On Saturday 24 December and Sunday 25 December we had services for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Forefathers - the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh - and Venerable Herman of Alaska (+1836 AD). As Sunday was also the day of commemoration of Saint Spyridon, Wonderworker of Tremithus (+348 AD), a greatly revered hierarch of the Orthodox Church, his icon was placed in the centre of the church for veneration and his magnification was sung at All-night vigil on Saturday evening. Prior to All-night vigil on Saturday evening and after Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning prayers were offered for the repose of the soul of Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey brutally murdered in Ankara on 19 December by an Islamist extremist.
On Saturday 17 December and Sunday 18 December we had services for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified. All-night vigil with the magnification of the saint was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. Following Divine Liturgy a memorial litia was served for our parishioner Helen Leidl in anticipation of the fortieth day of her repose on Tuesday 20 December 2016.
On Tuesday 13 December our 2016-17 Parish Council, elected at our parish Annual General Meeting on Sunday 2 October, met for the first time. Father James gave a detailed report on the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly held in Cabramatta from 17-19 November and on the participation of parish delegates in the work of the Assembly and in the celebration of Metropolitan Hilarion's twentieth anniversary as Ruling Bishop. Financial reports for September, October and November were considered, and plans for 2017 were discussed. The Parish Council is scheduled to meet next on Tuesday 24 January 2017.
On Saturday 3 December and Sunday 4 December we had services for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and the Great Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served on Saturday evening. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the newly-baptised servant of God John received Holy Communion for the first time. Following the Dismissal, a litia was served for Tatiana Elgin-Borodin, it being the eve of the second anniversary of her repose. As the faithful venerated the Cross a collection was taken up for the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia.
On Saturday 3 December the parish rector received Rodney Johnstone into the Orthodox Church by baptism and chrismation. In baptism Rodney took the name John in honour of Saint John of the Ladder. His sponsors were Bill Reid and Boris Levitski. We warmly congratulate the newly-illumined servant of God John and his sponsors, and wish him many years.
Our Summer 2016-17 Schedule of Services - covering December, January and February - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Summer 2016-17 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Summer 2016-17 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. We will have a number of important services this Summer - for Saint Herman of Alaska and Saint Seraphim of Sarov, for Christmas and Theophany, and more. Please join us!
On 12 November 2016 we learned with sadness of the sudden repose on the previous day of one of our oldest parishioners, Helen Leidl. Born Princess Helena Tmiro-Chestohin, the daughter of Prince Valerian P. Khan Tmiro-Chestohin and Princess Maria Feodorovna, in Tientsin, China, on 28 August 1935, Helen grew up in Shanghai, later emigrating to Australia. Here she married Kurt Leidl (d. 2006) and bore three children: Peter, Anthony (d. 1984), and Suzanne. A quiet and unassuming woman, and one of the original members of the Russian Orthodox community here on the Central Coast, Helen had been with us in church on Sunday 6 November, just a few days before her repose. Her funeral was served in our church on Wednesday 23 November 2016, after which she was laid to rest beside her husband and their son at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Leppington, NSW. May God give her rest!
On Saturday 19 November and Sunday 20 November we had services for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Venerable Lazarus the wonderworker of Mount Galesion near Ephesus (+1053 AD) and the Thirty-Three Maryrs of Melitene (+3rd C. AD). Father Martin - newly elevated to the rank of protodeacon - was unable to be with us, having agreed to assist at Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Archangel Michael parish in Blacktown, NSW. Immediately after Divine Liturgy a memorial litia was served for the newly-reposed Helen Leidl. Afterwards, all enjoyed piroshki freshly cooked by our hard-working Ladies' Auxiliary and helpers.
From Wednesday 16 November until Saturday 19 November 2016, representatives of our parish participated in the work of the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia and in commemorative events marking the twentieth anniversary of Metropolitan Hilarion's appointment as Ruling Bishop. At Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Thursday 17 November our clergy Priest James Carles and Deacon Martin Naef were raised to the rank of archpriest and protodeacon respectively for their service to the Holy Orthodox Church. Attending the festive banquet held in Metropolitan Hilarion's honour that evening were Father James, Father Martin and his wife Tatiana, parish delegates Anna Kourbatov and Anne Nielsen, and parishioners Bill Reid, Lilija Sile and Angelika Puzhak.
