Hellenic Orthodox Parish and Community of Blacktown and Districts
Icon of St Paraskevi

Services

First Day Blessing

The Prayers on the Birth of a Child Service is read at the hospital or at the home on the same day as the child's birth. This moving service consists of prayers for the recovery, protection and well-being of the mother and the new-born baby.

If you would like this Blessing Service, you may call the church during office hours, or call Father Sotirios on his mobile.

Eight Day Blessing

The Prayer on the Eighth Day is the service in which the baby receives its name, just as our Lord received His name Jesus on the eighth day (Luke 2:21). The Prayer on the Eighth Day is read in the narthex of the Church, where the baby is brought by either the father or the grandmother, since the mother may not enter the church for forty days. During this service, a special prayer is offered for the naming of the child.

You may make arrangements through the Church office or with Father Sotirios for the Eighth Day Blessing Service as soon as possible after the birth.

Forty Day Blessing

In accordance with the Old Testament tradition, which was observed by the Virgin Mary (Luke 2:22-24), forty days after birth (or the closest following Sunday) the mother brings her child to the Church for the very first time.

In the past, it was believed that the mother and baby were not allowed to go outside the house before the forty days and that if they did it would bring bad luck, but this is only superstition.

The Forty Day Blessing Service, also known as the Churching of Mother and Child consists of prayers for the physical and spiritual strengthening of both the mother and the child.

The mother and the child will be met by the priest in the narthex of the Church (entrance) where the prayers are offered. The child is then carried by the priest into the nave and up to the altar (into the altar if it is a boy) followed by the mother. The mother proceeds to the Iconostasis to venerate the Icon of the Virgin Mary, where she will be presented her child.

You may make arrangements through the Church office or with Father Sotirios for the Forty Day Blessing Service.

Blessing after Miscarriage

In the event of this misfortune, the woman should come to the church forty days after the miscarriage has taken place so that Father may read a prayer for her recovery, protection and well-being along with the prescribed Forty Day Blessing.

You may make arrangements through the Church office or with Father Sotirios for this prayer and blessing service.

Blessing for Adoption

In the case of child adoption, there is a special Adoption Blessing Service, in which a prayer is read asking God to bless the union of the parents and the child.

You may make arrangements through the Church office or with Father Sotirios for this prayer and blessing service.

Blessing of the Home

The Sanctification Service (Αγιασμός) provides healing of body and soul with Holy Water which has been blessed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The water carries God's grace

Blessing of the Five Loaves (Artoclasia)

On feast days of patron saints, or other occasions, families and organisations may arrange a Blessing of the Five Loaves Service (Artoclasia) for the health and prosperity of their members. This Service is a commemoration of the miracle in which Christ multiplied the five loaves fed the multitudes (Matthew 14:19-20).

The five loaves, wine and oil, along with the list of living persons' names should be brought to the church prior to the start of the Vespers or Matins Service.

You may make arrangements for a Blessing of the Five Loaves Service by contacting the church during office hours.

Hospital and Home Visits

Prayers before, during or after hospitalization, or a visit to one who is either temporarily or permanently homebound, can be arranged by contacting the church during office hours or Father Sotirios on his mobile.

Funerals

The Church stands ready to assist at a time of loss by offering funeral services for the deceased and counselling for the family to aid with the grieving process.

When a loved one passes at home, immediately contact the appropriate emergency services. When a loved one passes in a hospital, or some other medical facility, the attending staff of that facility will handle the necessary medical services.

In either case, Father should be notified as soon as possible, both for offering prayers and to co-ordinate the funeral service and other details with the family.

The Funeral Service emphasises the reality of death and the next dimension of life. During this service, we pray for the forgiveness of sins and for the repose of our loved one's soul.

Once the Service is completed the interment (burial) takes place at the cemetery.

If a luncheon in the Parish and Community Hall (held in blessed memory of the departed) is desired by the family following the burial (and it usually is), the family may make the necessary arrangements by contacting the church office or Father Sotirios for guidance and assistance.

Note: The Church does not allow cremation since it is a deliberate attack on the integrity of the body, which is created in the image and likeness of God. Furthermore, Christ, on whose life, death and resurrection, the entire Orthodox system of belief and practice is based, was buried. There are, however, exceptions to the rule. In extreme instances where cremation cannot be avoided, the Funeral Service will be provided upon special permission from the Archdiocese, but a sermon will not be given and neither will Father accompany the deceased to the Crematorium.

Memorial Services

Memorial Services are held as an act of love and remembrance towards the departed members of the Church who have passed on into eternity.

Memorial Services are held on:

  • The third day from the loved one's passing (Service at the viewing on the night before the funeral). This Service is done in remembrance of Christ's third day Resurrection,
  • The ninth day (Thrice-Holy Service at the cemetery). This service is attributed to the nine heavenly orders of holy angels.
  • The fortieth day (Memorial Services at the cemetery and at the church). This service is observed in commemoration of the Ascension of Christ, which took place forty days after His third day Resurrection,
  • The third, sixth and ninth month (Services at the cemetery and at the church). These services symbolise the Holy Trinity, and are held unto the glory of the Trinitarian God on behalf of our deceased loved one.

In addition to these, annual Memorial Services are held at the church and cemetery, on the anniversary of a passing, in remembrance of our deceased loved one.

Memorial Services are not held on the following days:

  • From the Saturday of Lazarus until the Sunday of St. Thomas.
  • The feast days of our Lord:
    • The Circumcision of our Lord (1 January),
    • The Epiphany (6 January),
    • The Presentation (2 February),
    • The Annunciation (25 March),
    • The Ascension (40 days after Pascha),
    • Pentecost (50 days after Pascha),
    • The Transfiguration (6 August),
    • Christmas Day,
    • The Feast of the Parish Church, and
    • The Dormition of the Virgin Mary (15 August).

When possible, the family is encouraged to bring a Prosforo, ecclesiastical wine and oil (as is tradition) for Memorial Services.

You may make arrangements through the Church office or with Father Sotirios for a Memorial Service.

Saturday of Souls

In addition to the Memorial Services which are provided on the anniversary of a loved one's passing, the Orthodox Church has set aside four Saturdays throughout the year for all departed Orthodox Christians. These, known as Saturday of Souls, are held on the two Saturdays before Great Lent begins, the first Saturday of Great Lent, and the Saturday before Pentecost.

The family is encouraged to bring a Prosforo, ecclesiastical wine and oil (as is tradition) and a list of the departed persons.

You may make arrangements through the Church office or with Father Sotirios.