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New books in Russian

Our bookstore has just received the following titles in Russian.

  • “Весеннее антихристианское обострение: Что это было?” – прот. Влидимир Виглянский.
  • “Трудно быть русским” – Александр Крутов (редактор журнала Русский Дом).
  • “Стать православным” – Александр Крутов.

The Bookstore is open after the Divine Liturgy every Sunday and on Great Feasts of the Church or by appointment – tel. 0410 717 210

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Stars of the Orient: New Martyrs of China

Troparion, in the Fifth Tone:

In a pagan land ye were enlightened by the Orthodox Faith,
and having lived in the Faith but a little time,
ye inherited the eternal Kingdom.
By the purity of your Christian ways
ye put to shame the false Confucian piety
and trampled demon-inspired Buddhism underfoot as refuse,
sanctifying the Chinese land with your blood.
Wherefore, we pray:
Entreat the Master of all
that He enlighten your land with Orthodoxy in these latter times,
and strengthen us therein.

Kontakion, in the First Tone:

O Martyrs of these latter times,
ye whitened your garments in the blood of the Lamb,
and shed your own blood for Christ.
Wherefore, ye now minister unto Him day and night
in the Church of heaven.
Therefore, entreat Christ for us, O glorious Martyrs,
that He hide His little flock from the beguilement of Antichrist,
and that He lead all of us out of great tribulation
unto a land of never-waning light.

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Запись трансляции молебного пения в защиту веры

22 апреля2012 года, в неделю 2-ю по Пасхе, апостола Фомы, перед Храмом Христа Спасителя в Москве было совершено молебное пение в защиту веры, поруганных святынь, Церкви и ее доброго имени. Богослужение возглавил Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл в сослужении сонма архипастырей и духовенства Русской Православной Церкви.

22 April 2012, in the 2nd week of Easter, St. Thomas, in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow was committed moleben in thedefense of the faith, desecrated shrines, the Church and its good name.Service was led by His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirillalong with the host of bishops and clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarchs Homily

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

We have just heard words from the Gospel according to John that conclude with the account of the assurance of Thomas, that same Thomas who, not having believed in the Resurrection of Christ, required that he be given the opportunity to touch the crucified and Risen Savior with his own hands and to feel His wounds. This Thomas met His Savior, Who said: reach hither thy hand, and thrust it in My side, and be not faithless, but believing (20:27). The conclusion of this Gospel text is remarkable: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name (20:31).

These are perhaps the most essential, the most important, and the most concentrated words of the Gospel, in which everything is opened up – heaven and earth; the past, present, and future – and in which pulsates the nerve of world history. If someone believes that Jesus is the Son of God, then eternal life opens up to him. We are accustomed to the usual outlook on life: education, upbringing, career, salary, success, aging, retirement and, in the best case, a good old age; or, in the worst case, an unhappy old age and the end. How much effort and energy we expend for the sake of revolving around within this temporal compass without seeing what is essential, without seeing the true perspective!

But belief in eternal life is given to one who believes in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Eternal life is not simply life after death; it begins here on earth. Eternal life is the ability to see oneself, the surrounding world, history, one’s society, one’s nation, and the entire human race through the prism of Divine revelation. One can look at the world quite simply, with one’s own eyes, but how many factors get in the way of this vision! Either bright sun, or darkness, or else strong wind – all this, in both the literal and the figurative senses, influence a person’s worldview, escaping his mind’s eye and goal-setting on one side or another. But if we gaze upon God’s world, ourselves, our nation, and humanity through the prism of Divine revelation, then we are given a vision that others do not possess.

The battle with Christ, with His preaching of the Kingdom of God, and with His truth, began immediately after He had pronounced the first words of his preaching. His words were so powerful that they could not be ignored. But there were also those who said: “This is all completely wrong; He is a liar. He is passing Himself off as something He is not. He imagines Himself to be one thing, while in fact He is something completely different. Yes, miracles. Yes, He did perform something there. But who said that these miracles are from God? Perhaps He performs miracles by the power of Beelzebub, the king of demons? He denounces, He casts merchants from the temple – by what power does He do this? Who gave Him this power? Who permitted Him to disturb the people? No, something needs to be done with Him without fail. Despite the fact that we say that this is a lie, the people are following Him. Despite the fact that we say that this is all completely wrong and that He is a liar, the people do not believe it.”

