Friday, May 26, 2017

Ascension of our Lord in Sydney

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On Thursday, 12/25 May, Bishop John visited the parish of St Cosmas and Damian (GOC) in Sydney. Priest Nebojsa (ROCA) concelebrated. The service was chanted in English and Greek.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

ROCA: Pastoral Epistle of the Council of Bishops 2017

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See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

Christ is Risen!

Currently, the times are such, that when in both civil and ecclesiastical society, authority is crumbling, numerous false teachings are invented, and many groups refer to themselves as if Christ is among them. How can a person keep one’s balance in this chaos, where the media easily convinces a host of people that black is white and vice versa? It is not within a person’s strength nor within his ability to be able to understand such a variety of lies- it is possible only if God Himself opens the veil of Mysteries before him.

We believe that we have been vouchsafed God’s mercy, and that His mercy has been manifested to us by pointing towards the direction of the historical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, as the only true stewardship of the earthly flock of Christ of the Russian Church, through which the earthly Church is ruled by our Divine Savior.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth like a branch, and is withered” (John 15:5 -6).

We believe that our Russian Church Abroad is the vine of Christ- the vine on which a multitude of genuine spiritual fruits have blossomed- including the parishes of the Catacomb Church, which were deprived of their centralized administration, and therefore have attached themselves to this vine. This vine is the source that gives us eternal life and salvation. If we lose that, we will lose God’s saving grace. That is why Holy Tradition, which is passed down from generation to generation by our spiritual Fathers, is what we must hold on to, in spite of all the trials and temptations. Whoever dares to revise this living Tradition and distorts and rejects it, will deprive himself not only of a spiritual foundation, but will deprive himself of a connection with Christ- a connection that is passed on like a continuous thread from the time of the apostles down to our days.

Sacred Tradition is the only solid ground on which one can protect the Church from schisms. Whichever winds of modernism are raging about, if you stand on the firm rock of Tradition - they are powerless. However, if one gives in just a little to the “spirit of the times” and allows oneself to think for but a moment that tradition is outdated and does not correspond to modern challenges – then one can easily slip from a solid foundation and thus be carried along the waves to eternal perdition.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Mt. 7.24-27).

So will it be with those who reject the rock of living Holy Tradition, the canons and rules which the Fathers established, declaring them obsolete and not binding, and who justify their unlawful actions for lack of any arguments at all, with some imaginary “spiritual approach” and with the “demands of the times.” This baseless justification for lawlessness can be compared to how the supporters of the traitor of the Church Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), justified and justify his betrayal owing to his “special wisdom” corresponding to that time, but not within the boundaries of patristic Orthodoxy. Similarly, the enemies of Christ, the Masons, even blasphemously distort the meaning of the betrayal of Judas, which, supposedly, only those of their initiated can truly understand.

Of course, there are things within in the Church that change with time, subordinating itself to the current period. But this applies only to the external attributes, the forms of the exposition (presentations) of its invisible sacred content. One and the same truth can be conveyed, for instance, in different languages. In this case, the language can change, but the truth does not. The mistake that many make, is that they do not distinguish well enough the difference between where the truth is, and where the form of its presentation is. Having the desire to make the truth more understandable, often and without knowing it - they distort it and smother it.

Nowadays, ecumenism is a particular, subtle evil - a heresy that often enters into the Church and into the soul of a person like some diabolical flattery, gradually and imperceptibly. Thus, unexpected for many, not only were the representatives of the well familiar-to-us official Orthodoxy susceptible to this heresy, but so were some separate old-calendar groups as well, professing that one could be saved in isolation from other Christians, that the Church has ceased to be the One, Holy and Universal, but rather has divided itself into a multitude of supposedly self-sufficient “Church-Synods”. It is precisely this thought, through which the heretical, false doctrine hides behind. Insofar as the Church of Christ has always been singular, so will it remain as such - being the only One (Church), according to the Savior’s word, until the end of time.

The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Vitaly, had said that he believes that those whom the Lord has prepared for salvation, He Himself leads, simply guiding them along His pathways, and eventually leading them to our Russian Church Abroad, and, accordingly, cutting off those who are headed towards perdition. Therefore, we must love and appreciate our Church and remember that it is singular, and that a schism in the Church means perdition, and that the (heretical) confession that all the various Churches in which one supposedly can also be saved, of which there are many – amounts to an ecumenical heresy, and to even greater perdition.

