a visible manifestation of our prayers for those who have departed this life. Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants who have fallen asleep!
Saint Panteleimon Russian Orthodox Church was formed by a small group of people living on the NSW Central Coast. The first services were held in November 2000, and by the end of 2003 our community had grown sufficiently to purchase premises in West Gosford for a parish centre. There, as many know, our parish has established a small temporary church and hall and a vibrant parish life that includes a regular pattern of divine services and social activities. A loan of $125,000 obtained in 2003 to purchase these premises was paid off in full in 2008, some 9 years early, and our parish has since saved a further $60,000 in its “Future Fund”.
During the course of 2014 our parish celebrated ten years of parish life in West Gosford. Looking back over all that has been achieved since November 2000 and giving thanks to God, we nevertheless continue to plan for the future, hoping in time to construct a permanent church in traditional Russian Orthodox style. The first step towards this is the acquisition of a suitable block of land, something likely to cost around $400,000. It is with this first step in mind and with the blessing of the Diocesan authorities that our parish now turns to the faithful of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia and to all our friends, seeking assistance.
Our Parish Council has resolved to set aside $40,000 from the “Future Fund” for the purpose of property acquisition, ten per cent of the required amount. Families within the parish have already pledged contributions of $1000. If 400 families or individuals across the Diocese could be found to contribute such an amount our goal would soon be reached, and the next important step in the life of our parish could be taken.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Please give prayerful consideration to our appeal, and help us bring this project to fruition. Any help that you can give, whether great or small, will be most welcome. We assure all those who assist our parish of our prayers for their health and salvation. May the Lord bless you!
For more information, please contact us. A Russian-language version of this appeal is available here. Donations can be made in person at church, by direct deposit to our building fund account, Westpac 032-523 28-9049, or by using the Paypal "donate" icon on the left-land side of this page.
On Saturday 18 July and Sunday 19 July we had services for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Venerable Sisoёs the Great (+429 AD). Following the evening service on Saturday the prayers of blessing were read over a recently-received shipment of candles for church use. On Sunday morning we were joined by friends from Newcastle and Sydney. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the purpose and content of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, readings from which are appointed on the first nine Sundays after Pentecost, focusing particularly on the pattern for Christian living briefly set out in the reading for the day (Romans 15: 1-7): bearing with the weak rather than pleasing ourselves, deriving encouragement and hope from the Holy Scriptures, and living in harmony and oneness of mind.
On Saturday 4 July and Sunday 5 July we had services for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Hieromartyr Eusebius of Samosata (+380). Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector blessed a number of items recently acquired of episcopal services: a set of dikiri and trikiri and five “eagle-rugs” («орлецы»). After the service a pannikhida was served for Victor Majetny, one of our original parishioners, it being the fifth anniversary of his repose. May God grant him rest!
In conjunction with Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Wallsend, our parish has developed and published a list of Sundays and Fridays on which weddings can be celebrated in 2015 and 2016, together with an explanation of the reasons why weddings cannot be celebrated on certain days and dates and during certain seasons. This information, which can be accessed either here or via our ‘Needs’ page under ‘Weddings’, has been prepared to help our parishioners and friends when planning weddings in parishes of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Should anyone have any questions about this information, please contact us.
On Saturday 20 June and Sunday 21 June we had services for the Third Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Great-Martyr Theodore the General (“Stratelates”) (+319AD). It being the Apostles’ Fast, a number of people took the opportunity to confess and receive the Holy Mysteries. Following Divine Liturgy, the rector announced that a fragment of the relics of Great-Martyr Panteleimon, a gift to our parish from Metropolitan Hilarion, had been enshrined in a small reliquary and placed in the case enclosing the main parish icon of our heavenly protector. He asked that when venerating the relics, the faithful particularly pray for Vladyka Hilarion, his health having been poor in recent weeks.
