In 2012, our parish hosted Frederica Mathewes-Green and clergy from Brisbane, Adelaide and Bali, held a Garage Sale & Market Day and a fundraising sausage sizzle, delivered a public catechism course, and participated in the life of our Deanery and Diocese through concelebrated services and youth conference. Perhaps the two major events were the ordination to the diaconate of Fr Andrew Smith and the replacement (and expansion) of our driveway.
21-22 January 2012: We were privileged to host Fr Alexander Kobesi at our parish. Fr Alexander is a priest in the Gereja Orthodox Indonesia (Indonesian Orthodox Church), and part of the Indonesian Deanery of our Diocese. Though native to West Timor, he serves the Church in Bali. Fr Alexander was invited to serve Vigil and concelebrate the Divine Liturgy at our parish. After the Divine Liturgy, Fr Alexander gave a talk about his mission on Bali, the persecution he endures from local authorities and the support and growth of his parish.
On the 10th and 11th of February, 2012, we had the great honour and privilege of hosting our beloved primate, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, at our parish.
We greeted Vladyka Hilarion on Friday evening at 6pm and, with his blessing, celebrated the All-Night Vigil. In addition to our rector, we also hosted Fr John (assistant priest at the Vladimir Icon parish, Rocklea), and Deacons Fr Konstantin (from the St Nicholas Cathedral) and Fr Vasili (from the Vladimir Icon parish).
The next morning, we had the honour of receiving the incorrupt relics of St Innocent of Irkutsk, Enlightener of Siberia, in what was generally felt to be a very significant co-incidence for our missionary parish. These arrived at 7:30am with the priests from Siberia, Archpriests Evgeny and Mihail.
At 8:20am, we began the reading of the Hours and, at 8:30am, we received Vladyka again into our parish for the beginning of the Divine Liturgy. We were blessed to have no fewer than 5 priests concelebrating with our beloved Vladyka and First Hierarch – Fr Alexander Borodin, our rector; Fr Dimitri Tsakas, Archepiscopal Vicar of Queensland (for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese); Fr John Weir, assistant priest at the Vladimir Icon parish; Fr Gabriel Lapardin, rector at St Seraphim’s parish; and Fr James Savage, mission priest at St Mary Magdalene’s Mission (in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese) – as well as two deacons, Protodeacon Konstantin and Deacon Vasili. We were also privileged to have visitors – clergy and lay – from many Orthodox parishes in Brisbane.
During this Divine Liturgy, Sdn Andrew Smith was ordained to the diaconate. Deacon Andrew has been assigned to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church. This was an historic occasion, as it was the first time that such an ordination has ever taken place at the parish.
11-12 February: That evening and the next day, all Russian Orthodox parishes in Brisbane concelebrated with our First Hierarch at St Nicholas’ Cathedral, where Subdeacon Vladimir was ordained to the diaconate, and has been assigned to St Nicholas Cathedral. As Orthodox Christians in Brisbane, we consider ourselves fortunate that, over a single weekend, we have two more deacons to serve the Church in our city.
25 February 2012: Our parish’s Garage Sale and Market Day was in full swing on Saturday 25 Feb, leaving the underneath of our church looking like an quality antique shop. We were actively supported by many members and friends of the parish, and all were reminded that this fundraising event was for a good cause – the remaking of our church’s driveway.
Despite the rain, this event was extremely successful. Many people from the local community attended, purchasing from the garage sale and being nourished by the delicious treats that had been made – from bliny (pancakes) to merangues, with soft drinks available – a welcome respite in the weather.
Our choir was able to give two exhibitions on the day, with one exhibition of two-part music and one of four-part music. Our bookstore and church was open throughout the day, many people commenting on the beauty of the sacred space therein.
Thank you to all who contributed to the success of our Market Day – to the organiser of the garage sale, Mous, to the people who donated items for sale, and to those who contributed to our supply of food and drinks. It was a very successful day in the life of our parish.
