Friday, September 27, 2019

Children’s camp in England

In August, a children’s camp was held in England, with approximately 20 children from our various sister churches participating. The children had lessons on the Law of God, daily church services, many games and excursions.

Nun Evgenia from the Annunciation Hermitage in Australia (ROCA) and nun Pelagia from the Convent of St John of Shanghai in the Ukraine (ROCA) gave lessons to the younger children throughout the camp. The older children had daily group discussions on more challenging topics, with each topic presented by a parent.

On the final day of the camp, which coincided with the camp chapel feast day of St Olav of Norway (29.7./11.8), the Very Reverend Archimandrite Daniel (GOC) served the Divine Liturgy, with the children chanting, reading and serving. Father Daniel’s also gave thought-provoking talks to both children and parents, which were very popular.

Services in the chapel evening and morning.



Lesson activities

Singing practice



Mosaics made by the children

Excursion to the ocean

The children enacted select Lives of Saints. Here St Eusthathios Placidas.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Joyous occasion: Wedding in Sydney



On Sunday 14/27. January 2019, the servants of God Nikola and Natalie received the Mystery of Marriage. Father Nebojsa Mirkovic served at the Greek church of Sts Cosmas and Damian in Sydney (Dulwich Hill).


Many years to the newly weds!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Children’s camp in England

During August 2018, an informal children’s camp was held in England, where Bishop John contributed with teaching Law of God classes. The children experienced communal camp life, daily church services, living in tents and taking their turn in a roster of duties.


Everyone sang and read at the services together.


We had our meals together, during which we listened to reading from an edifying children’s book.


Daily blessing of porridge at breakfast!


The children had lessons every day. This years’ theme was the Divine Liturgy.


Vespers in candlelight.



The children prayed every morning and evening in the improvised barn-chapel, which they themselves helped decorate.


View of the altar in the barn-chapel.


Finding the spot in the service book…


The altar server with the censer ready.


We celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Sunday and at the end of the camp.


The children baked their own prosphoras, which were offered at the Liturgy.

camp18-13.jpg 227560.p.jpg?mtime=1454091711

In addition to other excursions, we made a pilgrimage to the monastery of St Fursey, a 7th century Irish missionary monk who established a monastery on the site of an earlier Roman fortress.

Troparion of St. Fursey of Burgh Castle, Tone 5
Establishing thy monastery in a Roman fortress / thou didst teach men that the Orthodox Faith is a true bastion / against the onslaughts of every evil force, O Father Fursey. / Wherefore pray to God for us / that we may all be bastions of the Faith / standing firm against the rising tide of falsehood, / that our souls may be saved


The walls of the huge Roman fortress where St Fursey built his monastery.


Group photo of the pilgrims.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nativity Epistle of Bishop John of Melbourne


Nativity Epistle
Bishop John of Melbourne

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

“Today the Virgin giveth birth to him Who is transcendent in essence; and the earth offereth a cave to Him Who is unapproachable. Angels with shepherds give glory; with a star, the Magi do journey; for our sakes a young Child is born, Who is pre-eternal God.” (Kontakion of the Feast of the Nativity)

They, observing the obedience of the star, understood the dignity of the King.
(St John Chrysostom, Homily 2 I:208-209).

The Magi did not see before them either sceptre or throne, only utter poverty. What was it then that moved them to undertake the toil of a journey without reward? ….it was the star and the light that God had placed in their hearts that led them step by step to more perfect knowledge.
(St John Chrysostom, Sermon, The Epiphany and the Flight into Egypt, P.G.57:81)

The star mysteriously calls the Magi from afar. This is an image of our conscience, which mystically calls us to the true Church, where we will find Christ, the Truth, the Saviour of mankind. The Kings followed the star faithfully for more than two years. Leaving their palaces behind, they dedicated themselves to this mysterious call. They took with them the best of their riches as gifts for the newborn King. This is equivalent to us leaving our homes, our jobs and families, sacrificing time and exertion, visiting holy places and monasteries, making donations, and dedicating our life to prayer and the Church. Each one of us has been called by that mysterious light of faith, which at some point in our life has begun to shine in our soul. The kings are an image of us Gentiles, the Church of the nations, the New Testament Church.