On Saturday 5 November and Sunday 6 November we had services for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Martyr Arethas of Omir and the 4,299 martyrs with him (+523 AD). Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy was the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Natalia Lucas. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the example in Saint Arethas of taking up one's cross and of confessing Christ before men (Matthew 10:32-33,37-38, 19:27-30 - the Gospel reading appointed for the saints).
On Saturday 29 October and Sunday 30 October we had services for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Prophet Hosea and Monk-Martyr Andrew of Crete. As Saturday 29 October was – according to the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia – Demetrius Saturday, a day of commemoration of the departed – there was a general panikhida prior to the service on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning there was a great many people in church, including a number of families visiting our church for the first time. Following the service a collection was again taken up for the Synodal Liturgical Music Commission.
A group of young families working under the auspices of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta, NSW, is organising a camp for children and young people aged 8-17 to be held in Toukley, NSW - here on the Central Coast - from 11 December - 17 December 2016. For those interested, more information is available here. This year the Diocesan Teen Retreat - for young people aged 13-17 - will be held on the Queensland Sunshine Coast from 19 December - 23 December.
On Sunday 16 October the parish rector baptised Natalia Lucas, the infant daughter of Alexander and Nadine Lucas and baby sister to Thomas. Natalia, who was baptised in honour of the Holy Martyr Natalia, had as her sponsors at Holy Baptism Daniel Kobeleff, Emma Lucas and Megan Kobeleff. We offer warm congratulations to all and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God many years!
On Saturday 15 October and Sunday 16 October we had services for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite, bishop of Athens (+96 AD). In his sermon at Divine Liturgy the rector spoke of Saint Paul's preaching in Athens, the conversion of Saint Dionysius, and the need to bear witness to Christ in these times. Following the service a collection was taken up to assist the Synodal Liturgical Music Commission and an announcement was made concerning the forthcoming banquet celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Metropolitan Hilarion's service in the Australian-New Zealand Diocese.
On Saturday 15 October 2016, the day after the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Blacktown, NSW, will celebrate its patronal feast-day. This parish is one of only two parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Australia. The lesser blessing of water will be served at 8.30am, the Hours at 9.00am, and Divine Liturgy at 9.30am. At 12.00pm there will be a festive lunch. More information including the church address and contact details is available in English here, and in Russian here.
On Sunday 2 October our parish held its 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM). The 2016 Annual Report was presented and accepted, a Parish Council for 2016-17 was elected, delegates to the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly were chosen, and our two Child Safety Contact Persons were reappointed. Those elected to the Parish Council were Vladimir (“Rick”) Golovin, Bill Reid, Anna Kourbatov, Reader Paul Douriaguine, Anne Nielsen, and Nina Golovin. Anne Nielsen, Anna Kourbatov and Rick Golovin will represent the parish at the Diocesan Assembly, and Matushka Marie Carles and Alla Karmadonoff were reappointed to the role of Child Safety Contact Persons. During the course of the meeting there was a long a fruitful discussion about parish life now and in the future. Attention was given to strategies to better involve parishioners and friends of all ages in parish life, to make visitors of diverse backgrounds feel more welcome, and to help everyone better understand the Orthodox Christian faith. At the end of the meeting Father James spoke briefly but warmly about his trip to Russia in October 2015 and of his impressions of church life there.
On Saturday 1 October and Sunday 2 October we had services for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost and the Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Joining the parish rector for Divine Liturgy after a month serving at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Strathfield, NSW, was Deacon Martin Naef. Following the service a collection was again taken up to assist the Holy Dormition Lavra in Svyatogorsk, Eastern Ukraine, to provide for refugees. Over two Sundays our parish contributed $460.00 to this Diocesan-wide collection. The final announcement concerning the parish Annual General Meeting was made, and those present were invited to join the Wallsend parish in welcoming Bishop George to preside at Divine Liturgy there on Sunday 9 October.