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 16 June 2015. The customary pastoral, financial and administrative reports were presented. Plans for the celebration Sunday 9 August of the parish’s patronal feast of Saint Panteleimon were discussed, as were preparations for the end of the financial year and the convening of a parish Annual General Meeting. Applications for the renewal of parish membership were considered and approved, and a report on the life of the Saint Seraphim Community Russian School in Hornsby was given by Reader Paul Douriaguine, the School’s Principal and a member of the Parish Council. The Parish Council plans to meet next on Tuesday 14 July 2015.
On Saturday 6 June and Sunday 7 June we had services for the First Sunday after Pentecost, the day of commemoration of All Saints. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday, special prayers were offered for the youth of our parish and Diocese, it being the Day of Youth of the Russian Church Abroad, and for Deacon Martin Naef and his family, travelling overseas. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time on this day was the newly-baptised Anna Izmestyeva. At the Prayer before the Amvon, the parish rector read the prayer of blessing over newly-framed icons of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker and of All Saints of Ugreshk, gifts to our parish from Rimma Nagikh and her family.
On Sunday 31 May, the Great Feast of Pentecost, the parish rector baptised Jessica Izmestyeva, the infant daughter of Sergey Izmestyev and Anastasia Stolbova and a baby sister to Alexandriya. Jessica was given the name Anna in baptism in honour of the Righteous Anna, mother of the Theotokos. Anna’s sponsors at baptism were Yuliya Dudzich and Viktor Kamolov. We warmly congratulate Sergey, Anastasia, Yuliya and Viktor, and wish the newly-baptised Anna many years!
On Saturday 30 May and Sunday 31 May we have services for the Great Feast of Pentecost, the commemoration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. In accordance with Russian Orthodox custom, our small church was beautifully decorated beforehand with green branches and bright flowers, both of which signify the life given to us by the Holy Spirit. All-night Vigil was served on Saturday evening with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil. It being a Great Feast, our full choir sang at All-night Vigil and again at Divine Liturgy on Sunday. On the day of the feast our church was full, our parishioners being joined by friends from Sydney and Newcastle. As is the practice in the Russian Orthodox Church, the faithful held small bouquets of flowers during the Sunday service. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time were the newly-baptised children Vasilissa and Taisia. Following Divine Liturgy, Vespers with the three “kneeling prayers” was served, the faithful praying with bended knee for the first time since Pascha.
Our Winter 2015 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2015 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2015 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages will be available in church from Saturday 30 May.
On the evening of Tuesday 19 May, the Eve of the Leave-taking of Pascha, a small group of parishioners gathered for the final Paschal Matins of 2015. In accordance with the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church, Matins was served as on the first day of Pascha – sung in its entirety, and with the doors to the sanctuary open.
On the afternoon of Sunday 17 May the parish rector baptised Viola and Olivia Byrne, the daughters of Nicholas Byrne and Zlata Byrne. In baptism, ten year-old Viola took the name Vasilissa, and four year-old Olivia took the name Taisia. The sisters were sponsored in baptism by Ekaterina Waters. We warmly congratulate the newly-baptised Vasilissa and Taisia, wishing them many years!
Immediately after Divine Liturgy on Sunday 17 May the parish rector baptised Apollo Rodrigo, the infant son of Shane and Valeria Rodrigo and a younger brother to Anakin. Apollo was baptised in honour of the Holy Apostle Apollo of the Seventy, a companion of the Apostle Paul who laboured for Christ in Corinth. His sponsors at baptism were Colin Chenery and Linda Aniol. We warmly congratulate Shane, Valeria, Colin and Linda, and wish the newly-baptised Apollo many years!
On Saturday 16 May and Sunday 17 May we had services for the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Blind Man. As on Sunday it was eight years to the day since the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Russian Orthodox Church was read at Divine Liturgy. In addition, the ever-memorable Patriarch Alexis II (Ridiger) and Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla), chief signatories of the Act, were commemorated at the Great Entrance and with the singing of “Eternal Memory” after the dismissal. The parish rector spoke briefly about the significance of these two men in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, thanking God that He had raised up wise shepherds at such an important time for the Church both in the homeland and in the diaspora.