Now we must respond, and if not leave our homes, at least offer our gifts – faith, love and good works. “Faith instead of gold, love instead of myrrh, and good works instead of frankincense let us bring to the Creator Who cometh unto His own”. (Aposticha stihera, Matins, 23 December, Forefeast of the Nativity). We offer our faith in abiding by Orthodox doctrine, practicing the commandments, and keeping the Canons of the Church. We offer our love by prayer and diligent attendance at the Church services every Sunday and feast day, participating in the Mysteries. We offer good works when beautifying the temples of God and the services, by our hands, by our voices, and also by our monetary donations. According to the Holy Fathers, alms-giving is the most powerful means for receiving mercy from God and a direct path to God. This is especially true for us people in the West, who live in a material abundance unheard of even by the three ancient Kings. We are called to glorify Him, in obedience, prayer and works of mercy.

Exhausted by years of wandering, the three Kings finally arrived at Jerusalem, guided by the mysterious call. Then the unthinkable happened. For a moment they lost the star - the light of clear faith. This may happen to us also. But let us not be disheartened! At that point, even without seeing the star, the Magi headed towards Bethlehem, now guided by Scripture, the Old Testament prophesies. In the same way, in moments of hesitation, we must refer to Scripture, especially the Revelation of St John concerning the last days of the world. None of the confusion of present modern life should be a surprise to us. Let us hold fast to the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers of the Church! The Church always taught that in the end times these two stars would be our only true spiritual guides.

The Church teaches us not to be guided by emotions, feelings and earthly thoughts, which so easily express disillusionment, distortions, and untruth. A gross mistake is to accept these as the voice of our conscience. Our conscience is the voice of God in our heart, and calling human feelings the conscience is in essence a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Our feelings easily deceive us, make us susceptible to the power of evil, and gullible followers of false teachers, based on irrational, emotional trust. We should never forget that the spiritual deception of our modern apocalyptic world is the work of false churches and false pastors, wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Having put their trust in Scripture itself, rather than in the authority of the Jewish priests and scribes who told them what the prophets said, the three Kings made their way to Bethlehem. They never returned to the false teachers. On the way, the star re-appeared, and their faith was re-ignited. They reached their goal of seeing God by trusting the Scriptures and Old Testament prophets. The Lord Himself says: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: (…) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”. (Lk 24:25, 27).

We could reasonably expect the rich Kings to be dismayed when they reached their destination – a poor and dirty cave, full of animals, hay, manure, stench, and a few poor shepherds attending to some homeless people. But they were not disheartened! Similarly, let us also not be discouraged by the poverty of Church life in our last times. Indeed, it is difficult, because our feelings cry out for more familiar, physical comforts - rather than the elevated, spiritual gifts of God. Brothers and sisters, let us resist our this-worldly emotional thirst for luxury, comfort, ease, grandiose churches, radiant vestments and magnificent choirs in large cathedrals. Even more important for many are the sumptuous banquets, gorgeous clothes, beautiful houses, and gifts to be given to us rather than from us - all accompanied by fuzzy feelings of ‘love’, directed toward ourselves rather than toward God and our neighbour. Many, even among those who call themselves Orthodox, and especially in the West, have decided that food, gifts, family and fuzzy feelings constitute the very meaning of the feast. Such people have lost the true understanding and significance of Church feasts and church life. In the correct context and proportion, these comforts are not evil in themselves. Nevertheless, as Orthodox Christians, we must know all this is of the fallen world. If we become excessively attached to the world, we will not reach our destination of spiritual salvation.