The Synod of Bishops warns all of its faithful children of the Church of Christ of the harmful nature of such a false confession of faith that contradicts the words of Christ Himself: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt.16:18), and likewise the ninth article of the Creed: “I believe … in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” The Lord created one Church. Therefore, the Head cannot have many Bodies. Thus did the Lord create it, so the apostles taught, so believed the holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. So do we also believe. “This is the apostolic faith, this the faith of the fathers, this is the Orthodox Faith, this faith confirmeth the universe!” (From the Service of the Triumph of Orthodoxy).

During these festive days of Pascha, The Synod of Bishops addresses our entire flock with a call especially relevant in our times of apostasy: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3:11).

Truly, Christ is risen!

Chairman of the Synod of Bishops

+ Metropolitan Agafangel

Right Reverend Bishops:

+ Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

+ Bishop Athanasius

+ Bishop Kirill

+ Bishop Anfim

For Bishop Gregory and Bishop Nikon + Archbishop George (Secretary of the Synod)

April 20 / May 3, 2017, St. Theodore Trichinas.

Source

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two walls of frescoes completed

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Two walls of frescoes using traditional fresco technique on wet lime plaster have been completed at the hermitage of the Annunciation. It was decided to decorate the trapeza with women ascetic saints to strengthen our monastic labour.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Passion Week and Pascha in Australia

Photos from the services of Passion Week and Pascha in Melbourne and Sydney:

Blessing of eggs at the end of the Paschal midnight service in Melbourne.

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dscf7372-2.jpgsydney17hw20170415_091541_moment3.jpg Palm Sunday in St Gregory the Theologian parish in Melbourne and holy week services in Sydney.

The shroud in Sydney St John of Kronstadt parish:

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Melbourne: The procession with the shroud on Holy Friday evening, which had been beautifully decorated by the sisterhood.

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The Annunciation Sisterhood monastery chapel at Pascha

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Feast of St Gregory the Theologian in Bentleigh

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On Tuesday, January 25th (February 7th, new style), Metropolitan Photios of the GOC concelebrated with Bishop John of Melbourne (ROCA) and hieromonk Ioannis (GOC) at the St Gregory the Theologian Church in Bentleigh. Protopriest Stylianos led the chanting.

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Despite the Church feast falling on a weekday and the sudden rain, nearly 50 people attended. After Matins and Divine Liturgy a blessing of the five loaves followed, as well as prayers for the living with blessing of a Phanuropita and prayers for the departed with blessing of Kolyva.

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The sun came out for the procession around the Church. Afterwards, the sisterhood offered a meal in the hall which was likewise well attended.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Some characteristics of clergy not to trust…

The lives of saints provide lessons for all aspects of our lives. Therefore we should be reading them daily. Not only do we learn what kinds of trials face Orthodox Christians on their path through life, but we are also educated in the nature and practice of love, and are given examples of how to pray, be obedient, discern falsehood or demonic activity, how to be humble, forgiving, and patient, while strictly maintaining the Orthodox faith in all fullness.

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After the 2007 union with Moscow, people of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, due to understandable and profound disappointment, have become cautious in trusting clergy. It has been a difficult time for us all. However, it is important for us to continue to learn traditional Orthodoxy, and direct our lives accordingly. A “modern approach” will eventually will lead us away from the Church. For example, we should be aware that the valuable accounts from the lives of saints in fact give hundreds, if not thousands of examples of what kinds of clergymen (and lay people!) not to trust.

For example, in the life of St Athanasius the Great, archbishop of Alexandria (296-373), we read about the heretic Arius:

…spurred on by ambition, he sided at first with Meletios, a schismatic, and then with Archbishop Peter of Alexandria, who ordained him a deacon. He was reconciled with another schismatic, Achillas, who raised him to the presbyterate…

Today, the Church unfortunately sees many “adventurers” among the clergy, who will join one jurisdiction after the other, often due to ambition. This kind of personal-ecclesiastical history is a ‘warning flag’ for us.

