On Saturday 28 December and Sunday 29 December we had services in honour of the Holy Forefathers, the second Sunday before the Nativity of Christ being a day of commemoration of the choir of Old Testament righteous ones. Both services were well-attended, with the church full to overflowing on Sunday morning. To the great joy of our parishioners we were joined on Sunday morning by Deacon Martin and Matushka Tatiana Naef and their children, back in Australia for a short time after 18 months in France. Also visiting were Reader Christopher Dowling and a number of old friends of our parish holidaying on the Central Coast. Many stayed on afterwards, taking the opportunity to socialise and browse through our parish kiosk of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk.
On Tuesday 17 December 2013 the funeral service for 36 year-old Igor Sukhov, killed in a tragic accident on 4 December 2013, was held in our church. In addition to Igor’s young widow Nataliya, their children Victoria and Alexander, and his mother Galina Mihailovna Sukhova, many friends and work colleagues gathered to pray for the repose of his soul and to bid him farewell. Following the burial at Point Clare Cemetery, many returned to the church hall for a commemorative meal. Our parishioners and friends are asked to continue to remember the newly-departed servant of God Igor and his grieving family in their prayers. The fortieth day of Igor’s repose will fall on Saturday 11 January 2014.
On Saturday 14 December and Sunday 15 December we had services in honour of the Holy Prophet Habbakuk (Avvakum) (7th Cent. B.C.). Although the service on Saturday evening was a quiet one, our church was full on Sunday morning, with many young children receiving Holy Communion. During the Communion of the clergy, the choir sang the beautiful irmosi – the opening hymns of the canon – of the Nativity of Christ. The appointed reading from the Gospel was that of the Rich Young Man (Luke 18:18-27) who, despite having kept the commandments from his youth up, stumbled at the prospect of giving up his wealth. In his sermon the parish rector spoke of the importance of not trying to serve God on our own terms, and of the Lord’s promise of eternal life to those who turn away from things in this passing life for the sake of their salvation.
On Thursday 12, Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December the Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia held its seventeenth triennial Diocesan Conference. Representing our parish at the Conference were the rector, Priest James Carles, and the lay delegate elected by parish members, Mr Vladimir (“Rick”) Golovin. Delegates to the Conference heard reports from the Ruling Bishop, Metropolitan Hilarion, and from the Diocesan Treasurer, Mr Nicholas Nedachin, before discussing a range of legal, administrative and pastoral matters. On the third day of the Conference our rector, Father James, was chosen by delegates to be one of the five members in priestly rank of the new Diocesan Council. The other members of the Diocesan Council are Mitred Archpriest Michael Protopopov, Archpriest Nicholas Karipoff, Archpriest Gabriel Makarov, Archpriest George Lapardin, Protodeacon Alexander Abramoff, Nicholas Nedachin, Dimitri Roudenko, Nicholas Wirubow, and Lubov Cowall. A photo-report of the proceedings of the Diocsan Conference and the text of the Conference Resolution can be viewed on the Diocesan website here.
Our Parish Council held its December 2013 meeting on Tuesday 10 December. The usual reports on parish life and finances were presented and considered. Decisions were made to develop a Parish Council Code of Conduct, contribute $500.00 towards the costs of the 2013 Diocesan Youth Conference and the Teen Retreat, and – in honour of the forthcoming tenth anniversary of the opening of our parish centre at West Gosford - to acquire a new carved wooden memorial table for the placement of candles for the departed. Progress on the Russian-language version of the parish website and on planning for our tenth-anniversary celebrations were also discussed. The Parish Council will next meet on Tuesday 14 January 2014.
Thursday 5 December was the fifth anniversary of the repose of the Most Holy Patriarch, Alexey II of Moscow and All Russia. On Saturday 7 December, following Divine Liturgy on the day of commemoration of the Great-Martyr Katherine, a memorial litia was served. The parish rector spoke beforehand of the wise leadership of Patriarch Alexey during an extraordinary period in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church, a period at the end of which decades-old division in the life of the Church was finally overcome. May his memory be eternal!