Anything to which we attach more importance than Christ – be it even our family, children, or career – becomes an idol. In our times, especially among us in the West, families are seldom united in Christ. The Lord sternly warns us: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt. 10:37). Today, some find it necessary to take their children to heretical and schismatic churches to celebrate the birth of Christ, ostensibly for the sake of their children’s happiness. They do not see that it is not the children who have led the parents out of the True Church, but rather, it is the parents who have led the children astray. But Christ says: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mk. 10:14). We hear continually in the Divine Services: “let us commit ourselves, one another and all our life unto Christ our God.” If we heed this call, “all these things shall be added” to us (small litany; Mt 6:33)!

Everything depends on our discernment – a choice between the physical and the spiritual; between the earthly and the Heavenly. Our reward is not limited to the next life only – for when we set God first in our lives, we receive peace of heart even here and now, during our short sojourn on earth. He will give us true life and happiness, which will most certainly last forever. Let us love Him, our God, rather than ourselves and our fallen world! We are all invited to receive this joy and peace of the true God in His true Church! We will not find this joy and peace anywhere else.

Brothers and sisters, do not hesitate! The doors are open to us all – now, come, and join the spiritual feast!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!

+ Bishop John

Nativity of Christ, 2017/18

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Children’s camp at St Sava Free Serbian Orthodox Monastery

The annual St Sava children’s camp completed its sessions on Friday 9/22.1.2016. More than 30 children participated. Archimandrite Christophor, Abbott John (ROCA) and Hieromonk Simeon, along with others, gave lessons and participated in activities over five days.

Serving at Liturgy:





The great blessing of water:

Getting newly blessed Holy Water:

Raising the flags and singing national anthems:

Diving into the pond after Archimandrite Christophor threw the Holy Cross into the water:




Vespers for St John the Baptist

Services in the Church:


Group photo:








Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sermon by Archbishop Sofrony

….. Therefore, also we, my dear ones, every parish individually, and the entire universal Church taken as a whole is the Body of Christ. Together we are the Body of Christ – every individual parish reflects in itself every day, at every Liturgy, when the Priest performs the Divine Liturgy, every parish commemorates the incarnation of our Lord.

On the Altar Table, at every Liturgy, the Lord becomes flesh under the guise of bread and wine. His Body and Blood are offered to us. In each parish, the Lord is present, not partly, but in full. Every parish, with the Altar table at its head… We are all the Body of Christ – not individually, but all of us together.

The (parish) community is gathered together with one condition – that we have united together in order to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, so that we would together enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is our only goal in establishing communities, in establishing parishes. Our first responsibility – of every parishioner – is to become the Body of Christ, the Body of the Church of Christ. Therefore we all must be one – we should not each one separately work out our salvation – but rather all together.

This is what we come to Church for – so that we together can fulfill our main task – to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. We do not come here for anything else. We do not come to expound on our relations, to explain what who thinks of whom. We come here because the parish – the Church – is the step to the Kingdom of Heaven. And we are all witnesses of this at every Liturgy, and we all answer “Amen” to the Priest’s exclamation: “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and Son…”

This is the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven, here in the Church, my dear ones…not somewhere else…No other time but at Liturgy, nowhere but in the Church does the Kingdom of Heaven begin. It is the first step to the Kingdom of Heaven. And the first and foremost responsibility of the parish is for us together to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, so that we would together enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

But we often forget this responsibility of ours, and each parish often becomes some sort of external structure, some sort of organisation. And people come to the services, to the parish and it is as if they do not feel that they participate in the Liturgy, in what is happening on the Altar Table.

My dear ones, without your faith, without your love - the Lord cannot save us. For if we have love, if we have faith – only then can the Lord enter our hearts. Yet what is our hearts not occupied with during the Liturgy? What thoughts and what justifications is it not occupied with, instead of the main purpose that is happening at the Liturgy. The main thing that happens is that the Lord is present amongst us. The Lord, the Living God, present on the Altar, looks at our soul and looks at heart, at what it is occupied with.

Therefore, my dear ones, while we live in the vain, sinful world, do not forget what we come together for, why we establish parishes, what we live here on earth for. Remember that each parish individually, all of us together, are the Body of Christ.