Our 2016 Annual Report, including the independently audited 2015-16 Financial Statements, is now available. The 2016 Annual Report will be presented to our parish Annual General Meeting (AGM) this coming Sunday, 2 October 2016. A copy of the report is available in PDF form here. Printed copies have been posted to parish members this week. We encourage our parishioners and friends with questions or comments in relation to our Annual Report to contact us.
On Saturday 17 September and Sunday 18 September we had services for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Right-believing Prince Peter and Princes Fevronia (+1228 AD), wonderworkers of Murom and exemplars of love and faithfulness in married life. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday, a moleben was served to the saints at which all the married and engaged couples in the parish were commemorated by name. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the lives of the saints and of their enduring example. Following the service the second announcement was made about our forthcoming parish Annual General Meeting, and a collection was taken up to help the Holy Dormition Lavra in Svyatogorsk, Ukraine, to assist the many refugees who have taken shelter there.
On Saturday 3 September and Sunday 4 September we had services for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, for the Afterfeast of the Dormition, and in honour of the Martyr Agathonicus of Nicomedia and his companions. In a return to the customary practice of the Russian Orthodox Church all-night vigil rather than Matins was served on Saturday evening, the first time that this had happened on an ordinary Saturday evening since 2004. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector, referring to the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel (Matthew 18:23-35), spoke about the importance of showing mercy to others if we are to hope for it for ourselves. Following Divine Liturgy, the first announcement of our 2016 Annual General Meeting was made.
Our Spring 2016 Schedule of Services - covering September, October and November - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Spring 2016 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Spring 2016 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. In the Spring 2016 Scehdule of Services there are two significant changes to our usual pattern of worship: All-night vigil rather than Matins will now be served on Saturday evenings, and regular akathists to Saint Panteleimon will be served once a month rather than twice.
On Saturday 20 August and Sunday 21 August we had services for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, the Afterfeast of the Transfiguration, and the commemoration of the Translation of the Relics of Saints Zosima and Sabbatius, wonderworkers of Solovki. Prior to the evening service on Saturday there was a confession service for children. During the services the faithful were able to venerate a hand-painted icon of the saints that had been blessed on their wonderworking relics. Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday a memorial litia was served for the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) (1863-1936), first First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, it having been the eightieth anniversary of his repose on Wednesday 10 August, and for the newly-reposed Protodeacon Christopher Henderson, a clergyman of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese who reposed on 16 August. Father Christopher was a frequent visitor to our community during the early years at Narara and for the first few years after our move to West Gosford in 2004.
On Thursday 19 August and Friday 20 August we had services for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Thursday evening. On Friday morning Divine Liturgy was served. The appointed Prayer for Ukraine was read after the Litany of Fervent Intercession. Following the Prayer before the Amvon we had the customary blessing of grapes, apples and other fruits. As in previous years, a quantity of organic Wollombi Valley Honey, a gift to our parish, was blessed and given to those present.
On Saturday 6 August and Sunday 7 August we had services for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saint Anna, the mother of the Mother of God. The Prayer for Ukraine was read at Divine Liturgy on Sunday. After the Prayer before the Amvon the parish rector blessed a new icon of All Saints of Ufa, a gift to our parish from the Holy Trinity Convent in Birsk, Bashkortostan, in gratitude for a donation from our parish.
On Friday 5 August and Saturday 6 August we had festive services in anticipation of the feast of our patron saint, the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, on 9 August. Prior to the services, our small church was beautifully decorated with flowers by Ekaterina Waters. On Friday evening All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served by the rector of the Archbishop’s Chapel of All Saints of Russia (Croydon, NSW), Priest Simon Nekipelov, and by our parish deacon, Father Martin Naef. Joining them for the litia and the polyeleos were our parish rector, Priest James Carles, and Priest Dionysios Halim of Saint John the Baptist Skete (Kentlyn, NSW). On Saturday morning Father James served the lesser blessing of water together with Deacon Simeon Polorotoff of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church (Fairfield, NSW). His Grace Bishop George of Canberra presided at Divine Liturgy, with Father James, Father Dionysios, Protodeacon Constantine Moshegov of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral (Strathfield, NSW), Father Martin and Father Simeon concelebrating. In his sermon, Bishop George spoke about the life of Saint Panteleimon and of the need to be whole-hearted and serious in our Christian lives. Following Divine Liturgy a moleben to Saint Panteleimon was served in the middle of the church. Our choir, strengthened by singers from other parishes who had joined us for the day, sang under the direction of Matushka Marie Carles. Afterwards approximately 120 parishioners and friends from Sydney and Newcastle enjoyed a festive lunch, hosted for the first time at our parish centre in West Gosford.