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 12 May 2015. The usual pastoral, financial and administrative reports were heard. The meeting was advised that the rector was expected to be abroad during October 2015, participating in the delegation accompanying the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to the Yekaterinburg and Ufa Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Plans for the celebration of the Great Feast of Pentecost (Sunday 31 May) and the feast of Saint Panteleimon (Sunday 9 August) were discussed, and a decision was made to purchase certain items required for hierarchical services. A number of applications for the renewal of parish membership were considered and approved. The Parish Council plans to meet next on Tuesday 16 June 2015.
On Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Paralytic. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday our parish had the honour of receiving His Grace, Bishop George of Canberra, Vicar of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese and Diocesan Administrator. The was Bishop George’s first service away from the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral since arriving in Australia on Thursday 16 April. Following the dismissal, a memorial litia was served for the ever-memorable Archbishop Theodore (Rafalsky) (+1955), first Russian Orthodox Bishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, the sixtieth anniversary of whose repose it will be on Tuesday 5 May. Before these prayers were offered, the parish rector gave a brief overview of Vladyka Theodore's life and his work in laying the foundations of the Australia-New Zealand Diocese. After the service our parishioners and friends gathered for a festive meal with Vladyka George in the parish hall.
On Wednesday 22 April we were scheduled to resume our twice-monthly moleben and akathist to Saint Panteleimon, this observance having been set aside during Great Lent to make way for the Lenten services. On the evening of Monday 20 April, however, wind and rain struck the New South Wales coast with great intensity, the effects being felt with particular severity on the Central Coast and in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. Our church and parish centre lost access to power in the early hours of Tuesday morning and remained without it until the morning of Saturday 25 April. As a result, access to our church and the surrounding units was restricted to daylight hours. Although a few of the faithful braved the inclement weather and drove to church on Wednesday evening, the service was unable to proceed. Our next moleben and akathist to Saint Panteleimon - in Slavonic - will be on Wednesday 13 May.
On Sunday 19 April, Thomas Sunday, Deacon Constantine Moshegov was raised to the rank of Protodeacon by Metropolitan Hilarion during Divine Liturgy at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Strathfield. Protodeacon Constantine - who is also a well-known eye surgeon - has served in our parish many times and is the brother-in-law of our own Deacon Martin Naef. We warmly congratulate Father Constantine on his elevation and wish him many more years of faithful service to the Holy Orthodox Church. Axios! A Russian-language article with photographs is available on the Diocesan website here.
On Saturday 18 April and Sunday 19 April we had services for the Second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. On Sunday our regular parishioners were joined by friends from Sydney and by Mrs Lubov Cowall, Diocesan Council member and the Senior Sister of the Holy Protection Cathedral in Brunswick (Melbourne), Victoria. At the end of Divine Liturgy the Prayer at the cutting of the Artos was read and the blessed bread was distributed to the faithful. In place of a sermon, the parish rector read aloud the 2015 Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion.
On Saturday 18 April, Bright Saturday, Simon Polorotov was ordained to the diaconate by Metropolitan Hilarion during Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Fairfield, NSW. The newly-ordained Deacon Simon is the older brother of Protodeacon German Polorotov and will undertake his clerical service at Fairfield, filling the position vacated by Father German upon his move to the Tweed Heads parish. Father Simon is a long-term friend of our parish, he and his family having donated the icons of Equal-to-the-Apostles Grand Duchess Olga and Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg that adorn our iconostasis at West Gosford. We warmly congratulate Father Simon on his ordination to the diaconate and wish him many years of faithful service to the Holy Orthodox Church. Axios! A photo-report is available on the Fairfield parish website here, and an article in the Russian-language newspaper "Unification" can be viewed here.
On Thursday 16 April and Friday 17 April our parish clergy, Priest James Carles and Deacon Martin Naef, participated in festive services to mark the commencement of Bishop George’s service as Bishop of Canberra, Vicar of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia and Diocesan Administrator. At Divine Liturgy on Friday morning thirty-eight priests and deacons of our Diocese concelebrated with Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop George, Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese, and clergy from the Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches. A number of our parishioners were also present for Divine Liturgy, with Matushka Tatiana Naef, Anne Nielsen and Katia Waters all later representing the parish at the official luncheon together with the clergy. We welcome Bishop George to our Diocese and look forward to his first pastoral visit to our parish as Diocesan Administrator. A Russian-language article with photographs is available on the Diocesan website here.