And what took place on that Sunday before the last week of the Savior’s life, when He had suddenly raised the dead? At that point no one asked any questions about how this had been accomplished. Thousands upon thousands of people went out to meet the Conqueror of death. And then what? A decision was made: “No words will persuade anyone, no lie will work, no slander is enough – He needs to be killed.” And they killed Him, sowing new confusion into people’s minds by convincing them that He had been killed justly: “Better that one person should die for the people than for everyone to perish, because otherwise the Romans would make their regime of occupation even more severe.”

Then suddenly it became known that the tomb is empty, that He is not there, even though there was a guard of Romans there, bound by iron discipline, prepared to die rather than abandon their post! Despite the guard and soldiers, the tomb was open and the stone rolled away. “He is not risen – His disciples have stolen Him by night and said that He is risen.” These are the same disciples who had fled in terror?! Who sat at home, trembling? These very same were prepared to go against the custodia, against the Roman guard, against the soldiers clad in armor, who would not allow them access to the tomb? But this lie was spread among the people: “The disciples have stolen Him.”

From that time forward, the great words of John the Theologian have been the primary nerve of all human history: “All this has been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God; and that believing, you might have eternal life” [cf. John 20:31]. Nothing new has taken place over the course of these two thousand years: the same lies and slander; the same mobilization of political powers; and the same mobilization, if necessary, of means of intimidation and oppression. The entire history of the Church is one of martyrdom and confession.

Yet this history was reflected in an entirely unique way in our nation’s life during the twentieth century, surpassing all other instances of the bloody annihilation of Christ’s legacy. Nowhere, never, and in no other country has there been done that which was done here. In order to expel memory itself, priests, monks, nuns, and faithful people were killed and churches were blown up – we know what transpired on this very place. Who can prove that this entire grandiose battle, requiring enormous forces – intellectual, administrative, military, and financial – has been waged against a myth? This is no myth: this is the main nerve of history.

How gratefully our nation responded to the freedom to believe! How they began to raise up churches of God to heaven throughout the entire expanse of historical Rus’? In regards to the very church of God before which we are now standing, the very same people who had cried out “The disciples stole Him by night!” now, in a moment of dire economic crises, said: “Why restore the Cathedral of Christ the Savior? This money could be used to buy or do such-and-such or such-and-such.” There were traitors in priestly robes then, just as there are today those among us who say: “Why gather for prayer? Let us forget about it! Let us make it look as if nothing is happening in our life today.” But something is happening in our life, and something most remarkable! Then we rebuilt the Cathedral of Christ the Savior as a symbol of the rebirth of Holy Russia, as a symbol of our hope, as a symbol of our fidelity to the words we heard today from the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian.

When the perspective of God’s Kingdom is opened up to someone, signs of the presence of this Kingdom begin to appear in his life: a joyful beating of the heart when one comes into contact with holy things, when one Communes of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, when one does good deeds, or when one venerates a holy thing. A holy thing is the material image of the presence of the Kingdom of God in human history – thus has it has always been perceived by people with a religious consciousness. Therefore Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Suvorov, Kutuzov, Nakhimov, and Marshall Zhukov all venerated holy things during the most difficult moments in history. They all bowed down before holy things during fateful moments of history as before signs of the presence of heaven on earth, of the Kingdom of God. And the Lord heard the prayer of both the great and the unknown, and sent down His mercy upon our Fatherland.

Much has been accomplished during the last years of Russia’s spiritual rebirth. Perhaps one of the most important achievements is that people, including those belonging to different religious traditions, have come to feel closer to one another in recognition of the fact that they have something in common that gives them a foothold in this turbulent and fast-flowing historical process. In this regard Russia is an amazing example of cooperation among people traditionally belonging to religious groups that have always existed on the territory of our country.