14-15 July 2012: We were privileged to host Protodeacon Konstantin and his family – on the 14th, he was able to be our guest choir conductor; and on the 15th, he concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy. See the photo gallery here!
A catechism course was held on Thursday nights between 5 July and 30 August, 2012, that was open to the public. Many people attended talks by Fr Andrew Smith (Introduction, Church History, Prayer & the Divine Liturgy, Theology & Ethics), Fr Alexander Borodin (Inside a Church Building, Baptism), Pdcn Konstantin Semovskih (Customs and Practises) and Rdr Tom Jagels (Salvation), as well as the Vigil for Sts Peter and Paul (served by Fr John Weir and Fr Andrew, with explanations by Fr Andrew Smith).
6-9 September 2012: A Very Blessed Weekend!
Over a few short days, our parish had great joy over a number of special occasions.
The first was on the 6th of September, when we hosted Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green at the Russian Ethnic Community Centre. Over 50 people were in attendance to hear her speak on ‘Living the Orthodox Christian Life in the Modern World’, with many travelling from other parts of Queensland to hear her after a benefactor was able to ensure that the event was free of charge to all interested. After speaking about her journey – from her teenage departure from religion, through Eastern religions and philosophies and atheism, to converting to Christ while in Europe, and finally joining the Orthodox Church and beginning a parish that is now thriving and helping to form daughter parishes. A large amount of her talk was devoted to answering questions from the audience, which included family life, different ways of ‘giving back’ to God, college ministry, and more detail on a previous article on the recent events in Russia, among many other topics. It was a joy to have such a renowned speaker coming to the other side of the world to be with us, and we are grateful to have been able to hear and benefit from her words.
The very next evening, at Our Lady of Vladimir Parish, Rocklea, the Vigil for the Patronal Feastday of this parish was served. Especially noteworthy was the newly-formed Men’s Choir, which comprised members from each parish of our Deanery of Queensland (ROCOR) – including our own choirmaster and parish priest – and was directed by Rev. Dcn Vladimir Bigdan. It was a joy to be present at the parish during this most melodious and beautiful service.
The next morning, the Divine Liturgy for the Patronal Feastday of the parish was celebrated. For the first time, all the current members of the Deanery served together: the Rector and Dean, Archpriest Michael Klebansky, was joined by Archpriest Gabriel Makarov, Priest John Weir, Priest Gabriel Lapardin, Priest Alexander Borodin, Protodeacon Konstantin Semovskih, Deacon Vasily Konstantinidis, Deacon Andrew Smith and Deacon Vladimir Bigdan; in addition to a full church of reverent worshippers of the Triune God, joined together in revering the one who gave birth to Christ and intercedes for the faithful. The joy of the feast was multiplied by the joy of ‘brothers dwelling together in unity’. After the Divine Liturgy, and the procession around the church, a celebratory lunch followed which was enjoyed by all, courtesy of the parish sisterhood.
That night, we served the Saturday evening Vigil at our parish, where we were joined by Priest Barnabas Jellings, along with his Matushka Anna, who are from St Elizabeth Mission, on the southern side of Adelaide. Fr Barnabas concelebrated Vigil at our parish. On Sunday, he also concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Fr Alexander and Fr Andrew, in addition to a large number of faithful. Afterwards, Fr Barnabas briefly shared his journey, and information about St Elizabeth Mission, with us.
A joyous weekend, filled with many blessings – many thanks to Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green, to the Parish of the Vladimir Icon, and to Fr Barnabas & Mat. Anna Jellings, for sharing these with us.
16 September 2012: We held our parish’s Annual General Meeting, where our Parish Council was elected for the 2012-13 term. Thanks to Fr Alexander, Dcn Andrew, Jenny, Nicholas, Michael, Olga, Gregory, Peter, Darren, Zoya and Andrew for serving on the Parish Council for the upcoming year.
