The 2019 Australian-New Zealand Diocese Lenten Pastoral Conference
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.