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History of Antiochian Orthodoxy in Australasia

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{{orthodoxyinaustralasia}}
Similar to most other jurisdictions in Australia, and other parts of the 'diaspora', a detailed early '''history of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, and New Zealand, and All Oceania''' is better told in terms of cities, which later formed into the [[diocese]], rather than the other way around.
==Pan-Orthodox Community Churches under Jerusalem==The first wave of Lebanese, then called Syrian, immigration was in the 1880-1890s, where when work was found in hawking and peddling goods in the country areas of the eastern states of Australiaand in Dunedin. The first place of worship was usually in the state capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne, with a Greek speaking priest who also spoke Arabic and sometimes Russian too. The Antiochian Orthodox faithful in Australia took part in the construction of a community church dedicated to the Holy Trinity in Surry Hills, Sydney, and to the Holy Annunciation, East Melbourne, with the Greek and Russian Orthodox faithful. A priest was [[Priest]]s able to speak Greek and Arabic and, sometimes, Russian, were later provided by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. By the early twentieth century, a significant number of Lebanese had settled in Melbourne. These families kept Services were done in contact with each otherdifferent 'old-world' languages, working as hawkers, shopkeepers, or wholesalers, during the week, and using the weekend for social activities including meeting in the Exhibition Gardens on Sundays. The first Orthodox church in Melbourne, Holy Annunciation, was established in East Melbourne as a result servers of the joint effort by Greek-speaking, Arabic-speaking, and Russian speaking Orthodox. The services parishes were in both Greek and Arabicfrom various immigrant backgrounds, The altar servers were of Greek and Lebanese/Syrian descent, some of the icons [[icon]]s were donated by Lebanese/Syrians, and the first warden was Lebanesepeople from all Orthodox ethnicities.
==Exarchate==
Problems overseas created local catastrophes. The 1898 deposition of the Greek speaking Patriarch of Antioch, and the subsequent 1899 election of an Arabic speaking Patriarch of Antioch, caused a an adverse reaction on the part of the old-world hellenophonic patriarchates. The [[Patriarchate of Constantinople ]] awarded the jurisdiction of overseas parishes to the newly-recognised [[Church of Greece]] in 1908, with the stipulation that services be in Ecclesiastical Greek.
In Sydney, the effect was virtually immediate; in Melbourne, a priest who could speak Arabic was there until the 1920s. In response, the Syrian communities took to meeting in individual homes, only going to the Greek Orthodox [[parish ]] for necessities, mainly baptisms, weddings and funerals. Some of the Antiochian Orthodox, in lieu of another alternative, chose to send their children to Anglican or Protestant Sunday schools. However, neither the now-Greek Orthodox parish nor various protestant groups could meet the needs of the Antiochian Orthodox: it was obviously necessary to found Antiochian Orthodox parishes.
===Church of St George, Sydney===
In 1913, Father [[Nicholas Shehadie]] was sent to Australia as Exarch to determine the extent of the problem and to find possible solutions. While this was intended to be temporary, World War I intervened preventing Father Nicholas from returning to Lebanon where his family resided. Hence, his stay became permanent. He realised the need for a [[church ]] for the Antiochian Orthodox, and determined to build it. Divine Liturgy was held in parishioners' homes until that time.
The State Government state government leased a block of land to the Church church on the corner of Walker and Redfern Streets Redfern. The first Antiochian Orthodox church was built there and placed under the patronage of Saint George.
In 1934, Exarch Nicholas Shehadie, suffering from chronic asthma, reposed in his early 70s. Then his second son, [[Michael Shehadie|Michael]], became a priest. During the time of his presbyterate at the Church of Saint George, the government revoked the church lease expired, resumed the land for housing development, and demolished the church. Fr Michael worked with vigorously pressured the government to find provide a new site and, and in 1950, they were granted land at the corner of Walker and Cooper Sts, Streets in Redfern, where the church - now a [[cathedral ]] - stands today. However, Fr Michael never saw it built. In 1951, aged 56, worn out by the battle with the state government, he reposed.
In 1953, V Rev [[Malatius Hussney (Sydney)|Malatius Hussney]] was appointed Patriarchal Exarch and [[rector ]] of St George. During his time as rector, the foundation stone for the new church was laid, with the first services in 1954. He was succeeded by Archim. [[Anthony Woolf]], who was Patriarchal Exarch and rector 1957-61. Following the death in Cairo of Archim. Anthony, Rev Fr Anthony Chidiac was appointed to serve the parish of St George in Redfern. He died in a motor vehicle accident on [[October 19]], 1962. In January 1963 a visiting priest from Kousba, Lebanon, V Rev Exarch Emilianos Shehadie served the parish until 17 July 1963. On [[September 22]], 1963, by kind permission of Archbishop Ezekiel ([[Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand|GOA]]), Rev Fr John Catsaras, formerly of Sfax in Tunisia, temporarily served the parish.
