40th Annual Youth Conference is Held in Canberra
us with Thy most precious Protection. Most holy Theotokos, help
Between December 19th and December 25th, approximately 100 young
people gathered in Canberra, Australia's capital, for the 40th Annual
Youth Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese. In attendance
were His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion, guest speaker Priest David
Moser, rector of the church
of Saint Seraphim in Boise, Idaho (USA), a number of the clergy
of the Diocese, and some matushkas, bringing the total number of
participants to over 120. Present throughout the conference was
one of the spiritual treasures of the Diocese, the wonderworking
"Akhtyrskaya" Icon of the Mother of God.
Registration commenced on Sunday, December 19, following which the
Canberra clergy served a moleben at the parish church. After a settling-in
period at the Conference venue, Sundown Village, the first dinner
of many was served. Participants then watched the film "The
Passion of the Christ". Archbishop Hilarion, Archpriest Gabriel
Makarov and some young participants arrived from Brisbane during
the evening, and Father David Moser, the Conference guest speaker,
arrived from Sydney.
The next day the Conference schedule (see at http://www.rocor.org.au/Conference2004/schedule.html)
was followed with some rigor. His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion greeted
all participants and in officially opening the conference expressed
the hope that it would be of spiritual benefit to all in attendance.
Protodeacon Basil Yakimov then took the chair, introducing the speaker
before each lecture.
In the course of the week, Father David Moser gave three excellent
lectures on the topics: the missionary witness of Saint John of
Shanghai and San Francisco, "Identity and Intimacy", and
"The Nature of the Soul" (these talks and others will
be posted on the Conference site). In each of his talks, Father
David stressed the importance of a healthy relationship with God
as the basis for all other relationships. Father David's talks were
well received by the youth, and his warm and open manner, together
with his evident pastoral and professional experience, were much
appreciated by all.
The theme of the conference was "Shelter us with thy most precious
protection. Most Holy Theotokos, Save Us!" Speaking to this
theme on the first day of the conference, Priest James Carles surveyed
instances of the intercession of the Mother of God in Byzantium,
Russia, and the Diaspora, encouraging the young people to take confidence
in her help now. Priest Boris Ignatievsky spoke about a number of
miraculous icons of the Mother of God. Also on the first day, Reader
Alexander Paramonov, a recent graduate of the Holy Trinity Seminary
in Jordanville, gave a lecture on the life and influence of the
late ever-memorable Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose).
On the second day of the conference, Priest George Robinson gave
an interesting talk on his path to Orthodoxy and his missionary
work. Formerly a protestant missionary in Russia, Father George
was, while in Russia, himself led to embrace Orthodoxy. A lively
discussion ensued, with Fathers George and David later leading a
workshop on the topic of missionary work. Protodeacon Basil read
a lecture entitled "Orthodox Latvia: St John of Riga".
The life of Saint John of Riga was an inspiration to all in these
unsettled and confused times.
On the third day of the conference, Canberra resident, Kyrill Georgievitch
Zviagintsev (Brent) gave a fascinating lecture on Russian culture
and literature. Kyrill Georgievitch surveyed the historical experience
of the Russian people, and encouraged the youth of the Diocese to
value and draw strength from their heritage. The same message was
given later that day when his Excellency the Russian Ambassador
to Australia, Leonid Petrovich Moiseev, received the participants
of the conference. Welcoming the clergy and young people to lunch
at his private residence, Leonid Petrovich explained to all present
his work as ambassador and expressed his hope that Russian-Australians
would always value their heritage. Leonid Petrovich answered a number
of questions from the young people. All appreciated the tasty Russian
Lenten food that he and his wife, Leonida Petrovna, generously provided.
That same day, participants in the conference visited the Australian
War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, and both the old
and new Parliament House.
On the evening of the third day, all journeyed to Canberra's beautiful
church dedicated to the Nativity of Saint John the Forerunner. Built
in traditional Russian style, this church was built as a memorial
of the 1000-year anniversary of the Baptism of Rus'. Of great interest
to all was the newly-frescoed church ceiling, the work of Archimandrite
Alexis (Rosentool) and Mrs T Ganina and their assistants, work that
is to be continued in the coming year. There, Archbishop Hilarion,
together with 9 priests and the Canberra protodeacon, served an
akathist before the "Akhtyrskaya" Icon of the Mother of
God. Praying in church on the right kliros were the Serbian Orthodox
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand, Milutin, together with a number
of the clergy of his diocese. Vladyka Hilarion warmly welcomed Bishop
Milutin, recalling the recent visit to Australia of His Holiness
Patriarch Paul of Serbia. Bishop Milutin then addressed all present,
speaking of his love for the Russian Church. This fraternal gathering
was uplifting for all.
Other talks given in the course of the week included Archpriest
Nicholas Dalinkiewicz on the book, "The Da Vinci Code";
Archpriests George Lapardin and Gabriel Makarov on liturgical themes;
and Professor Dimitri Conomos, Oxford Professor of Byzantine Studies,
on education and on the Mother of God. Professor Conomos' role as
adviser to Buckingham Palace on matters relating to the Orthodox
Churches was of great interest to the participants, and a number
of questions were asked about Prince Charles and Prince Phillip
and their relationship to Orthodoxy. An inspiring talk was given
by, an young man from the Gosford parish, George Karmadonoff, on
God's help to him in overcoming struggles with alcohol and gambling.
