The 18th Diocesan Conference of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand is held

From the evening of Wednesday, 16 November, until the afternoon of Saturday, 19 November, 2016, a great many of the clergy and faithful of the Australian-New Zealand Diocese gathered in Sydney, NSW, for the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly and for the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion’s service as Ruling Bishop.

On Wednesday evening matins was served at the beautiful church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in Cabramatta, NSW. The service was led by Priest Alexander Paramonov with Protodeacon Vasily Kozulin assisting. A choir sang under the direction of Andrei Laptev. Metropolitan Hilarion, His Grace Bishop George of Canberra and the Diocesan clergy prayed in church. Afterwards, many gathered in the church hall for supper.

Early on Thursday morning the clergy vested and assembled for the solemn greeting of Metropolitan Hilarion. Joining Vladyka Hilarion were Bishop George and the newly-appointed Ruling Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, His Grace Bishop Siluan (Mrakic). Twenty-six priests and seventeen deacons of the Diocese concelebrated at Divine Liturgy. A choir sang under the direction of Eustratius Papageorgiou.

During the minor entrance, a number of clergymen received awards. Archpriest Nicholas Karipoff received the mitre and Priests James Carles and Valentin Basiuk were raised to the rank of archpriest. Priest Peter Hill received the gold pectoral cross. Priests Eugene Kulanov and Barnabas Jellings received the kamilavka and Priest Simon Nekipelov received the skufiya. Deacon Martin Naef was raised to the rank of protodeacon.

The great majority of the clergy stood in the nave of the church for the duration of Divine Liturgy. This, together with the fact that many of the faithful communed of the Holy Mysteries, gave a profound impression of unity between the clergy and the laity.

Following the dismissal, a number of senior clergymen received prestigious awards. Mitred Archpriest Michael Protopopov received the Order of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn and others received the Diocesan Cross in recognition of more than 30 years’ service since ordination to the diaconate: Mitred Archpriests Nikita Chemodakov and Nicholas Karipoff, Archpriests Gabriel Makarov, Nicholas Dalinkiewicz, Vladimir Deduhin,and Sergei Okunev, and Protodeacon Vasily Hadarin. Although not present, Archpriests Alexander Morozow and Peter Sheko also received the Diocesan Cross.

In recognition of their work to assist the Diocesan Administration, Decrees of Hierarchical Blessing were also given to Paul Rodionov, Dimitri Iliuk, and Joanna Zergiotes.

Following the presentation of these awards Metropolitan Hilarion himself was presented with a special gold-encased Diocesan Cross, the citation for which was signed by Bishop George and all the clergy of the Diocese.

Following lunch, the Eighteenth Diocesan Assembly commenced. Metropolitan Hilarion gave an interesting opening address that summarised and reflected on the life of the Diocese over the past three years. Following the Metropolitan’s address, comprehensive reports were presented by Diocesan Council Secretary Archpriest James Carles and Diocesan Treasurer Nicholas Nedachin. Discussion of matters of particular concern arising from both reports followed.

On Thursday evening a great many people gathered at the Renaissance Centre in Lidcombe for a festive banquet in honor of Metropolitan Hilarion’s twenty years of service as Ruling Bishop of the Diocese. Distinguished guests included His Eminence Metropolitan Paul (Saliba) of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines; His Grace Bishop George; Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Australia, Gregory S Logvinov; the Honorable Philip Ruddock, Minister for Immigration and later Attorney General in the Howard Government (1996-2007); and others.

A recital was presented by the Diocesan Choir. Warm and heartfelt speeches were given by the distinguished guests and Vladyka Hilarion himself reflected movingly on his life and service in the Diocese. Towards the end of the evening, Vladyka received all who wished to congratulate him personally, graciously signing many copies of the beautiful book prepared on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of his consecration to the episcopate.

On Friday, 18 November, the work of the Diocesan Assembly continued. In the morning, reports on parish life were presented by the four deans: Archpriest Gabriel Makarov, Dean of Queensland; Mitred Archpriest Michael Protopopov, Dean of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania; Mitred Archpriest Nikita Chemodakov, Dean of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory; and Archpriest Vladimir Boikov, Dean of New Zealand. Each presentation was followed by questions and answers.

In the afternoon, the superiors of the various monastic institutions gave reports of the life of their monasteries and sketes. Presentations were given by Orthodox Action Sydney and Melbourne on their charitable activities, and by the Diocesan Liturgical Music Commission on its important work. Life and income protection insurance for clergy and for Diocesan employees was discussed at length.

On Saturday morning attention was given to certain questions troubling the faithful. The Budget for the 2017-2019 Triennium was considered and endorsed with certain modifications. A new Diocesan Council was elected, the members of which are: Mitred Archpriests Michael Protopopov and Nicholas Karipoff; Archpriests Gabriel Makarov and George Lapardin; Priest Peter Hill; Protodeacons Alexander Kotlaroff and Alexander Abramoff; Deacon Vasily Konstantinidis; Julia Karel-Harrop; and Nicholas Kulikov. Two resolutions were passed, after which the participants in the Assembly gathered in church for a moleben of thanksgiving. Glory be to God for all things!

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