At the outset, I appreciate the Managing Committee of the parish for the proposal and the enthusiasm behind the commencement of a newsletter “St. Thomas Voice”. Besides the endearing efforts of our editor Mrs. Rekha Ciju and our web artist Moncy Jijo, the Write ups and snippets received from out dedicated parishners have constituted the actualisation of this proposal. I acknowledge each of their sincere efforts. The newsletter “St. Thomas Voice” is a humble attempt to encourage our members, Sunday School children, youth and Women’s league to contribute their God given gifts and thus broaden their horizon of knowledge to grow in the right vision of the faith of the Church. I urge the members of the parish to read, contribute and bring forth your creative advices so that we may continue our journey together as faithful of our church. May God bless us all to keep this alive as an avenue to spread the word of God.
Ability to SEE, Ability to BE, Ability to GIVE.
When morning sun wakes me up, I look out through my open window to a field covered in green pasture. The sound of birds chirping and the fragrance of fresh air always consistently makes the beginning of the day a beautiful one. But through the day that vision just fades away leaving me with a glance of my other needs and wants. I had this thought “if I had to pay a price for all the beauty I see ie the blue sky, the rivers, the mountains, the seasons and the butterflies.. what would that price tag be? 1000s? no, it has to be in millions or maybe even billions!
I inherited all that for free because of my God as my Father, Saviour and redeemer to make me call Him Abba Father.
This realisation instills immense gratitude in us and thanking God becomes all the more meaningful. In my prayers, I kept asking to give more abundantly so that I could become happy. In reality, all I needed was the ability to SEE what I already had and the ability to look inside of me and discover the immense possibilities he vested in me.
I discovered our happiness but rides on lot more other things than just the ability to SEE the gifts we have. Ability to BE is the other necessary step.
While you can achieve the first in solidarity, the second is accomplished only through your model existence in a society. Your ability to BE rides on your ability to GIVE to others. E.g. You can’t BE a teacher unless you teach someone. You can’t BE a singer unless you can sing to others, or a scientist unless you solve for others problems. Our Gifts and blessings define what we are capable of ‘being’ to this society. When the disparity between ‘what we are capable of being’ and ‘what we really be’ is low, then we know we have served our role well. Spiritual joy cannot be found without this service mindedness.
Often many we know back out from serving because they dislike to be judged or critiqued. But model existence in a society has very little in common with everyone in the society accepting you and having the best opinions about you. Other people’s judgements are just a showcase of how they see things that you do, that too based on what you chose to show them or hide about yourself. It’s never complete enough or true enough and therefore irrelevant!
As a Christian we should have a better way to validate our services than just relying on others opinions about us. Our Faith gives us life PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY. When we are challenged or critiqued or in doubt, validate our action against these principles, correct where necessary. If we find ourselves righteous against those principles, we need not fear the opinions of the tens and thousands against us. Such validation will allow us to stand up for truth even when crowd prefers silence, strike for justice to set an example, remain honest even when no one is watching, offer to service even in rejection, remain persistent even when failing, forgive even in ailment, kind even in shortage.
One man inspires the other to do right, not to be celebrated, but to be able to stand tall in their own eyes and kingdom of God will strive. It will lift you and everyone you know to be beholders of spiritual joy. So let our desire to be joyful translate in to prayers to be able to SEE, to BE and to GIVE.
Writer: Rekha Peter
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness.”
- Leo Tolstoy
The Patriarch of Antioch and all the East adorning the throne of St. Peter of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II made his apostolic visit on November 10, 2017, to St Thomas Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. It was an auspicious day for our small congregation to have our Supreme Leader accompanied by the Archbishop of Australia and New Zealand His Eminence Mor Malatius malki maliki and Archbishop of Mousal and Kurdistan in Iraq His Eminence Mor Nicodemus Matti Sharaf. The beloved St. Thomas parishioners saw a leader who truly represents the mission of Jesus and a true shepherd of his flock. Multitudes from various states traveled to our church to witness this historic event. St Thomas was host to all priests and deacons on the day. Our Sunday school students and choir transformed the day into a visual treat with their cultural performances. His Holiness was very touched by the Syriac hymns and songs we delivered. St Thomas church Craigieburn was one among the few churches in entire Australia to be graced with a one and one time with His Holiness.
Church organized a permanent plaque to record our Patriarch visit to this Parish, to install in our future church building when God blesses us with a church of our own.During his Holiness address to our St. Thomas parishioners, he made it clear to us that as our loving father, he wants us to share our hopes, our dreams and also our concerns as we journey together in hope of eternal life as the disciples of the Lord.
Under the intiative of St Thomas Youth Association, members of st Thomas donated their blood to Australian Red Cross society on 2nd of march 2018. Up to 10 families dedicated their weekend to contribute to this noble cause. The consent form and eligibility tests that highlighted the contributors pristine health left them with a realization that their very eligibility to donate is an immense blessing from dear Lord. Putting our simple privileges like good health to good use felt more like a responsibility than courtesy after the event. We were told our donation will save as many as 30 lives which is an incredible number.
Australian Red cross posted an appreciation message on our church Facebook page thanking our members for their great service.