We are members of Christ – but look at how we sometimes behave! How unfriendly we are, and how we have some sort of thoughts against our neighbour, against someone. Remember that this person also desires salvation, that for him as well the Lord was crucified on the Cross. Remember that also for this person, who we do not like at this moment, or who does something incorrect in relation to us – remember that for him also Blood was shed…

When we come to Church, we should wholly adore the Eucharist, adore the Lord – and come to Church for Him. We should come to Church and forget about the entire world that exists around us, forget about all the unfairness and all evil that affects us. We should fall on our knees before the Lord and beg for forgiveness and because of our sins, beg because of those offenses which we cause one another.

Remember that we must not come to Church mechanically, because we of habit – we are used to it, we come, and … we should come consciously. The Lord was not crucified on the Cross mechanically – it was not something that just happened – He was crucified because he adored us, because He loved His creation.

But do we adore Christ? Do we love Him? Is He the most important for us in the world? Or is something else? No – often what is most important for us, is what others think of us, or what others say about us – for us that is the main thing.

No, my dear ones – remember that the Lord shed His Blood for us on the Cross – for us all, equally. He loves everyone equally, and everyone is dear to Him. Even bad people are dear to Him, and even good people are evil before Him.

But remember, dear ones, when we come to Church – leave all your maliciousness and all your craftiness outside the walls of the Church, and come with a clean heart, just once a week, to the Churchcome to the Living God. The God Who sits on the Throne (Altar), the God Who is given to you on the spoon from the Chalice – the Living God! Come to Him with your mind and heart. Look what exists in our heart, what is hidden in the heart – every sort of falsehood and every kind of obscenity.

My dear ones, remember what we live on earth for. Father Wsewolod, whom we commemorate today, called us to …. only this, he called and taught us to live in the Church, to be with Christ, to be with the Living God. When we commemorate our fathers and relatives who have departed before us, let us remember their teaching – do not only remember, but fulfil it is your lives. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples”, says the Lord, “if ye have love one to another”. If we will have the Love of Christ amongst ourselves, in our behaviour, we will be preaching the Risen, Living God.

But if we, by our behaviour, preach disputes, problems, or anything else that is against God, then we will not at all be preaching of God, but rather, we will be preaching of our passion, of the creations of the devil. It is him that teaches us, and teaches us how to be evil to each other. It is him that has us discover all sorts of evil in another person.

But rather, my dear ones, try to see in that very person, what is most good, most decent, most enlightened. And in that moment, in which that person perhaps has a bad attitude to us, try to see in that very person the most pure, the best in him – his soul, his intention to be saved, his love for God. Do not try straight away to see anything bad in a person – rather, see only what is good, what is pure. And then your guardian angel will open your eyes and disclose to you the person seen from the other point of view – the Gospel understanding. What did the Lord come to earth for? So that we would see each other through the Gospel – through the commandments of God.

After all, we do not see ourselves through the commandments. We forgive ourselves many kinds of deeds, but we do not forgive our neighbour.

My dear ones, let us look at each other through the Gospel, let us rouse ourselves to the love of God. Let us adore the services, the Liturgies – let us worship the presence of God amongst us. For whether we want it or not, the Lord is present in the Church, because He ordained it so, saying: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” His Church – that is us. It is not the walls, it is us, the souls. We are the Body of Christ. Therefore, let us conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the members of Christ. Let less be heard about any kind of disputes taking place amongst us. Let us forget about all disappointments when we come to God. And then the Lord will forget His displeasure in relation to our sins. If we learn to forgive and not notice what is said to us, then God will also forgive our sins. And then God will not turn His attention to our falsehoods.

