The hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand gathered at Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Parish in Canberra, ACT, Australia on 18-21 July, 2019 for the proceedings of the XIX Triennial SOBOR of the Eparchy.
The Sobor meeting itself was preceded by meetings of the Eparchial Council, the Consistory and a short clergy conference. The participants of the Sobor represented all the parishes of the Eparchy. Metropolitan Antony, prime hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora, opened the Sobor with prayer and asked His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, member of the Council of Bishops of the Church in Diaspora – to join him in blessing the Sobor.
The Metropolitan spoke about the extreme importance of the Sobor in the life of Christ’s Holy Church. The Church, by the Will of her Founder – our Lord Himself – has the responsibility to continue carrying out the effort assigned to it through the Holy Apostles – “to bless people and lead them to God’s Heavenly Kingdom.” At the Sobor we are the Church, the One Body – the Body of Christ. As we gather at the Sobor we are reminded of our responsibility of love and work, so that our Church will illuminate the faithful with Christ’s Truth and give them the strength of salvation. The participants of the Sobor represent the fullness of the Church and filled with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, they must seek answers to all the questions and problems of contemporary society. He called all present to allow the Grace they received through their Baptism and Chrismation and through all the Holy Sacraments of the Church, to be the guiding light of all they think, say and do during the discussions of the Sobor.
Archbishop Daniel greeted the delegates of the Sobor on behalf of the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Western Europe. Addressing the participants of the Sobor and asked for their sincere effort to make decisions during the Sobor, which will have positive effects in the lives of the faithful members of the Church and those to whom the Church ministers throughout society. He asked for continued prayers for the Church and faithful in Ukraine and for the nation itself during the difficult and dangerous circumstances presently being experienced by the invasion of the Eastern Oblasts. Vladyka reflected upon the importance of active participation of each parishioner and parish family in the living Presence of Christ. The hierarch called upon those in attendance to be attentive to the Voice of Christ, Who calls us to minister via new methods of outreach means in the 21st century.
Very Rev. Fr. Taras Udod, president of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, being in attendance of the Sobor, greeted the delegates on behalf of Metropolitan Yuriy of the UOCC and wished the participants of the gathering successful deliberations for the benefit of the parish communities in Australia and New Zealand.
Very Rev. Fr. Michael Solomko, President of the Consistory and Wolodymyr Wojtowych, Consistory Treasurer were elected as the co-chairs of the Sobor plenary sessions and effectively led the presentation of all the reports to the Sobor from various officers and bodies of the church administration, which covered the life of the Church over the previous three years since the last Sobor. The discussion of the reports was very open and positive providing direction for the administration elected at the present Sobor in its work for the coming three years. Of particular importance was the necessity of concentrating of the youth of the Church and reaching out to the thousands of Ukrainian immigrants who have arrived in Australia since the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Independence of Ukraine in the last decade of the twentieth century.
Both days of the Sobor were opened by the liturgical celebration of the Divine Liturgy, led by the hierarchs of the Church and clergy of the Eparchy.
Prior to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony set aside Reader Arthur Levicks as a Subdeacon of the Church. Presenting the subdeacon with the liturgical orarion, Vladyka Antony reflected upon the sacred role of subdeacons in the life of the Orthodox Church and called upon the newly ordained to lead the faithful, and especially the altar servers, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Center in Canberra dedicated to the mission of the local parish community and the greater mission of Christ’s Church – salvation od souls.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony presented several awards to the several individuals of the Eparchy for their dedication to the work and ministry of the Ukrainian Orthodox communities in Australia and New Zealand:
Subdeacon Arthur Levicks – the medal of Christ the Savior
Wolodymyr Wojtowych – the medal of Holy Apostle Andrew the-First-Called
Olga Buchanan – the medal of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
Dobrodiyka Katherine Solomko – the medal of the Birth-Giver of God
Natalie Solomko – the medal of the Birth-Giver of God
Anatoly Zhurakivsky – the medal of Christ the Savior
The host parish of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker sponsored a banquet in the parish social center following Liturgy, which gave the opportunity for the delegates to express their gratitude to parishes and community organizations that made significant contributions to cover the cost of the Sobor, especially the Karpaty Foundation of Australia.