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 10 April and the General Service of Anointing on the evening of Sunday 14 April. At Matins on Wednesday 10 April 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 service commenced at 6.00pm and finished just after 9.30pm. On the evening of Sunday 14 March forty-eight 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 these services, on the morning of Saturday 13 April we had a major clean-up of our church and hall in preparation for Holy Week and Pascha.
In addition to All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the Great Feast of the Annunciation on Saturday-Sunday 6-7 April, our services during the fourth week of Great Lent were Great Compline on the evening of Wednesday 3 April and Vespers with the Fourth Passia on the evening of Sunday 7 April. At Vespers with the Fourth Passia on Sunday evening the akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ was read in English and chapters 18 and 19 of Saint John's Gospel were read in Slavonic.
On Saturday 6 April 2019 the parish rector baptised Myron, the infant son of Anton Shcherbakov and Irina Markarova. Myron, who was baptised in honour of Martyr Myron of Cyzicus (+250 AD), had as his godparents Vladimir Prokhorov and Alexandra Shcherbakova. We warmly congratulate Anton, Irina, Vladimir and Alexandra and wish the newly-illumined servant of God Myron many years!
On the morning of Saturday 6 April, the fortieth day of the repose of Reader Paul Douriaguine, family members and a large group of friends gathered at his grave in Point Clare Cemetery. Our parish rector served a pannikhida and kutiya was blessed. May God grant rest to the soul of his departed servant, the Reader Paul!
On Saturday 30 March and Sunday 31 March we had services for the Third Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. As Saturday 30 March was a day of commemoration of the departed there was a general pannikhida prior to the service on Saturday evening, at which we commemorated the departed hierarchs and clergy of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese, together with our departed parishioners, family members and friends. Afterwards kutiya and sweet cakes were blessed. In accordance with Orthodox custom an image of the Holy Cross, beautifully decorated with flowers, was set forth for veneration at the end of the Saturday evening service. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday the parish rector spoke about the importance of each individual Christian denying himself or herself, taking up his or her specific cross, and following after Christ (Mark 8:34-9:1).
In addition to All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy on Saturday-Sunday 30-31 March, our services during the third week of Great Lent were Great Compline on the evening of Wednesday 27 March and Vespers with the Third Passia on the evening of Sunday 31 March. On Tuesday-Wednesday 26-27 March our parish clergy participated in the Great Lenten Pastoral Retreat of the Australian New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. 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.
On Tuesday 26 March and Wednesday 27 March 2019 the clergy of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese gathered in Sydney, NSW, for the customary Lenten Pastoral Retreat and Conference. On Tuesday afternoon the clergy met for refreshments and fellowship in the hall of the Archbishop’s Chapel of All Saints of Russia in Croydon. Lenten Matins was then served with the rector of the Croydon parish, Priest Simon Nekipelov, presiding. During the service many of the clergy took the opportunity to confess and receive absolution. In a departure from tradition, the Rule of Preparation for Holy Communion was not read prior to Matins; this allowed time after the service for an evening lecture by Archpriest Peter Heers, Lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, NY. On Wednesday morning the clergy gathered at the Diocesan Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Strathfield for the reading of the Hours and the concelebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. Metropolitan Hilarion presided at Divine Liturgy, concelebrating together Bishop George, 28 priests and 16 deacons. A complete list of participating clergymen is available here. The Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Australia sang at the service under the direction of a talented young conductor, Reader Nektary Kotlaroff. During Divine Liturgy a number of Diocesan clergymen received awards for their service to the Holy Orthodox Church. Of note, Mitred Archpriest Michael Proptopopov, Diocesan Chancellor and Dean of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, was awarded the right to wear the second pectoral cross, and Priest Dionysios Halim – who served in our parish during our rector’s absence late last year and early this year – was awarded the right to wear the gold pectoral cross. Following Divine Liturgy, the clergy gathered in the church hall for a Lenten lunch prepared by the Cathedral Ladies’ Auxiliary. After lunch, Metropolitan Hilarion opened the Pastoral Conference, expressing his joy at being back in the Diocese. He noted many new faces and thanked Bishop George for his care for the Diocese. He also thanked the clergy for their labours, noting that many worked in full-time secular employment in addition to their church responsibilities. The presentations and discussion that followed were focused primarily on the blessing of marriages and on the preparation of candidates for baptism. A selection of photographs and a communiqué are available here.