On Saturday 30 July and Sunday 31 July we had services for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Six Ecumenical Councils. At Divine Liturgy the appointed Prayer for Ukraine was read. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the work of the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils in expressing and defending the Truth once revealed to Apostles. He also spoke about Saint John the Much-Suffering, a renowned ascetic of the Kiev Caves who struggled greatly with lust, and of the importance of his example and prayers in these troubled times. Saint John is commemorated by the Russian Orthodox Church on 31 July (18 July on the Julian Calendar).
At 12.00pm on Sunday 31 July the students, teachers and parents of the Central Coast Russian School will present a musical, "Brementown Muscians", at Woy Woy Public School, Bowden Road, Woy Woy. Tickets are $20.00 per family. Information is available in Russian here and in English here.
On Saturday 16 July and Sunday 17 July we had services for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs and Passionbearers of Russia, the ninety-eighth anniversary of whose martyrdom it was on this day. At Divine Liturgy the appointed Prayer of Repentance was read. Receving Holy Communion for the first time was the newly-baptised infant Florence (Monika) Yakimov. In his sermon the rector spoke of the example of steadfastness and faithfulness in the face of tribulation given by the Royal Martyrs and of the importance of their veneration.
On Saturday 9 July the parish rector baptised Florence Yakimov, the infant daughter and first child of Alex and Tammy Yakimov. In baptism Florence was given the name Monica in honour of Venerable Monica, the mother of Blessed Augustine, on whose feast-day she was born. Her godparents were Gerald Korelin and Amber Hannan. We warmly congratulate Alex, Tammy, Gerald and Amber, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God many years!
On Saturday 2 July and Sunday 3 July we had services for the Second Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of All Saints of Russia, the memory of whom is customarily celebrated on this day. At Divine Liturgy the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Russian Church was read. In his sermon, the parish rector spoke of the multitude of saints of every walk of life who had graced the Russian Land, and of the need to be - like them - faithful in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. He also spoke of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, the great twentieth-century hierarch and wonderworker who had lived and served the Lord outside Russia, and of his example to us in modern times.
On Saturday 18 June and Sunday 19 June we had services for the Great Feast of Pentecost, the commemoration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. On Saturday morning a small group of parishioners gathered to decorate the church with grant-branches in honour of the the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life. As the Saturday before Pentecost is a day of commemoration of the departed, a pannikhida was served immediately prior to All-night Vigil on Saturday evening. Amongst those commemorated were Sophia Kfoury and Tatiana Elgin-Borodin, two much-loved parishioners in whose memory our new icon of the Holy Trinity was painted. Divine Liturgy on Sunday was followed by Vespers and the customary "kneeling prayers". During the Sunday services parishioners held beautiful bouquets prepared by our Head Sister, Kate Marcotrigiano.
On Saturday 4 June and Sunday 5 June we had services for the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Blind Man. On Sunday the weather on the Central Coast was inclement and the power to our church was cut, leaving us to serve the Hours and the first part of Divine Liturgy in the dark. At the end of Divine Liturgy a brief moleben was served before an icon of All Saints of Ufa that our rector had brought back with him from a visit to the Diocese of Ufa and Sterlitamak (Bashkortostan, Russia) in October 2015, it having been the feast-day of these saints on Friday 3 June. Following the service all enjoyed freshly-cooked piroshki prepared by our Ladies Auxiliary.