On Friday 6 December and Saturday 7 December we had services in honour of the holy Great-Martyr Katherine of Alexandria. Matins was served on Friday evening and Divine Liturgy was served on Saturday morning. Present for Divine Liturgy were six of our parishioners named in her honour: Ekaterina Lugovoy, Katerina Rubbo, Ekaterina Waters, Cathrine Yakimov, Jessica-Katherine Datsyuk and Katie Carles. Also present were two Wallsend parishioners, Katy Goura and Katya Martin. After Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke briefly about the Great-Martyr Katherine and congratulated all those celebrating their name-day. Many years was sung for them, and afterwards all shared a light festive meal including a Lenten cake provided by Bill Reid and decorated with the words “Happy Name-Day, Katyas!”. A little later...
On Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December we had services in honour of the Holy Martyr Platon of Ancyra (c. 302 AD) and the Hireomartyr Romanus, deacon of Caesarea, with the youth Barulas (303 AD). As the Nativity Fast had commenced on Thursday 28 November, the church was vested in red. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time were the newly-baptised servants of God, twin brothers Artemy and Maxim Tomshin. A collection for the ROCOR Fund for Assistance was taken up after the dismissal, and moneyboxes were distributed for the parish Nativity Fast collection to benefit Autism Awareness Australia. Following the service, there was a meeting of the committee elected at our 2013 Annual General Meeting to plan celebrations, in 2014, of ten years of parish life at West Gosford.
On Saturday 16 November and Sunday 17 November we had services in honour of the Venerable Joannicius the Great (846 AD) and the Hiermoartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas the priest (1st C.). Following Divine Liturgy on the Sunday there was an Extraordinary Parish Meeting (Чрезвычаное Приходское Собрание) to elect a lay parish delegate to the 14th Diocesan Conference, to be held at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Strathfield, from December 12-14, 2013. The delegate chosen by the parish was Vladimir ("Rick") Golovin, a long-serving member of the Parish Council. We congratulate Rick on his election and wish him all the best as he participates in the important work of the Diocesan conference.
On Saturday 16 November the parish rector baptised two girls, two year-old Chanel and seven month-old Paris, the daughters of Edward Permikin and Oksana Novosyolova. The girls were named Alexandra and Sophia in baptism. Alexandra’s godparents were Marina Wills and Zhenya Albert, and Sophia’s godparents were Olga Albert and Phillip Wills. Congratulations to Edward, Oksana, Marina, Zhenya, Olga and Phillip. May God grant his newly-baptised handmaidens Alexandra and Sophia many years!
Our Parish Council held its November 2013 meeting on Wednesday 13 November. The usual reports on parish life and finances were presented and applications for renewal of parish membership were considered. The forthcoming Extraordinary Parish Meeting (Чрезвычаное Приходское Собрание) on 17 November and the Diocesan Conference on 12-14 December were discussed. The parish rector advised the Parish Council that the new parish website had been launched, and arrangements for the publication of the Russian version of the site were discussed. Reader Paul Douriaguine, a Parish Council member and the Principal of the Saint Seraphim Community Russian School in Hornsby gave a report on the operation of the school. It was agreed that the customary parish charitable collection during the forthcoming Nativity Fast would benefit an organisation providing support to autism spectrum disorders, and that money-boxes for this purpose would be available in church as of Sunday 1 December. The Parish Council will next meet on Wednesday 11 December 2013.
In November 2012 our parish became aware of plans to build a new cathedral in Moscow's Lubyanka, a "church-on-the-blood" at the site of the persecution and martyrdom of countless Orthodox Christians during the Soviet era. It was proposed that the cathedral would be dedicated to the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Inspired by this wonderful project that demonstrated the extent of change in Russia, our Parish Council decided that the proceeds of our Nativity Fast collection would go towards this new church. Over the course of the Nativity Fast A$1124.70 was collected, and early in 2013 our parish passed this money to the Sretensky Monastery, on the grounds of which the new church is to be constructed. Our parishioners and friends who contributed to this collection will be interested to learn that the design of the new church has now been finalised. An article in Russian about the project and the process of choosing the design can be found here.