We have other accomplishments as well, the most important of which are the millions upon millions of people who have recognized that the Orthodox faith is the fulcrum of their lives, who are not prepared to change this faith, and are not prepared to reject it or to think of the future of their country without the support of the Orthodox faith. And when today we come under attack from persecutors, this cannot be compared to what took place in the past; but the danger lies in the very fact that we are being asked to consider the blasphemy, sacrilege, and mockery of holy things as a lawful expression of human freedom, as something that should be protected in contemporary society. This approach, even in microscopic phenomena, has turned into a phenomenon of enormous scale that affects every believing person.

What are we, my dear ones, doing here today, by gathering in such multitude? We have not come here for a rally; the Church does not hold rallies. We have no posters, only church banners and icons. We have come here to pray to God for our country and our nation, that never again, and under no circumstances, will the Cathedral of Christ the Savior be blown up; that our holy things not be desecrated; that our history not be distorted; and that our spirit and our moral energy not be perverted. We are not threatening anyone, and we are not demonstrating our strength, for the Lord’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). No one can forbid us during fateful moments of history – and today we are experiencing such a moment – from gathering together for a prayerful standing.

The word “standing” [stoianie] shares a common root with another word, “standing before” [predstoianie]. Thus, we have gathered here to stand before God, to pray for our Fatherland, our nation, and our youth, that the Lord might protect it from the demonic temptations, allurements, and suggestions to which our nation was once so susceptible, destroying both our country and ourselves. We will pray for the wellbeing of our great country, historical Rus’, that common spiritual expanse from the Black Sea to the White Sea, from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. But today our special prayer is for Russia, that the Lord might send down His mercy upon us, granting us the opportunity to go out to meet the future with peace in our souls and joy in our hearts, remembering that the Lord is with us.

I call upon all of you now to concentrate, standing before the Lord in simplicity of soul and purity of heart, as we send up prayer for our country, our nation, and our Church, that the Lord might send down His mercy, granting us all the ability to see the coming Kingdom of God, which begins here on earth yet does not end with earthly life, but continues into eternity. Amen.

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Tonsures to the Lesser Schema at Holy Trinity Monastery

Many of our parishioners will know Fr Dionysios (now Fr Seraphim) who was tonsured to the monastic ranks last Friday at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. The story below is from the monastery website 

On Friday March 27 2012 after the Matins service Riassaphore monks Laurence and Dionysios were tonsured to the Lesser Schema by Archimandrite Luke. At the end of Matins they entered the Altar were they received the blessing of the Abbot and then proceeded to venerate the holy icons. During the First Hour they put on white gowns as one does when they are to be baptized and when the service finished they were led by the hieromonks of the monastery to the middle of the Church were they prostrated themselves to the ground three times during which the choir sung the sessional hymn after the Third Ode of the Canon from the Prodigal Son “Thy fatherly embrace hasten to open to me, for like the prodigal have I spent my life. Disdain not a heart now impoverished O Savior, Who hast before Thine eyes the inexpressible riches of Thy mercies. For to Thee, O Lord, in compunction I cry: Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee”.

When they reached the front of the ambon the Abbot signaled them to get up and read the prayers of the tonsure and exchanged in a dialog questions and answers as to the purpose of coming to the monastic life. Below are some of the exchanges that took place:

Question: Why hast thou come hither, Brother, falling down before the Holy Altar and before this Holy Assembly?
Answer: I am desirous of the life of asceticism, Reverend Father.
Question: Of thine own willing mind comest thou unto the Lord?
Answer: Yes, God helping me, Reverend Father.
Question: Not by any necessity, or constraint?
Answer: No, Reverend Father.
Question: Dost thou renounce the world, and the things belonging to the world, according to the commandment of the Lord?
Answer: Yes, Reverend Father.
Question: Wilt thou endure all the strain tribulation belonging to the monastic life, for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake?
Answer: Yes, God helping me, Reverend Father.

Fr. Laurence was tonsured with the name of St John of St. Fransisco and and Fr. Dionysios received the name of St. Seraphim of Sarov. May our Lord help the newly tonsured monks to live steadfastly their monastic vocation by a “pure and virtuous life” so that their life becomes a light to the world.

Archimandrite Luke counseled the newly tonsured monks to become imitators of the lives of the saints whose names they received and to struggle in humility enduring all afflictions for the salvation of their souls. At the end of this very moving service everyone went up to the newly tonsured monastics and greeted them with the traditional greeting, “What is your name father?” to which they replied “sinful monk John and Seraphim” and all wished them many years and God’s blessing in their struggles.