On Saturday 28 May and Sunday 29 May we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman and the Afterfeast of Mid-Pentecost. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector spoke of the way in which we, like the Samaritan Woman, make the mistake of seeking satisfaction in the passing things of this world, and of the need to find – as did she – that the true satisfaction of our longings is ultimately to be found in God alone.
Our Winter 2016 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2016 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2016 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies in both languages will be available in church from Saturday 28 May.
On Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May we had services for the Third Sunday of Pascha, the day of commemoration of the Myrrh-Bearing Women and of Righteous Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. At the Great Entrance the parish rector commemorated two newly-reposed clergymen of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese, Mitred Archpriest Michael Li and Mitred Archpriest Michael Klebansky, both of whom had departed this life on Thursday 12 May. Following the dismissal he spoke about the lives and exemplary service of both priests before a memorial litia was served.
On Friday 6 May and Saturday 7 May we have services for the First Saturday of Pascha, Bright Saturday. Paschal Matins was served on Friday evening and Paschal Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. Following the Prayer before the Amvon the parish rector read the Prayer at the Cutting of the Artos. In place of a sermon, the Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion was read aloud.
During Holy Week we had a number of beautiful services. Matins was served on the evenings of Sunday 24, Monday 25, Tuesday 26, and Wednesday 27 April, and Divine Liturgy was served on the morning of Thursday 28 April, Great and Holy Thursday. At 3.00pm on Friday 29 April, Great and Holy Friday, Vespers with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ was served. The Tomb and Shroud were beautifully decorated with flowers prepared by Kate Marcotrigiano and Claudia Kraiuhin.
On Friday 22 April and Saturday 23 April we had services for Lazarus Saturday, the sixth Saturday of Great Lent. Matins was served on Friday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. As we had no services for Palm Sunday, following the Prayer before the Amvon bunches of pussy-willows and flowers were blessed in anticipation of the feast.
During the course of Great Lent we had a number of beautiful services on weeknights and on Sunday evenings. On the first four Sundays of Great Lent – Sunday 20 and 27 March and Sunday 3 and 10 April – Vespers with the reading of the Passia was served. On Wednesday of the second and sixth weeks of Great Lent and Thursday of the third week Great Compline was served, and on Wednesday of the fifth week we had Matins with the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete and the reading of the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt.
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 2016, together with an explanation of the reasons why weddings cannot be celebrated on certain days and dates and during certain seasons. A list of Sundays and Fridays in 2017 on which weddings can be celebrated has now been added. 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 Outside Russia. Should anyone have any questions about this information, please contact us.
On Saturday 16 April and Sunday 17 April we had services for the Fifth Sunday in Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint Mary of Egypt. Matins was served on Sunday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. It being the fortieth anniversary of the repose of the ever-memorable Archbishop Sava (Raevsky) (1892-1976), the Ruling Bishop of our Diocese from 1955-1969, he was commemorated at the Great Entrance. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time were the newly-baptised handmaidens of God Maria Tuntsova and Lydia Shevchenko. Following Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke about the life and work of Vladyka Sava before serving a litia for his repose. The rector also asked parishioners and friends to pray for the grievously ill Mitred Archpriest Michael Klebansky, speaking briefly about Father Michael's fifty years of faithful service as a priest in numerous parishes of the Diocese and in the Holy Land.
On Saturday 16 April, the Fifth Saturday in Great Lent and the Saturday of the Akathist, the parish rector baptised seventy-nine year-old Lilia Shevchenko. Lilia, who was baptised in honour of Martyr Lydia, had as her sponsor at baptism her daughter-in-law Ekaterina Shevchenko. We warmly congratulate the newly-baptised Lydia and wish her every blessing from God in her new life!
On Sunday 10 April, the Fourth Sunday in Great Lent and the day of commemoration of Saint John of the Ladder, the parish rector baptised Maria Tuntsova, the infant daughter and third child of Artem Tuntsov and Tatiana Tuntsova. Maria, who was baptised in honour of Saint Mary of Egypt, had as her sponsors at baptism Tatiana Tsoutsman and Viacheslav Didenko. We warmly congratulate Artem, Tatiana, Tatiana, and Viacheslav, and wish the newly-baptised Maria many years!
