His Grace Bishop Irinej visits St Michael’s Homebush (Sydney)

On this day we experienced the brotherly communal spirit between two dioceses. A defining moment for the humble contemporary community of the Australian Orthodox Fraternity of St. Michael (OCA), as the Archpastor of the Serbian Orthodox Dioceses in Australia and New Zealand His Grace Bishop Irinej, with the blessings of His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for its parishioners. Originally, His Grace was to have served for the parish feast of the Holy Archangel Michael, however, due to the unanticipated need to be in Belgrade for the funeral of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, His Grace rescheduled the visitation for the first available Sunday thereafter.

This multi-ethnic parish worshipped together with His Grace in English during the Divine Liturgy. Fr John Vesic as parish Priest under the omophorion of His Grace, greeted the Bishop under the conifer trees in bright-sun-light with a cross. Our parishioners also greeted the Bishop warmly and escorted His Grace into the church to begin the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy.This small church building was bursting at the seems with young families and the founding older generational parishioners. The divine Liturgy was just that, Divine! And under the Icon of the Crucifixion of our Lord, at our Lord's very feet, a photograph of his All Holiness Patriarch Pavle, looked on. Patriarch Pavle touched the world and individuals of every nationality and he is well loved in this multi-ethnic parish.

Many of the parishioners could not hold back their joy and openly sung with the choir. Many of our children joined in and sang "Praise Him in the Heavens, Praise Him in the Highest!" There was a sense of wholeness centred around the Bishop as he offered up the Bloodless Sacrifice. His Grace gave a sermon on the importance of identifying true wealth as seen and taught through the Church and not to be swept away with consumerism, and to share the wealth of the Theotokos that is salvation through her Son Jesus Christ. Almost all the adults lined up behind the children to receive communion from the hands of His Grace.

In peace we shared a meal together. The parishioners one and all brought a plate of home-cooked lenten food. We all sat with the Bishop or stood by his side and shared this delicious bounty. During the meal many questions were asked of the Bishop and with great joy His Grace answered all of them. The sense of family was clearly felt by all.

His Grace discussed at great length the amazing funeral of His All Holiness Pavle, the vast sea of humanity numbering 800,000 plus that walked in silence with their beloved Patriarch as he was carried to his last resting place. His Grace mentioned that the foreign representatives both political and religious, stated that they have never seen the like of this before, and that they could feel something very special was happening around them. The authentic spiritual work / life that His Holiness had started continues on in Serbia and in Australia also.

When it was time for His Grace to leave us the children ran to the front-yard of the church, waving and blowing kisses. The children were so excited and happy to have shared this day with His Grace, and even if their understanding was simple it was heartfelt. One little girl asked her father "will His Highness come again soon? I like him very much", simply asked in good faith however this little girl captured the feeling of the whole parish. We all look forward to our next meeting with His Grace Bishop Irinej.

Marko Trifunovic

Source : www.smh.org.au