With tremendous gratitude to God, the fledgling parish of Saint Sophrony of Essex, South Australia, was overjoyed to celebrate its inaugural feast day on 11 July 2023, suitably followed by a festive function the ensuing Sunday 16 July, in which parishioners enjoyed coffee and a wide range of food provided by our generous volunteers. These events were only possible due to the blessing, spiritual support and love of our beloved Archbishop, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, whose faith and spiritual struggle have produced much fruit within our Holy Archdiocese, one being the continuation of the humble and entirely English-speaking parish of Saint Sophrony of Essex.
His Grace Bishop Silouan of Sinope gave witness to the ripening of this spiritual fruit with the timely announcement that our parish has been granted a loan to purchase the property it has leased since its inception in January 2023. This great blessing from God will allow the missionary work of the Orthodox Church to continue in the fertile fields of Adelaide, a city of over 1.3 million people, the vast majority of whom have not yet had the opportunity to encounter Orthodoxy.
The festal vespers proceeded with numerous clergy in attendance, all of whom have shown great support and care for the new parish of Saint Sophrony. Their prayers filled the heritage stone-walled church, punctuated by His Grace’s sermon in which he highlighted Saint Sophrony’s writing on the insensibility of a Christianity that is non-dogmatic, non-ecclesiological and non-ascetic. These tenants have long been known essential within the Orthodox Church however they are especially pertinent in this modern world where Christianity is so often watered down to fit into theological and cultural trends of the passing moment. Moreover, asceticism is sadly an alien and at times even anathematic concept to most modern Christian denominations.
Without dogma, safeguarded and passed on within an ecclesiological Christianity, within the true Church of Christ, and without the ascetic lives of all faithful and clergy, Christians lose their ability to perform the Christ-given role of being the salt of the earth. Saint Sophrony knew that without a dogmatic, ecclesiological and ascetic Christianity, Christian lives lose their flavor; Christianity loses its saltiness and is no longer able to preserve that which is God-given, faithful and pure within this fallen world. The Orthodox Church provides the only true path towards holiness and sanctity. St Sophrony lived this, as did all the saints whom God has illuminated; they became the light of the world, illuminating those on the sides of the hill so that we too may give glory to our Father in heaven.
The Parish Committee of St Sophrony, the parish priest Fr Daniel Bradshaw and the faithful who have shown their overwhelming love and support for this new mission, all feel incredible gratitude and indebtedness towards our Holy Orthodox Church and His Eminence Archbishop Makarios. May this new parish, through the prayers of St Sophrony, our Archbishop His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, become a vessel for the grace of God to work in the city of Adelaide so that many more faithful may grow towards becoming the salt of the earth. May we all give glory to our Father who is heaven.