We take pride in announcing that a member of our church Mrs Rekha ciju has written and composed a beautiful devotional song. This song proved to be a consolation to many distressed minds rebinding them in the love of God. Glory to God for blessing her with such Grace.Lyrics
The year 2017 was a memorable one in the history of ST. Thomas Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Melbourne. Indeed, the apostolic visit of our Patriarch was another milestone which was the pinnacle of joy for the faithful of the Church. We were also privileged to host the first council meeting of the diocese of Australia which was held on 9th December 2017. We had around 55 representatives under the leadership of respective Vicars from Parishes all over Australia. The meeting was presided by our Patriarchal Vicar H.E. Mor.Meletheose Yuhanon and His Eminence made it clear, the need for unity and joint witness to cater the spiritual needs of the diaspora community of Australia. Thus the long cherished dream of the faithful to have a council and a system of administration in the diocese was fulfilled. From among the representatives attended, office bearers and council members were elected. It’s our honour that Mr. Joby Abraham, our trustee is delegating our parish as a council member.
The delegates from various parishes were well received by our volunteers led by our Managing Committee members. It was a joyous occasion to meet and interact with each other and share the ethos of oneness in faith to be uphold and handed over to the next generation.
Vicar: Rev. Fr. Eldo Varkey Valiaparampil
Choir is a very essential element to our service tradition. St Thomas is excited to announce the formation of its Choir for 2018! We have a group of very enthusiastic singers complimenting our church service every Sunday helping it reach its divine heights. Our passion week services were blessed with their harmonious voices. Besides all regular Sunday service, the team extended their participation to inter church events like ecumenical, Gloria, talent night. Church acknowledges their commitment.
Introducing the members
Choir: Nancy Eldo, Gini Abraham, Aneena Nishad, Essy Abraham, Siji Paul
Keyboard: Justin Jose
Mike and Mixer: Jijo George
Choir leader: Jobby Abraham
The greatest gift given long ago
Wasn’t cloaked in paper or adorn with a bow
Gods only son from heaven above
Given to us straight from his love.
One day Jesus came to town
And people threw their robes down
They all began to shout and cheer
“Hosanna! Hosanna! Jesus is here!”.
Lest we forget please hold on tight
To the great truth delivered that night
His legacy of love for all to receive
The gift of liberation for those who believe.
He died on the cross and sacrificed his life
For us yes, he did we knew he would come back
Three days later he rose from the death
Redeemed our pardon and enslaved our sin.
St Thomas has been an active participant in all STEFM 2018 activities and competitions. In a venue where all churches of Melbourne come together to share their cultural and traditional ethnicity in the spiritual arena, St Thomas has made its own identity with its notable participation in Badminton, Bible Quiz, Cricket and solo and group song. Our Sunday school student Aron Santhosh did us proud by winning first prize in STEFM solo song 2018. The church takes the time to applaud the talent.
In the Syrian Orthodox Church or our liturgical tradition, liturgy is the source and expression of the entire spiritual experience. In prayers, the Church experiences it’s vision of God, the destiny of humanity and the entire creation. This article is an attempt to elucidate the role of liturgy in the Church in expressing and experiencing God in an appropriate way. The topic will be elaborated over multiple episodes and extended to future newsletters.
Liturgy is the representation and actualization of the whole mystery of God’s economy of salvation accomplished by the Father in Jesus Christ with the work of the Holy Spirit in time. (New Catholic encyclopaedia.) In the modern time, theology is being looked at as a mere philosophy. Theology has lost its relationship with church and liturgy. The middle age was considered as the captivity years of liturgy because theology was never being connected to church life and liturgy. Liturgy was deemed to be understood as certain rituals and celebrations. Bible and liturgy are the expressions of the faith of the worshiping community. It is intrinsically related and influences each other. What is Liturgy? Or was there a time neither liturgy nor bible existed?
Liturgy is the expression of faith. It existed either in oral form or written form. Before the canonization of the New Testament, it was through the liturgy and oral traditions that the faith was transmitted and preserved in the Church. Later on, these creedal statements became part of the New Testament. Therefore, the N.T. has to be understood as a creedal statement and liturgy. It is believed that Ephesian, Colossians, 1 Peter, St. James etc. were written to prepare the catechumens for baptism. Lucian Deiss, one of the liturgical Theologians say, “Jewish liturgy was the womb from which the Christian liturgy was born”. His statement unfolds the fact that the early Christian church was highly influenced by the Jewish liturgy and used synagogues as their place of worship. There was a time extemporary prayer was used as the form of liturgy. Eg.Didache: A short early Christian Manuel/ morals / church practices contained in16 brief chapters on
The Apostolic Tradition of Hyppolytus of Rome summarizes the attitude of the early Church towards written formulas and improvised prayers. “Let the bishop gives thanks in the manner we indicate earlier. It is not necessary, however, that he repeats the same words we provided, as though, he had to try to say them from his memory in his thanks giving to God. Let each one pray according to his ability. If he can pray at length and offering a solemn prayer, well and good, but if he prays differently and pronounces a shorter and simple prayer, he is not to be prevented, provided his prayer be sound and orthodox”.
This reinstates Bible and liturgy is the expressions of the faith of the worshiping community.
Vicar: Rev. Fr. Eldo Varkey Valiaparampil
This is a section we have reserved for innovative thinking by members. Here we welcome ideas to improve fellowship and community giving by members. Fund raising ideas are also welcome. The ideas can be submitted for voting in this section. This allows each member to contribute progressive suggestions for betterment of church affairs. This can also be used to critic or revise any existing process. We encourage all devoted members to put this section to best use. Anonimity of the contributor can be maintained where requested.
E.g. Organise a bimonthly dineout/ potluck event for improving community fellowship. This will be an optional item and all incured expence will be borne by the part takers.
Anything that get significant yes count will be reviewed for further action.