Third Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist – St John the Baptist Skete, Kentlyn

On Monday the 25th of May/7th of June, the commemoration of the 3rd Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion visited the congregation of St John the Baptist Skete, Kentlyn which worships in the old monastery Church of All Saints at Our Lady of Kazan Monastery, Kentlyn.

In contrast to the glorious and grand festivities of the day before celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the founding of the Archbishop’s Chapel at Croydon, the service at Kentlyn was a more modest affair, yet no less joyful. Despite it being a Monday and the beginning of the working week, about 65 people gathered at the Church of All Saints to welcome our diocesan bishop. Many of the congregation has planned ahead and made arrangements to take a days annual leave or a rostered day off from their place of employment so they could be present.

Joining the Skete clergy, Hieromonk Joachim, Protodeacon Constantine Tzortzis and Reader Elias Ghanem in welcoming and serving with the Metropolitan were Father George Robinson from St Stephen of Perm Orthodox Mission, Queanbeyan, Father Seraphim Slade, who leads the Australian Orthodox Indigenous Mission based in Gunning, NSW, Protodeacon Christopher Henderson from St Vladimir’s parish Centennial Park and Sub-deacon Nicholas Martinov from St Nicholas Church, Fairfield. It was a joy to welcome the nuns from Our Lady of Kazan Monastery joining the congregation, together with their chaplain Hieromonk Eftimy, together with visitors from Queanbeyan and Canberra.

During the reading of the Sixth Hour, the Metropolitan tonsured James Nichterlein Reader to serve the St Stephen of Perm Mission.

The choir, under the direction of Julianne Martinov, sang with confidence and beauty, such that comments were later made at the atmosphere of peace, prayerfulness and order which characterised the morning’s Liturgy.

His Eminence gave a homily at the conclusion of the Liturgy in which he detailed the events of the days commemoration of the 3rd Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist, and the history of the saint’s relics, and how so many holy relics, such as the Sacred Head of the Forerunner, and other objects belonging to the Orthodox Church ended up in the hands of the Latins in Western Europe following the sack of Constantinople.

Father Daniel Metlenko, rector of St Vladimir’s Church, Centennial Park, arrived in time to take part in the Molieben and Cross Procession in honour of the Holy Forerunner which followed Vladika Metropolitan’s Homily.

Returning to the church, Many Years were sung to His Holiness the Patriarch and His Eminence the Metropolitan, to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Australia and the civil authorities under her, to the Revd Mother Abbess Maria and the sisters of Our Lady of Kazan Monastery and to Hieromonk Joachim, the clergy and the congregation who worship in All Saints Church. Memory Eternal was sung honouring the reposed Abbesses Helena and Evpraxia and the Monk Guri.

The congregation then adjourned to the Kentlyn Gardens Holy Cross Retirement Village Community Hall where, courtesy of the management of Kentlyn Gardens, a festive trapeza prepared by the congregation was held.

The congregation gives thanks to God for a wonderful day commemorating the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John, and that His Eminence the Metropolitan was able to make time in his hectic schedule to visit and celebrate the feast for our small community. Eis polla eti, Despota!

Hieromonk Joachim