CHRISTMAS CONVERSATIONS

Presbytera Eisodia Menis
Everyone knows the story of the birth of our Saviour. We sing the same carols every year. Christmas cards proclaim the well-known message. Yet another movie about it has been released this year. The story is perennial. The services that celebrate Christmas in the Church are perennial, too. We read exactly the same readings every year. The hymns are the same as last year’s. Nothing is changed. Nevertheless, the commemoration of the event and the re-telling of the story remain fresh and vibrant. Thumbing through the Festal Menaion, by way of a little anticipation, I read the Matins for Christmas day. Verses written in the present voice help to keep the event current and alive. The invitation is given at the outset: Come, O you faithful, and let us behold where Christ is born… For Christ this day is born of the Virgin and Theotokos, in Bethlehem of Judah. Since we are present, we can have dialogue with the Theotokos. We ask: Why are you filled with wonder, O Mary? Why are you amazed at that which has happened in you? The reply is not unexpected: Because I have given birth in time to the timeless Son, yet I do not understand how I have conceived Him. I have not known man: how then shall I bear a child? Who has ever seen a birth without seed? The Theotokos is familiar with the scriptures. But as it is written, ‘Where God so wills, the order of nature is overcome.’ Inspired, we to turn to our Lord and say: We magnify You, O Christ the Giver of life, who was born in the flesh for us this day from her that knew not wedlock, the All-Pure Virgin Mary. We can meditate a little on the mystery which the Theotokos has in her
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year XXXI November - December 2006

A Christmas theology of the womb
http://revdcostache.livejournal.com/20133.html

by Revd Doru Costache
God is “the complicate womb of all that is” (St Gregory the Theologian, Poem 1.1.4, ‘Concerning the world’). God is a womb where we live, move and exist (cf. Acts of the apostles 17:28). And yet he becomes a fetus in the womb of his own child/creation, revealing the uterine dimension of everything. The inverse perspective... A little great God and a glorious humble creation! God is a womb. The universe is a womb. The cave is a womb. And Mary's uterus is, of course and properly, the womb. One of the most interesting aspects of this story is the fact that all our hearts are also wombs, expecting the inner birth of the divinehuman child who we all have to become. And this because the Logos wants to repeat in each of us, everywhere and every time the mystery of his incarnation, according to that outstanding interpreter of the mystery, St Maximus the Confessor (cf. Ambigua 7).

The Nativity of God, VIth century

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Young Romanian Poets Sorina Sandu: Mireasa cuvintelor de taină (Craiova: Autograf MGM, 2006, 87 pages)
by Revd Dr Doru Costache
The brand new volume of poems published (in Romanian) by Sorina Sandu, The bride of mystery’s words, exuberantly manifests the complex inner universe of an extremely sensible soul. Her training in theology and literature, together with her long-lasting interest for Emil Cioran’s challenging philosophy, opened for her wide horizons of symbolic expression, making her poetry astonishingly vivid and profound, almost mythological. In fact she has the ability to perceive the deepness of human conscience, seizing it in its most striking internal and external attitudes. The book consists of two parts, significantly titled as Cântec de război (War chant) and respectively Boabe de taină (Seeds of mystery). In the following I will try to point to a few recurrent themes, far from intending any exhaustive analysis. Although Arghezi’s taste for dark imagery is well represented here (e.g. ceară otrăvită / poisoned wax, îngeri ologi / lame angels, haina de mucegai / cloths of fungi etc.), this poetry is very Cioran-like at least in respect of its existential substance if not in its poetic expression. Sorina celebrates polyphonically the funeral of human’s vanity and decay, in notes of sad humour. Everything is inconsistent and about to die; flesh’s opulence is just a chimera… For instance, the women bring to Brother Michael ofranda nopŃii, / nocturnal sacrifice, trupuri de cenuşă / bodies of ash (‘Cântec de război’, War chant). Death is tremendously omnipresent, hiding everywhere behind Sorina’s verses, when it is not clearly indicated – although always depicted in familiar, peaceful tones. Sometimes death is a lover: În fiecare seară / Every night moartea mă sărută / death kisses me pe gură / on the lips (‘AmeninŃare’, Menace). Some other times it is just a tired traveller, evaluating people’s term on earth: the death… (‘Astigmatism’, Astigmatism). This warning leaves however no room for our contemporary irrational hedonism; with Sorina’s poetry, the warning becomes an invitation to wisdom and decency. She seems to address the issue of a corrupted world in her ‘Răspuns’ (Answer):

