Our Winter 2018 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. A copy of the English-language Winter 2018 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2018 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies in both languages are now available in church.
On Saturday 19 May and Sunday 20 May we had services for the seventh Sunday of Pascha and in honour of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council convened in Nicaea in 325 AD. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the history of the First Ecumenical Council and the enduring importance for Christian life of the decisons that it made.
On Wednesday 16 May and Thursday 17May we had services for the Great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. 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. As it was on this feast-day in 2007 that the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate was signed, the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Russian Church was read after the Augmented Litany and a brief service of thanksgiving was served following the Prayer before the Amvon. After the dismissal the parish rector spoke briefly about the traditional significance of the feast-day and about the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church.
On the evening of Tuesday 15 May, the Eve of the Leave-taking of Pascha, a small group of parishioners gathered for the final Paschal Matins of the year. In accordance with the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church, Matins was served as it is during Bright Week – sung in its entirety, and with the doors to the sanctuary open. The icon of the Resurrection of the Lord was then returned to the sanctuary, the Shroud of Christ was removed from the Holy Table, and the church was made ready for the festive services for the Ascension of the Lord.
On Saturday 5 May and Sunday 6 May we had services for the Fifth Sunday of Pascha - the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (John 4:5-42) – and in honour of the Great Martyr, Trophy-bearer and Wonderworker George (+303 AD). In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the extraordinary conversation of Christ with the Samaritan Woman Photini by Jacob’s Well, her conversion and martyrdom, and the help received over the centuries through the prayers of Saint George. For the first time in our fourteen years at West Gosford refreshments were not offered after the service, our hall and kitchen having been closed in preparation for the construction of a second floor above the hall and a choir loft at the rear of the church. We hope to have this work finished by late July 2018.
Mid-Pentecost is the twenty-fifth day of Pascha, half-way to the Great Feast of Pentecost on the fiftieth day. On this day we commemorate Christ's teaching in the temple "in the midst of the Judaic feast" (John 7:14-30). Although we were again unable to have services on Wednesday 2 May, the day of Mid-Pentecost itself, on the eve of the feast we had Matins followed by the customary blessing of water. The blessing of water occurs on this day as a sign of the grace of the Holy Spirit and with reference to the "living water" promised by our Lord Jesus Christ to all that believe in Him (John 7:37-38).
On Saturday 28 April and Sunday 29 April we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Paralytic. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on Sunday was the newly-baptised infant Amelia Bolonin. As 29 April was the tenth anniversary of the enthronement of Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), a moleben of thanksgiving was served following the Prayer before the Amvon. At the end of the service the parish rector spoke briefly about Metropolitan Hilarion’s election as First Hierarch and his wise leadership over the past ten years. In accordance with a directive of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops, 'Many Years' was then intoned for Metropolitan Hilarion and 'Eternal Memory' was sung for the ever-memorable Emperor Alexander II, the "Tsar-Liberator" assassinated in 1881, it being the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth.
On Saturday 14 April and Sunday 15 April we had services for the second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. At Divine Liturgy on Sunday the newly-baptised child Teagan (Katerina) Rochtchina received Holy Communion for the first time. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at the prayer at the breaking of the Artos was read. In place of a sermon, the parish rector read aloud the Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion in Russian and in English. At the dismissal, pieces of the blessed Artos were given to the faithful.
On Sunday 15 April, Thomas Sunday, the parish rector baptised Amelia Bolonin, the infant daughter and first child of Yuriy and Eugenia Bolonin. Amelia was baptised in honour of Righteous Emmelia of Caesarea. Her godparents were Alexei Kozlovski and Svetlana Bolonina. We warmly congratulate Yuriy, Eugenia, Alexei and Svetlana and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Amelia many years!
On Saturday 14 April, Bright Saturday, the parish rector baptised two year-old Teagan Rochtchina, the daughter of Marina Rochtchina. Teagan was given the name Katerina in baptism in honour of Great-Martyr Katherine of Alexandria. Her godmother was her maternal aunt, Anastasia Jeboult. We warmly congratulate Marina and Anastasia and wish the newly-baptised handmaiden of God Katerina many years!