Following the death On [[June 18]], 1964, Fr Nicolas Mansour arrived in Cairo of ArchimSydney from Beirut, Lebanon, and commenced duties as [[parish]] priest with a liturgy on Sunday [[June 21]], 1964. Anthony Soon after his arrival, Rev Fr Anthony Chidiac was appointed to serve the parish church was consecrated by Bp [[Dionysios (Psiahas) of St George Proussa|Dionysios]] (GOA), and in Redfern1967 the church hall and presbytery were completed. He died in a motor vehicle accident on 19 October 1962 However, the spread of Antiochian faithful all over New South Wales was too much for one parish priest.
In January 1963 a visiting priest from Kousba, Lebanon, V Rev Exarch Emilianos Shehadie served the parish until 17 July 1963.  On 22 September 1963 by kind permission of Greek Archbishop Ezekiel, Rev Fr John Catsaras, formerly of Sfax in Tunisia temporarily served the parish.  The willing assistance of the Greek Orthodox hierarchs since their arrival in Australia in 1924 was notable, and was especially so with Archbishop Ezekiel. On 18 June 1964, Fr Nicolas Mansour arrived in Sydney from Beirut Lebanon, and commenced duties as parish priest with liturgy on Sunday 21 June 1964. Soon after his arrival, the church was consecrated by Bp Dionysios (GOA), and in 1967 the church hall and presbytery were completed. However, the spread of Antiochian faithful all over New South Wales was too much for one parish priest.  At the request of Fr Nicolas, the Church of Antioch sent Archimandrite Gibran to Australia to find out how to solve the problem. On Archim. Gibran's recommendations, the [[Holy Synod ]] elevated the Exarchate of Australia and New Zealand to a patriarchal diocese. Archim. Gibran was consecrated a [[bishop ]] and appointed [[Patriarchal Vicar ]] of the new [[diocese]].
===Church of St Nicholas, Melbourne===
In 1929, James Batrouney visited Lebanon/Syria, met Archimandrite [[Antonious (Mobayed)]], and on his return to Melbourne, Archim. Antonious was recommended as a suitable priest (being well-educated and speaking Arabic, Russian and Greek) for the church in Melbourne. Patriarch Arsanios of Antioch commissioned Archim. Antonious as the first priest of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Victoria. He arrived on [[November 12 Nov ]], 1931, bringing and donating everything essential for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Some of these items can still be found at Saint Nicholas Church today.
The first services were held in Saint George Anglican Mission, the beginning of a long and amicable relationship between Anglicans and Orthodox in Victoria. In March 1932 the community purchased a church, where Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church stands today, using four £125 donations from John Batrouney, Joseph & Walter Davis, and Alex Malouly. The iconostasis, based on the iconostasis of the [[Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Tokyo, Japan)|Holy Resurrection Cathedral]], Tokyo, was completed by Palm Sunday, 1932, when the first service was held in the Church. At the first council meeting of May 1932, it was decided to name the church after St Nicholas. The church was consecrated on 1 [[October 1]], 1933 by Metropolitan [[Timotheos (Evangelinidis) of Rhodes|Timotheos]], the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Australia and New Zealand. The consecration, attended by an Anglican minister, Rev. F.E. Maynard (Anglican) , and the Greek and French consuls, was chanted in Arabic, English, Greek, and Slavonic.
Saint Nicholas included both Arabic members and Russian members, the latter group also contributing to bringing Archim. Antonious to Australia, converting the church into an Orthodox church, writing icons, and organising a choir which would chant the Liturgy in Slavonic on every fourth Sunday. When the Russians established their first church in Melbourne in the early 1950s, the committee of Saint Nicholas donated a Slavonic Bible in memory of Archim. Antonious, and as a symbol of the enduring friendship between the Syrian/Lebanese and the Russians.
The Second World War precluded any replacement priest from either America or Antioch until after World War 2. In 1948, Exarchos [[George Haydar]] arrived, and was ideally suited to minister to migrants from Lebanon. A rectory was built in 1953. Exarchos George reposed in 1962, and his funeral was conducted by Patriarchal Exarch Archim. Anthony Woolf of Sydney, assisted by clergy from many jurisdictions.