Domnule Dementor / Mr Dementor poezia mea nu are sex; / my poetry does not have gender; S-a apropiat timidă / Timidly, she e o specie dementă, desuetă / it came closer rather is a crazy species, outdated mi-a pipăit coastele, / touching my pe cale de dispariŃie: / on its way to ribs, extinction: a încercat să-mi cânte / she tried to animal asexuat. / a genderless sing for me animal. un Recviem / a Requiem pe clapele de piatră ale sufletului; / Nu se împerechează / It does not on the stone-keys of my soul; seek to mate apoi m-a adulmecat prelung / then la subsol / in hidden places she smelled me for a long time şi nu o poŃi cuprinde / and one cannot catch it “Încă nu miroşi a pământ,” / “You în dinŃii privirilor / with the eye’s do not smell of clay yet,” teeth mi-a şoptit somnoroasă. / sleepy, să o sfâşii cu poftă. / to lustfully she uttered. tear it apart. Era obosită moartea. / Death was Poezia nu e amantă răstignită / tired. Poetry is not a crucified lover S-a culcat lângă mine / She laid în patul murdar al cetăŃii, / on a next to me city’s dirty bed, zâmbind. / smiling. e însăşi mireasa cuvintelor / it (‘Pârgă’, Firstlings) rather is the bride of words Reading these verses one could An escape from the world of hear Cioran proclaiming the indecency and decay can be found tremendous truth: we started to die only through regeneration. By means the very day of our birth, and it’s of a wonderful paraphrase of St just a matter of freeing our mind Paul’s teaching on redeeming the from prejudices in order to acknowledge this truth. All is subject flesh (cf. e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20), to dissolution, nothing lasts for ever: Sorina invites the sickened modern mind to change, to regain purity: Toate îmi par învăluite / Hai să ne facem mai bine copii / Everything seem to be veiled în ceaŃa morŃi… / by the shadow of page 3
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Young...

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The Morning’s Divinity
by Simona Strungaru
The bright golden sun shines in through my room, Reflecting amongst my things and making them loom. I lay in my bed; my eyes still closed shut, As I hear gentle songs of birds sitting on huts. The cherished, sweet sounds brings peace to my ear, As if a serenade of angels are there next to me. As I open my eyes I feel the sun rays, Touching my pupils and showing me a brand new day. As I look out my window, I feel I am bestowed, As the nature is enlightened by God’s outgiving glow. The butterflies flaunt their wonderful wings, Whilst flowers outstretch their petals, as if they are Kings. My heart fills with joy as I see the morning’s treasure, While my eyes enjoy the view with a great amount of pleasure. The horses strut through the field’s wide vicinity, Whilst their neighbouring felines lay on the porch with femininity. The smile on my face doesn’t cease to disappear, As I then hear the rooster’s call, nice and clear. And I pray to the Lord to guide me safe throughout my ways, And bring me back home so I can wake up To the morning’s divinity, and to another new day!!