As is customary, this year our parish had a number of traditional services for Orthodox Holy Week and Pascha. Matins with the singing of "Behold, the Bridegroom comes" ("Се, Жених грядет") and the exapostilarion “Thy Bridal chamber” ("Чертог твой") was served in the evening on Sunday 1 April, Monday 2 April, and Tuesday 3 April. Vespers with the bringing out of the Shroud of Christ was served at midday on Friday 6 April and Matins with Lamentations before the Tomb of Christ was served that evening. On the morning of Saturday 7 April, Great and Holy Saturday and the Great Feast of the Annunciation, Divine Liturgy was served. On Saturday evening we had an early Midnight Office and procession followed by Paschal Matins and the blessing of Easter eggs and cakes. The Paschal Hours and Vespers were served on the morning of Sunday 8 April and festive foods were again blessed. Divine Liturgy was served on the morning of Monday 9 April, Bright Monday.
At 5.00pm on Sunday 20 May 2018 a fundraising dinner will be held in the church hall at Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Cathedral, 3 Vernon Street, Strathfield, to assist the Presentation Sisterhood in Bungarby, NSW, a monastic community of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. A French-themed dinner will be served, and during the evening well-known Serbian Orthodox priest Father Rade Radan will give a talk entitled 'Serpents and Doves'. Child-minding will be available. Tickets are $50.00 for adults, $40.00 for pensioners, and $15.00 for children aged 15 and younger. Seating will be at tables of 8. More information is available at https://cabrapokrov.org/fundraising-for-monasteries.
On Sunday 29 April 2018 at 2.00pm at the Russian Club, 7 Albert Road, Strathfield, Orthodox Action Sydney will present its seventeenth charity concert, “Heart of Gold” 2018. The program will feature a mixture of classical music, Russian folklore, humour, and dancing. All funds raised will benefit orphaned and abandoned children and the needy in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Tickets are $30.00 for adults, $25.00 for pensioners and students, and $10.00 for children 5-10 years of age. More information can be obtained by contacting Vera on 9747-3109 or Natasha on 9730-2367.
Saints Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Institute (SCMOI) is the newly-established theological and higher learning institute of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. It provides undergraduate and postgraduate award courses by arrangement with the Adelaide College of Divinity and the Uniting College for Leadership and Theology. SCMOI is offering a free online lecture series on "Sexuality, Homosexuality and the Bible" beginning on Thursday 19 April 2018. Online registration is available here: https://www.scmoi.edu.au/free-lecture-series.
On Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April we had services for the Great Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil, five loaves and pussy-willow branches was served on Saturday evening, during which a great many people took the opportunity to confess their sins in preparation to receive Holy Communion on the following day. Prior to Divine Liturgy on Sunday the Lesser Blessing of Water was served. Our church was full to overflowing on the day of the feast, with well over 100 people present. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was the newly-baptised infant Alexei Morozoff. Following the service a collection was taken up to assist the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem.
On Saturday 31 March the parish rector baptised Boston Morozoff, the infant son and first child of Alexei and Carly Morozoff. In baptism Boston was given the name Alexei in honour of Saint Alexei the Man of God. His godparents were Alexander Mavritsky, Laura Barandiaran and Amaya Barandiaran. We warmly congratulate Alexei, Carly, Alexander, Laura and Amaya and wish the newly-baptised servant of God Alexei many years!
On Thursday 29 March we had our final Great Compline for Great Lent in 2018. A small congregation gathered to read the psalms and prayers and to sing the familiar hymns. On the following morning, Friday 30 March, we had a clean-up of our parish centre in preparation for Holy Week and Pascha. The opportunity was also taken to decorate the church with palm branches in readiness for the Palm Sunday services on 31 March-1 April.
Our services during the fifth week of Great Lent were Matins with the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete and the reading of the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt on the evening of Wednesday 21 March and the General Service of Anointing on the evening of Sunday 25 March. At Matins on Wednesday 21 March the odes of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete were read alternately in Slavonic and English, and the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt was read in full in English. Known colloquially as “Saint Andrew’s Standing” (“Андреево стояние”), this solemn and edifying service commenced at 6.00pm and finished just before 10.00pm. On the evening of Sunday 25 March forty-six parishioners gathered for the General Service of Anointing. Although this service is ideally served by seven priests together, our distance from other parishes meant that it was served by our rector alone. Both Slavonic and English were used during the service.