At the same time, there exist many laymen and clergy who have turned away from the falsehood of ‘world orthodoxy’ or heterodox faith, and embraced true Orthodoxy. These are distinguished by their humble and consistent work for the Church of Christ, which is often not very spectacular. Arius, on the other hand:

…was not so well versed in understanding Scripture as he was crafty and a vessel of the devil, skilled at instigating scandals…a popular teacher…his teachings began to incite controversy…he made many disciples…his beliefs circulated in the mouths of many….he filled Egypt with tumult and confusion…his ideas we widely accepted…

Moreover, Arius and his followers were great publicists:

…they did not cease, on a daily basis, creating stumbling blocks, with the intention of not only having the saint exiled from his throne, but also from the city, and if possible even to deprive him of life itself…they enlisted whomever they could in Alexandria to defame the bishop…

The righteous very often endure unjust and false slanders. This is a sign to take note of:

…they accused him of crimes…compelling the bishops and priests to hand over a tax…plotting treachery against the Emperor…that Athanasius was avaricious…against the holy archbishop every charge that could be contrived was laid at his door…primarily harshness and violence in dealing with those who took up Ischyras’ case (a man who posed as a priest without ordination, who vacillated between two schismatic groups and the Orthodox church)…reports circulated that Athanasius contracted to have killed [Arsenios, Bishop of Hypsele, who had been bribed to go along with the following plot]…it was alleged that one of the victim’s hands was severed for use in magic ceremonies…this ridiculous rumour was bruited about…threatening, insulting and reviling him, saying, “Magician, swindler, charlatan, hypocrite, mischief-maker!”

The Church of Christ has lived through many confusing moments, when people were unsure what to believe and whom to trust. Let us make these vital decisions with sobriety, based on Scripture, the writings of the Holy Fathers, and the history of the Church, including the lives of the Saints.

Evsevios of Nikomedia and Theognos of Nicaea, filled with notions of their own importance, used all their influence against the advocates of homoousion. On account of the maneuvering and sophistry of Evsevios of Caesarea, many were swayed who went on thinking that they were in accord with the Orthodox view and the Nicene Creed. The substance of the mischievous controversy was, to many, misrepresented and never fully explained.

St Athanasius governed the Church of Alexandria for 46 years. Seventeen of these years, he was exiled from the city, and most his reign passed under the shadow of continuous troubles. But the Church recognises him as one of the greatest saints and confessors of Orthodoxy in Her history.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Concelebration at the St Sava feast in Canberra

20170127-8.jpgOn January 14/27, Metropolitan Photios (GOC) presided at the services in honour of St Sava of Serbia at the Monastery “New Kalenich”, the patronal feast of the monastery. Bishop John (ROCA) concelebrated, along with archimandrite Hristifor (FSOC), protopriest Bojan (FSOC), hieromonk Simeon (FSOC), hieromonk Ioannis (GOC), priest Nebojsa (ROCA), priest Alexandar (FSOC) and protodeacon Vasily.

Matins and Divine Liturgy was followed by a procession around the Monastery church and the rite of the Serbian Slava.

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20172701-1.jpgThe preceding week, about 30 children attended the yearly St Sava children’s camp. The boys assisted by serving in the Altar and the girls formed a choir to sing the Liturgy.

Festivities continued for the following two days at the St Sava Festival.

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Message from bishop John regarding the ROCA schism

161025-sobor.jpgIn connection with the recent illegal meeting in New York state in January 2017, the following decrees banning clergy associated with Australia (Archbishop Andronik and Hegumen Andrei) have been issued.

These decrees emphasise the extreme seriousness of the situation, and the dire consequences of disobedience, both for the clergy themselves, and for those lay people who attend the services of the banned clergy.

Unity in the Orthodox Church is based on our practice of love, which we show through obedience. This duty is given to all Church members, from the first to the last.

The surest and safest path for parishioners in this confusing matter is to show obedience to the Sobor of Bishops, and concentrate maximally on prayer and good works, for their own salvation, and for the salvation of us all.

In our modern time, with its modern, distorted understanding of ‘love’ it may be difficult for some to understand traditional Church practice. However, our Orthodox Church practice is not something that can ‘change with the times’. Neither is the Church truly a ‘democratic organisation’ in the modern understanding of that term.

The government of the Church is entrusted to the Bishops.

The Sobor of Bishops, consisting of 12 hierarchs, has discussed the matters troubling our ROCA presently, and has arrived at the decision to ban certain clergy, out of love for these persons, and the hope for their repentance, as well as for the love and safeguarding of all the people.

The surest and safest path for parishioners in this confusing matter is to show obedience to the Sobor of Bishops, and concentrate maximally on prayer and good works for their own salvation, and for the salvation of us all.

It is necessary for Orthodox Christians to exercise great patience and faith in our evil days. Do not allow the evil one to lead you astray, away from the Church of Christ, which He founded and governed through the Holy Apostles, leading Her to this day through their successors, the Bishops of the Church

With love in Christ,
+John
(Bishop of Melbourne)

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ROCA: Summary from Vladivostok about the latest Schism

Editorial from the “Brotherly Listok”

icon-of-the-holy-church-by-matthew-garret3.jpgCommunion between the Far East Diocese and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was restored on the day of the Feast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the past year (2016). This brought us not only the joy of reunion with many of the same faith on the territory of historical Russia and abroad, but also inevitable anxieties.

