The 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth

On 23 December, at 10:00 am, the 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth began. By day's end, 125 participants were registered; Protopriest Michael Protopopov was the first clergyman to register, while Katia Barlow was the first youth to register. Among participants in the first day of the Conference were eleven representatives of the clergy: His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion, Conference guest Archimandrite Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro (Indonesia), Protopriest Peter Simovskih, Protopriest Michael Protopopov, Protopriest Gabriel Makarov, Protopriest Michael Boikov, Protopriest George Lapardin, Hieromonk Bartholomew and Priest Simeon Kichakov, along with Protodeacon Basil Kozulin and Protodeacon Basil Yakimov.

Referring to the beginning of the Conference, Fr Simeon noted that intense preparations took a full year, that there were many concerns over attendance numbers, but once the Conference had begun, one event followed the next and all concerns dissipated. "Most importantly," said Fr Simeon, "with the Lord's help, the lectures will be interesting and will help our youth find answers to questions that concern them."

Reader Alexander Paramonov, Vice President of the Organizing Committee, noted that members of the Committee spent the first day registering participants, a process that continued through 1:00 am. Thanks to the "well-oiled" operation of members of the organizing committee, registration, distribution among rooms and the provision of necessary information in a timely way all happened quickly. Many came to one of these conferences for the first time. The presence of many very young participants was also noticeable, meaning that the planned activities would need to be altered so as to keep them interesting for participants of all ages.   It is also interesting, in Alexander's view, that the youth is prepared for serious work and not just idle amusement.

An important event for all those present at the conference was the visit to Conference of the icon of the "Port Arthur" "Triumph of the Mother of God," brought from Russia by Michael Osipenko. On the first day of the Conference, Archbishop Hilarion, Fr Michael, Fr Simeon and Protodeacon Basil Kozulin served a moleben before the icon. After the moleben, His Eminence greeted the participants of the Conference. The lecture of Fr Michael about the Icon and its significance also drew interest.

On December 24, the second day of the Conference, began with a welcoming address from Fr Simeon Kichakov. He pointed out the importance of a obtaining a deep knowledge of Christian teachings so as to be able to deliver persuasive and weighty answers to questions about the Orthodox Christian teachings. In conclusion, Fr Simeon called upon the Conference participants to use the time allotted for work at the conference wisely, so as to connect with this source of wisdom and prepare to respectably respond to questions about our faith, should the need for this arise. Happily, the welcoming address was heard both in Russian and in English.

Then Archbishop Hilarion greeted the attendees, making a point that the Conference was a superb conclusion to the year. The Conference, believes His Eminence, is important in that it helps to grow the future generations of the Orthodox Church. Vladyka Hilarion paid special attention to the choice of the topic of the conference, which directly refers to the need to always be prepared to respond to the queries of persons of other faiths. His Eminence thanked Fr Simeon and the Conference Organizing Committee for their enthusiasm and hard work in overcoming difficulties in fundraising for the Conference. Archbishop Hilarion also expressed his sincere gratitude to Archimandrite Daniel for agreeing to present a lecture at the conference and to Michael Osipenko, who kindly agreed to deliver the icon "Triumph of the Mother of God" to Australia for visits to parishes of the Diocese.

The President of the Organizing Committee of the 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth, Terrence Polorotoff, also addressed those present with a welcome. He thanked them for their interest in the conference and made note of the program for the Conference, asking for it to be diligently observed. At the end of his address, Terrence Polorotoff thanked all Conference sponsors.


The work of the second day of the conference continued with lectures, presented by Fr Simeon, Nicholas Cowall and Archimandrite Daniel.

The work of the sisterhood, which took upon itself the task of feeding Conferees, cannot go without mention. LI Matafonova, TS Kozulina, AI Murzina, EI Paramonov and AP Kichakov toiled in the kitchen at the Conference site. They managed to do everything in time despite the fast-paced program of the Conference and the consequent short gap between breakfast and lunch. The five above-mentioned culinary masters and their helpers (on Day Two of the conference, they were EV Kichakov, ZA Polorotoff, OC Chumakoff, LV Dementiev and MM Paramonov) worked well together and liked their kitchen; there were no difficulties with the menu as everything was thought of beforehand and all the necessary ingredients were prepared. The Conference participants were happy with the food—they came back for seconds!

The sisterhood also formed a second group, which is working in the kitchen of the church hall: EC Kichakov, PM Lapardin, AP Kichakov, MP Malishev, AA Malishev, TP Paramonov, MM Kichakov, MZ Pronenko and VV Pronenko.

The third day of the 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth, 25 December, began with a bus trip for participants to Geelong, namely the church of the "Joy of All Who Sorrow" for Divine Liturgy. The "Port Arthur" Icon, painted by MM Osipenko, which was visiting parishes in Australia and was accompanied by the son of the iconographer Mikhail Osipenko, was standing in the church. Beside the icon were vases with red roses and all lectern icons were also framed with red roses. The service began after the greeting of His Emnence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand and was served together with Archimandrite Daniel, Protopriest Nicholas Karipov, Fr Gabriel Makarov, Fr George Lapardin, Fr Simeon Kichakov, Priest Arkadiy Trashkov, Protodeacon Basil Kozulin and Protodeacon Basil Yakimov. The prayerful mood of those present was heightened by the singing of the choir, which united singers of the parish of the "Joy of All Who Sorrow" with singers from the ranks of Conference participants and was conducted by Fr Michael Boikov. Archimandrite Daniel delivered a sermon in English.