In addition to services on the weekend of 17-18 March, our services during the fourth week of Great Lent were Great Compline on the evening of Thursday 15 March and Vespers with the Fourth Passia on the evening of Sunday 18 March. At Vespers with the Fourth Passia on Sunday evening the akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ and chapters 18 and 19 of Saint John’s Gospel were read in Church Slavonic.
On Saturday 17 March and Sunday 18 March we had services for the departed and for the Fourth Sunday in Great Lent, the day of commemoration of Saint John of the Ladder (+649 AD), Abbot of Mount Sinai and author of the The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a spiritual book of great and enduring significance in Orthodox spirituality. As Saturday 17 March was a day of commemoration of the departed, the service on Saturday evening was preceded by a general panikhida at which the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) (+16 March 2008), fifth First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, was commemorated, together with many departed hierarchs and clergymen of our Diocese, parishioners, relatives and friends. After the panikhida, koliva and other foods were blessed and shared. In his sermon on Sunday the parish rector made particular reference to Saint John's advice in The Ladder of Divine Ascent to laymen: "Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not be arrogant towards anyone; do not be absent from divine services; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another man's domestic happiness, and be content with what your own wives can give you. If you can behave in this way, you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven" (Step 1:21).
Our services during the third week of Great Lent were Great Compline on the evening of Thursday 8 March and Vespers with the Third Passia on the evening of Sunday 11 March. At Vespers with the Third Passia on Sunday evening the akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ and chapters 22 and 23 of Saint Luke’s Gospel were read in English.
In addition to services on the weekend of 3-4 March, our services during the second week of Great Lent were Great Compline on the evening of Thursday 1 March and Vespers with the Second Passia on the evening of Sunday 4 March. Great Compline is a simple, solemn and characteristically Lenten service of psalms and prayers, and in our parish it is the custom for all who wish to share in the reading to do so. At Vespers with the Second Passia on Sunday evening the akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ and chapters 14 and 15 of Saint Mark’s Gospel were read in Church Slavonic.
On Saturday 3 March and Sunday 4 March we had services for the Second Sunday of Great Lent and in honour of Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica (+AD 1359). As Saturday 3 March was a day of commemoration of the departed, the service on Saturday evening was preceded by a general panikhida at which a great many departed clergymen of our Diocese, parishioners, relatives and friends were commemorated by name. After the panikhida koliva and other foods were blessed and shared. Following Divine Liturgy on Sunday a collection was taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, NY.
This year our services during the First Week of Great Lent included Matins, the Hours, Typika and Vespers on Monday 19 February; Great Compline with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete each evening from Monday 19 February until Thursday 22 February; and Vespers with the First Passia on the evening of Sunday 25 February. During each week of Great Lent we will have a weeknight service and a Sunday evening service.
On Saturday 17 February and Sunday 18 February we had services for Forgiveness Sunday, the final Sunday before the beginning of Great Lent. Divine Liturgy was immediately followed by Vespers, during which the church vestments were changed from festive blue – for the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord – to black, and the ordinary melodies gave way to the solemn melodies of Great Lent. In accordance with Orthodox practice, at the end of Vespers all present asked forgiveness of one another. Following the service the Ladies Auxiliary served pancakes with herring, smoked salmon, and sour cream.
Our Autumn 2018 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May 2018 - is now available in PDF format. It includes all our services for Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha and the Great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. A copy of the English-language Autumn 2018 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2018 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies are available in church.
On Wednesday 14 February and Thursday 15 February we had services for the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord. On this day we commemorate the presentation of the Lord in the Temple on the fortieth day after his birth and his acknowledgement by the Righteous Symeon and the Prophetess Anna. 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. Following the readings of the Hours and immediately prior to the commencement of Divine Liturgy, the Order for the Blessing of Candles on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord was served. The Prayer before the Amvon was followed by a blessing of fruit – customary in many parishes of our Diocese on this day – and the dismissal was followed by a memorial litia for the ever-memorable Archbishop Paul (Pavlov), Ruling Bishop of our Diocese from 1980-1992, and for his Diocesan Secretary and friend, Archpriest Nicholas Grant. Vladyka Paul reposed on this feast-day in 1995, and Father Nicholas reposed on the eve of the feast-day that same year. Eternal memory!