Let us become again children să ne jucăm îndrăgostiŃi / to play in love oferindu-ne trupul luminii! / offering our bodies to the light! Să fim cântăreŃi la nunta / Let us be singers at the crowning Cuvântului cu trupul. / of the Word with the body. Să ne naştem în fiecare zi / Let us be born again every day mai suflet / more soul mai zbor / more flight iubire lină / gentle love lumină! / light! (‘Îngerul a urlat’, The angel shouted). Sorina goes beyond Cioran’s legacy, and not just because she comes up with a new powerful mythology of human existential adventure. She is a Christian and she knows how everything can be healed, renewed, transfigured… A vigorous optimistic message emerges and the poet becomes the prophet of our times. A warrior, one could say, although Sorina plays here the song of our world’s redemption. Christmas... 
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Menaion, Translators Mother Mary and the earth offers a cave to Him Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Faber & whom no man can approach. Angels with shepherds give glory, Faber, 1977. heart. How is He contained in a womb, whom nothing can contain. and Magi journey with a star. For And how can He who is in the unto us is born a young Child, the bosom of the Father be held in the pre-eternal God. There are arms of His mother? witnesses: angels, persons and It is revealed clerly to us: This is nature relate to their Creator. according to His good pleasure, as Why did our Lord have to be born in the flesh? Why did He abase He knows and wishes, For being without flesh, of His own will has Himself, leaving heaven to come to earth? Matins is explicit and I He been made flesh; and He who encourage you to discover your is, for our sakes has become that own conversations whilst I return which He was not. Without departing from His own nature He to the Festal Menaion to re-engage in the had shared in our substance. forthcoming Desiring to fill the world on high with citizens, Christ has undergone auspicious morning a twofold birth. service of our There is tangible verification for Church. the seemingly fantastic event. *Words in italics Today the Virgin gives birth to based on The Festal Him who is above all being, and
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MEETING CHRIST
Revd Doru Costache
Wandering into the desert of the real, within the irrationally hectic world, contemporary people ignore how to meet Christ looking for ‘more efficient’ ways than the traditional. The evangelic Christmas texts, speaking of the first witnesses of Christ’s advent amongst us (the shepherds urged by the angels, the magi guided by the star), suggest two ways making the meeting possible. Although they do not meet the hasty criteria of contemporary people, the two ways proclaim the possibility of experiencing, and the compatibility one should acquire with, the mystery of Christ’s arrival. In short, it is either by means of contemplating the universe and life or by receiving the illumination from above (in fact the two are not opposite at all). The angels are symbols of the mystical contemplation, bringing the shepherds (Israelites) to Christ, the inner truth who was already there (cf. John 1:10-11), as unseen as ever... The shepherds were able to hear the angels and to acknowledge the newly-born as the Lord of history, understanding how God is faithful to his own promises. The star shining those days represents a symbol of the physical contemplation, bringing the magi (pagans) to Christ, the inner truth who was already there (cf. John 1:10-11). They were able to discern, behind the curtain of the celestial phenomenon, the sign of a crucial event, the arrival of the Creator and Lord of the universe. To the magi, the universe was not without a story and they comprehended it was the story of the Creator’s love for his creation. If the two ways end by meeting Christ, the inner truth who was already there, there is hope everywhere in the world to find Christ, the joy and the life who already was and is and will be there, as unseen as ever... The problem with contemporary people is: they do not indulge themselves the luxury of contemplating Christ’s presence everywhere in space and time…

to improve services, including community care models, for COMPASSION, NOT INCARCERATION, asylum seekers?” “We would welcome genuine IS A BETTER WAY FOR REFUGEES reassurances from the government psychological effects are insidious that it does not intend to clamp Plans for a new government down even harder on those who and ongoing; not only for those refugee holding facility on have already suffered severe harm. Christmas Island were leaked last who are imprisoned, but also for In recent times there has been a lot week, prompting comparisons with the society that imprisons them.” of talk of so-called ‘Christian the highest security prisons, and “Our society will be judged by values’ including by many in the way we treat those in need. even the US facility in Compassion and fairness are marks government. We would like to see Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. such values reaffirmed in the cause “If what we are hearing about the of a truly civilised society, new centre on Christmas Island is upholding values of human dignity of human rights and treating our neighbour as we would ourselves true this sounds more like a prison and individual worth. To hold than anything else,” said the Revd people fleeing persecution in such want to be treated,” Mr Henderson John Henderson, General Secretary intrusive, high-security conditions concluded. is inappropriate and unacceptable,” of the National Council of For more information: said Mr Henderson. Churches in Australia. “Why “These prison-like Christmas Mr Alistair Gee, Director, would we treat the innocent in this Christian World Service, NCCA Island plans, together with way? How can we add to their woes, not only locking them up but Temporary Protection Visas, which 0417 672 650 are designed to promote insecurity adding the moral censure of and a sense of impermanence, treating them like criminals? contradict the promised reform Sensible precautions for our spirit of greater individual care. security should not include What have become of the 2005 demonising people who need our help. This only adds to our sense of Palmer Inquiry and recent nationinsecurity and leads to hostility and wide Immigration Department community consultations on how aggression. The social and