In 1963, Fr [[Gabraeel Fadel]] arrived to serve at St Nicholas, and the parish entered a period of consolidation. Fr Gabraeel left in 1967, to be replaced by Fr [[Malatius (Essam) Hussney|Malatius (Essam) Hussney]], who was [[ordination|ordained ]] in 1968. Fr Malatius worked for the second wave of Lebanese immigrants to be actively involved in the running of St Nicholas.
===Church of St Michael, Dunedin===
In 1890, a number of Syrians immigrated to New Zealand, settling in Dunedin. Many went to Auckland, however, about fifteen Orthodox families, mostly from Syria and Lebanon founded and built the church.
Mrs Anthony Idour wrote to the [[Patriarch ]] of Antioch, through the [[Bishop ]] of Tripoli, and permission was given to proceed with building a church. A committee headed by Jack Idour raised 480 pounds in just over 6 months, paying for the building. Generous donors included Acton Adams of the Moa Flat Station, and Bishop Nevill of the Dunedin Anglican Diocese.
More money was required to pay for furniture, so the Lebanese produced material for a bazaar, held in the St Kilda Town Hall in 1911 and opened by the Mayor of Dunedin. Yielding several hundred pounds, St Michael's Antiochian Orthodox Church opened debt free.
Hmk [[Nicholas (Manovitch)]] had arrived in New Zealand in 1910, and celebrated services. A site had been acquired in Fingall St, South Dunedin by September 1910. On [[January 14]], 1911, St Michael's Orthodox Church was opened, having been consecrated by Archim. Nicholas (Manovitch). Services were held regularly until 1913 when Fr Nicholas moved to Sydney.
During times that there was no Orthodox priest, which were always visiting until 1971, the church was closed. In 1916, Fr [[Nicholas Shehadie]] spent 2-3 months in Dunedin, holding Orthodox services. In 1937, Archim. [[Antonious (Mobayed)]] stayed in Dunedin for several months, during which time it was arranged that, having instructed them in the rudiments of Eastern Orthodox Liturgics, Canon A.P. Pywell, and then the Vicar of Holy Cross Anglican Church in St Kilda, would look after the congregation as an interim measure. Archim. Antonious visited Dunedin for the last time in 1939. The care of St Michael's became an accepted responsibility of the Vicars of Holy Cross, St. Kilda, until 1971.
==Diocese==
In 1969, Bp [[Gibran (Ramlawey) of Australia and New Zealand|Gibran]], having been consecrated by Metropolitan [[Philip (Saliba) of New York]], arrived in Sydney, Australia. In 1973, Bp Gibran requested that a new church be built on the other side of Sydney. Fr [[John Shehadie]], son of Exarch Nicholas Shehadie, was appointed priest of the new church of St Nicholas, Punchbowl, and served there until his 1987 retirement.
In Melbourne1971, an Anglican priest in New Zealand decided, seeing the desire trend of Fr Malatius Hussney Anglicanism away from its traditional roots, to actively involve new arrivals convert to Australia led to a splitOrthodoxy, with the older members and was ordained in September 1972 by Bp [[Gibran (Ramlawey) of St Nicholas feeling unwantedAustralia and New Zealand|Gibran]]. As a result, Fr [[Jack Witbrock]] served as [[rector]] of St George was founded in ThornburyMichael's, MelbourneDunedin, in 1972for the next 12 years until he was succeeded by Fr [[Ilyan Eades]].
In 1971Melbourne, an Anglican priest in New Zealand decided, seeing the trend desire of Anglicanism away from its traditional roots, Fr Malatius Hussney to convert actively involve new arrivals to Australia led to Orthodoxya split, and with the older members of St Nicholas feeling unwanted; as a result, St George was ordained founded in Thornbury, Melbourne, in September 1972 by . The next year, Bp [[Gibran (Ramlawey) wanted a new church built in the western suburbs of Australia and New Zealand|Gibran]]Sydney. Fr Jack Witbrock served as rector [[John Shehadie]], son of Exarch Nicholas Shehadie, was appointed priest of the new church of St Michael'sNicholas, DunedinPunchbowl, for the next 12 yearsand served there until his 1987 retirement.
Fr Malatius worked very hard for St Nicholas, including going to Lebanon and Cyprus to help refugees of the Civil War to obtain visa's to come to Australia. After Fr Malatius left to serve parishes in the United States, Fr Emile Assaf was assigned to St Nicholas from 1977 to 1990. Fr Emile continued to serve newly arrived migrants, and also renovated and redecorated St Nicholas - rendering external walls, erecting a fence, replacing the floor, purchasing new pews, painting the walls with icons and, towards the end of his tenure, renovating the rectory.
