The Ordination to the priesthood of Father Eugene Kulanov

Glory be to God! God’s Providence manifests itself even in the most distant corners of the world! An example of this is New Zealand – a land separated from the rest of the world by many thousands of kilometres.

Today, February 11/24 2008, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, His Eminence Hilarion, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, ordained Deacon Eugene Kulanov, a clergyman of the Holy Resurrection parish in Auckland, to the Priesthood. In the history of the Russian Orthodox Church this is the first time this Sacrament has been performed in New Zealand.

The day of the Resurrection began on the eve, with a Vigil Service officiated by His Eminence, Archbishop Hilarion on Saturday evening in our Church of the Resurrection of Christ.

To accommodate the multitude of faithful on Sunday, the Divine Liturgy was served in the local Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, a church much larger than our own. This was especially important since Sunday turned out to be a rainy day and everyone was able to find themselves a place in the church. We are grateful to the Greeks for this opportunity to use their church.

The service began with the meeting of the bishop. The several minutes of complete silence in the church as we waited for the arrival of the bishop underscored the singular importance of the approaching service. Vladyka entered the church to the signing of “It is truly Meet,” and began the service. Concelebrating with him were Archimandrite Alexis of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery of Bombala, Australia, the rector of our parish, Archpriest Vladimir Boikov, and Fr deacon Eugene Kulanov. Accompanying them were the choir’s harmonious voices under the direction of Matushka Anna Boikov. Fr Eugene’s family also prayerfully attended. I am sure that during the singing of “Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim…” all of us tried to fulfil the command of the hymn to “lay aside all earthly cares” and stood in prayerful contemplation of the Holy Trinity. Immediately following the singing of the Cherubic Hymn, Fr Vladimir led Fr Eugene into the Altar, and Vladyka Hilarion, reading the prayer of ordination, asked god to send down the grace of the priesthood upon the new server of His altar. Vladyka exclaimed “Axios!” i.e. “He is worthy!” before clothing Fr Eugene in the priestly vestments – the epitrachilion, the belt, the phelonion, the pectoral Cross, before investing him with the service book, and then presenting Fr Eugene himself. Glory be to God! The priest, and then the choir loudly answered “Axios!” At that point, Fr Eugene was already concelebrating as a priest. The whole congregation triumphantly sang the Eucharistic canon. “Holy, Holy, Holy, O Lord of Sabbaoth, heaven and earth are full of Your Glory!” During the Communion of the priests in the Altar, the choir sang the hymn of the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the psalm “by the rivers of Babylon…” Holy Communion was offered to the flock initially by Vladyka Hilarion, and then by the newly ordained Fr Eugene. The many communicants kept the altar servers Vanya Boikov and Dima Dovgal busy filling the after-Communion jug.

Following the Liturgy Vladyka delivered a sermon on the Gospel parable of the Prodigal Son, and pointed out how important the coming Grace-filled period of Great Lent is for all orthodox Christians.

Before the kissing of the Cross, Vladyka congratulated Fr Eugene on his elevation to the priesthood, Vladyka repeated the Saviour’s words that the harvest was plenteous, but he labourers were few. Vladyka thanked Fr Eugene for becoming one of those “labourers,” taking upon himself the heavy Cross of being a pastor of the Church. At the same time, Vladyka assured Fr Eugene that the Lord would send down His grace upon him to strengthen him in his service. The Many Years were intoned for Fr Eugene and Matushka Maria and for all their relatives. Fr Vladimir expressed our gratitude to Vladyka Hilarion for his archpastoral care for our parish, inviting him to make a habit of visiting us, for we were always glad for such visits and we highly valued every meeting with him. In token of our thanks, we all sang the “Many Years” to our beloved Vladyka. Vladyka then offered the Cross for veneration and Fr Eugene handed out the Antidoron.

Following the service Fr Eugene and his relatives invited all to the hall for refreshments in honour of such an auspicious occasion

Fr Vladimir invited everyone to take part in Fr Eugene’s first Liturgy, which was served the next day at 7 am.

Through the efforts of the Sisterhood under the guidance of Elena Maloletkina, both the Greek church and the hall were cleaned and left in an exemplary fashion. It remains simply to hope that our own parishioners, and that all Orthodox Christians will spiritually cleanse themselves during the Great fast, so that we can celebrate Holy Pascha, the Feast of Feasts in an “exemplary fashion!”

Glory be to God for His salvific Providence!

Sunday of the Prodigal Son
11/24 February 2008
Auckland, New Zealand

Source: Church of the Resurrection of Christ, Auckland