Already then, the rift between the Synod headed by Metropolitan Agafangel and a group of clerics and laymen was perceptibly unfolding. The group were accusing the Primate of usurping power and non-canonical actions, while demanding the convention of an extraordinary All-Diaspora Council. On August 27, 2016 Bishops Sophrony and Andronik, along with part of their flocks, announced their non-submission to the ROCA Synod and Metropolitan Agafangel. In his response, the First Hierarch addressed the initiators of the convention of this “All-Diaspora Council”, for the first time using the term “parasynagogue”.

images.jpg?w=510(* Parasynagogue (Greek παρασυναγωγή -. arbitrary gathering) - a form of departure from Orthodoxy, other than division based on a heresy in that it does not apply to dogmatic questions and is the result of a violation of church hierarchal discipline – disobedience to the hierarchy established by God. “The ancients … named such meetings as are drawn up by unruly presbyters or bishops and unwise people - arbitrary gatherings. For example, if someone, being rebuked for sin, is removed from the priesthood, thereafter does not submit to the rules, and himself retains the authority and standing of the priesthood, and if certain others separate with him”. (Saint Basil’s the Great: First Canonical Epistle to Amphilochius of Iconium).)

It should be noted that neither the First Hierarch nor the Synod members had any objection in principle to the convening of an All-Diaspora Council. However, they simply and legitimately insisted that the council be held in compliance with the rules of the Church, in accordance with procedure prescribed in the “Regulations on the ROCA”. However, even then it was visible that the goal of the initiators of strife was not a constructive dialogue in the spirit of Christ’s love with a view to resolving the existing problems, but rather – an escalation of the conflict.

In early September 2016, the “Pre-Council Commission” appeared, which even before any investigation or trial announced that “Metropolitan Agafangel and his Synod, by their erroneous decisions and abuse of power have lost credibility and trust.” In October 2016, the members of this self-appointed Commission sent Vladika Agafangel another appeal, which, in particular, offered the First Hierarch “to resign as Chairman of the Council of Bishops and Synod, keeping the rank of Metropolitan and management of the Odessa diocese” and to “decentralize the Church administration”, creating three autonomous church districts - Ukrainian-Moldovan, Russian, and Abroad, - each controlled by its own Synod. It was not clear what was behind this idea - thoughtlessness or a clear desire to weaken the church structure of the remnant of the former ROCOR.

Soon enough however the issue became clear. At the same time a picture was revealed before us, in which the deepening the split transformed into something more dangerous. On October 12, 2016 representatives of the new schismatic group published a statement on their website to the effect that “in our time … we believe that the universal Church has the form of splintered “fragments”, which have no communion with each other.” Metropolitan Agafangel immediately objected to this, saying that this statement directly falls under the anathema, proclaimed by ROCOR against the ecumenists (1983) “To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that the Lord’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” of sects or denomination, and even religions, will be united into one body, …: Anathema.”

crkva2.jpgAt the Council of Bishops, held in Odessa from 25 to 27 October 2016, this theme was developed further. Members of the Council heard a memorandum by Metropolitan Agafangel “On the Heresy of Schism-ecumenism” and concluded that the Bishops’ Council cannot accept this teaching as Orthodox, which claims that the Local Russian Orthodox Church is split into equally-salvific and grace-filled fragments that do not have communion with one another, neither in prayer or administratively, nor communion in the sacraments, and that these fragments together constitute the Local Russian Orthodox Church. This doctrine was considered a particular form of the heresy of Ecumenism.

Meanwhile, the decision of the Bishops’ Council in relation to the formal leaders of this new division, at the time officially retired archbishops Andronik and Sophrony, were most correct, careful and patient. While warning about the inadmissibility of non-canonical meetings and calling for the dissolution the so-called “Pre-Council Commission”, they also invited their Eminences [Andronik and Sophrony], together with the faithful of their group, to participate “in the preparation of a canonical All-Diaspora Council of our whole Church, in accordance with the Regulations of the ROCOR.” To our deep regret this proposal remained unanswered.