NCCA’s Media Release 20 November 2006

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NCCA’s Media Releases 15 November 2006

CHURCH LEADERS PROMOTE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER IN TIME OF DROUGHT
Heads of Christian Churches meeting in Sydney last week acknowledged and supported the various calls from church groups and other Australians for prayer in this time of severe drought, including a National Day of Prayer on 26 November. The heads of Churches called for all Australians to pray for: desperately needed rain; those who are severely drought affected; and commitment to responsibly care for all our natural resources. “We invite all Australians to express their solidarity with those who are suffering by taking a few moments to pray or to join a local worship service where prayers will be offered,” said Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, Primate of the Anglican Church. Archbishop Philip Wilson, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said, “At a time when our political leaders and climate experts are giving close attention to the economic consequences of this drought, we should remember the many people on farms and in small businesses who are suffering often in a deeply personal way. Local Churches are already providing practical and personal support, and will continue to do their utmost. Our prayer shows that Australians stand together in the face of adversity.” “We need to seek God’s guidance as to how we can better manage Australia’s water resources at a time when climate change is upon us. This too will be part of the prayers on 26 November,” added the Revd Gregor Henderson, President of the Uniting Church in Australia. The Church leaders acknowledged the recent statement of Queensland Church leaders: “We are very conscious of the life and death needs that beset so many people around this world every day and we in no way intend that much needed prayer be deflected from these situations. At the same time we recognise that water is an urgent and immediate need affecting so many of us here and now in the most basic ways. So it is with the confidence that Jesus urged upon us that we simply go to God with this need.” Many resources for prayer are already available from local church groups, and links and resources will also be gathered and posted on the web pages of the National Council of Churches in Australia, at www.ncca.org.au

This statement is made on behalf of the following leaders of Australian Churches: The Most Revd Dr Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Church; His Eminence Archbishop Paul Saliba, Antiochian Orthodox Church; His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Armenian Apostolic Church; Pastor Brian Houston, Assemblies of God; His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, Assyrian Church of the East; The Revd Dr Ross Clifford, Baptist Union; Bishop James Chang Hua Ha, Chinese Methodist Church; Mr Richard Menteith, Churches of Christ; Dr Harry Melkonian, Congregational Federation; His Grace Bishop Daniel, Coptic Orthodox Church; His Grace Bishop Suriel, Coptic Orthodox Church; His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, Greek Orthodox Church; The Revd Mike Semmler, Lutheran Church; The Rt Revd Bob Thomas, Presbyterian Church; Lyndsay Farrell, Religious Society of Friends; The Most Revd Philip Wilson, Roman Catholic Church; His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist, Romanian Orthodox Church; Commissioner James Knaggs, The Salvation Army, Southern Territory; Commissioner Les Strong, The Salvation Army, Eastern Territory; Pastor Chester Stanley, Seventh Day Adventist Church; His Eminence Archbishop Mor Malatius Malki Malki, Syrian Orthodox Church; The Revd Gregor Henderson, Uniting Church; Mar Thoma Church

NSW Ecumenical Council – Media Release – Monday, 18 December 2006

Appointment of New General Secretary
After a specially convened meeting of the NSW Ecumenical Council on Thursday 14th December 2006, the President of the Council, Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, announced the appointment of the Reverend Dr Jonathan Inkpin to the position of General Secretary. Dr Inkpin is currently the part-time Assistant Priest in the Anglican Parish of Woy Woy and the parttime Education/Advocacy Officer for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission of
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the National Council of Churches in Australia. He first came to be employed by the NCCA in 2001 as the Programme Manager for the Decade to Overcome Violence. Ordained in the Diocese of London, Dr Inkpin has an MA in both Modern History and Theology from Oxford and a PhD from Durham. He has been engaged in theological teaching in Cuddesdon (UK) and Morpeth (NSW) and in parish ministry in London, Oxford, Durham and the NSW Central Coast.

