Speech by Protopriest Michael Protopopoff, Dean of Victoria and Tasmania, on the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand

Vladyka Hilarion's parents—his father, Alexei Kapral, and mother, Evfrosinia (nee Kasyanyuk)—were from the town of Obenizh in the Volyn guberniya in Ukraine. In 1929, during the Polish occupation, the local population was persecuted and oppressed by the Poles, who occupied Western Ukraine, so 19-year-old Alexei, together with his young wife decided to emigrate to Canada. At that time, the Canadian government provided the opportunity for immigrants to acquire large tracts of land in the west, where the young family went on to establish itself. Upon arrival in the Province of Alberta, the Kapral family received 160 acres of untilled land, $100 in cash, a hammer and an axe to build themselves a home. In the developing region of Spirit River, there were some 200 Ukrainians, who, in view of the oncoming cold, quickly built themselves houses. The great economic crisis of 1929-1930 affected the newcomers, making their already-difficult life even more complicated. Alexei Kapral was forced to seek work far from their new home, and he worked for only 25 cents a day. Still, the family grew and expanded: 5 boys and 2 girls filled the house with children's voices, speaking Ukrainian at home. Their parents also spoke Russian and Polish.

The youngest in the family was Igor, the future Archbishop Hilarion. He was born on January 6, 1948 in Spirit River, and his childhood was spent in the country. He had to walk three miles to school every day. Later he transferred to another school in Blueberry Creek, and then returned to finish high school, where he received his diploma in 1966. From his early years, Igor visited Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church not far from Spirit River. There was a great deal of strife among its parishioners, since one group of Ukrainians wanted the church to belong to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church. Later, the parish joined the Diocese of Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudik), who first served in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, then under the Moscow Patriarchate, while young Igor found a spiritual father in the Russian Church Abroad in the person of Bishop Savva (Saracevic) of Edmonton, a Serb and a great admirer of our St John (Maximovich, +1966).

Since his youth, Igor had a striving for the Church, and loved to read books and periodicals of a spiritual-moral character. In 1967, when Igor Kapral was 19, he enrolled in Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY. Graduating in 1972, Igor entered Holy Trinity Monastery as a novice. On December 2, 1974, he was tonsured into the rassophore with the name of Hilarion in honor of the schema-monk of Pechersk, the family Metropolitan Hilarion of Kiev. On December 4, 1975, he was ordained a hierodeacon by the late Archbishop Averkii (Taushev, +1976), for whom the future bishop served as cell-attendant. In 1976, Bishop Laurus of Manhattan ordained him hieromonk. That year, Fr Hilarion graduated Syracuse University, where he earned a Master's Degree in Slavic Studies and Russian Literature. The future Vladyka served as editor of the English-language edition of Orthodox Life, working at the same time in the monastery typeshop.

On December 10, 1984, His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky, +1985), officiated, along with nine other bishops, at the consecration of Hieromonk Hilarion as Bishop of Manhattan. The future Bishop of Manhattan, Vladyka was responsible for the parishes in Pennsylvania as well, and he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Synod of Bishops by the Council of Bishops. Ten years later, thanks to the archpastoral efforts of Bishop Hilarion, the number of parishes in the Eastern American Diocese grew to number 64. Visiting parish after parish, Vladyka earned the love and respect of all those he met. Fulfilling the important duties in the administrative center of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Vladyka was also an active participant in her historic events. In 1995, Bishop Hilarion was granted the title of Bishop of Washington with his residence remaining in New York, but because of the problems in the Australian Diocese after the retirement of Archbishop Pavel (Pavlov), and the exceptional pastoral qualities of Vladyka Hilarin, in June of 1996, he was appointed to Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and elevated to the rank of Archbishop.

The further archpastoral service of Vladyka Hilarion continued and continues to this day before our eyes, and were overjoyed when the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in December of last year, in recognition of the work of the Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, granted him the honor of wearing a diamond cross on his klobuk.

On this significant, holy and joyous day we wish our Vladyka with all our hearts, strength and well-being in his further service to the Holy Church of Christ, and prayerfully ask the Lord many blessed years to our dear Vladyka.

Protopriest Michael Protopopoff