Fr Victor is fluent in Romanian, Russian, and English. The services are being held in these languages in proportion to those attending. It is our hope that this congregation, which already numbers around 30, will attract a wide variety of Orthodox people. Fr Jack and Fr Michael, who have their own centres of worship, will support Fr Victor with their presence whenever they are free. We hope before long to be able to report the establishment of a unified administrative organization for our whole mission in Canterbury: Christchurch, Ashley, and Diamond Harbour.
From the beginning (1973) of Fr Jack's time at S. Michael's, Dunedin he made visits back to his home town of Christchurch. In 1973, about a year after his ordination, he was able to obtain permission to borrow the S.Nicholas Church in Brougham Street belonging to the Russian Church Abroad, and Mr Walter Barbara rallied the whole Lebanese community for a service at which Maurice Ayoub sang, and the Russian Choir, who had promised to do some answering, stood in amazed silence at his magnificent singing.
Unfortunately Mr Barbara died soon after this, and it was never possible to assemble the whole community in this way again. Nevertheless, visits using the Russian Church continued until 1978 when the Russian Church Abroad began to take a stricter attitude to other jurisdictions. Mr Max Perkins and Mr John Fry, Anglicans, were received at the last of these services.
From then on, services were held mostly in S, Mary's, Addington, the Vicar, the Revd Leicester Kyle, being a friend of Fr Jack's. At times the little Church of S. James, Harewood, was used, especially for the Western Rite for which it was suitable. But from 1982 services were held at Ashley when Fr Jack visited. However, the attendance of the born Orthodox was not very high, and the experiment was tried of holding the occasional service in the S. Saviour's Chapel at Cathedral Grammar School. After a few times, however, this was proving no more successful than Ashley, and so lapsed except for the occasional wedding or christening.
During Met. Paul's visit to Canterbury, plans were made to hold a monthly Liturgy and try to revive attendance among the Lebanese and other "born" Orthodox, with services again in Christchurch as well as at Ashley and Diamond Harbour.
The Chapel at Cathedral Grammar School is on the corner of Chester St West and Park Terrace. It was originally the West Lyttelton Church, and Fr Jack served in it when he was Vicarof Lyttelton. Later the people of Lyttelton decided that they could unite in the use of the original Holy Trinity Church, and S. Saviour's was moved to Cathedral Grammar. For reasons of convenience it was placed on the corner, facing West, but to those who remember it from Lyttelton, experience re-orientates the Chapel as soon as they go in the door. This Chapel was used until the beginning of 2003, but, with the coming of Fr Victor into our Archdiocese in January, another place had to be found which would be available for services each Sunday.