Archbishop Baliozian, in making the announcement, said that the Council welcomed the appointment of Dr Inkpin and strongly commended his commitment to and involvement in the ecumenical movement, especially to churches’ work for reconciliation in Australia. Dr Inkpin will take up his new position on 1st March 2007 after the Reverend Dr Ray Williamson concludes his current term as General Secretary at the end of February.

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Letter from Gheorghe DRAGAN, PhD Physics www.gdfdatabanks.ro 18th December 2006
Let the next symbolic event of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus joins all Below you will find some of us in that fight without borders summary estimations regarding against our NO 1 PUBLIC ENEMY alarming aspects of climate change = our mentality for which the most occurred in the last century at global powerful and adequate weapon is the level with severe consequences in TRUTH. Australia. Let us think seriously at least to Climate change = change of the following phenomena as stop mentality news: Summary estimations x) Dear citizens, - warm weather particularly strange for this season in the northern hemisphere; - detachment of huge ice blocks from the South Pole icy calotte once with the beginning of Austral summer; - Australia: ample drought, fires, the highest rate of cancer. Although these changes and their direct connection with the human life style and health state are obvious for all planetary citizens, practical applications of immediate and radical measures is indefinitely postponed firstly due to the fact that citizens are not correctly informed. Politicians and the leaders of the biggest economical groups are mastering in the partnership the humanity’s destiny for personal and immediate benefit unconcerned with the planetary future. I consider that by mobilizing of all civil society in the continuous fight in making aware to all of them of all aspects of climate change on scientific and correct bases will lead to the right and immediate measures to improve the severe actual situation, both at global and local levels. In the case these measures are indefinitely postponed, the world geography will change dramatically in the next several years, for instance Australia will disappear under the ocean. 1. Carbon (C) combustion (CC) and methane emission (ME) are considered the main factors driven by human activities for earth climate change. 2. ME is estimated to be 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CD) and it has no chance to be removed from atmosphere. Not processed CD by photosynthesis and ME go up in stratosphere removing the ozone shield that protects biosphere of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. 3. The main CD sources are power plants and vehicle engines. 4. The increase of CD content in the atmosphere: 1900-1940 by 18%; 19402000 by 82%. 5. 1kgC consumes by combustion 2.7 kg oxygen (O) and produces 3.7 kgCD which means that a volume of 1.9*10^3 LSTP of O is replaced by CD (LSTP=litre of gas at standard temperature (0 0C) and pressure (1 atm=10^2 kPa)); 6. 1 kWh of electrical energy based on CC is produced by burning at least of 0.3 kgC (considering the overall efficiency of 30%). 7. In the year of 2001-2002 Australia produced 216,316 GWh = 2.2*10^11 kWh (over 92% based on CC), i.e. consumed 1.8*10^11 kgO and produced 2.4*10^11 kgCD (1.3*10^14 LSTP each). 8. 1l of petrol (fuel oil, P) consumes by burning 1.6 kgO and produces 2.2 kgCD (a volume of 1,120 LSTP of O replaced by CD). 9. In the last decade Australia consumed an average of 4*10^10 lP/ year which means a consumption of 6.4*10^10 kgO/year and emission of 8.8*10^10 kgO or 4.4*10^13 LSTP/ year of O replaced by CD. 10. In the year of 2001-2002 Australia produced 8.63*10^17 J (54*10^6 J/kg) from an amount of 1.6*10^10 kg natural gas which means a consumption of 3.2*10^10 kgO and emission of 4.4*10^10 kgCD i.e. 2.2*10^13 LSTP of oxygen was replaced by CD. Australian Bureau of Statistics reported an estimation of 3*10^11 kgCD generated by fuel combustion in 1997. 11.The annual CD emission in Australia is at least 2*10^14 LSTP (summation of contributions from 7, 9 and 10) neglecting other important CD sources as respiration, fermentation, fires, volcanoes, etc. 12.ME mainly result by digestive processes in all biosphere entities based on aerobic metabolism (85%) and by bacterial decay of organic matters (15%). 13. One mature cow produces 400 kgME/year (5.6*10^5 ME LSTP/ year) including the bacterial decay of its organic waste; animal agriculture produces more than 10^11 kgME/year (1.4*10^14 ME LSTP/year), from which 10% the contribution of Australia is a rough approximation, but must be rigorously controlled. 14. A rough estimation of Australian annual contribution to ozone destruction in Earth stratosphere is 2*10^14 LSTP O / year and generation of 2.2*10^14 STPL (CD,ME)/year. 15. Stratosphere (S), where the ozone shield is located, represents a spherical mantle with the inner diameter of 6400 km and outer diameter of 6425 km (25 and 50 km

