Australian and New Zealand Diocese Commemorated the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Blessed Repose of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco

st_johns_2016_8On Friday 1 July and Saturday 2 July 2016 the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia prayerfully commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the blessed repose of the great twentieth century hierarch and wonderworker Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco.  To mark this jubilee, services were held in all four cathedrals of the Diocese: Saints Peter and Paul Diocesan Cathedral in Strathfield (Sydney), New South Wales; Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Brisbane, Queensland; Holy Protection Cathedral in Brunswick (Melbourne), Victoria; and Saint John the Baptist Cathedral in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

In Sydney All-night vigil with the blessing of wheat, wine, oil and five loaves was served on Friday evening.  Priest Alexander Korjenevski led the service, with Bishop George and the concelebrating priests vesting for the litia at Vespers and for the magnification and Gospel reading at Matins.  Set forth for veneration during the service was the cathedral’s beautiful icon of Saint John, in which was embedded a portion of the saint’s relics, and the omophorion from a set of episcopal vestments that had belonged to him.  The cathedral dean, Archpriest George Lapardin, heard confessions during the service wearing the epitrachelion from the same set of vestments.

On Saturday morning Bishop George presided at Divine Liturgy with fourteen priests and five deacons concelebrating.  A full list of the participating clergy is available here.  A great multitude of the faithful from across the Sydney region filled the cathedral.  The choir sang beautifully under the direction of Andrei Lapteff.  During the communion of the clergy, Dean of New South Wales Mitred Archpriest Nikita Chemodakov gave an edifying sermon.  Following the dismissal a moleben was served to the saint, at the end of which the entire congregation knelt in prayer.

Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Brisbane is the oldest parish in the Diocese and was for a time the Diocesan Cathedral.  Gathering there for the commemorative services were the Dean of Queensland, Archpriest Gabriel Makarov, and Deanery clerics Priest Gabriel Lapardin, Priest Alexander Borodin, Priest Alexander Paramonov, Protodeacon German Polorotoff, and Deacon Vladimir Bigdan.  In the magnificently refurbished cathedral the choir sang solemnly and upliftingly.

At Divine Liturgy on Saturday Father Gabriel gave an instructive sermon.  Observing that we are used to thinking of saints as people who lived in the distant past, he said that there were some still amongst us who saw Saint John themselves, and many who know someone who did.  He said that it should be a source of great comfort for us to know that a man who lived in circumstances like our own could be numbered amongst the saints – that sanctity was still a possibility.  He then gave a brief account of Saint John’s life and ministry and of a small number of the many miracles worked by Saint John, both during his lifetime and after his blessed repose.  A moleben was served before an icon with a portion of the saint’s relics, after which the faithful returned to their homes with a sense of spiritual peace.

In the beautiful Holy Protection Cathedral in Melbourne, clergy gathered from across Victoria.  Serving together with the Dean of Victoria, SA, WA and Tasmania, Mitred Archpriest Michael Protopopov, were Archpriests Nicholas Karipoff, Nicholas Dalinkiewicz, Peter Sheko and Simon Kichakov, Hieromonks Kyril (Gavras) and Felipe (Balngit), Protodeacons Basil Kozulin and Alexander Abramoff, and Deacons Emil Mishricky, Alexei Jukoff, Mark Wolosczyn and Nenad Vujasinovic, the latter a cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  In addition to an icon of Saint John, the faithful were able to venerate a small portion of his relics enshrined in a case together with a set of liturgical cuffs that he had worn.

In the national capital, All-night vigil with a litia was served on Friday evening by the cathedral dean, Archpriest Alexander Morozow.  On Saturday morning Divine Liturgy was served by Priest Seraphim Slade, rector of the Australian Indigenous Orthodox Mission and the Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco Chapel in Gunning.  This service was entirely in English, with a male choir singing under the direction of Jim Bowring.  Father Seraphim gave a heart-warming sermon at the end of the service, after which he and Father Alexander served a moleben to the saint.

Despite having taken place in cities of our Diocese hundreds of kilometres from one another, all who gathered to keep the memory of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco felt a great unity of purpose.  May God, through the prayers of the Holy Hierarch John, continue to bless and strengthen our common life!