WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News/Sputnik – Sept 02, 2022) Clergy and parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church in New Zealand and Australia are helping more than 20 priests spread Orthodoxy in Madagascar, providing parishes with building blocks such as clothing, the dean of the Russian Orthodox Church said. Church parishes in New Zealand, Archpriest Vladimir Boikov told Sputnik.
“So far we have sent about 30-40 priest’s vestments, deacon’s vestments, acolytes’ vestments, all kinds of vestments for altar tables and icon stands,” Boikov said.
The mission in Madagascar is part of the Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate of Africa and consists of more than 20 priests and a deacon, Archpriest Vladimir explained. He learned from social media posts from other Russian priests serving in the exarchate that the mission needed clothes and decided to help. The first two shipments totaling 375 pounds have already been delivered to the island, while a third, and possibly a fourth, are planned for this fall.
With the permission of the local bishop in Australia, the aid mission to Madagascar was undertaken in memory of the late ROCOR’s first hierarch, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), and vestments were donated from all corners of the Australian and New Zealand diocese. The idea was to send clothes and other things, which are old but still in very good condition and are ready for immediate use.
“All of these things were handmade by our parishioners in the 1950s through the 1980s. I grew up in Australia and I could recognize some of the clothes from days gone by,” Boikov said.
“Our only concern was that most of the clergy in Madagascar are not very tall and these clothes might be too big for them.”
Boikov recommended that the local clergy modify them, but the local dean, Father Nicholas Ramaroson, has already shared the donated vestments with the clergy and everything is in good condition and used in divine services.
“They were happy to receive all these things,” Boikov noted. “The current political climate makes shipping from Russia difficult at this time, but politics should not affect our helping the poor. We are happy that God has given us the opportunity to use our unused but sanctified garments to help our Orthodox Christian brothers, who live in the poorest country in Africa. If I had known about the Orthodox Church in Madagascar before, we would have done so before,” he added.
The parishes of New Zealand and Australia were happy to help their brothers in Christ in Africa. People there, especially in New Zealand, live quite isolated from the rest of the Orthodox world, and they know how difficult it is to maintain Orthodoxy and parish life in such conditions, Boikov noted.
“We are sending aid from one small part of the world to another small part of the world. Our parishes are very happy to do this,” Boikov added. “I asked the Malagasy clergy to pray for all Russian priests and deacons in Australia and New Zealand, and in return they asked to do the same. Certainly, as brother priests, we will pray for each other for others,” Boikov said.