On the evening of Tuesday 6 February, the day of commemoration of Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg, a moleben with an akathist – a liturgical hymn in thirteen parts –to the saint was served. The moleben – or service of intercession – was served in Church Slavonic and the akathist was read in English. All our parishioners were commemorated by name together with those who have asked for our prayers and the family and friends of those present. Following the service the parish rector congratulated Nina Golovin, the Senior Sister, on the feast-day of the parish Ladies’ Auxiliary. Many years was sung for Nina and the members of the Ladies Auxiliary and for Xenia (Janet) Strickler, celebrating her name-day. Those present later gathered in the church hall for a light festive meal. Holy blessed Xenia, pray to God for us!
On Saturday 3 February and Sunday 4 February we had services for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son – so named for the appointed Gospel reading, Luke 15:11-32 – and in honour of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. A large number of people were present for Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. It being an important feast-day in the Russian Orthodox Church, the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Russian Orthodox Church was read. In his sermon the parish rector spoke about the parable of the Prodigal Son as an encouragement to repentance and about the history and significance of the commemoration of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Following Divine Liturgy a collection was taken up for Orthodox Action, raising $195.00.
The January 2018 issue of the official journal of the Australian-New Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is now available in our parishes. In addition to the Nativity Epistle of Patriarch Kyrill in Russian and the Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion in both Russian and English, there is a range of interesting articles in both languages. In Russian: "Памятник Царю-Мученику Николаю установлен в Австралии"; "Делегация Украиской Православной Церкви Московского Патриархата в Австралии" and more. In English: "Australian and New Zealand Seventh Annual Teen Retreat”; a number of articles about Orthodox Christian practices; and more. Also included are notices concerning recent ordinations and clergy movements. Copies are $5.00
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse completed its work late in 2017. The seventeen-volume Final Report of the Royal Commission, which looked into the history of abuse in a range of institutions and organisations in Australia including religious groups, was published on 15 December 2017. The Final Report Preface and Executive Summary summarises the findings and lists all the recommendations. There is also a brief guide to the Final Report. The Royal Commission made 28 recommendations that set out governance standards – including the ten Child Safe Standards – and compliance mechanisms designed to ensure that children stay safe in religious institutions. Our Parish Council is now familiarising itself with the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission so as to develop, in conjunction with the Diocesan authorities, policies and procedures to ensure that our parish and our Diocese remain child-safe and child-friendly.
On Saturday 20 January and Sunday 21 January we had services for the Sunday after Theophany. This year, the Sunday after Theophany coincided with Zaccheus Sunday, the final Sunday before the beginning of preparation for Great Lent. On this day the appointed Gospel reading is Luke 19:1-10, the account of the repentant tax collector Zaccheus of Jericho. In his sermon the parish rector noted the shift in focus in the life of the Church from the joy of the Great Feasts of the Nativity and the Baptism of Christ to the need for repentance. This shift is also evident in the Gospel reading appointed for the Sunday after Theophany, Matthew 4:12-17.
On Thursday 18 January and Friday 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 Thursday evening, and Divine Liturgy with the Great Blessing of Water was served on Friday morning. Following the service on Friday and during the days that followed, the parish rector visited parish homes to sprinkle the Holy Water and offer prayers for the health and salvation of the faithful.
Over the weekend of 5 January – 7 January we had a number of services to prepare for and celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Matins for the Eve of the Nativity and in honour of the Martyr Eugenia (+AD) was served on the evening of Friday 5 January. On the morning of Saturday 6 January Divine Liturgy and Vespers with the eight prophetic readings from the Old Testament were served, after which we decorated our small church for the main festive services. On Saturday evening we had All-night Vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves and on Sunday morning the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. In place of a sermon, our parish rector read aloud the Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York in Russian and in English. In accordance with parish custom, prayers of thanksgiving were offered at the end of the Christmas Day service to commemorate the deliverance of the Russian Church and Empire from the French and Twelve Other Nations on this day in 1812. Following the service many gathered in the church hall for a festive meal.