From the evening of Great and Holy Thursday until the Sunday of Pascha there were seven services in our parish: Matins of Great and Holy Friday with the reading of the Twelve Gospels, Vespers of Great and Holy Friday with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ, Matins of Great and Holy Saturday with Lamentations before the Tomb of Christ, Vespers of Great and Holy Saturday with the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, an early Midnight Office and Paschal Matins on Saturday evening, and Paschal Vespers late on Sunday morning. This year there was no midnight Paschal Divine Liturgy as the parish rector was serving in Wallsend. The Paschal services were nevertheless particularly well-attended, with approximately 150 people gathering for Midnight Office and Paschal Matins, and many gathering for Vespers and the blessing of kulichi and eggs on Sunday morning.
Since 2005 it has been the custom in our parish to serve Matins of Great and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the first three evenings of Holy Week - Sunday, Monday and Tuesday respectively. At these solemn and beautiful services the troparion "Се Жених грядет в полунощи" ("Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night") is sung, and later - after the reading of the canon - a trio sings the exapostilarion "Чертог Твой" ("I see Thy bridal chamber adorned"). The icon placed in the middle of the church is one depicting Christ "the Bridegroom". This year, services were held only on the evenings of Sunday 5 April and Tuesday 7 April, the parish rector serving All-night Vigil for the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God in Wallsend on the evening of Monday 6 April.
On Saturday 4 April and Sunday 5 April we had services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday. On the preceding Friday the church had been cleaned and beautifully decorated with palms. On Saturday evening All-night Vigil was served with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil, five loaves and – as is customary on this feast-day – the blessing of palms and pussy-willows. Many people were present for this service, at which our full choir sang under the direction of Olga Itsikson. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday 50 people received the Holy Mysteries, amongst whom were the newly-baptised handmaidens of God Catherine Elphick and Raisa Anisimova, both receiving Holy Communion for the first time. At the dismissal a collection was taken up to benefit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. Following Divine Liturgy, a panikhida was served for Elena Lucia Radu, it being the fortieth day of her repose. Many stayed behind afterwards for a lunch of BBQ fish prepared by our Ladies’ Auxiliary, Palm Sunday being one of only two days on which fish is customarily permitted during Great Lent. UPDATE: Our collection for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem raised $638.25.
On Saturday 4 April the parish rector baptised Raisa Anisimova, the mother of our parishioner and chorister Katia Waters. Her sponsor at baptism was Nina Belachova. Also present were Raisa's grandchildren Elizabeth and Thomas, with whom - together with her husband Nikolai and Katia's sister Elena - she is now united in the Orthodox faith. In preparation for Raisa's baptism, The Office for receiving those coming to our Holy Church from Islam was served on the afternoon of Friday 3 April. May God grant his newly-enlightened handmaiden Raisa many years!
For many years now it has been our custom to serve Great Compline at 7.00pm on Wednesday evening of the Second, Third, Fourth and Sixth Weeks of Great Lent, and on the evening of Wednesday of the Fifth Week to serve Matins with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete and the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt. Because of its great length, this service commences at 6.00pm. Together with Vespers and the "Passia" at 6.00pm on the first four Sunday evenings of Great Lent these services set the tone for the season of repentance and help us support our fasting with increased prayer. This year we were again able to have all of these services, with many of those who attended helping with the reading of the psalms and prayers.
On the evening of Sunday 29 March, the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, the parish rector presided at a General Service of Anointing with Oil. Approximately 35 of our parishioners, both young and old, gathered to pray and receive anointing with oil for the healing of soul and body. The readings and prayers were alternately in Slavonic and English. Some information about the Sacrament of Anointing with Oil provided to our parishioners and friends before the service is available here.