This talk made a particular impression on the youth, reinforcing
to them the importance of making wise choices.
A quiz on Tuesday night was a great success, as was a talent night
on Thursday. Abbess Anna of the Presentation Skete led a well-attended
workshop on death and other topics, and so contributed to the success
of the Conference. Also present for part of the week were Archpriest
Nikita Chemodakov and Hieromonk John (MacPherson), both of whom
participated in question and answer sessions.
Two talks were given that recalled ever-memorable clergymen of the
Australia and New Zealand Diocese. The rector of the Canberra church,
Archpriest Alexander Morozov, gave an overview of the life of Archbishop
Theodosy (Putilin), ruling bishop of the diocese from 1970 until
Father Alexander warmly recalled Vladyka Theodosy's time as Bishop
of Melbourne. Father Alexander's portrait of Vladyka Theodosy was
added to by the recollections of two Conference participants. Matushka
Elizabeth Dalinkiewicz warmly recalled Vladika from the time when
he, as Father Sergei Putilin, was the rector of the Sts Peter and
Paul Church in Perth, Western Australia (1951-69), as did Protodeacon
Basil Yakimov, who in 1976 was cell attendant to Vladyka and acting
Deacon Alexander Abramoff, of the Holy Protection Cathedral in Melbourne,
later spoke of the life of Priest Vladimir Evsukoff, tragically
killed in a motor vehicle accident in 1981. Father Alexander recalled
Father Vladimir's contributions in both the Melbourne and Geelong
parishes, particularly his zeal and his love for the youth. Father
Vladimir indeed left a wonderful legacy. A number of the clergy
present at the Conference were the spiritual children of Father
Vladimir, or influenced by him to serve the Church. It was furthermore
noted that Father Vladimir was perhaps one of the first clergymen
in the Diocese to take advantage of fluency in English when reaching
out to those around him.
On the final evening of the conference, vigil was served at the
Canberra church by Archpriest Gabriel Makarov, Protodeacon Basil
Yakimov, and Deacon Alexander Abramoff. Archbishop Hilarion and
all the clergy present emerged from the altar during the polyeleos
to sing the magnification of the Theotokos and Saint Herman of Alaska
and for the reading of the Holy Gospel.
The next day, Archbishop Hilarion presided at Divine Liturgy, concelebrating
with Archpriests Alexander Morozov, Gabriel Makarov, and Nicholas
Dalinckiewicz, Priests David Moser, Simon Kichakov, and George Robinson,
Protodeacon Basil Yakimov, and Deacons Alexander Abramoff and Vadim
Gan. An inspiring sermon was given by Priest David Moser on Saint
Herman's words: "From this day, from this hour, from this minute,
let us strive to love God above all and to fulfill His holy will".
The youth choir was at all services lead by the talented choir leader
from Saint Vladimir's Church in Sydney, Elizabeth Lescheva. The
choir of the youth and in the altar the voices of the clergy made
the services very moving and spiritually uplifting. At these final
services, many of the Conference participants took the opportunity
to confess their sins and receive the Holy Mysteries.
Following the Divine Liturgy, a festive Lenten meal was served by
the parish sisterhood and visiting helpers under the able direction
of Mrs Alevtina G Kargin. For many, this was the first opportunity
to see the new parish hall, a well-designed and spacious building.
At the farewell luncheon many of the clergy (including Stavrophore
Archpriest Ilya Dragosavljevic of the Serbian Orthodox Church of
Saint Savva) gave a brief speech, and gifts were given to lecturers
and helpers alike. It was mentioned that the meals were excellent
at all times and that the accommodation at this Conference had been
second to none. On behalf of the organizing committee, Protodeacon
Basil Yakimov thanked all who had made the first Conference in Canberra
possible and a great success. The President of the Canberra Russian
Youth Committee, Adrian Windle, the Secretary, Monica Yakimov, together
with members Victor Rodionov and Dionisy Kargin joined Father Protodeacon
in thanking the guests and workers.
Now an important event in the life of the Australia and New Zealand
Diocese, the annual youth conferences were first convened with the
blessing of the ever-memorable Archbishop Savva (Raevsky) in 1964.
The initiative for the first conference came from the late Anatole
Zakroczymski, an energetic participant in many community organizations
over the years. It was he who founded the Saint Vladimir's Youth
Organization in 1955 and the Vitiaz Organization in 1960, leading
the latter until his death in 1999. Held in a different location
each year, the conferences are a source of spiritual strength for
the youth, providing in addition the opportunity for young people
to meet and enjoy a range of social activities together. God willing,
the 2005 (Conference) Conference will be held in Geelong, Victoria,
under the auspices of the "Joy of All Who Sorrow" parish.
The Conference organizing committee plans to produce two videos
of the 40th Jubilee Conference and, at some time in 2005, a "Conference
Pamyatka" book. It is hoped that such worthy endeavors will
29 December 2004