Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines

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Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand
Jurisdiction Antioch
Diocese type Archdiocese
Founded 1969
Current bishop Metr. Abp. Paul
See(s) Sydney
Headquarters Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Territory Australia and New Zealand
Liturgical language(s) Arabic, Church Slavonic, English, Greek, Macedonian, Moldovan, Romanian (others as needed)
Musical tradition Bulgarian, Byzantine, Russian & Znamenny Chant; Russian & Western Choral
Calendar Revised Julian and Julian Calendar (depending on parish)
Population estimate 37,490 (2005 internal census of congregants) to 120,000 (2007 Prime Minister's figures of adherents)
Official website Antiochian Archdiocese

The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, with headquarters in Sydney, is an archdiocese of the Church of Antioch. Its current primate is His Eminence Paul (Saliba), Metropolitan Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand.


Full article: History of Antiochian Orthodoxy in Australasia

The first wave of Syrian (now Lebanese) immigration was in the 1880-1890s, where work was found in hawking and peddling goods in the country areas of the eastern states of Australia. The first places of worship were in Sydney and Melbourne, with a Greek speaking priest who also spoke Arabic and, sometimes, Russian. The Antiochian Orthodox faithful took part in the construction of both Holy Trinity, Sydney, and Holy Annunciation, Melbourne.

Due to the problems concerning the election of an Arab Patriarch of Antioch in 1899 and the decision of the Church of Constantinople to appropriate jurisdiction of parishes in the diaspora to the Church of Greece with the sole use of Ecclesiastical Greek, these churches were effectively closed off from the Arab Orthodox, aside from the sacraments. However, these faithful would not be denied Orthodoxy in their language and culture, and founded three Antiochian Orthodox churches in Australasia: St George, Sydney (founded by Fr Nicholas Shehadie, exarch); St Nicholas, Melbourne (founded by Archim. Antonious); and St Michael, Dunedin (founded by Hmk Nicholas. These churches, founded in the 1920s and 1930s, continued to be the only Antiochian Orthodox parishes in Australasia through the period of the Exarchate.

In 1969, the Church of Antioch sent Archimandrite Gibran (Ramlawey) to Australia as Patriarchal Exarch to find the best way to solve problems caused by two priests having to serve every Antiochian Orthodox in Australia. On his recommendations, the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand was created, and Archimandrite Gibran was elected as Patriarchal Vicar. Two parishes were created very soon after his arrival - St Nicholas, Punchbowl, NSW was created as a result of Bp Gibran's directive, and St George, Thornbury, Vic. was created as a result of tensions caused by differing waves of immigrants.

The late 1980s saw some growth in parishes. In 1985, a parish was created in Mays Hill, NSW; 1989 saw the first parish committee for a church in Brisbane, Qld. The mid-1990s saw the first instance of growth by group conversion as a result of the Anglican Church of Australia's decision to ordain females, which gave the Diocese four parishes, a monastery and five priests, mostly parish priests who were assigned to pastor the flock that they had guided into Orthodoxy.

In 1999, Bp Gibran reposed. The Holy Synod of Antioch, having raised Australia and New Zealand to an Archdiocese, consecrated Archim. Paul (Saliba), the Antiochian Orthodox parish priest of St. George Church in Washington DC, as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the new Archdiocese. His tenure has seen a rapid growth of parishes, clergy and the use of English in the Divine Liturgy of Antiochian Orthodox parishes.

From ten parishes at his enthronement in late 1999, the total at the end of eight years of Met. Abp Paul's tenure stands at approximately 34 parishes or missions and 1 monastery, including three English-language parishes in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, served by 42 clergymen, including two university chaplains in Melbourne and the first Orthodox military chaplain in Australia.

This article forms part of the series
Orthodoxy in
Orthodoxy in Australia Timeline
Orthodoxy in New Zealand Timeline
Antiochian Orthodox
Gk Orthodox Archd. of ANZ
GOA Aus - Abp Stylianos
Antiochian - Metr. Basil
ROCOR - Met Hilarion
Serbian - Bp Irinej
Romanian - Bp Michael
GOM NZ - Met Myron

Bishopless Jurisdictions

Pan-Orthodox Synaxes
Episcopal Assembly of Oceania
Antiochian Orthodox
Greek Orthodox (Aus)
Notable Monasteries
Complete List
St Anna
Holy Cross
O.L. of Kazan
Proph. Elias
St John Mtn
St Sava (Elaine)
Archangels, NZ
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Recent events

The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand is set to accept two denominations in the Philippines into the Archdiocese, including over 30 religious leaders and 31 churches with ~6000 adherents. This has been heralded as a "historic moment in the history of the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand". There is also some evidence to suggest that Metr. Abp Paul is now the primate for the Philippines. [1]


The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese is a single archdiocese spanning a number of countries. The Archbishop resides in Australia, and there is a Deanery for New Zealand. There are 25 parishes and missions across Australia, 8 parishes and missions in the Deanery of New Zealand, approximately 37,500 active congregants, and approximately 120,000 adherents, in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand. The Archdiocese also has one female monastery of St Anna in Victoria, co-founded the multi-jurisdictional Melbourne Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies and runs the St Paul's Theological Course of Studies.

The Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Australasia (as it was then called) was a founding member of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Churches in Australia which, according to the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, was moribund for a number of years before becoming defunct in 2000.

The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand was a founding member of Eastern Hierarchs, believing it to be an organisation working towards spreading the love of God throughout the whole mystery of His Church.



Bishops of Australia and New Zealand

  • Bishop Gibran (Ramlawey), Patriarchal Vicar of Australia and New Zealand, 1969-1999.
  • Metropolitan Archbishop Paul (Saliba), Primate of Australia and New Zealand, 1999-present.

External links