The Eparchy had a very busy week from 2nd to 8th December 2013. The clergy had their conference from Tuesday to Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, over 50 delegates from all our Australian parishes arrived in Melbourne for the midterm conference of the Eparchial Pastoral Council which is headed by Maru Jarockyj. The weekend was “full on” with the North Melbourne Ukrainian school ending its school year on Saturday. The Ukrainian community gathered twice over the weekend for the prayers for Ukraine as well. Both halls at the parish were in use all the time.

The EPC conference started with a Divine Liturgy along with the students and teachers of the Ukrainian school. Bishop Peter, along with the guests of the EPC Conference from across Australia, invited all to understand the Vision 2020 programme, along with the opportunities it presented for a vibrant community life. In a video link, our Patriarch Sviatoslav talked about the situation in Ukraine. Bishop Peter then presented a realistic state of affairs in our Eparchy. He spoke of our reality, hopes, and dreams. Each parish presented a report on its life and perspectives as the conference moved back to the Cathedral itself. It was soon seen that in fact we are doing a lot of things right and that there is abundant life in the Eparchy. We can do better but we have what to build on.

Andrew Pavuk then led the discussion on the proposed statute changes. Many important suggestions were noted. Andrew is the Eparchy’s lawyer on the child protection matter as well. He talked about the Royal Commission and urged all the parishes to get police checks for all adults who have contact with children.

The matter of a parish inventory developed as a major issue. Parishes will now take a closer look at all the assets of the church and properly record them.

The major topic of the conference was Fr. Brian Kelty’s presentation of Vision 2020. The central idea of Vision 2020 is that parishes must become places where all our people are enabled to encounter the living Christ. We will do this principally by improving our knowledge and understanding of the Holy Scriptures and the religious education of children, adolescents and adults based on the new Catechism, Christ Our Pascha; the renewal of our liturgical and prayer life, and our service to others will be essential elements of Vision 2020. He stressed the need to have parish Sobors and the upcoming Eparchial Sobor in 2014, which will be dedicated to expanding our understanding of Vision 2020. He presented the plans for Vision 2020 as they were developed by the Synodal committee.

Michael Laba and Ross Merunovich presented a paper on “Philanthropy in the Eparchy”. There are a number of Eparchial DGR (Deductable Gift Recipients) status foundations in our church. We need to popularise them and present them to the public so that they can be properly used.

Sr. Maria and Subdeacon Richard Charlwood spoke about the newly popular icon painting schools in our Eparchy.

Mr Holovko talked about the need for cantors and music director classes in our Eparchy. Information will be distributed about these plans soon.

Fr. Andriy Mykytyuk engaged those present in a discussion on our pilgrimage centres and the Catechetical programme.

On Saturday evening, Sr. Luiza Ciupa joined us on a half hour conversation from Lviv, Ukraine via Skype. She answered the delegates’ questions about Bible study, catechism and the Song contest “Song from the Heart” which will be held again in 2015.

Technology has advanced. We can now have people from around the world joining us in our meetings.

Sunday afternoon saw a continuation of our conference with a youth forum. About 15 young people came to the church basement to share their views with the delegates. Anybody over 30 could not talk but only listen to the young people. As one delegate said “These young people are a gold mine. We have a lot to learn from them.” The EPC will now take all that on board. Fr. Simon who led the discussion will in his role as Eparchial Youth Co-ordinator keep working with youth to make sure that our youth are part of our vibrant parish.

The conference ended with a group discussion on what the Eparchy should do as a result of the conference. It is clear that we have a big number of leaders who love God and their church and will continue to work to build our church.