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2001 Australian Russian Orthodox Youth Conference

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  • kosovo_au
    Please give thanks to God for the safe evacuation of the 160 youth, staff and clergy, led by His Grace Archbishop Hilarion,from a coastal conference centre
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 25, 2001
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      Please give thanks to God for the safe evacuation of the 160 youth,
      staff and clergy, led by His Grace Archbishop Hilarion,from a coastal
      conference centre south of Sydney, which had been the site of the
      2001 Russian Orthodox Youth Conference. Early today, western
      Christmas, numerous bush fires had broken out near Sydney and
      Canberra. They are still burning. At the Conference Centre we were in
      no immediate danger, but were put on alert as fierce winds and high
      temperatures made the situation dangerous. We were evacuated with a
      police escort to the nearest town, Helensburgh, which itself came
      under threat after a few hours as the fire surrounded the town on
      three sides. The clergy led a molieben on the steps of the evacuation
      centre. Firefighters were still fighting the blaze around the town
      when the order came to evacuate south to Woolongong as all roads to
      Sydney were cut either by other fires or poor visibility due to
      smoke. Led by a police escort a huge convoy of vehicles, which
      included the Youth Conference evacuees, left Helensburgh and made it
      safely to Woolongong. We passed through kilometers of smouldering
      bush, fires still burning, thick smoke haze, fallen trees, with fire
      and emergency workers still visible trying to cope with the
      situation. Some people made it back to Sydney on a road that was
      later closed. The majority made it to Woolongong, and then to the
      small ROCOR parish Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, where
      Vladika Hilarion led us all in a thanksgiving molieben to St Herman
      of Alaska. They are all currently billetted in a high school
      auditorium, a local McDonalds was denuded of its holiday stock of
      fishburgers, and God willing, they will go in convoy sometime later
      this morning (it is now 3.30am Wednesday)back to Sydney and regroup
      at Holy Protection Church Cabramatta where a decison will be made
      whether to continue with the conference and accomodation found for
      participants from intersate and country. All are safe,Vladika,
      clergy, parents and the youth - but please give thanks to God for his
      protection over us, and please pray for the firefighters, police and
      other emergency workers, and those who have lost their homes already -
      many fires around our city and state are still burning fiercely, it
      is summer, and the Australian bush is tinder dry.

      In Christ

      Fr Joachim
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