In a special “Appeal” the Council of Bishops once again warned the initiators of this unauthorized meeting that, in the event of it convening, “would be an act of schism and visible evidence of falling away from the Church. If this gathering is convened, all who wish to be present, testify that being warned, they have knowingly and willingly separated from the Church; which will be confirmed by the Council of Bishops by a decree prohibiting archbishops Andronik and Sofrony from serving, the prohibition from serving by their respective ruling bishop of all priests who take part in the unlawful gathering, and for all laity who participate - excommunication from Holy Communion; for which a special Conciliar Decree has been issued.

However, no Appeal, neither any open letter could stop the engine of division, which at full steam rushed to its goal. The arbitrary unlawful meeting, composed of people united by non-Orthodox sophistry, disproportionate ambition and pronounced personal dislike of the First Hierarch, was opened on January 11, 2017 in the state of New York. The final warning of the Council of Bishops of ROCA came into force, and another schism was added to the dramatic history of the Church Abroad.

Metropolitan Agafangel in his comments to the sad events noted “there was on obvious pre-programmed path towards a schism right from the beginning. It is a fact that not a single constructive suggestion for preserving unity was brought forward by the parasynagogue. Our suggestions at the joint meeting with the Greeks were rejected. In other words it is obvious that this group did not need anything else, except a split. In this connection I wish to remind you that it is a documented confirmed fact that all divisions in the Russian Church were provoked by the NKVD-KGB-FSB (the schism of 2007 is as yet not confirmed by documents - the names and titles of the real “heroes” are not yet proclaimed). I do not suspect – by virtue of my position and status in the Church, no, I feel and see the action of external forces in our midst, which are interested in our destruction. To break up something, it is necessary to make an effort - this is an axiom. We now have the visible result of this effort.”

Of course, in these words of the First Hierarch has his own reason [свой резон]. Nevertheless, regardless of the nature of these hostile external forces, it is painful to see with our own eyes how yesterday’s fathers and brothers, have been unable to withstand this temptation, and now they undergo malignant spiritually-harmful mutations and leave for “a country far away”, tearing off chunks of flesh from the Mystical Body of Christ. Yet, however deep the bitterness and pain of the current loss, the more clear are the words of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.

The editors of the “Brotherly Listok” (Vladivostok).

Source

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas in Sydney

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On the feast of the Nativity of our Lord, the Serbian parish community of Holy Great-Martyr George in Granville (Sydney) had their first full cycle of Divine Services.

The community is part of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church under the omophorion of Bishop Ambrose of Methone, with whose blessing priest Nebojsa Mirkovic (ROCA) celebrated the services for Nativity, blessing the traditional Serbian “Badnjak” oak Christmas tree. On the day of the Nativity, the Divine Liturgy followed.

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The Serbian parish community of St George will be celebrating regular Divine Liturgies with the help of Fr Nebojsa at the Serbian memorial hall at 92 Good Street, Granville. For details of times, please contact Fr Nebojsa Mirkovic
Telephone: 0413354913

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Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad

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Bishop John of Melbourne
Vicar bishop of Australia

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Divine Services - Archangel Michael Sobor in Odessa

Divine services channel is updated every Church feast day

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Parishes

Melbourne, VIC
Parish of St Gregory the Theologian

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  • Address: 4 Gilbert grove, Bentleigh, VIC
  • Clergy: Bishop John (ROCA) and Priest Ioannis (GOC)
  • Service times:
    Sundays and feast days: Matins 8 am
    Divine Liturgy: 930 am.
  • Saturdays and eves of feasts: Great Vespers 630 pm

Sydney, NSW
Parish of St John of Kronstadt.

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  • Serving priest: Father Nebojsa Mirkovic
  • Address:
  • Service times:
    Sundays and feast days: Matins 730 am
    Divine Liturgy: 9 am.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.
  • Saturdays and eves of feasts: Vespers 530 pm
    or All-night Vigil 6 pm

Dandenong, VIC
Community of the Tabinsk Mother of God Icon

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  • Services once a month
  • Visits by Bishop John

Western Victoria
Annunciation of the Mother of God Women’s Monastic Community

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  • Spiritual Father: Bishop John.
  • Address: 266 Nowhere Creek Rd, Nowhere Creek, 3469
  • Service times:
  • Sundays and feast days: Divine Liturgy: 9 am
  • All-night Vigils (including Divine Liturgy) on select occasions.
    Please contact us to confirm what time Liturgy is served.

Brisbane, QLD
Community dedicated to St John Chrysostom

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  • Reader’s services

Canberra, ACT

  • Visits by Fr Protodeacon Basil Yakimov

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