Ilyan Eades

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Biography of : Archpriest Very Reverend Father Ilyan Eades, Parish Priest of Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church, Dunedin, NZ.

My date of birth 18.11.46 (now nearly 60 yrs old) I was born Alan Reginald Eades (but given the name Ilian by Sayidna Gibran at ordination – my Patron Saint being Saint Ilian of Homs in Syria, which I then added as my first name by deed poll. So legally now it is my first Christian name).

My father Reginald was an Anglican priest, deceased 23.11.77. My mother Joan, deceased 28.1.2001. My wife Mary Joycelyn (nee Coate, born 14.10.50), and I, met whilst we were both training as nurses at Tauranga Hospital and we married 30th August 1970. Our children : Angelina (aged 33) is married with 3 children, and Nicholas (nearly 30 yrs old) who is single.

We were received as a family into the Orthodox Church by Father Jack Witbrock (in Auckland) on the 26.3.78, and attended Orthodox Services at both the Antiochian and Greek Churches from that time on, depending on their availability.

Accepted the call to the priesthood for the Saint Ignatius Parish in Auckland during 1984, and commenced supervised study and preparation, subsequently ordained by Bishop Gibran to the sub-diaconate & diaconate on 26th Sept 1987 and to the priesthood the following day 27th Sept 1987. We moved to Auckland from Te Awamutu in the Waikato region, and I was the resident priest at Saint Ignatius in Auckland, until my transfer to Saint Michael’s in Dunedin, end of October 1992.

During my time in Auckland, we secured a tenure of lease on the Hall of Saint Christopher (a former Anglican Church Sunday School hall my own father started in 1953) which became the Orthodox Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch 1988-1989, subsequently purchased from the Anglican Synod of Auckland for $115,000 in 1990. The Charitable Trust to administer the financial affairs of Saint Ignatius became a legal entity in my first year as priest in 1988.

To support myself financially, I had part-time employment at Mercy hospital, my wife working at a local Anglican Geriatric Hospital.

At first my congregation consisted of New Zealand convert Orthodox like ourselves, some NZ born Lebanese & occasionally some Greek or Serbian people who may have heard of us. My relationship with the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan in Wellington became most amicable when difficulties occurred with the Greek Church in Auckland, and Metropolitan Dionysios approached Bishop Gibran to find some accommodation for Father Michael Balafas at our Altar when he wanted to serve, and some of the Greek Community’s families began attending our Liturgies. The Metropolitan also made an arrangement with Sayidna Gibran for me to go to the Greek Church (up the road in Western Springs) to conduct Weddings, Funerals, and Baptisms, when needed.

Following enquiries from members of the congregation of Saint Michael’s in Dunedin, consultation followed with Sayidna Gibran and Father Jack, and I left Auckland for Dunedin in late October 1992.

We found an existing church in Dunedin, with no house or hall, and after being billeted for 2 weeks, were able to rent the house directly behind the church. Within a year we sold our North Island property, and personally purchased the 109 year old house for $68,000, the mortgage for which we are still paying off.

Sayidna Gibran did say (during his last visit to us in February 1997), that the Diocese could purchase the house from us when I move on to another parish, whenever that might be in the future, to accommodate the new priest.

Soon after my arrival from Auckland, there was a letter from Metropolitan Dionysios requesting my help in looking after the Christchurch Greek Community, as they were without a priest. So for the first 3 1/2 years of my stay here in Dunedin, I flew to Christchurch on a monthly basis to care for the Greek Orthodox Community (at that time approx 200+ families), and up until 2004, to other centres like Auckland, Napier, and Wellington, as requested.

Because of having to serve for the different nationalities, I use Greek, Slavonic, and English, especially as we are the only Orthodox Church in Dunedin & Southland except for the Coptic.

As there is no priest’s salary in Dunedin, I continue to earn a living working for the IHC which cares for people with an intellectual disability. My wife (now a Veterinary Nurse) teaches at the Otago Polytechnic.

At the beginning of 2004, I was approached by the Multi-Nations Council in Invercargill, requesting monthly Divine Liturgy there, and consequently we have been travelling down to that centre to hold Services in a borrowed Anglican Church, near the Airport.

His Eminence Archbishop Paul has ordained Andrei Grenfell a sub-deacon, and he is in the fullness of time being prepared for the diaconate, to assist me with the two centres Dunedin & Invercargill (which is 2 1/2 hours south of Dunedin. )

Father Ilyan 2006-05-15