On the evening of Saturday 2 November, Saint Demetrius Saturday, the parish rector served a general panikhida. Later that evening and on the morning of the next day there were services in honour of Saint Hilarion the Great. Following the Prayer before the Amvon at Divine Liturgy on Sunday 3 November, two beautiful new icons were blessed. These icons, a gift to the parish from parishioner Ekaterina Waters, were of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and of the Righteous Women Martha, Alexandra and Elena of Diveyevo. After the dismissal, Nestor Petroff congratulated the parish rector on behalf of the parish with the approach of his name-day, the feast of Saint James, Brother of the Lord (October 23/November 4). As Sunday 3 November was also the day of commemoration of Saint Hilarion, Schema-Metropolitan of the Kiev Caves, the name-day of Metropolitan Hilarion, many years was then sung first for Vladyka, and afterwards for Father James. That afternoon the parish rector and a small group of our parishioners journeyed to the Convent of Our Lady of Kazan in Kentlyn, New South Wales, for the celebration of the Convent's patronal feast. The November feast of the Kazan Icon commemorates the miraculous deliverance of Russia from the Poles in 1612.
On Sunday 3 November the parish rector baptised Matthew Shmelev, infant son of Kirill and Olga Shmelev and the baby brother of Anastasia. Matthew’s sponsors at baptism were Olga Kusnetsova and Vladislav Efremov. Congratulations to Kirill, Olga, Olga and Vladislav. May God grant his newly-baptised servant Matthew many years!
On Saturday 2 November the parish rector baptised Robert and Maxim Tomshin, two year-old twin sons of Sergey and Irina Tomshin. Robert was given the name Artemy in baptism in honour of the Great-Martyr Artemius, and Maxim was baptised in honour of Righteous Maximus the Confessor. The boys’ sponsor at baptism was Olga Antropova. Congratulations to Sergey, Irina, and Olga. May God grant his newly-baptised servants Artemy and Maxim many years! To see photographs of the service, click on more information.
On Saturday 19 October the parish rector baptised Emelia, the infant daughter of Ivan Zagvozkine and Natasha Belova and baby sister to Ivan, Anton and Alexander. Emelia’s sponsors at baptism were Irina Shchelokova and Elena Fauris. Congratulations to Ivan, Natasha, Irina and Elena. May God grant his newly-baptised servant Emelia many years! That evening and on the morning of Sunday 20 October we had services in honour of Saint Jonah of Hankow, a righteous bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church who reposed in China in 1925 and was glorified in 1996. A gifted preacher of Orthodoxy and a model of pastoral service, Saint Jonah was also a great protector of children, having endured the sorrow of losing his own parents when still a child. The newly-baptised infant Emelia received Holy Communion for the first time at Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. Following the Prayer before the Amvon, a brief moleben to Saint Jonah was served for the children of our parish and for all present.
On the weekend of 5-6 October the parish rector presided at services in honour of the Conception of Saint John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord. It being the last Sunday of the school holidays and the first day of daylight savings, the morning service was somewhat quieter than usual. During Divine Liturgy prayers were offered for our parishioners and friends participating in the Diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Following the service, a moleben was served for our parishioner and senior altar server Sebastian Reid, soon to travel to New Delhi, India, to represent Australia in the 2013 Lawyers’ Cricket World Cup.
On Saturday 28 September and Sunday 29 September we had services for the Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross and in honour of the Great-Martyr Euphemia the All-Praised of Chalcedon and Martyr Ludmilla, Princess of the Czechs. As is customary, the Holy Cross remained in the centre of the church for veneration during these services. Receiving Holy Communion for the first time was the infant Sophia Sidorkina, baptised in our church in August. After Divine Liturgy, many years was sung for our Ludmilla Roubanoff, a chorister and member of our parish from the earliest days.
