St Olga’s church in Wodonga, Victoria, celebrated its Parish Praznyk on Sunday 21st July 2013. Wodonga is about 3 ½ hours north of Melbourne on the border with New South Wales on the Murray River across from Albury, NSW. It is served pastorally out of Melbourne. There are about 50 families in the parish. Some of them are in the numerous small towns in the area. St. Olga’s is the oldest and first church in our Eparchy. It was purchased in October 1958. Today there are church services only once a month. Fr. Peter Struk usually makes the trip from Melbourne.

This year’s Praznyk in Wodonga followed the trend of very enjoyable feasts. Mind you, most of the Praznyks there have been very lively. Usually a busload of people comes up from Geelong, Ardeer, or Melbourne. This year 23 people came from Melbourne in a minibus.

Bishop Peter Stasiuk and Fr. Peter Struk led the service. Mr Yaroslav Wowk as usual led the choir. There was a very nice prayerful atmosphere in church. Bishop Peter spoke about St. Olga as the first person who accepted Christianity in Ukraine some 20 years before Ukraine accepted baptism some 1025 years ago. He pointed out that she first did not learn about Christianity. She had a personal faith in his saving grace.

All the people then went to the local club for a buffet meal and fellowship. It was another occasion for the parish to grow as a family. This is what the church is about. In Wodonga the struggle is to bring our own children back into our Christian family. As one man remarked, there are hundreds of Ukrainians in the area – not all go to church.

Having good family celebrations are important to building that community.

On the way home from the Praznyk Fr. Peter visited a number of elderly people in Benalla. Fr. Peter visits all the sick and shut-ins in the parish on a regular basis.

After this celebration the parish is looking forward toward to a possible visit of our Patriarch Sviatoslav next year. We all are!

Eparchial Press Bureau

Photo gallery from Wodonga