It is 2020! It is an unusual year. You would think that the annual Parish feast day of Sts Peter and Paul would be different, and it was.

The crowd was bigger than usual, about 200 people, and no one was in the parish hall. They were all at home looking at their computer screens and seeing all their friends on the screen. The usual guests from other parishes were there as well. They joined in from Perth, Geelong, Ardeer, Sydney Canberra, Newcastle, and probably from other places as well.

Stefan Romaniw, the head of the North Melbourne Parish Council, organized the event which was well advertised on social media. Bishop Mykola Bychok was the guest of honour. He joined in from Ukraine. Bishop Peter and the Melbourne clergy were present as well.

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Theresa Jaworski said, “I must say yesterday’s Zoom praznyk was different, amazing, community strengthening, and even emotional.” “It was one of the best events of the year” added Felix Figurek. Chrestyna Kmetj said, “Truly worth the effort to stay connected.” Maria Verbovetski summed it up, “The praznyk was a success.” Helena Denley said, “Very uplifting. I’m grateful to be part of the community”.

Various community leaders welcomed the new Bishop Mykola. George Fedyszyn from the Eparchial Pastoral Council, Slawko Kohut from the Ukrainian Community in Victoria, David Hassett from Dnister Credit Co-operative, Orysia Stefyn from the Ukrainian Schools Association, Mr Volodymyr Holovko from the Cathedral Choir, Anna Polatajko from the Women’s League, and Vasyl Mykhaylyk from the Parish Council.

Bishop Mykola greeted all and expressed his desire to come to Australia as soon as possible. He talked about himself and his family. Some of the younger participants wanted to know if he plays golf. He said he does not but is willing to learn.

Bishop Peter welcomed the new Bishop as well and explained how everything possible is being done to bring him to Australia. It all depends on the Federal Government granting him a visa and to get Bishop Mykola permission to travel to Australia.

Bishop Peter also explained what the Parish and Eparchy are operating during this time of Covid19 shutdown. All parishes are Webcasting plus there are Divine Liturgies on a daily basis for the intention of all the faithful. Wherever it is permitted, hospital visits are being made. The parish is open, and the clergy are at work.

Bishop Peter also explained that there has been an extra effort put in to increase our presence on the social media.

The Website receives two or more entries each week. Material, which might be useful during this time of stress and difficulties, are being published. Weekly “Religious Education” activities are published in the Parish bulletin and on the Eparchial website.

Our newspaper Church and Life has the same focus. Parish bulletins are being published each week to keep all informed.

All regular meetings, i.e. Parish Council, Eparchial Financial Council, Eparchial clergy meetings are being held each month.

Our Patriarch Sviatoslav has already met with all clergy of the Eparchy on Zoom. Bishop Mykola meets all clergy once a month to discuss pastoral issues. The next meeting is scheduled for 4th August.

The Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops is also going at this time. Two sessions have already been held. More are coming. The Synod is being held and even new Bishops will be elected this year.

Bishop Peter went on to explain that Bishop Mykola is slowly being involved in the life of the Eparchy. He receives all circular letters to the clergy. He receives every email from the Parish Council, Eparchial Financial Council, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and all documents which are important.

The two Bishops meet very often using social media. Plans which are made, now involve Bishop Mykola.

Bishop Mykola also speaks or communicates privately with individual clergy and others. The Eparchy already knows Bishop Bychok very well.

Indeed, the Praznyk was a tremendous success. Thank you to all who participated, contributed and, in particular, to Mr Stefan Romaniw for leading it.