In 1982, Fr Elias Khoury was ordained to the priesthood, and assigned to St Nicholas, Punchbowl. In 1985, he was elevated to Archpriest. In the same year, a new parish was established in Mays Hill and named St Mary's, for the Nativity of the [[Theotokos|Mother of God]]. The first priest was Fr [[John Shehadie|Hanna Shehadie]], and the community worshipped in Granville. In 1987, St Mary's - now led by Fr [[Stephen Godley]] - moved to Merrylands; also in 1985, a parish in Wollongong was founded and named for St Elias.
In 19851986, a new parish was established in Mays Hill, and named St MaryGeorge's, for decided to purchase its own church from the Nativity of the [[Theotokos|Mother of God]]Anglican Church. The first priest was Fr [[John Shehadie | Hanna Shehadie]]Renovation started immediately, and were completed in 1988, when renovations of the community worshipped hall began - these were completed in Granville1991, making the hall one of the most attractive Arabic special events halls in Melbourne. In 1994, the property adjacent to St George's (including a rectory) was purchased.
In 19861987 was a landmark year, St George's with the Antiochian Orthodox Churchof St George, MelbourneRedfern, decided to purchase its own churchSydney, and did so from being elevated to the Anglican Church. Renovation started immediatelyCathedral of the Diocese.
In 19871989, St Mary's moved to MerrylandsBp Gibran appointed the first committee of a new parish in Brisbane, led by Fr [[Stephen Godley]], and which was registered in the same year1990. In 1993, Fr John Abdel-Karim became the first parish priest of the Antiochian Orthodox Church of St GeorgePaul, RedfernWoolloongabba, Sydney, was elevated to CathedralBrisbane.
In 1988The site for St Mary's, Mays Hill, was purchased in January 1991, with Fr Emile Assaf being transferred from St Nicholas, Melbourne, to pastor the new church building purchased by with Fr Aziz Abwi. The first services were held in the church hall of St GeorgeMary's had completed its renovation. After thisin 1994, with the renovation of first services in the hall beganchurch being on Good Friday, 1999.
In 19891994, Bp Gibran appointed Fr Elias Khoury, parish priest of St Nicholas, Punchbowl, began working with the first committee Department of Community Services and administered a new parish in Brisbaneprogram, Ortho-Care, which was registered in 1990designed to help those requiring financial and spiritual assistance.
In 1991the mid-1990s, changing beliefs and practises in the hall Anglican Communion, culminating in the ordination of women to the priesthood, caused a number of clergy to leave the Anglican Communion and join the Orthodox Church. Many of these moved to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, creating St George's churchBarnabas Parish, ThornburyGold Coast; St Anthony the Great Parish, was completedPerth; [[St. Anna Convent (Preston, Victoria)|St Anna's Monastery]], Melbourne; and is now one of the most attractive Arabic special event venues a parish in MelbourneCanberra (which later moved to [[Diocese of Australia and New Zealand (ROCOR)|ROCOR]]), along with other clergy, including Rev. Fr Geoff Harvey, who were assigned to pre-existing churches.
In January 19911998, the site for a parish at Mt Pritchard was founded and dedicated to St Mary's, Mays Hill, for the Dormition of the Mother of God. Bishop Gibran reposed on 16 January 1999 after thirty years of service for the Church in Australia and New Zealand. Fr Elias Khoury was purchased, with Fr Emile Assaf being transferred from St Nicholas, Melbourne, to pastor named as the new parish with Fr Aziz Abwitemporary administrator of the diocese.
==Archdiocese==In 1993September 1999, Fr John Abdel-Karim became the first parish priest Holy Synod of Antioch decided to elevate the Church diocese of St Australia and New Zealand to archdiocese with its own ruling metropolitan archbishop. Archimandrite Paul, Woolloongabbaparish priest in Washington DC, Brisbanewas appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the [[Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand]]. He arrived in Australia and took possession of the archdiocese on 29 November 1999.
1999 prompted a flurry of activity. In 1994December, Met. Abp Paul visited Newcastle and Brisbane, and prompted the first services were held in decision to build the church hall of St Mary'sPaul in Woolloongabba, Mays HillBrisbane. Fr Elias Khoury began working with the Department of Community Services and administered a new program Three parishes were formed in 1999, Orthoincluding St Ignatius Mission, Canberra, Buna-CareVestire Church, designed to help those requiring financial Bankstown (NSW) and spiritual assistance. St George'sHerman of Alaska, Thornbury, purchased the property Canterbury (with rectoryVic) adjacent to the church.
