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NEW ZEALAND: March 24, 2005

Archbishop Hilarion Visits Indonesia

From March 1-11, His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand made an archpastoral visit to the Orthodox community of Jakarta, Indonesia. During his stay in Indonesia, His Eminence performed Divine Liturgy daily at the Orthodox Church of Holy Apostle Thomas. His Eminence also ordained six priests for the Indonesian Orthodox Mission of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

The founder of the Orthodox Mission in Indonesia is Archimandrite Daniel (Byantoro), who recently joined the Russian Church Abroad.

It is interesting to note that the Russian Church Abroad opened the first Russian Orthodox Church in Java in the 1930's. The following is a brief history:

In 1934, at the personal suggestion of Archbishop Nestor (Anisimov, +1962) of Kamchatka and Petropavlovsk, Priest Vasily Bystrov (later Archimandrite Innokentii) was appointed rector of a parish in Batavia in Java, part of the Harbin Diocese, in accordance with an request made by resolution of His Eminence Archbishop Meletii of Harbin and Manchuria on November 16, asking to accept the parish into the Harbin Diocese (Ukase of the Harbin Diocesan Council of November 23, 1934, No. 1559).

Upon arriving in Java, Fr Vasily had to reorganize the Orthodox parish and establish a church in Bandung. All this was done with the permission of the Dutch Government, which granted a subsidy of 1,372 Guilders in 1936. On August 12, 1938, with the intercession of the parishioners of Annunciation Church in Java (by decree of the General Parish Assembly of May 29, 1938), Fr Vasily was granted the extraordinary award of a kamilavka for his exceptionally fervent service to the Church (Ukase of the Diocesan Council of August 12, 1938, No. 1852). In October 1947, the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR decreed: "In consideration of the zealousness of Priest Vasily Bystrov in the establishment of an Orthodox parish on the Island of Java, as attested to by His Eminence Archbishop Tikhon, and taking into account the fact that he had received no awards over the course of ten years, the Synod of Bishops decrees: to award Priest Vasily Bystrov with a pectoral cross from the Holy Synod, and to elevate him to the rank of protopriest."

At the end of the 1940's, the Java parish was under Archbishop Tikhon of San Francisco, to whom Fr Vasily wrote in May 1950: "After the transfer of power to the natives on January 1 of this year, life in Java has changed drastically for the worse in many respects, that is, normal, quiet life has ended and many Russian parishioners of Indonesia are leaving the country. Russians try to settle wherever they can, and worry about their future in Java, advising me to get an exit visa before it is too late. From an official letter of the secretary of the Batavia parishioners (the largest in number), it is apparent that many are leaving. Most of the parishioners are clearly leaving Bandung this year." Later in the same letter, Fr Vasily writes: "One way or the other, one must leave Java, apparently, this is God's will. The hour is approaching of my departure from Java, where I served for 16 years without leaving once; I mourn this for now, but one must humble oneself and thank God. I will inform Your Eminence in advance of the exact date of my departure from Java to San Francisco. Now the question of church items and property come up. What should I do? I have not yet spoken with the parishioners about this, but in any case, I presume that most of the parishioners would reach the conclusion that the property of the church should be exported and handed over to Your Eminence." At the end of May, Fr Vasily sent a copy of this report to Metropolitan Anastassy with a cover letter in which he wrote: "One can only deeply grieve, and at the same time, I disappoint you, Vladyka, and Ruling Archbishop Tikhon, with news of the closing after 16 years of the parish entrusted to me." In the early 1950's, Fr Vasily left for the USA, where he was tonsured to monasticism, heading thereupon the brethren of New-Root Hermitage in New York State.

We wish God's help and future success in their missionary works to Archimandrite Daniel and his co-strugglers in the faith, who have already converted over 2000 Indonesians to the salvific faith.