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Saint Peter Orthodox Truth Service

News Of The Antiochian and Other Orthodox Churches in New Zealand and around the world

MOST REVEREND                                                                                         AUSTRALASIAN   ANTIOCHIAN                                                      2 Bampton Ave., Illawong,

METROPOLITAN PAUL,                                                                                    ORTHODOX DIOCESE                                                                 NSW, Sydney ,AUSTRALIA

PRIMATE                                                                                                                  Tel.  (61 2) 9543 6939                                                                           Fax: (61 2)  9543 9354



Fr Jack Witbrock,  MA BD,  Dean




 HOWICK                                                                                                   WELLINGTON                                                                                         ASHLEY

CHRISTCHURCH                                                             DIAMOND HARBOUR                                                               DUNEDIN



 Please note that from now on, SPOTLIGHT  is published first on this website, and then printed when long enough to fill four pages

AUGUST, 2004
written at Howick


   On the evening of Wednesday in Holy Week this year I went with a party of various christian people to Mr Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. I can only say that it is a film made out of faith, for those with faith; and that if we did not know before how serious sin is, we know now. I will add my recommendation to those of many others. It was a most suitable Passiontide observance, and, indeed, would be edifying at any time, since the voluntary sufferings of our Lord are salutary for all christians: both to think on, and to appropriate His salvation through His Holy Mysteries..

 When I saw the film I was reminded of the sufferings at that time, of our brethren in Serbia, who to the injury that they suffer also have the insult of being cast in the rôle of oppressors; and also of  the people of Palestine, whose observance of Holy week and Easter, and religous pratcice in general, are obstructed by a brutal army; fulfilling once again the words of our Lord: the time will come when he who kills you will think he is doing God's service.

         I include here part of a piece Fr Ambrose has sent me, and perhaps some of you:

National Post(Canada)  April 06, 2004

Comment A14 - Lewis MacKenzie
Maj-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, now retired, commanded UN troops during the
Bosnian civil war of 1992.


    Five years ago our television screens were dominated by pictures of Kosovo-Albanian refugees escaping across Kosovo's borders to the sanctuaries of Macedonia and Albania. Shrill reports indicated that Slobodan Milosevic's security forces were conducting a campaign of genocide and that at least 100,000 Kosovo-Albanians had been exterminated and buried in mass graves throughout the Serbian province. NATO sprung into action and, in spite of the fact no member nation of the alliance was threatened, commenced bombing not only Kosovo, but the infrastructure and population of Serbia itself -- without the authorizing United Nations resolution so revered by Canadian leadership, past and present.

       Those of us who warned that the West was being sucked in on the side of an extremist, militant, Kosovo-Albanian independence movement were dismissed as appeasers. The fact that the lead organization spearheading the fight for independence, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), was universally designated a terrorist organization and known to be receiving support from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda was conveniently ignored.

        The recent dearth of news in the North American media regarding the increase in violence in Kosovo compared to the comprehensive coverage in the European press strongly suggests that we Canadians don't like to admit it when we are wrong. On the contrary, selected news clips on this side of the ocean continue to reinforce the popular spin that those dastardly Serbs are at it again.

         A case in point was the latest crisis that exploded on March 15. The media reported that four Albanian boys had been chased into the river Ibar in Mitrovica by at least two Serbs and a dog (the dog's ethnic affiliation was not reported).Three of the boys drowned and one escaped to the other side. Immediately, thousands of Albanians mobilized and concentrated in the area  of the divided city. Attacks on Serbs took place throughout the province resulting in an estimated 30 killed and 600 wounded. Thirty Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed, more than 300 homes were burnt to the ground and six Serbian villages cleansed of their occupants. One hundred and fifty international peacekeepers were injured.

         Totally ignored in North America were the numerous statements from impartial sources that said there was no incident between the Serbs, the dog and the Albanian boys. NATO Police spokesman Derek Chappell stated on March 16 that it was "definitely not true" that the boys had been chased into the river by Serbs. Chappell went on to say that the surviving boy had told his parents that they had entered the river alone and that three of his friends had been swept away by the current. Admiral Gregory Johnson, the overall NATO commander, further stated that the ensuing clashes were "orchestrated and well-planned ethnic cleansing" by the Kosovo-Albanians. Those Serbs forced to leave joined the 200,000 who had been cleansed from the province since NATO's "humanitarian" bombing in 1999. The '"cleansees" have become very effective "cleansers."