On Saturday 2 April and Sunday 3 April we had services for the Third Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. Matins with the bringing out of the Cross was served on Saturday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday morning. As Saturday was a day of commemoration of the departed, Matins that evening was preceded by a general memorial service. A great many people were present on Sunday morning, with friends from Newcastle and Sydney joining us for the service. In his sermon the rector spoke of the way in which the veneration of the Cross on this day, the mid-point of the Forty Days of Great Lent, serves to encourage the faithful in spiritual struggle.
On Saturday 19 March and Sunday 20 March we had services for the First Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It being the season of repentance, a great many people confessed and received the Holy Mysteries. Joining for us for Divine Liturgy was a group of Orthodox Christians and catechumens from China. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, the customary moleben “For the Conversion of those in Error” was served. At the Dismissal, the rector spoke briefly about the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) who reposed on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy in 2008 before serving a memorial litia for him. A collection for the Holy Trinity Seminary was then taken up, raising $580.00. In the evening, Vespers with the Passia was served.
At 5.00pm on Saturday 19 March our parish had a special confession service for children. Prior to the service the parish rector spoke to the children about the history and meaning of the Holy Mystery of Repentance and of the importance of making a good confession. The children, about a dozen of whom were present, then confessed in turn as some of the Prayers before Holy Communion were read.
On the evening of Forgiveness Sunday we had Vespers with the rite of asking forgiveness. Despite the fact that there was no morning service a great many people came to pray, venerate the holy icons with prostrations and to ask forgiveness of one another. On the following morning Matins commenced early and was followed by the Hours and Vespers, with the services finishing only after 1.00pm. On the first four evenings of the week Great Compline was served with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. At all of the weekday services many of those present assisted with the reading and singing in both Church Slavonic and English.
On Saturday 5 March and Sunday 6 March we had services for the Sunday of the Last Judgment. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector noted the care with which people prepare for earthly judgments – obtaining references and enrolling in educational programmes, for example – and emphasised the need to prepare all the more diligently for the Last Judgement. Announcements were made concerning services during the First Week of Great Lent, a special confession service for children, and a collection to benefit the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, New York. Following the service our parishioners and friends enjoyed pancakes prepared by the Ladies’ Auxiliary.
Our Autumn 2016 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2016 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2016 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies in both languages are now available in church.
On Saturday 20 February and Sunday 21 February we had services for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and for the Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke of the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14) and of the importance of attention to the virtues of both men - humility and piety - whilst avoiding spiritual pride and self-satisfaction.
On Sunday 14 February and Monday 15 February we had services for the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Sunday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Monday morning. It being a working day, a small number of people gathered for Divine Liturgy. Following the Prayer before the Amvon the parish rector blessed candles and fruit, as is customary, together with a beautiful new set of embroidered green velvet covers for the sacred vessels, a gift to our parish from the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Yekaterinburg, Russia. At the end of the service a memorial litia was served for the ever-memorable Archbishop Paul (Pavlov)(+1995), the fourth Ruling Bishop of our Diocese, and Archpriest Nicholas Grant, his loyal friend and secretary. Vladyka Paul reposed on this feast-day twenty-one years ago and Father Nicholas reposed less than twenty-four hours later. Prior to the litia the parish rector spoke about the character of these two men and their great contribution to the Diocese. May their memory be eternal!
On Wednesday 10 February and Thursday 11 February we had unscheduled services in honour of All Saints of Yekaterinburg, our parish rector having visited some of the holy places of that region - Yekaterinburg itself, Ganina Yama, Alapayevsk, Verkhoturye and Merkushino - in October 2015. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Wednesday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Thursday morning. For perhaps the first time ever, the greater part of the evening service for these saints was sung and read in English, the Slavonic service having been recently translated by Reader Isaac Lambertsen for the occasion. At the litia all sixty-three of the saints were commemorated by name, together with a sixty-fourth, the newly glorified Passion-bearer Evgeny (Botkin) the physician. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at the end of Divine Liturgy a brief moleben was served and a prayer to the saints was read. All Saints of the land of Yekaterinburg, pray to God for us!