On Sunday 29 March the parish rector baptised Catherine Elphick, the infant daughter of Richard and Elena Elphick and a baby sister to Peter and Anna. Catherine’s sponsor at baptism was Svetlana German. We offer heartfelt congratulations to Richard, Elena and Svetlana, and pray that God will grant his newly-baptised handmaiden Catherine many years!
On Saturday 28 March and Sunday 29 March we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent and in honour of the great ascetic and model of repentance, Saint Mary of Egypt. Many people took the opportunity to confess during the Saturday evening service and prior to Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time on the Sunday was the newly-baptised infant Thomas Lucas. In his sermon the parish rector briefly recounted the life of Saint Mary of Egypt before emphasising her model of repentance: heartfelt prayer, departure from the circumstances of sin, and relentless spiritual struggle. He also spoke of the Righteous Zosima – the hieromonk who met Saint Mary of Egypt in the wilderness and first recounted her life – as a model of humility and of repentance from spiritual pride.
On Wednesday 18 March the parish rector baptised Thomas Lucas, the infant son and first child of Alexander and Nadine Lucas. Thomas, who was baptised in honour of the Holy Apostle Thomas, had as his sponsors at Holy Baptism Daniel Kobeleff and Emma Lucas. We offer warm congratulations to Alex, Nadine, Daniel and Emma, and wish the newly-baptised servant of God many years!
The Parish Council met on Tuesday 17 March 2015. The usual administrative, financial and pastoral reports were heard. The rector reported that iconographer Dmitri Lihachov had commenced work on a large icon of the Holy Trinity to be ready by Pentecost 2015, the cost of which will be met by donations made in memory of Sophia Kfoury and Tatiana Elgin-Borodin. A decision was made to continue sponsorship of Haiti Orthodox Family Relief, and a number of applications for the renewal of parish membership were considered and accepted. Arrangements were made for the cleaning and decoration of the church in preparation for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Pascha. It was agreed that teleconferencing facilities would be installed to allow for flexibility in Parish Council meetings – a number of the members of the Parish Council live more than 50 kilometres from the parish centre – and that steps would be taken to fully provide for card-based payments at the candle-desk. Arrangements to publish the property purchase appeal approved at the 2014 parish Annual General Meeting were discussed. The Parish Council will next meet on Bright Tuesday, 14 April 2015.
On Saturday 14 March and Sunday 15 March we had services for the Third Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. In a departure from our usual practice, all-night vigil was served on Saturday for the sake of the bringing out of the Cross, and our full choir sang under the direction of O.I. Itsikson. The Cross was magnificently decorated by Katia Waters. Our church was full on the following day, with many having confessed in preparation for Holy Communion.
On the evening of Friday 6 March the revered Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the "Directress" of the Russian Diaspora, visited our parish. Brought from Sydney by the parish rector, the icon arrived just before 7.00pm. A great many people gathered for the occasion, and a moleben with an akathist was served before the icon, after which the faithful venerated it and received a copy of the icon printed on card. Many of those present afterwards took advantage of the rare opportunity to pray quietly before this holy icon. A collection to benefit the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia was taken up at the service.
On the evening of Sunday 1 March, the first Sunday in Great Lent, Vespers with the reading of the First “Passia” (or account of the suffering of Christ) was served. The service of the Passia was introduced to the Russian Orthodox Church in the seventeenth century by the righteous hierarch Peter (Moghila), Metropolitan of Kiev. In the parishes of our Diocese it is customarily served on the evening of the first, second, third and fourth Sundays of Great Lent. The account of the suffering of Christ is read from each of the four evangelists in turn: Matthew (Chapters 26 and 27) on the first Sunday, Mark (Chapters 14 and 15) on the second Sunday, Luke (Chapters 22 and 23) on the third Sunday, and John (Chapters 18 and 19) on the fourth Sunday. Before and after the reading of the Gospel, which occurs at the very end of the service, certain stichera from Great and Holy Friday and Great and Holy Saturday are sung, slowly and solemnly. In our parish the singing of the stichera and the reading of the Gospel are generally in English.
