Posts Tagged ‘ROCOR’

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) has recently launched an Aboriginal Australian mission in Gunning, New South Wales, near an Aboriginal community north of Canberra, the capital of that Commonwealth.  The parish has been named for one of the Saints who has shined forth here in North America (and around the world, really!), St. John (Maximovitch) the Wonderworker, who was ROCOR’s Archbishop of San Francisco and Shanghai.  (He labored in Paris too, a refugee from the Russian Civil War [i.e., Reds vs. Whites].)

I note that the missionary priest, Fr. Seraphim Slade, is himself an Aborigine convert and ordained just last year.  Very cool!  This Indian encourages Aboriginal Orthodox missions here in the Americas too: Let’s not rest on our Alaskan laurels now!  (And yes, Indigenous people come in all shades, there and here.)  😉  This retired broadcaster also likes the idea of Fr. Seraphim’s Aboriginal media work!

The Australia Diocese directory gives contact info as follows:

St John the Wonderworker of San Francisco Chapel

Australian Orthodox Indigenous Mission
All Services in English – phone for Service Times

50 Grovenor Street
Gunning NSW 2581
AUSTRALIA

Postal Address:
P.O. Box 55
Gunning NSW 2581
AUSTRALIA

Priest Seraphim Slade

Phone: (02) 4845 1370
Mobile: 0432 113 858
International Phone: +61 (2) 4845 1370

When they have services seems uncertain: one blog I saw had a definite every-other-week schedule (fortnightly, as they say Down Under), but the diocese doesn’t, so ISTM you’d do best to phone Father during the week before going, just to make sure he’s going to be there.

This is the same ROCOR diocese that received Indonesia mission founder Fr. Daniel* and some of his flock a couple years ago (“Friends of” site in English) after they apparently had some differences with the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s effort there (site partly in English, part Indonesian), and seems to handle the revived Church of Russia mission in South Korea.  It’s also the former residence of ROCOR’s First Hierarch, Metropolitan HILARION, who seems to still be leading that diocese along with his duties in New York.

Glory to God for all things!

(*–Want an Irish Orthodox connection?  Fr. Daniel’s emphasis on indigenously-driven, acculturating mission reminds me of my kinsman St. Declan of Ardmore, County Waterford, who brought the Gospel to his and my own Decies [Ir. Deise] ‘tribe,’ maybe even before St. Patrick!  You want controversy?: When Declan had succeeded in converting most of the people, their ruler still wouldn’t go along.  Since Declan was a member of his ‘clan,’ and thought a Christian people should have a Christian Ri, he had him voted out by acclamation, and himself voted in temporarily — a Bishop and everything — to hand off the reins to a neophyte Christian kinsman!  And this in one of Ireland’s couple dozen most important petty kingdoms!)

Many Russian and Georgian Orthodox outside Eurasia seem to be refraining from taking sides in the conflict between their two countries in the Caucasus.  The war currently is highlighted on the homepage of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), including a link to the words of one of their priests calling it “a terrible, fratricidal tragedy provoked by the enemy of our salvation,” ie, the devil.  And the Primate of the historically-Russian, Orthodox Church in America (OCA), Metropolitan HERMAN, wrote in sympathy to both countries’ Patriarchs, and issued a strong statement of concern and prayer regarding the conflict.

While Georgian Orthodox emigres in Western and Central Europe have a diocese of their own, which is part of their homeland’s Patriarchate, Georgians in the U.S. seem to belong to these two Churches’ parishes, and possibly others’.  And as ROCOR pointed out, there are also Ossetian Orthodox in their Church here.

Bishop JOHN (Berzins) of Caracas, (temporary) administrator of the Diocese of South America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, is one of ROCOR’s newly-elected and -consecrated hierarchs.  Many Years, Master!

Interestingly, as their news release with lots of interesting photos mentions, he was consecrated a couple weeks ago at, and according to, what I believe is the only canonical Old Believer parish in the Western world, Nativity of Christ in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Furthermore, most of their members are converts to Orthodoxy or their families!

Old Believer is the traditional nickname for a group more accurately called Old Ritualist because they follow the Old Rite of (Russian) Orthodoxy.  In Russia they have traditionally been termed Schismatics, Raskolniki, and I believe I read that the Russian surname Raskolnikov / Raskolnikoff derives from this also.

Although the Orthodox liturgies are ancient, “usages,” or how they’re carried out, have continued to adjust a little bit since ancient times.  The Russian Old Rite derives – or persists – from practices in the Russian Empire before the 17th century.  I can’t personally vouch for everything in the Wikipedia article or others linked from it, but it seems like it gives a good idea of the topic.

The Old Rite is not just about how one holds one’s hand while making the Sing of the Cross, though like many things in controversies, that became emblematic of them and for them.  This page seems to provide the clearest description of it, relatively briefly, that I can find.  But when I try to do it, it’s very uncomfortable for my hand, almost painful, especially when going for the right shoulder, so maybe I don’t quite have it.  The main point is that while “new rite” Orthodox hold together the thumb, index finger, and middle finger to represent the Trinity, and touch their forehead, torso, and shoulders with these (with their 4th and 5th fingers planted in their palm) … those of the Old Rite hold together the thumb, 4th and 5th fingers, but touch their forehead, torso, and shoulders with their index and middle fingers (held together with the middle one bent slightly) … as everybody tries to explain.

It’s the same gesture often seen when figures in icons, including Christ (eg, from the famous 6th-century Sinai icon), hold up their hand in blessing, when it’s not the “newer” ICXC gesture.

The Erie parish is led by Bishop DANIEL (Alexandrow) of Erie, an Auxiliary Bishop to the First Hierarch of ROCOR, with an interesting life discussed in the linked article.

Many Years to Metropolitan HILARION (Kapral), till now Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand as well as of some of the Orthodox in Indonesia and South Korea, just confirmed by the Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), and Ruling Hierarch of its diocese of the eastern United States!

Metr. HILARION is a Canadian, the son of Ukrainian immigrants / refugees to Alberta province, and a Baby Boomer, born in 1948.  He succeeds Metr. LAURUS (Skurla), who reposed in March from the flu on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy at age 80.

Hilarion was elected by the Council of Bishops of ROCOR, the 11 of them, meeting in New York City Monday afternoon, subject to the Moscow Synod’s confirmation earlier today.  He is expected to be enthroned by his brother Bishops this Sunday in NY.  Since the reunion with the MP a year ago, ROCOR appears to function as an autonomous ecclesiastical province of the Patriarchate, whose approval is needed – and expected – for its Bishops’ elections; its Bishops are supposed to take their turns serving on the Patriarchal Synod.

BTW, ROCOR’s official name in Russian (or is it Church Slavonic?) sounds less redundant: “Russian Orthodox Church Zagranitsei,”  which last term I believe means simply “Beyond the Borders” or words to that effect.  They’re often called “the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad,” or ROCA for short.  (You don’t think Jay-Z is a highly-traditional Orthodox Christian, do you?!!!)