Bishop Gibran reposed on 16 In January 1999. 2000, Fr Elias Khoury John Vesic was named as the temporary administrator of the diocese. The first services were held in the new church appointed parish priest of St Mary'sChurch, Mays Hill, which is especially notable as Fr John does not speak Arabic. In June of the same year, Fr Nicholas Gan (in Newcastle) was released to join the Moscow Patriarchate. The Holy Synod of Moscow accepted him on Good Friday 199919 July 2000, along with the Eastern Orthodox Parish of the Theophany at Mayfield West, Newcastle, which had been under the care of Bp Gibran on behalf of Moscow.
==Archdiocese==In November 1999, the Holy Synod 2001 was another time of Antioch decided to elevate great activity for the diocese of Australia and Archdiocese, particularly in New Zealand to archdiocese with its own ruling metropolitan archbishop: St George, Auckland, St George, Wellington, and Sts Gregory of Nyssa and Marina, Diamond Harbour, were all founded in this year. Archimandrite In Australia, St Paul, parish priest Dandenong (Vic) was founded; and in Washington DCDecember 2001, Fr John Vesic was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop parish priest of the [[newly-formed Ss Michael and Gabriel parish, the first English-speaking Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, parish in New ZealandSouth Wales. The new parish worshipped in rented premises in Homebush until 2005, and All Oceania]]when it moved to West Ryde.
In December 1999the meantime, Met Abp Paul visited Newcastle and then Brisbane. He prompted the decision to build the church Church of St Paul in Woolloongabba, Brisbane, celebrated its first services in their new church in 2002, with this church being consecrated in 2006.
In January 2000, Fr John Vesic 2003 was appointed a third time of great activity. The first English-speaking Antiochian Orthodox parish in Victoria was established, with Fr Geoff Harvey as the founding priest of St Mary's Church, Mays Hillunder the patronage of the Good Shepherd. Later, worship was moved to Monash University, with Fr John does not speak ArabicGeoff becoming the first Antiochian Orthodox university chaplain in Australia. Also in 2003, two parishes in New Zealand were founded, along with the Melbourne Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, where studies began in 2004.
In June 20002004, Fr Nicholas Gan of Newcastle was released to join at the Moscow Patriarchate. The Holy Synod instigation of Moscow accepted him on 19 July 2000Met Abp Paul, along with the Parish parish of the Theophany at Mayfield WestSt Nicholas Bankstown, Newcastle, which had been under bought the land that the care of Bp Gibran church is on behalf of Moscowfrom the NSW government. The property is held for the parish by the Antiochian Orthodox Church Property Trust.
In December 2001August 2005, Fr John Vesic was appointed parish priest of Ss Michael and Gabriel parishArchpriest [[Nicolas Mansour]] retired from full-time pastoral work, ending 42 years of service at the first fully English-speaking Antiochian Orthodox parish in New South WalesCathedral. The new parish worshipped in rented premises in Homebush until 2005 Archim. [[Nabil (Kachab)]], formerly of St Nicholas, Punchbowl, replaced him as Dean of the Cathedral.
In 2002, December 2006 saw Fr John Vesic released to the first services were held [[Serbian Orthodox Church in the new church of St PaulAustralia and New Zealand]], Woolloongabbawhen he was replaced at Sts Michael and Gabriel by Fr Luke Bell. After Fr Luke left the Archdiocese in late 2007, Brisbanehe was succeeded by Fr Antonio Cagnoni.
Since his conversion from the Church of Christ and his ordination in 2006, Fr John D'Alton has made several inroads in a number of very important areas. In 2004the first 18 months after his ordination, at he was made the instigation university chaplain of Met Abp PaulLa Trobe University, the parish of St Nicholas Bankstownfirst Orthodox military chaplain in Australia, bought is the land that rector of the church Holy Transfiguration Mission, Belgrave Heights, and is on from the NSW government. The property is held in trust for the parish by president of the Antiochian [[Melbourne Institute for Orthodox Church Property TrustChristian Studies]].
In August 2005, Archpriest Fr ==Related articles==*[[Nicolas MansourAntiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand]] retired from full-time pastoral work, ending 42 years of service at *[[Clergy in the Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral Archdiocese of St George. Archim. Australia and New Zealand]]*[[Nabil (Kachab)Timeline of Orthodoxy in Australia]], formerly *[[Timeline of St Nicholas, Punchbowl, replaced him as Dean of the Cathedral and parish priest of Redfern.Orthodoxy in New Zealand]]
[[Category:Church History]]
[[Category:Orthodoxy in Australia]]
[[Category:Orthodoxy in New Zealand]]
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