Metropolitan Mar Diascoros says formation of Far East Diocese can be a reality in about 10 years

Liju Cherian – 7/7/13
Indian Malankara Orthodox Church

#Metropolitan forms core panel for launch of ‘common church’ in Australia
#Consecration of first Orthodox church in New Zealand by Sept

CHENNAI, India ~ HG Dr Yuhanon Mar Diascoros, Indian Orthodox Metropolitan of Madras Diocese since March 2009, heads a vast territory geographically. The New Madras Diocese consists of Tamil Nadu, Andaman Nicobar islands, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

For better coordination and making it easily accessible, there is an idea to carve another new Diocese from among the existing geographical area and terming it as Far East. Though the proposed Diocese may not be a reality in the near future, Dr Mar Diascoros is however optimistic that this can materialize in about 10 years from now.

His Grace has already formed a core committee for beginning a ‘common church centre’ Down Under.

The committee constituted two years back in 2011 is doing serious work. Within 5 years, the panel is scheduled to form an annexe or develop it as an autonomous centre. The committee consists of vicars and and has a representative from each parish and congregation in Australia. At present, the congregations come together at a common place when the Metropolitan undertakes Episcopal visits. They have already met twice.

In an exclusive interview with Correspondent, Dr Mar Diascoros who has a set vision says that we need to become self sufficient before we can have a senior clergy (a Corepiscopa) to head the centre and also one who will be acceptable to all sections.

Dr Mar Diascoros is planning to undertake a visit to Australia and New Zealand during the last week of September. The visit of Supreme Head of Indian Orthodox Church HH the Catholicos during the same time is however yet to be finalised. The visit will also witness the consecration of the first Orthodox church in the name of St Dionysious at Auckland during the same time.

Slowly new churches have been planned since there is a stronger Orthodox presence in Hamilton, Wellington, Christ Church which are presently in a congregational set up.

The Metropolitan’s spiritual leadership by which he has led the Madras Diocese will help guide and lead the new Diocese. However, the general feeling obtained during his earlier visits was to establish a common Church centre at first and then slowly move forward to achieve a full-fledged Far East Diocese in the longer run. The committee has its task cut out over the year. But it will not be easy going for them since all the congregations present there are striving to have a stand of their own. “However, we will try to set up the new Diocese may be at least within 10 years. I hope it would be good to facilitate the process of declaring Far East as a diocese. The matter is however yet to be discussed in the meetings of the Holy Episcopal Synod,” points out Dr Mar Diascoros.

At present there are 12 Indian Orthodox churches in Australia which are located at Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney (2 churches) and in Melbourne. In all probability, Melbourne will be the HQ for the FE Diocese with an Aramana set up in the long run. Melbourne already has two churches of its own namely the St Mary’s Cathedral and the St Gregorios Orthodox chapel. The Melbourne church will be elevated to the status of a Cathedral during the Metropolitan’s visit. Cities like Brisbande, Perth, Adelaide have over 500 Orthodox families and there is also a good concentration in Canberra (capital), Townsville, Orange and Wollongong.

About the future for the faithful, Dr Mar Diascoros says: “We need to have proper teaching, theological training to teach children and impart seminary education to women. Also theology education classes must be strengthened, encourage non-parish ministry both for men and women and to bring them into Orthodox faith”.