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Nativity Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion

NEW YORK: January 2, 2012

Nativity Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

from the Synod website

Most Reverend Fellow Archpastors, Most Honorable Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!

With profoundly-heartfelt spiritual joy I greet all the faithful children of the Russian Church Abroad, spread all over the world like kernels of God’s wheat, with the great and salutary Feast of Christ’s Nativity! May the Lord send all of us this joy which saves the world. This gladness is the fruit of the struggle of faith, and stems from the triumph of the Incarnation, from God becoming man, from hearing the celestial doxology from the heavens above the city of Bethlehem.

During the celebratory days which follow the Feast we especially feel God’s love for us, sinners. For though mankind turned away from its Maker, the Creator became a creature; Almighty God came down from the heavens and became one of us. He is born a helpless Infant in a humble cave where livestock is herded in bad weather. God becomes man to arrange for a mystical encounter, to destroy the barrier between Heaven and earth which was wrought by man’s sin.  This encounter must take place within our innermost selves and in our relationships with those in whom the image of God is reflected—our neighbors.

During these holy and joyful days each parish church becomes Bethlehem and the heart of every man becomes the cave. All over the world, God’s people fill our churches. But what takes place in the cave of the heart of each one of us when Christ and His Holy Family come knocking? Does our heart open? Does it receive the Lord and what does the Lord find inside? Let us contemplate this, dear fathers in Christ, brothers and sisters. Let us remember the words of Abba Makarios recorded in the book “Sayings Worth Remembering.”

Once, traveling across Egypt with a group of his brethren, Abba Makarios heard the words of a boy directed to his mother: “Dear Mother, a certain rich man loves me, but I hate him. Another man, a pauper, hates me, but I love him.” On hearing these words, Abba Makarios was surprised. The brethren asked him: “What do these words mean, and why have they amazed you so, father?” The elder answered them: “In truth, the Lord is wealthy and loves us, yet we do not want to obey Him. However, our enemy, the devil, is poor and hates us: yet we love his impurity.”

So, let us open wide our hearts and welcome the Son of God Who has come to earth. Let us add our voice to the doxology of the angels and worship Him with the magi. Let us rejoice in His love and mercy for us. Let each one of us, according to our meager strength, respond with love to His love. Let us find fulfillment in communion with Him. And let each of us exemplify a virtuous Christian life, thereby supporting our neighbor and showing him our heartfelt disposition.

God is with us with His grace and love for mankind always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With love in Christ Who is born and a request for prayers,

+Hilarion,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

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Apostle Andrew the First-Called

Andrew, the son of Jonah and brother of Peter, was born in Bethsaida and was a fisherman by trade. At first he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but when St. John pointed to the Lord Jesus, saying, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36), Andrew left his first teacher and followed Christ. Then, Andrew brought his brother Peter to the Lord. Following the descent of the Holy Spirit, it fell by lot to the first apostle of Christ, St. Andrew, to preach the Gospel in Byzantium and Thrace, then in the lands along the Danube and in Russia around the Black Sea, and finally in Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, where he suffered. In Byzantium, he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop; in Kiev, he planted a Cross on a high place and prophesied a bright Christian future for the Russian people; throughout Thrace, Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, he converted multitudes of people to the Faith and ordained bishops and priests for them. In the city of Patras, he performed many miracles in the name of Christ, and won many over to the Lord. Among the new faithful were the brother and wife of the Proconsul Aegeates. Angered at this, Aegeates subjected St. Andrew to torture and then crucified him. While the apostle of Christ was still alive on the cross, he gave beneficial instructions to the Christians who had gathered around. The people wanted to take him down from the cross but he refused to let them. Then the apostle prayed to God and an extraordinary light encompassed him. This brilliant illumination lasted for half an hour, and when it disappeared, the apostle gave up his holy soul to God. Thus, the First-called Apostle, the first of the Twelve Great Apostles to know the Lord and follow Him, finished his earthly course. St. Andrew suffered for his Lord in the year 62. His relics were taken to Constantinople; his head was later taken to Rome, and one hand was taken to Moscow.