After the service, all Conference participants and others present were invited to be photographed. The "Port Arthur: Icon was placed on the porch on the southern side of the church while those wishing to be in the photograph took their places nearby, below it on the steps of the porch and on the path running around the church. The least patient ones urged the photographer on: "Nick, take the photo!"   Meanwhile, he attempted to explain through words and gestures that he has the none-too-easy task of getting everyone to fit into the frame. But then the camera clicked once, then again, to be sure, and everyone was on their way to the church hall for lunch. The food prepared by the sisterhood silenced the chatter, and soon afterwards, the feelings of hunger. Everyone enjoyed soup, calamari, prepared by Basil Paramonov, delicious pies and tea, while the melt-in-your-mouth berry jelly was a superb conclusion to lunch.

Soon after lunch, conference organizers were invited to receive the blessing of Archbishop Milutin of the Sydney, Australia and New Zealand Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who was visiting the parish to revere the icon "Triumph of the Mother of God", to greet Archbishop Hilarion and enquire as to the possibility of the icon "Triumph of the Mother of God" visiting some Serbian parishes. Vladyka Milutin was accompanied by clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church: Protopriest Cedomir Videkomic, Hieromonk Peter Redulovic and Hieromonk Lazar Karin.

During lunch, conference organizers sold lottery tickets. The drawing took place right after lunch, with Mark Ganin amusing those present with humorous announcements about the prizes being drawn and delighting those who were fortunate enough to win.

The first half of the day concluded for Conference participants with a trip to the beach. The weather, which already left much to be desired, deteriorated further. Sunshine was replaced by rain. This, however, did not stop the bravest conference participants from taking a dip in the sea.

The second part of the day was no less intense. Conference participants returned by bus to the Conference venue, dined, heard Mark Ganin's lecture and watched the film "Kingdom of Heaven."

December 26, 2005, was the fourth day of the Conference. After morning prayers and breakfast, conference participants heard the lectures by Fr Michael Boikov and Reader Ivan Jigalin and heard answers to anonymous questions. After lunch, everyone was faced with the difficult choice between football and volleyball, basketball and mountain biking, cricket and a swim in the pool. But the flying fox undoubtedly received the greatest interest.

The second half of the day continued with workshops. Interest was raised by workshops conducted by Nun Virginia (Hutchinson) on the role of women in Orthodox life and Fr Michael Protopopov. Afterwards, all attendees attentively listened to the discussions following anonymous questions.

After dinner and evening prayers, conference participants heard Fr Michael Protopopov's lecture, "Mankind's Relationship with God," after which he showed the movie Varyag . The day ended with a lesson in Serbian dancing, conducted by Marina and Melissa Kozul.

The fifth day of the conference was no less concentrated. It began with morning prayers and breakfast, after which Fr George Lapardin presented his lecture. Conference participants also had the pleasure of hearing a second lecture from Archimandrite Daniel. The group "Historia Events" made an informative presentation, and a discussion of the lectures was substantive. Any tension or fatigue were relieved with active breaks conducted by Alexander Brezhnev. Naturally, the heat was no barrier for lovers of sport; aficionados of table tennis and billiard were found.

After a delicious dinner, the attention of conference participants was captured by "Historia Events," which presented a musical and literary composition about the family of the last Russian Emperor.

On this day, after a moleben, the "Port Arthur" Icon continued its sojourn throughout the parishes of Australia, leaving a permanent trace in the hearts of all conference attendees.

A superb conclusion to the day came from the talent quest. Before the eyes of stern judges—Archbishop Hilarion and Fr Simeon Kichakov—were singers, pianists and comedians.   The competition also made use of the achievements of science in the field of computer technology—presentations made in Microsoft PowerPoint came before the judges. The talent quest was conducted by Fr Michael Boikov. His talent as master of ceremonies and jokes told by audience members between acts enlivened the atmosphere.    The winners of the competition were rising stars and the youngest conference participants Katia Boikov and Larissa Lapardin, future comedian Alexei Karipov and the ensemble "Kalinka." Those who still had strength left–that is, the majority–couldn't possibly head to sleep without heading to the bonfire and partaking in comical skits.

On this day, as with all the preceding days of the conference, the kiosk was open. Religious books, icons for cars and souvenirs were available. Everything that was offered for sale was ordered in advance by the Organizing Committee, with the charming salesman Alexander Chumakoff.

December 28, 2005, was the final day of the Conference. His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion noted in his concluding address that the 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth was an undoubted success on the part thanks to parish priest Fr Simeon Kichakov, the Organizing Committee, the sisterhood and parishioners.   Fr Simeon sincerely thanked His Eminence, the clergy and all Conference participants and delivered gifts to clergy. His words of gratitude to the sisterhood were followed by enduring applause on the part of all who were present. The president of the Organizing Committee of the 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth, Terrence Polorotoff, thanked everyone who took part in preparation and execution of the conference and noted that 181 persons took part in the Conference.

The final words of the thanksgiving moleben were heard, everyone gladly took up Fr Simeon's offer to donate icon souvenirs to the Orthodox Christians of Indonesia, conference participants received the blessings of Archbishop Hilarion and all reverend fathers and said goodbye to one another until next they meet at the 42 nd Annual Youth Conference.

See photos of the event at