In the first half of 2015, we welcomed clergy from Sydney, hosted the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, welcomed Metropolitan Hilarion to our parish for our feastday, and had one of our parishioners ordained to minor orders.
January 2015: Christmas and Theophany
From 3-7 January, we celebrated services preparing and welcoming us, into the celebration of the Birth of Christ. On 3-4 January, we celebrated the Sunday before Christmas; on 5-6 January, we celebrated the Christmas Eve services, and on 6-7 January, we celebrated the services for the Birth of our Lord. While our rector was interstate visiting family, we were delighted to welcome Fr Andrew Morgan, deacon at Protection of the Holy Virgin Church in Cabramatta, Sydney, and his Matushka Kathy to our parish for both services on 6 January. We were also overjoyed to have many people both attending and communing at these services.
Later that month, we celebrated the Baptism of Christ, including the Great Blessing of the Waters. This water was used to bless the homes of the faithful, and available for distribution throughout the year.
March 2015: Kursk Root Icon
At the mid-point of Great Lent, Southeast Queensland was blessed to host a visit of the miraculous Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. Our parish was blessed to host the first service before this miraculous icon, celebrating a Moleben with the Akathist for the Kursk Root Icon on Friday, 13 March. An overflowing church was present to greet the icon, including visitors from near and far.
Serving clergy included Archpriest Gabriel Makarov (Dean of St Nicholas Cathedral), Priests Alexander Borodin (Rector of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church), John Weir (Assistant Priest at Vladimir Icon Parish), James Savage (Rector of St Mary Magdalene Orthodox Christian Mission, Caboolture [Antiochian Orthodox]), Gabriel Lapardin (Rector of St Seraphim Church), Andrew Smith (Assistant Priest of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church), and Alexander Paramonov (Assistant Priest at St Ksenia of St Petersburg Church, Tweed Heads), with Deacon Vasily Konstantinidis (at Vladimir Icon Parish).
Parishioners from each of these churches, among others, were also present to pray with us, and all were welcomed to venerate this holy and miracle-working icon, and to take home a small copy of the icon (which was blessed on the original).
The Kursk Root Icon also visited St Seraphim church (at the Saturday Vigil), St Nicholas Cathedral (at the Sunday Liturgy), Vladimir Icon parish (for a General Unction service on Sunday evening), an Akathist at St Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church (Woolloongabba, on Monday), and an Akathist at St Ksenia Church (Gold Coast, on Tuesday). In order to allow maximum opportunity to our clergy and parishioners to pray before this icon, standard services at Holy Annunciation were cancelled for the weekend; indeed, clergy of our parish were present at each of these services.
April 2015: Parish Feastday
On 6-7 April, 2015, we were blessed to welcome His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, our Diocesan Bishop and First Hierarch of ROCOR, to officiate at the celebration of our patronal feastday – that of the Holy Annunciation.
On the eve of the feast, we celebrated the Great Vigil with Litia, served by Fr Andrew Smith with Deacons Vasily Konstantinidis and Vladimir Bigdan, including the liturgical changes that serving in Holy Week entail. Metropolitan Hilarion vested and served for the Litia and Polyeleos components, along with the other clergy present – who, in addition to those who went on to serve Liturgy, included Fr John Weir and Fr Vasily Konstantinidis (both from the Vladimir Icon Parish in Rocklea).
The next day, Fr Alexander served the Lenten Hours and Typika were served, and then the Metropolitan was greeted at the entrance of the church by the clergy and approximately 75 people who, despite it being a workday and also the feast falling in Holy Week, were able to join us in our celebrations.
After His Eminence was vested, we were given further reason to celebrate with the tonsuring of Ryan Strickler to the minor clerical order of Reader (continuing to use his baptismal name of ‘Irenaeus’), and his being assigned to the parish.
- Priest Alexander Borodin, Rector of Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church;
- Priest Gabriel Lapardin, Rector of St Seraphim’s Church;
- Priest Andrew Smith, assistant priest at Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church;
- Priest Alexander Paramonov, assistant priest at St Nicholas Cathedral and St Ksenia of St Petersburg Church, Tweed Heads;
- Deacon Vladimir Bigdan, deacon at St Nicholas Cathedral.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy, after the Processional Moleben, His Eminence expressed his thanks and congratulations to the entire parish, and his special congratulations to the newly-tonsured Reader Irenaeus. In turn, Fr Alexander thanked Metropolitan Hilarion for making the time to be at our parish during a busy schedule that only intensified at this time of year.
After the service, most of the people who attended the service joined in with the parishioners to share in the light lunch that followed. In addition to utilising some borrowed marquees, we were able to enjoy the shade that came from being under our new shadecloth – installed only days beforehand – and to enjoy the presence of our Metropolitan and the joy of sharing each other’s company.
In April 2015, we celebrated Holy Week, leading to the Resurrection of Christ on 12/April. Not only did we have Annunciation as part of our Holy Week, but we also expanded our services, including the Bridegroom Matins on Tuesday evening.
During the Resurrection Matins this year – celebrated at midnight through Sunday morning – we expanded the number of languages we heard to eight: Slavonic, Greek, Latin, Yagera (a local Aboriginal language – with responses especially translated for the occasion), French, Spanish, Indonesian and Arabic.
In addition, on Holy Saturday, we were very kindly donated a set of veils for the liturgical gifts.
April 2015: On ANZAC Day, our parish served a Memorial service prior to Vigil. There, we commemorated by name all Orthodox ANZACs whose names we have, and all those who had died on the field of battle for our nation.
On the next day, the Sisterhoods and parishes of our Deanery were invited to Celebration for the Sisterhoods. Many people were there to celebrate the Sisterhoods for their tireless (and often thankless) labour that they put in to glorify God throughout the year.
Additionally, on 16-17 May, we were blessed to welcome Hierodeacon Panteleimon to serve at our parish. Fr Panteleimon had been in Brisbane on work commitments, and we were overjoyed that he was able to serve with us.
On the last weekend of May, we celebrated Pentecost.
Over July through September 2015, we are holding a public catechism course entitled ‘Foundations of Orthodox Christianity’. This course was designed to instruct people who wish to be received into the Orthodox Church, it was again advertised and open to the public – whether people learning about the faith in preparation for baptism, or people who had already converted, or people who were ‘born into’ the faith and wanted to know more. These sessions ran between July and September 2015, and were taught by Fr Alexander Borodin and Fr Andrew Smith.
The second was the start of our outreach to Toowoomba. Fr Andrew, with Rdr Irenaeus, went to Toowoomba to serve Vigil and Liturgy for a group of Orthodox Christians who had been meeting for twice-monthly Vespers services for almost a year. A Divine Liturgy is scheduled to be served by one of the priests of Holy Annunciation each month for the rest of 2015. For more information, see the website, at www.OrthodoxToowoomba.com, or the Facebook page.
The Diocesan Teen Retreat was held this year on the Sunshine Coast in the presence of Bishop George of Canberra. Our parish contributed substantially to the success of the Teen Retreat, contributing 4 organising committee members, 1 guest speaker and about a dozen delegates (out of almost 60 from around the diocese).
For more information, and photos, please see Fr Andrew’s article on our diocesan website.