From the Prologue from Ohrid

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The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Pervozvyannii) was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he afterwards brought to Christ his own brother the holy Apostle Peter (Jn. 1: 35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from the time of his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and together with his brother he worked as a fisherman. When upon Israel thundered the voice of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John, Saint Andrew became his closest disciple. Saint John the Baptist himself sent off to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.

After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, Saint Andrew set off preaching the Word of God to the Eastern lands. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached along the River Dunaj (Danube), went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea Region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place, where now stands the city of Kiev. He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: “See ye these hills? Upon these hills will shine forth the beneficence of God, and there wilt be here a great city, and God shalt raise up many churches”. The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium — the future mighty Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew connects the mother — the Church of Constantinople, together with the daughter — the Russian Church.

On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out from their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persevering disciple of Christ continued to preaching about the Saviour to people. Through the prayers of the apostle, the Lord worked miracles. From the labours of the holy Apostle Andrew there emerged Christian Churches, for which he established bishops and clergy. The final city to which the First-Called Apostle came, and where it was allotted him to accept a martyr’s end, was the city of Patra.

The Lord manifest many a miracle through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; by the placing on of apostolic hands was healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the apostle and his fiery speech enlightened with the true faith almost all the citizens of the city of Patra. Few pagans that remained at Patra, but among them was the governor of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of Good-News [meaning of Euangelium, or Gospel]. But even the miracles of the apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought to undo the preaching of Saint Andrew, if he were to give him over to death on the cross, which however the apostle glorified. Saint Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the governor with joy and with prayer to the Lord he himself went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail down the hands and feet of the saint, but to tie them to the cross. From up on the cross for two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take the holy apostle down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, uttered: “Lord Jesus Christ, receive Thou my spirit”. Then a blazing ray of Divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the shining ceased, the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called had already given up his holy soul to the Lord (+ 62). Maximilla, wife of the governor, had the body of the Apostle taken down from the cross, and buried him with honour.

A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles alongside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and Apostle Paul’s disciple — the Disciple Timothy.

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Metropolitan Hilarion Officiates at Feast-Day in Cannes

CANNES: November 24, 2011
Metropolitan Hilarion Officiates at Feast-Day Celebrations at Archangel Michael Church in Cannes

From the Synod website

On Monday, November 21, 2011, the feast day of Archangel Michael and the Bodiless Heavenly Hosts, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, celebrated Divine Liturgy at Archangel Michael Church in Cannes, France. He was joined in the service by Archimandrite Ieronim (Shurygin); Archimandrite Vasily (Pasquiet); Protopriest Leonid Kalinin; Priest Jean Gautier; Priest Alexander Korzhenevsky; Priest Anthony Odaisky, along with Deacon Eugene Kallaur. The choir sang joyously under the direction of Protopriest Michael Boikov, the Parish Rector, who is the official representative of the First Hierarch at the church.

At the end of the service, His Eminence delivered a sermon, then headed a moleben with a procession of the cross around the church. Before the veneration of the cross, His Eminence congratulated the parish rector on his namesday, wishing him strength, health and abundant mercies from the Lord in his service in this historic church. In memory of this day, Vladyka Hilarion gave Fr Michael an ancient icon depicting this feast day.

At the trapeza, organized by the parish sisterhood in the church yard, the Primate of the Church Abroad continued to spend time with the clergymen and parishioners in a friendly atmosphere.

The following day, having once again venerated the holy relics of Archangel Michael Church and the graves of Russian Orthodox Christians, His Eminence and his delegation departed for New York.

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Kursk-Root Icon at Holy Protection Church Cabramatta

From the Diocese website

On Saturday 5 November 2011 the Holy Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God was brought to the Protection of the Holy Virgin parish in Cabramatta.

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad together with the rector Archpriest Boris Ignatievsky, Deacon Ivan Bots and visiting clergy. His Grace Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada was also present.

At the appointed time His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion ordained to the Holy Diaconate Sub-deacon Andrew Morgan to serve at the Protection parish.

In the afternoon the Holy Kursk-Root icon left Sydney to travel to the parishes of other states, firstly to the Dormition Church in Dandenong and then to the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Geelong for its Parish Feast Day on Sunday 24 October/6 November 2011.