On Saturday 15 June and Sunday 16 June we had services for the Great Feast of Pentecost, the commemoration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and disciples. In accordance with Orthodox custom, prior to the services our small church was decorated beautifully with green branches. All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine oil and five loaves was served on Saturday evening, and Divine Liturgy with Vespers and the “kneeling prayers” was served on Sunday. After the long service on Sunday many stayed back to help empty the church of icons and furnishings in preparation for painting.
On Wednesday Wednesday 5 June and Thursday 6 June 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 at Divine Liturgy.
On the evening of Tuesday 4 June, the Eve of the Leavetaking 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 1 June and Sunday 2 June we had services for the Sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Blind Man. This Sunday is so named because the reading from the Holy Gospel (John 9:1-38) appointed for Divine Liturgy gives an account of the healing by our Lord Jesus Christ of a man blind from birth. In his sermon at Divine Liturgy the parish rector spoke about the continuing celebration of the Resurrection of Christ during the forty days of Pascha. Following the service our Ladies’ Auxiliary served freshly-cooked piroshki with fillings of meat, mushroom, potato and apple.
A group of young families working under the auspices of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta, NSW, is again organising a camp for Russian and other Orthodox children and young people aged 8-17 to be held in Toukley, NSW - here on the Central Coast - from 15 December - 20 December 2019. The cost will be $425.00 per person, or $399.00 if payment is made by 30 September 2019. For those interested, more information is available here.
On 29 May 2019 His Grace Bishop George of Canberra advised parish rectors and monastic superiors that the Nineteenth Diocesan Assembly of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese would be convened at the Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral in Strathfield, NSW, in November 2019. Commencing on the evening of Thursday 14 November and concluding on the afternoon of Sunday 17 November, the Assembly will coincide with Diocesan celebrations of the thirty-fifth anniversary of Metropolitan Hilarion’s consecration to the episcopacy on 10 December 1984. As all Diocesan clergy will be participating in the Assembly and associated commemorative activities, the only services in our Diocese on Saturday-Sunday 16-17 November will be at the Strathfield Cathedral. Information about the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly, held in Cabramatta in November 2016, is available here.
On Tuesday 14 May 2019 we learned with sorrow of the repose of Olga Ivanovna Itsikson, our choir director from 2000-2015. Olga Ivanovna was born in Mukden, China, in 1935, and undertook secondary and further study in the city of Harbin. After coming to Australia in 1957 she graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1965, working as a music teacher in New South Wales secondary schools for over 20 years. Olga Ivanovna also taught music at the parish Russian schools in Cabramatta and Strathfield for over 35 years. In 1980 she became the conductor of the church choir in the parish of Saint Vladimir, Centennial Park, and in 2000 she became the choir conductor in our parish. Olga Ivanovna was a steadfast servant of the Russian Orthodox Church and the wider Russian community for many years. In 1998 she received the Diocesan Jubilee Medal and in August 2015 she received the prestigious Diocesan Cross. After serving our parish faithfully in its formative years she retired due to illness in 2015. Her funeral was served at the Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral on Thursday 23 May 2019 with our parish clergy, Archpriest James Carles and Protodeacon Martin Naef, serving together with Priest Simon Nekipelov (All Saints of Russia parish, Croydon) and cathedral cleric Protodeacon Alexandar Kotlaroff. She was afterwards laid to rest at Rookwaood Cemetery. May God give her rest with the saints!
On Sunday 19 May the parish rector baptised Ellis King, an adult convert to the Orthodox faith. Ellis, who was baptised in honour of the Prophet Elijah, had as his sponsor his sister-in-law Marina Melnikoff. We warmly congratulate Ellis, his wife Ludmila, and his sponsor Marina. May God grant his newly-baptised servant many years!
Our Winter 2019 Schedule of Services - covering June, July and August - is now available in PDF format. Services of note during this period include those for Ascension on Wednesday-Thursday 5-6 June, for Pentecost on Saturday-Sunday 15-16 June, Bishop George’s visit on Sunday 4 August, the commemoration of Saint Panteleimon on Thursday-Friday 8-9 August, and for the Transfiguration of the Lord on Sunday-Monday 18-19 August. A copy of the English-language Winter 2019 Schedule of Services is available here, and a copy of the Russian-language Winter 2019 Schedule of Services is available here. Printed copies in both languages are now available in church.
On Saturday 18 May and Sunday 19 May we had services for the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Paralytic. This Sunday is so named because the appointed reading from the Holy Gospel (John 5:1-15) gives an account of the healing of a paralysed man by our Lord Jesus Christ. Following the dismissal, a litia was served for the repose of the newly-departed Olga (Itsikson), our parish choir director from 2000-2015. After the veneration of the Cross by the faithful, the thirty-year marriage of our parishioners Matthew and Vanessa (Xenia) Todd, adult converts to the Orthodox faith, was blessed according to the rite approved for this purpose by the 1983 Pastoral Conference of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
On Saturday 4 May and Sunday 5 May we had services for the second Sunday of Pascha, Thomas Sunday. Thomas Sunday is so named because the appointed reading from the Gospel (John 20:19-31) gives an account of the initial unbelief and subsequent belief of the Apostle Thomas. Following the Prayer before the Amvon new icons of Saints Kuksha and Jonah of Odessa, given to our parish by a recent visitor to Ukraine, were blessed. The prayer at the breaking of the Artos was then read. In place of a sermon, the parish rector read aloud the Paschal Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion. At the dismissal, pieces of the blessed Artos were given to the faithful.