7 October 2012: We held a fellowship Sausage Sizzle at our parish – see the photo album here.
Sadly, it was only days after that our church building suffered a setback – in the gusts of wind during this time, one of the crosses on top of the roof was completely blown backwards. You can see photos here. In response, our parish rallied to enlarge our funds to fix this problem (among others in our building).
Singing at only its third service, the multi-parish Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Brisbane ably rose to the challenge of singing at its first English-language service. The Vigil service, commemorating Great-Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica, was held at Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church and attracted a large number of visitors who were able to pray with an exceptional standard of liturgical singing, sung in the language of this land.
Singing in the choir were:
- Deacon Vladimir Bigdan, conductor and bass (deacon at St Nicholas Cathedral)
- Priest Alexander Borodin, bass (rector of Holy Annunciation Parish)
- Reader Alexander Paramonov, baritone (choir conductor at St Seraphim Parish)
- Protodeacon Konstantin Semovskih, baritone (protodeacon at St Nicholas Cathedral)
- Matthew Makarov, second tenor
- Artem Men, second tenor (choir conductor at St Nicholas Cathedral)
- Gregory Scanlan, first tenor (choir conductor at Holy Annunciation Parish).
Serving at this vigil was special guest Fr Dimitri Tsakas (who is named for St Demetrius), Archepiscopal Vicar of Queensland and New Guinea for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and rector of St George Greek Orthodox Church, South Brisbane, and Fr John Weir, assistant priest of the Parish of the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos, Rocklea, with Deacon Andrew Smith. Also in attendance were Archpriest Gabriel Makarov, Rector of St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and Deacon Vasily Konstantinidis of the Parish of the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos.
Formed earlier in 2012, the Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Brisbane is led by its choir director Dcn Vladimir Bigdan and consists of members of all Russian Orthodox parishes of Brisbane including members of the clergy. In the words of its choir director Fr Dcn Vladimir, “The choir members have come together because they all believe in our goal of producing liturgical music of a consistently high standard. We are all learning, both from each other and from other choirs, and so when we come together as brothers in this common goal, we feel that we strengthen each other. One of the principle goals of this choir lies in attaining missionary results. In hearing the beauty of Orthodox singing, one is transported into a different world, invisible, yet just as real as the physical one. 1000 years ago, diplomats from Great Prince Vladimir’s headquarters returned back from the Hagia Sofia, Constantinople, overcome with the sheer spiritual beauty of Orthodoxy, exclaiming ‘we did not know if we were in Heaven or on earth!’ We can only try to provide a glimpse of this feeling to ourselves and others”.
More information about the Russian Orthodox Male Choir of Brisbane is available on their Facebook page, including photos and sample recordings from past services and performances.
14 & 18 November 2012: Thanks to a year of saving and fundraising, as well as the significant donation of an anonymous benefactor, our parish was able to reach the 2012 Capital Improvement target and replace our driveway. This driveway was laid down on 14/Nov, and Fr Alexander was able to bless it on 18/Nov.
At the same time, cement was laid for an outdoor area behind the church, and the remainder of the backyard was cleared.
A sincere thank you to all who assisted in making this happen!
Many people came to support our parish, and many thanks to the team who made the BBQ a success! We hope to have more in the future.
You can see the photo album here.
On the next day, our fundraising raffle was drawn – with prizewinners taking home a multimedia gaming pack, a TV, an e-book reader, an MP3 & ideo player, among other prizes. Needless to say, this was taken up vigorously by people hoping to win the prizes contributed by members of the parish.
19-31 December 2012: This time of year seems to be Youth Season – the Russian Orthodox Teen Retreat was from 19-24 December in Sydney, while the Youth Conference (aka Syezd – for those over 18) was held on 27-31 December in Brisbane. A delegate from our parish was at the Teen Retreat; at the Youth Conference, our parish had one member assisting with the Conference’s organisation (Fr Andrew), two delegates, and Fr Alexander was invited to deliver a presentation on ‘Orthodoxy and the Family’.