On the weekend of 28 February and 1 March we had services for the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Reading the Apostol for us on Sunday was Reader Christopher Dowling, visiting the Central Coast from Canberra. At the end of Divine Liturgy the service of intercession “For the conversion of those in error” was served, it being the custom of the Russian Orthodox Church to do so on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. A collection was then taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, the main seminary of our Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
On Saturday 28 February the parish rector served the funeral of Elena (Lucia) Radu. Lucia reposed aged 67 on Wednesday 25 February. She is survived by her husband Aurel and their daughter Raluka and her husband Michael, to whom we offer sincere condolences. May God grant his newly-departed handmaiden rest! The fortieth day of Lucia’s repose will be on Palm Sunday, 5 April, and our parishioners and friends are asked to particularly remember her in their prayers.
On the first four evenings of Great Lent - Monday 23 - Thuursday 26 February - we had the service of Great Compline with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. These solemn services very much set the tone for the fast, the melodies and certain of the prayers being heard only during this time. A small but steady number of people attended, with most of those present taking it in turns to assist with the reading of the psalms and prayers of Great Compline. In our parish Great Compline is also served on Wednesday evening in the second, third, fourth and sixth weeks of Great Lent.
Our Autumn 2015 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2015 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2015 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies in both languages will be available in church from Sunday 1 March.
On the evening of Sunday 22 February, the Sunday of Forgiveness, we had vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness. Our full choir sang under the direction of O. I. Itsikson. Approximately 35 of our parishioners, both adults and children, gathered for this moving service in which, at the mid-point, the Lenten melodies begin and the church vestments are changed to black. Afterwards, in accordance with the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church, all asked forgiveness of one another.
On Saturday 14 February and Sunday 15 February we had services for the Great feast of the Meeting of the Lord and for the Sunday of the Last Judgement. All-night vigil was served on Saturday evening with our full choir singing under the direction of Olga Ivanovna Itsikson. At the end of Divine Liturgy on Sunday there was a blessing of candles and - in accordance with the practice of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia – baskets of seasonal fruit. The candles, a gift to our parish, were distributed to the faithful for use at home. As it was twenty years to the day since the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop Paul (Pavlov), Ruling Bishop of our Diocese from 1980-1993, a memorial litia was served after the dismissal. Also commemorated was Archpriest Nicholas Grant, a priest of our Diocese from 1975-95, our Diocesan secretary, and a dear friend of Vladyka Paul, it having been the twentieth anniversary of his repose on 14 February 2015. Both were commemorated at the Great Entrance, and prior to the litia our parish rector spoke about the lives of these two remarkable men and their contribution to the life of the Diocese and, in the case of Vladyka Paul, the wider Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. As the faithful venerated the Cross a collection was taken up to assist the work of Orthodox Action, a charitable organisation operating under the auspices of the Diocese. This collection is taken up in all parishes of the Diocese each February.
Although a meeting was due early in January 2015, the Parish Council decided to take a summer break, meeting for the first time this year on Tuesday 10 February. The usual pastoral, administrative and financial reports were presented. Applications for renewed parish membership were considered and accepted. Arrangements for the translation of items for our Russian-language website were discussed, and it was agreed that Rick Golovin would represent the parish at Bishop George’s induction at Strathfield on 17 April 2015. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 17 March 2015.
On Saturday 31 January and Sunday 1 February we had services for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the first day on which the Lenten Triodion is used. A greater than usual number of people gathered on both Saturday night and Sunday morning. Although our parish deacon Father Martin Naef was absent, travelling abroad for work, we were joined for Divine Liturgy by a dear friend of the parish, Protodeacon German Polorotov, now assigned to the Gold Coast-Tweed Heads parish of our Diocese. In his sermon the rector spoke of the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18: 10-14), emphasising the importance of emulating the best characteristics of both - the humility of the Publican and the righteousness of the Pharisee - whilst avoiding both sin and foolish pride. Many stayed afterwards for a cup of tea and company.