Our services during the second week of Great Lent were Great Compline on the evening of Wednesday 20 March and Vespers with the Second Passia on the evening of Sunday 24 March. At Vespers with the Second Passia on Sunday evening the akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ was read in English and chapters 14 and 15 of Saint Mark’s Gospel were read in Church Slavonic.
On the afternoon of Sunday 17 March, the parish rector baptised Noemie, the daughter of Stanislav Vitkovskiy and Ekaterina Vitkovskaya. Noemie, who was given the name Theodosia in baptism in honour of Martyr Theodosia of Tyre, had as her godmother Julia Gomina. We warmly congratulate Stanislav, Ekaterina and Julia and wish the newly-illumined handmaiden of God Theodosia many years!
On Saturday 16 March and Sunday 17 March we had services for the First Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. In accordance with the parish practice of the Russian Orthodox Church a brief Service of Supplication for Those in Error was offered after Divine Liturgy on Sunday. The customary Diocesan-wide collection was then taken up to benefit the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, NY, raising $232.50.
This year we commenced Great Lent with Matins, the Hours, Typika and Vespers on Monday 11 March. That evening, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, we had Great Compline with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. In addition to services on the weekend of 16-17 March, we also had Vespers with the First Passia on the evening of Sunday 17 March. Great Compline is a simple, solemn and characteristically Lenten service of psalms and prayers. At Vespers with the First Passia on Sunday evening the akathist to the Divine Passion of Christ and chapters 26 and 27 of Saint Matthew's Gospel were read in English.
Late in the afternoon on Sunday 10 March we served Vespers for Forgiveness Sunday, the final Sunday before the beginning of Great Lent. During this service the church vestments were changed from gold to black and the ordinary melodies gave way to the solemn melodies of Great Lent. At the end of the service the parish rector gave a brief sermon on the importance of asking and bestowing forgiveness. In accordance with Orthodox custom on this day all present then venerated the Holy Gospel, the Cross and the icons before asking forgiveness of one another.
On Wednesday 6 March and Thursday 7 March our parish had a series of services for the repose of the soul of our dear friend and Parish Council member Reader Paul Douriaguine (+ 26 February). At 7.00pm on Wednesday evening Paul’s body was brought to the church and a Great Panikhida (“parastas”) was served, after which family and friends – in accordance with Orthodox custom – took it in turns to read each section ("kathisma") of the Psalter and the appointed prayers for the departed. This continued throughout the night, ceasing at 7.00am on Thursday morning. The Order of Preparation for Holy Communion was then read before the commencement of the Hours and Divine Liturgy at 8.00am. A great many people gathered for the funeral service at 10.30am, amongst whom were Paul’s family, our parishioners, his many friends, and his work colleagues. A small choir under the direction of Reader Eustratius Papageogiou sang beautifully at the funeral service. Paul was afterwards laid to rest at Point Clare Cemetery. A memorial meal was then held at our parish centre in West Gosford. May God grant forgiveness of sins and eternal rest to His newly-departed servant the Reader Paul!
On Saturday 2 March and Sunday 3 March we had services for the Sunday of the Last Judgement. As Saturday 2 March was a day of commemoration of the departed, All-night Vigil on Saturday evening was preceded by a general memorial service at which prayers were particularly offered for the newly-departed Reader Paul Douriaguine (+26 February). Receiving Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on Sunday was the newly-baptised infant Alexander. At the end of the Sunday service prayers of blessing were read over a new set of green vestments for the altar and church and a new set of black vestments for the rector, both sets of vestments being the work of the Convent of Saint Elisabeth in Minsk, Belarus. A memorial litia was then served for Reader Paul, after which the parish rector offered condolences to the Douriaguine family on behalf of the parish. At Bishop George’s request, a collection was taken up to benefit Saints Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Institute, the theological and higher education institute of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. It being just one week before the beginning of Great Lent, the parish Ladies’ Auxiliary served pancakes following the service.
Our Autumn 2019 Schedule of Services - covering March, April and May 2019 - is now available in PDF format. It includes all our services for Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha . A copy of the English-language Autumn 2019 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Autumn 2019 Schedule of Services is available here. Both can also be accessed on our Services page, and printed copies are available in church.