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from Earth surface, respectively) with an approximate volume of VS=1.29*10^22 LS (liters of stratosphere) with an average temperature of –(19 ± 28) 0C and pressure of (2.8 ± 0.4) kPa, so that 1 LSTP = 33.2 LS. In these conditions the above estimation of Australian contribution to ozone destruction and greenhouse gas emissions becomes 6.6*10^15 LS and 7.3*10^15 LS, respectively. We should compare VS value with the accumulated volumes of green house gases and oxygen destruction, i.e. summation of all annual emissions and oxygen consumptions, but comparing periodically them with values of gas content in the overall atmosphere. Conclusion: immediate removal of CD and ME sources and increase of natural O sources based on photosynthesis.

and portable measuring instruments for environment testing, suitable to be handle by anyone: temperature, pressure, humidity, level of precipitations, gas composition of atmosphere (CD, ME, O, etc.) at different heights, level of nuclear, UV, radio (RF) radiations, other noxious factors; 2. Daily reports issued by at least 3 independent sources and frequent informative presentations in mass media concerning environment status at regional and national scale presenting the values and their significances of the main quantities above mentioned; 3. Rapid reducing up to complete removal of meat, fermentation products and animal agriculture by adopting severe laws imposing and controlling maximal values for oxygen consumption and emission of greenhouse gases and minimal values for oxygen generation all Practical procedures: these values reported to soil surface 1. Efficient promotions for reliable no matter the ownership;

4. Food based on natural (genetically non-modified) vegetables and fruits only, intensively and extensively grown in modular greenhouses with controlled units for gas consumptions/ emissions imposed to all real estate owners; 5. Adopting and imposing highly efficient biotechnologies for decay of all organic wastes by using highly controlled means without ME and/or oxygen consumption (bugs, worms, etc). x) Syntax used for expression of big numbers: 33,480,000,000,000 = 3.4*10^13

Romanian Orthodox Church “St. Dimitrie” of Brisbane
37 BRISBANE RD, RIVERVIEW, QLD 4303 Postal Address: PO Box 5015, WEST END, QLD 4101

Dear Friends Our church at Riverview has recently been assessed as having significant amounts of asbestos in its construction. This is only hazardous when maintenance activities need to be performed. Being an old church, there is a lot of maintenance required, including replacing the roof. As you can imagine, the costs involved when dealing with asbestos are quite high, so we investigated for other options. The church committee, members and Father Ion Constantinescu decided that the construction of a new church is warranted, and the church has started to raise funds for the construction. We are currently at the stage of submitting plans to the council and getting the
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approval for the development. Our community consists of approximately 50 families that are regular church goers. Obviously the capacity to raise funds for the new church is limited to the financial capabilities of our community. We are appealing to our fellow Christians to help us raise more funds for our future church. We envision that it will be the first Romanian church architecture in Queensland. Any donation will be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made by cheque, money order, or to the following account: BANK: National Australia Bank Branch: West End Branch 115 Boundary St, Queensland, Australia

Account Name: Romanian Orthodox Church “St Dimitrie” of Brisbane Incorporated BSB: 084-447 Account Number: 04-753-5352 Thank you for your indulgence. Yours truly, Michael Pantelimon Secretary
editor: Rev. Doru Costache, PhD layout design: Ion Nedelcu address: 64 Linthorn Ave, Croydon Park, NSW 2133. phone: (02) 9642 02 60 www.sfmariasydney.com