    In the same week a number of individuals posing as Serbs ambushed and killed a UN policeman and his local police partner. During the firefight one of them was wounded which caused an immediate switch from Serbian to Albanian as he screamed, "I've been hit"! The UN pursued the attackers and tracked them to an Albanian-run farm where they discovered weapons and the wounded Albanian who had died from his wounds. Four Albanians were arrested. Once again, the ambush had been reported in the United States but not the follow-up which clearly indicated yet another orchestrated provocation by the Albanian terrorists.

     The objective of the Albanians is to purge all non-Albanians, including the international community's representatives, from Kosovo and ultimately link up with mother Albania thereby achieving the goal of "Greater Albania." The campaign started with their attacks on Serbian security forces in the early 1990s and they were successful in turning Milosevic's heavy-handed response into worldwide sympathy for their cause. There was no genocide as claimed by the West -- the 100,000 allegedly buried in mass graves turned out to be around 2,000, of all ethnic origins, including those killed in combat during the war itself.

(November, 2003)
These photos were sent to us a few days ago. Few details are public yet, but reports of meetings between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad have been heard for some little time. The matter desverves the prayers of us all.


        The division of the Russian church during the Communist era has impacted especially on us who live in the Orthodox "diaspora", and not only on Russians. The hope of reconciliation has opened a vista of co-operation in bringing the Faith to our own countrymen. We, of course, are not involved and can take no action, except to wait until developments are communicated through the proper channels to our patriarch and Holy Synod. But there will be some of us who will recognize the host at this meeting, and one of the three Bishops in the delegation. And we can pray for the healing of the many schisms that developed during the twentieth century in the wake of the confusion caused by political and other events. We know that Christ gave unity to His Church and it has not been destroyed; yet it has certainly been obscured in our time and given a pretext for heterodox teachers to claim that unity needs to be re-invented, rather than recovered. The reawakening of the Russian Church which we have already begun to see is, we believe, destined to have an enormous, as yet unsuspected, effect on the balance of religious forces in the world and on the general perception of Christianity among the nations.

 When the delegates of the ROCOR reported back on their visit, it became clear in the meeting that  considerably more dialogue was going to be necessary. This is therefore a continuing subject for prayer.

Fr Jack


  I have to apologize for the delay in posting these pictures; my CD would not open, and Fr George kindly made another copy;  most of the delay was caused by the slow return by post from Howick.

 - Fr Jack

      Before the Symposium, the three of us from Canterbury were kindly accomodated by His Eminence at his home. Here we are doing his e-mail
and writing to our wives. (Fr Victor behind the camera).

Each day began with a Liturgy in S. Michael's Church:


His Eminence gave almost all the lectures himself this year: a series on sects:



At times things got quite exciting...


One of the addresses was given by the Syrian Orthodox Bishop.


                                   A Laurel and Hardy scene outside the motel accomodation     home, where Fr Ilyan revealed hidden depths to general
                                   kindly donated by a Church member; we wait for a lift to        applause; and also later rescued Fr Jack from a fate too
                                   dinner, also kindly donated by a Church family at their            terrible to be spoken of....



Undeterred by the effects of the evening socializings, we managed to rise for Liturgy each morning and deliver addresses
each in his turn; Fr Jack (no picture) and Fr Nicholas at Liturgies, and Fr Michael at a Vespers; and others not depicted:


On the last day, at a Hierarchical Liturgy, His Eminence bestowed on Fr Michael Elder the dignity of the Epigonation:



Close associations: Fr Victor and Fr Petru                                                   And Fr Deacon John
share a common language;                                                                        assists Fr Geoff

Hierarchical Liturgy

All Saints, Howick

  In early June Fr George decided to take a well-earned rest and take his family to visit the Lebanon which he had not seen for many years. Fr Jack and his wife Julia were available to come and hold the fort. After Liturgy on Sunday, June 27, Fr George, Mary, Michel and Joanna left on their flight. They are expected home, we think, on August 29.  Fr. Jack and Mother Julia will be back in Ashley shortly after.  Meanwhile they can be reached on Fr George’s phone (09) 534 1586 or by e-mail as usual: fr.jack@  or blessed@ paradise.net.nz

 People in Howick are being very kind and Fr Jack brought plenty of editing work with him. There will be more photos as we learn to work the scanner better.

 Address: 111 Ridge Rd  / P.O.Box 38289, HOWICK.

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