On Friday 20 September and Saturday 21 September 2013 the parish rector presided at services for the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. All-night vigil with the blessing of loaves and wheat, wine and oil was served on Friday evening, with a number of the faithful taking the opportunity to confess in preparation to receive Holy Communion the following day. Following Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, a moleben was served for Reader Christopher Dowling and Olga Petroff, both of whom were due to depart on a Diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land on Monday 23 September. May God protect them as they travel!
Following Divine Liturgy on 15 September, the 2013 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of our parish was held. At the AGM the 2013 Annual Report was received, the 2012 Parish Council was returned to office for a further year unopposed, and a committee was appointed to plan the celebrations, in 2014, of the tenth anniversary of the opening of our parish centre at West Gosford. Congratulations to the members of the re-elected Parish Council!
On Saturday-Sunday 14-15 September 2013 the parish rector presided at services in honour of the Holy Martyr Mamas and Saint John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople. As the Sunday before 19 September (6 September according to the old style) is also a day of commemoration of the Holy Right-Believing Peter and Fevronia, Wonderworkers of Murom, the heavenly patrons of love, faithfulness and family life, a moleben was served at the end of Divine Liturgy for the married couples of our parish and all who were present on the day.
On Saturday 14 September our parishioner Katerina Korelkevich-Rubbo launched her Russian-English childrens' book, The Little Bird Told Me, at her home in Avoca Beach. A lively and diverse group gathered for this event, amongst whom were the parish rector and a number of our parishioners. Initially written and illustrated almost 20 years ago for Katerina's daughter Ellen, its publication is the realisation of a long-cherished hope. Congratulations to Katerina on the publication of her beautiful book! Information about the availability of copies in print and e-book format can be found here.
On 7 September 2013 the parish rector baptised Myles Daniel Walton, the infant son of Jason and Melanie Walton and baby brother to Will. In baptism Myles took the name Daniel in honour of the Holy Prophet Daniel. His godparents were Naomi Agius and Scott Mayer. May God grant his newly-baptised servant many years!
On Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September the parish rector presided at services for the Afterfeast of the Dormition and in honour of the Holy Martyr Andrew Stratelates and the 2,593 soldiers martyred with him in Cilicia, c. 284-305. Praying in church on Saturday evening were Priest Seraphim Slade and his wife Helen of the Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco Chapel in Gunning, NSW, and the Australian Orthodox Indigenous Mission. Father Seraphim concelebrated at Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. Following the service on Sunday the parish Ladies’ Auxiliary had a Father’s Day BBQ. Later in the day, the parish rector baptised Alina Lisnyy, the infant daughter of Serg Lisnyy and Shantle Merrick. Alina was given the name Elena in baptism in honour of Saint Elena the Empress. Her godparents were Andrei Lazebnyk, Bianca Merrick and Torey-Ann Parkes. May God grant his newly baptised handmaiden many years!
On Tuesday 27 August and Wednesday 28 August 2013 we celebrated the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. All-night vigil with the blessing of five loaves, wheat, wine and oil was served at 6.00pm on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, the parish rector served Divine Liturgy. Our choir for the festive services was conducted by Matushka Marie Carles as our regular conductor, Olga Itsikson, was prevented by illness from being with us. Both services were well-attended. This was the first time since 2007 that there had been services in our parish on feast of the Dormition.
On Saturday and Sunday 17-18 August the parish rector presided at services in honour of the Holy Martyr Eusignius of Antioch and the Forefeast of the Transfiguration. At the end of Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning a quantity of organic honey from the Wollombi Valley - a gift from friends of our parish - was blessed, the jars of which were then distributed to the faithful. Also blessed on this day were a number of new white vestments for our altar servers, the work of the Saint Elizabeth Convent in Minsk, Belarus. The purchase of these new vestments was made possible by the hard work of our Ladies' Auxiliary.