From February 27 to March 15, Bishop Mykola Bychok, Eparch of Melbourne, and Father Andrii Mykytyuk, Syncellus for Laity affairs, are on a pastoral visit to New Zealand.
The mission began with a visit to the South Island, where the bishop and father stayed from February 27 to March 7.
On the first day in the city of Ashburton, Bishop Mykola administered the Sacrament of Christian Initiation to a little Ukrainian woman, so the community of the faithful in New Zealand was enriched by another Christian woman.
- Bishop Mykola’s homily on the Sunday before Epiphany
- Sermon by Fr. Taras Gorpynyak on the Meatfare Sunday (Sunday of the Last Judgment)
- Ecumenical Prayer For Peace In Ukraine
So they continued their journey to the city of Dunedin, where on Wednesday, February 28, in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, a joint prayer for peace in Ukraine took place. The prayer was attended by Ukrainians and New Zealanders who support Ukraine in different ways and try to show solidarity. The administrator of the Cathedral, Father Wayne Healey, sincerely congratulated the bishop, the father, and everyone present and expressed hope that everything would be fine in Ukraine.
In his sermon during the prayer, Bishop Mykola gave an example of the life of the righteous Job, who, despite suffering a lot and not understanding why God allowed such trials to happen to him, was nevertheless faithful to God to the end. The bishop compared the example of the righteous Job with the current situation in Ukraine because now having difficult times, Ukraine also remains faithful to God and thanks to God, His support, and the support of all people of goodwill, our state has been fighting and fighting for its freedom and independence for more than a year and is paying a high price the price for peace to come.
The bishop also thanked all those present for their prayers and support and expressed a request to continue to maintain unanimity and unity.
The next day, Thursday, March 1, Bishop Mykola had an official meeting with the Bishop of Dunedin, Michael Dooley, where they discussed important issues regarding further ministry and established close cooperation.
On Sunday, March 5, the Eparch of Melbourne, in the co-service of Bishop Michael Gielen, Bishop of Christchurch, and Father Andrii Mykytyuk, Syncellus for Laity affairs, celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Pro-Cathedral of St. Mary in Christchurch.
A significant number of Ukrainians gathered in the church to pray together for peace in Ukraine and for all fallen soldiers, volunteers, and civilians. Two New Zealanders were also remembered in the prayer, who, volunteering and protecting Ukraine, gave their lives: one hero died in August last year, and the other a few weeks ago.
In his sermon, Bishop Mykola reminded the faithful of the words of the Apostle Philip, which he said to Nathanael: “Come and see.” The bishop noted that it is very important in our lives to come, look and see God with our own eyes, and not just to feel that He is the first to look for us or the first to see us. Therefore, celebrating the Sunday of Orthodoxy, it is important to see God who comes to us and seeks us, and, in turn, take a step to meet Him and experience Him, because when we witness something, then we can testify about it to others.
At the end of the Liturgy, everyone together sang the prayer “God is great and one”, putting their requests for peace in Ukraine before God. Afterward, there was a great opportunity to talk with Bishop Mykola and Father Andrii, which the Ukrainians gladly used.
In the evening of the same day, Bishop Mykola had an official meeting with Bishop Michael Gielen, where they discussed the importance of cooperation, assistance, and spreading the truth in the context of the war in Ukraine.
Father was also present at the prayer. Valentyn Basyuk from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
Therefore, on Tuesday, March 7, Bishop Mykola and Father Andriy left for the North Island to continue their mission trip there.