"Celebration for All Orthodox Christians." A Solemn Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Episcopacy of His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion Was Held at the Russian Club in Stratfield

Guests filling an entire hall, sharing the genuine spiritual and purely social joy of being in the presence of Archbishop Hilarion, expressed the love between the flock and their archpastor. This anniversary is of great importance not only for the Diocese, but for the entire Orthodox Church. Giving this day its due were clergymen, eminent church figures and many parishioners of the churches of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Russia to Australia, Leonid Petrovich Moiseev, and General Consul of Russia in Sydney, Georgii Davidovich Torolaya and his wife, Nadezhda Nikolaevna, and a multitude of other guests.

Many warm words and greetings were addressed to Vladyka Hilarion on this day, whose tone was set by Protopriest Michael Boikov, a clergyman of the stavropighial Church of All Russian Saints in Croydon: "Vladyka, you are our loving father, and with all our hearts, on behalf of our entire Diocese, we congratulate you on your anniversary. You have been a bishop for twenty years—this is a great podvig [spiritual struggle—ed.] in our day. When the world around us is in almost complete apostasy, you serve as an example for us of how one can approach God—calmly and worthily. A believer who overcomes all temptations in life and embarking upon this path, as in Your case, is a rare person. We have all of fifteen bishops, and Vladyka is now among the senior ones, though by age he is still young."

Welcoming the guests, among whom was a representative of the company Liberty Funerals, Sam Coor, who supported this event, Fr Michael offered the podium to Protopriest Michael Protopopoff, the Dean of the Victoria Deanery, who gave a brief biography of Vladyka Hilarion. While he spoke, photographs prepared by the organizers from Vladyka's past were projected onto a large screen.

The Russian Ambassador, Leonid Petrovich Moiseev, then spoke. He warmly greeted Vladyka in his capacity of Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Australia, and as the official representative of President V.V. Putin of Russia, and he underscored the importance of the day. He recalled that one of the happiest impressions for any Russian person visiting Australia is the presence here of the Russian world, which lives an intensely spiritual life; a Russian world which holds to the Orthodox Church, which preserves in itself the memory and love for the Homeland. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and first of all, her bishops, play a colossal role the existence of this Russian world. And of course, the role of an archpastor here, in Australia, is truly central and great, stressed the Ambassador. This bishop sets the tone for spiritual life, a great deal of how the lives of Russian people develop depends upon this person.

"And we have a great deal of respect for his work," said Leonid Petrovich.

Then he emphasized the importance of the nascent process of rapprochement between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, which will be able to heal the consequences of the terrible catastrophe that took place in Russia. Now hope has arrived that this division, which occurred against the better interests of Russia, will finally be overcome, said the Ambassador. "Today I would like to say on behalf of all the official representatives of Russia here in Australia that we deeply respect Vladyka. We wish him many years of archpastoral service here. We wish him health, happiness and good fortune. Many Years, dear Vladyka!" concluded the Russian Ambassador to great applause.

Then, Priest Alexander Korjenewski, and Deputy Warden of the oldest church in Sydney, St Vladimir's Church in Centennial Park, Victor Kostashchuk, gave Vladyka Hilarion a gift from their parish—a magnificent icon of the Three Holy Fathers and an archpastoral staff as a symbol of spiritual authority.

The speeches given by the Director of the St Alexander Nevsky Russian Parish School at the Cathedral in Stratfield, Mary Amayakovna Arutyunyan, representative of the Russian Club and the philanthropic organization Pravoslavnaya Delo—Sydney [Orthodox Work/Sydney], Tatyana Viktorovna Chernysheva, the representative of the journal Avstraliada, Irina Stanislavovna Migunova, the representative of the Russian Historical Society in Australia, Peter Tatarinov, the representative of the Russian Ethnic Organization, Zoya Nikolaevna Kozhevnikova and many others expressed "Many Years" and wishes for long life and health to Vladyka.

A parishioner of one of the oldest parishes, that of St Nicholas Cathedral in Brisbaine, which has existed since 1925, gave Vladyka a gift of a magnificent orlets [episcopal rug]. Vladyka also received a splendid panaghia and cross as a gift from his flock as a symbol of respect and recognition of his importance.

An unexpected and beautiful gift was the performance of the men's chorus consisting of two parts, the first under the direction of Protopriest Michael Boikov, the other under Deacon Vadim Gan. The concert was greatly appreciated by all the guests.

At the conclusion of the celebrations, Archbishop Hilarion himself spoke, thanking his spiritual children for the warmth they expressed.

Edineniye, No. 45