It has been the custom in our parish since January 2002 for the parish rector to visit parish homes during the festive days following the Great Feast of Theophany and to bless them with the Holy Water. The troparion and kontakion of the feast are sung as the Holy Water is sprinkled throughout the home, and afterwards prayers are offered before the family icons for the health and salvation of those dwelling there. This year, the blessing of homes began on the afternoon of the Eve of Theophany, continuing on the day of the feast and the days that followed. Over 30 homes on the Central Coast and in Hornsby and Sydney's north were blessed during the week that followed the feast, with further visits still to be made.
On Thursday 15 January we learned with sadness of the repose that morning of our parishioner, Michael Grigorieff. Born in Shanghai on 29 December 1933, Michael came to Australia with his family in the mid-1930s, serving in the Australian Army during the 1950s. Michael had a long association with the Central Coast and was a member of our parish from 2006. His funeral was served in our church on Thursday 22 January, after which he was laid to rest at the Noraville Cemetery. Michael is survived by two sons, Adrian and John, to whom we offer sincere condolences. May God grant rest to His newly-departed servant!
On Saturday 17 January and Sunday 18 January we had services for the Thirty-Second Sunday after Pentecost and the Eve of the Great Feast of Theophany. On Saturday evening Matins was served and on Sunday morning, Divine Liturgy followed by Vespers and the Great Blessing of Water. Despite the heat and the great length of the service, many people gathered in church and remained to the end to partake of the Holy Water. That afternoon the parish rector visited a number of parish homes for the customary Theophany blessing. On the following day a number of our parishioners travelled to the parish of Saint Nicholas, Wallsend, to participate in the festive services there.
On Thursday 15 January our parish rector served the funeral of Nadejda Feldman in the chapel at Palmdale Lawn Cemetery and Memorial Park. Nadejda reposed aged 78 on Thursday 8 January, the second day of the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ. She is survived by her husband Victor, their children Vera, Lioubov and Alexandre, and their grandchildren. May God grant rest to his newly-departed handmaiden!
On Saturday 10 January the parish rector baptised six year-old Andrew Aristarchov, the son of Dmitry and Irina Aristarchov. Andrew, who was baptised in honour of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, had as his sponsors at Holy Baptism Konstantin Ouskov and Ekaterina Lysenko. We offer warm congratulations to Dmitry, Irina, Konstantin and Ekaterina, and wish the newly-baptised Andrew many years!
On Tuesday 6 January and Wednesday 7 January we had services for the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ. Prior to the services our small church had been beautifully decorated by Katia Waters and Wassim Ayoub. On Tuesday evening All-night Vigil (Great Compline and Matins) with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served with a great many people in attendance. At Matins Alexander Momot, a Russian Orthodox man born in Harbin and blind from his birth, read the Six Psalms, having committed them to memory in his childhood. On the following day our church was again full – visitors from Newcastle and Sydney joining us for the feast – and many of the faithful received Holy Communion. Following the Prayer before the Amvon we had a brief Moleben of Thanksgiving to mark the anniversary of the deliverance in 1812 of the Russian Church and Empire from the invasion of the French and twelve other nations. Metropolitan Hilarion’s 2015 Nativity Epistle was then read aloud by the rector. After the service many remained behind to share in a festive meal in church hall.
On Saturday 3 January and Sunday 4 January we had services for the Thirtieth Sunday after Pentecost and the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ. The Sunday before the Nativity is a day of commemoration of the Holy Fathers, the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, and also of the Old Testaments prophets who bore witness to His coming. Our small church was full on Sunday, with many people receiving Holy Communion. At the Prayer before the Amvon the parish rector blessed eight beautiful new green vestments for the parish altar-servers, the work of the Convent of Saint Elisabeth in Minsk, Belarus.
On Saturday 3 January our parish had its customary clean-up in preparation for Christmas. Over 20 parishioners gathered to assist with this work. All the furniture was removed from the church to be washed and polished, the oil lamps were cleaned and refilled, the icons were wiped and dusted, and everything in church was made to shine. The Christmas vestments were ironed in readiness for the festive services. Afterwards, all shared a Lenten meal before returning home. May the Lord bless all those who helped!