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DIOCESE OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND: September 25, 2007
The Parishioners of the Melbourne Deanery Greet the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God

On September 19, 2007, the members of the official delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate and the singers of Sretensky Monastery Choir, accompanying the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God, arrived in Melbourne, Australia. They were welcomed at the airport by the Rector of Holy Protection Church, Protopriest Nikolai Karipoff and the Chairman of the Music Committee of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, NN Kovalenko, who greeted the guests with the following words:

"Allow me, on behalf of our Church Music Committee, on behalf of all the singers of the Diocese and from me personally to express our welcome and gratitude to all the participants of today's celebrations on Australian soil. These celebrations bear witness to the reestablishment of the unity of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. After many decades of division and alienation, the Lord granted us the opportunity to perform joint services in prayerful unity and commune of one Eucharistic Chalice, becoming witnesses of love and peace towards which the Lord God calls us, for the benefit of all Orthodox Christians.

"For the Church Music Committee and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, this visit by the archpastors, pastors and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church has special significance also because we have the unique opportunity to come into contact with the art of one of the most famous Orthodox choirs in the world—Moscow's Sretensky Stavropighial Monastery Men's Choir. Sretensky Choir is for us an ideal of contemporary musical service to the Orthodox Church and to Russian choral tradition.

"In our day, when ways towards spiritual rebirth are sought by millions of our compatriots in Russia and abroad, the ancient traditions of Russian church music provide great assisance on this difficult road.

"Visiting Australia together with the delegation of clergymen and singers is the holy icon dear to the heart of all Orthodox Christians, the 'Reigning' Icon of the Mother of God.

"Today, as we approach the Nativity of our Queen, the Most-Holy Mother of God, we lift up our prayers to Her Most-Pure Icon that peace, Christian love and the help of Her Most-Holy Son be granted to us in the work of strengthening the unity of the Russian Church in Russia and abroad."

A moleben was then performed before the Icon in the overfilled Protection Cathedral. The following day, the eve of the Nativity of the Mother of God, a solemn all-night vigil was performed at Dormition Church, packed with worshipers, whose Rector is also the local Dean, Mitred Protopriest Michael Protopopoff. On the feast day itself, Divine Liturgy was celebrated at Protection Cathedral. The divine services were grand, prayerful and attended by a multitude of people. Thousands of worshipers were able to venerate the great "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God.