On Tuesday 9 February the Parish Council met for the first time in 2016. Making use of equipment installed since the last meeting, two members of the Parish Council participated via Skype. The usual pastoral, administrative and financial reports were presented. Attention was then given to a number of important matters: Orthodox Christian education, the future and the direction of the parish, and priorities in charitable work. It was agreed that the parish would in 2016 once again sponsor Haiti Orthodox Family Relief and provide one full-year and two half-year scholarships to Saint Serpahim Community Russian School, Hornsby. Decisions were also made to proceed with the installation of new air-conditioning in the parish centre, serve blini on Sunday 7 March, and celebrate the parish’s patronal feast-day of Saint Panteleimon on Friday 5 August and Saturday 6 August 2016. The Parish Council is scheduled to meet next on Tuesday 8 March 2016.
On Saturday 6 February and Sunday 7 February we had services for the Thirty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy was the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Mila Sidorkina. After the dismissal a collection was taken up for Orthodox Action, a charitable organization operating under the auspices of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. Following the service on Sunday our Child Safety Contact Person, Matushka Marie Carles, spoke to the children present under the age of 12 about her role and about their safety in parish life.
On Saturday 30 January and Sunday 31 January we had services for the Thirty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and in honour of Saints Athanasius (+373) and Kyrill (+444) of Alexandria. Following the service announcements were made concerning the February 2016 Diocesan Collection for Orthodox Action Sydney and Melbourne and a child-safe, child-friendly information session to be held for children up to 12 years of age on Sunday 7 February. Copies of the parish's January 2016 newsletter and 2016 magnetic calendar were then distributed to those present.
On Sunday 24 January the parish rector baptised Mila Sidorkina, the infant daughter and third child of Anton and Aksana Sidorkin and a baby sister to Michael and Sophia. In baptism Mila was given the name Ludmilla in honour of the Martyr Ludmilla, princess of the Czechs. Her sponsor was Victoria Kulikova. We warmly congratulate Anton, Aksana and Victoria, and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Ludmilla many years!
On Monday 18 January and Tuesday 19 January we had services for the Great Feast of Theophany, the commemoration of the Baptism of the Lord. All-night vigil - Great Compline and Matins with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves – was served on Monday evening, and Divine Liturgy with the Great Blessing of Water was served on Tuesday morning. Following the service on Tuesday the parish rector visited many homes around Gosford and Woy Woy to sprinkle the Holy Water and offer prayers for the health and salvation of the faithful.
On Saturday 16 January and Sunday 17 January we had services for the Sunday before Theophany and in honour of the Seventy Apostles. This was a quiet weekend, with many people away after Christmas.
On Thursday 7 January, the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ, Matushka Marie Carles was presented with a gift in recognition of her faithful service to this parish and to the parish of Saint Nicholas, Wallsend. The gift - a beautiful hand-painted icon of Matushka's heavenly protector, Saint Mary of Palestine - was presented in the presence of a great many people from both parishes at the end of the festive Divine Liturgy in Wallsend on that day. In presenting the icon, Father James spoke of Matushka's steadfast and quiet service to both parishes over many years in baking prosphora, singing in and leading the choirs, teaching children, and faithfully supporting her husband in his own ministry. On behalf of both parishes he congratulated her and wished her God's help in her continued service before intoning "Many Years!"
On Saturday 2 January and Sunday 3 January we had services for the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, the day of commemoration of the Holy Fathers, all those men and women who from the dawn of time have pleased God. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was the newly-baptised Sergei Teliatnikov. In his sermon, the parish rector spoke of the faithfulness of the Holy Fathers despite the peoples around them having a profoundly different way of life, and of their continuing example to us.
On Sunday 3 January the parish rector baptised Stephan Rezk, the infant son of Roufail and Olesya Rezk and a baby brother to Sylvia, Ricky, Arseny and Seraphim. Stephan, who was baptised in honour of the Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephan, had as his sponsors at Holy Baptism Natalia Korotaeva and the rector, Father James. We offer warm congratulations to Stephan’s parents and godparents, and wish the newly-baptised servant of God many years!