My dear ones, I call you again to remember that we – the parish, the Church – are the Body of Christ. We have not gathered here for anything else, but to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven together. Therefore, my dear ones, hold every Liturgy dear, whenever it is served, by whomever it is served, and wherever it is served. Remember that on the Altar and in the Chalice God is present. On the spoon, the Body of the Living God is given to us. This is not just some ritual, not some mechanical act, but rather, the Body of the Living God. Think about that, and with fear of God and faith draw nigh to the Body and Blood of Christ. Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Exaltation of the Cross - Camp

From September 25-27, a group of young people came to the Annunciation Hermitage for a camp.

They made and erected a Cross on “Mount Tabor” above the monastery.

6206a.jpg Carpentry skills by the boys were put to good use. Some of the boys helped with the iconography, whilst the rest had the difficult task of digging a deep hole in the rocky ground. The tropar and other hymns to the Cross were sung.

The participants had five lectures and discussions on the Law of God.



They prayed at the services morning and evening, and took part of Holy Communion.


6308a.jpgA competition - the teams were handed the first question, which started them off on a search for ongoing clues hidden all over the monastery property. Competing team members share experiences on the challenges of the competition track - quick decisions had to be made during the race.


A campfire with discussions about ancient Rome, the first Christians, and tall tales.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Family Convention at Mountain View (USA)

See the report from the Convention at Mountain View Russian Religious and Cultural Centre. Bishop Andronik headed the summer gathering. Metroplitan Demetrios of America (Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece) participated.


Bishop Sophrony of St Petersburg and parishioners in Russia sent a video greeting:

The family is a new Eden, planted by God.
The husband and wife are placed in this garden, in order to cultivate it.
“Keep thy tongue from evil,
and thy lips from speaking guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.”

Apostle Paul in his Epistles greets spouses as “the house church”. And in this small domestic church, the husband and wife help one another attain spiritual perfection, preparing for eternity.
Our life is a school of love. And the first lessons in that school we receive in our own family.
The family of the holy Royal Martyrs of Russia provide us with a magnificent example of that which resurrects all the best in man – which is true love in Christ.
“Father asks to pass on to everyone…that you should remember that the evil that is in the world, is going to become even more powerful, but evil does not conquer evil, rather, only love.”
(Letter from the Tsar family, Tobolsk, 1918)


Sunday, January 25, 2015

More Pictures from Children’s Camp

The children’s choir singing at Liturgy on the day of St Gregory of Nyssa, Friday 10/23 January.
The Great Entrance.

National anthems every morning


Services and singing practice in Church.

Trivia quiz night


Sessions in the camp hall

Posters made by children to collect funds for the benefit of disabled children in Kosovo.


Presentation of certificates, awards and gifts.

The closing session of camp 2015


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Children’s Camp at Serbian Monastery 2015


The annual children’s camp at St Sava New Kalenich Monastery near Canberra concluded today, 11/24.January. 28 children attended from all over Australia.
camp15aa.jpgEvery morning, after the short prayer service, the children raised the Australian and Serbian flags accompanied by singing the national anthems. Thereafter followed dormitory inspections with announcement of winners of the bedmaking contest. Breakfast was then served, after which followed morning lessons. There were daily lessons in the Law of God, services morning and evening, and singing practice. In addition, the children learned about iconography and church and Serbian history. Select lives of Saints were read. The main course of study was presented by Igumen John (Smelic)(ROCA) and rassophore nun Elisabeth of the Annunciation Hermitage (ROCA), with select sessions by Fr Bojan Vlajic and others.
camp15a2.jpgThe campers conscientiously kept the fasts and learned more about the meaning of this pious practice.
The children chanted the Divine Liturgy on the feast of Theophany, on Friday 10/23, and Saturday 11/24 in English and Church Slavonic. All prepared for Confession and Holy Communion at the conclusion of the camp. An exciting treasure hunt incorporating questions on the spiritual materials studied served as the exam.
camp15aa1.jpgFriday afternoon, the very reverend Abbott Hristifor presented each child with a graduation diploma from the St Sava Academy 2015. Various prizes were presented to the most improved camper, the best singing voice, best organiser, best behaviour, and others.
The weather was comfortably cool in Canberra, allowing for outside play and swimming.



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