Click on the image to download a PDF version of The Russian Orthodox Presence in Australia: The History of a Church by Dr Michael Protopopov
Click on the image to download the PDF version of The History of Saint Archangel Michael Blacktown NSW from 1959 to 2012. (Principally sourced from the 50th Anniversary Newspaper Supplement with Amendments to April 2012)
From the Parish archives of documents and photo albums maintained by the late Natalie Baitch (1923 – 2016) who was the long-serving head of the Sisterhood of the Parish until 2009. Natalie Baitch was also the photographer of the progress of the building of the Church.
August 1952 Blacktown Mission Organised
In August 1952 at the request of Russian immigrants in the Blacktown region – S.P. Tatarinov, P.V. Miller, G.A Pedashenko – a Blacktown Mission was organised, with the blessing of the Bishop Theodore of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand.
In 1954 the Orthodox community in St Mary’s merged with a Blacktown Mission and became known as the “Missionary Point of the Transfiguration of the Lord.”
The first liturgy of the newly formed Mission was performed by Father Theodore Mihalyuk, and then followed services by Father Alexei Filato. After his death on 3 June 1955 the liturgy was conducted by priests from other Sydney churches. Worship continued wherever possible in non-Orthodox churches, private homes in the town hall and ex-servicemen’s clubs.
Since Blacktown already had a Ukrainian Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Diocesan Office agreed to a petition of the parishioners in the community to rename the Church St Archangel Michael.
1956 was a momentous year in the life of the Orthodox community, when in April the building committee chaired by V.B. Matveev, and later N.A.Petrovsky was formed. Elected trustees were S.P. Tatarinov, G.A. Pedashenko, V.A. Cd. They produced the Charter for the Committee and opened a bank account.
Thus the building committee took on an official status. It started with active fundraising for the purchase of land and building for the Church. All possible means were used to achieve the goal.
Membership dues were set and plate collections during worship contributed to the funds. Dances were conducted and lotteries were run. All of these funds accumulated towards the purchase of land. The ladies’ committee headed by M.N. Tatarinova played an important role in organising the fund-raising.
27 March 1958 Purchase of Land in Kempsey Street Blacktown
On 27 March 1958, there was another milestone in the history of the Church. The elected trustees (trust) of the Building Committee bought land on Kempsey Street. A dream became a reality. The purchase price was £360.
In 1958 the average male weekly earnings were $37.10 (£18 11s) and the minimum wage was $31.80 (£15 18s). (Reserve Bank of Australia – Australian Economic Statistics 1949-1997).
As of 1 July 2022, the minimum wage was $812.60 per week (Fairwork Ombudsman).and as of November 2022 average weekly earnings were $1,807.70 (Australian Bureau of Statistics). The purchase price of £360 was equivalent to approximately 19.5 weeks of the average weekly male earnings in 1958. This would be $35,250 in 2022. This was an inspired purchase with a very good purchase price. Especially considering that the unimproved capital value of similar land was in excess of $823,000 in Blacktown in July 2022. (NSW Valuer General 1 July 2022).
15 June 1958 Plans for Church Approved by Diocese
On the 15th of June 1958, the Diocesan Office approved the draft plans of the church drawn by draughtsman/artist V.P. Zagorodniuk and this was accepted by the Building Committee.
16 August 1958 Preparatory Works of the Land were Begun
On 16 August 1958, preparatory works were started and backfilling and levelling of the land was begun with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Savva, Archbishop for the Diocese of Sydney, Australia & New Zealand
Building the Church 22 Nov 1958 to 11 Jan 1959
The Foundations of the Church are laid. See the photographs below.
Building the Church 24 January 1959 to 21 February 1959 Framework Goes up
The framework is assembled. 31 January 1959 – Archbishop Savva Visits the Site. See the photographs below.
Building The Church 14 March 1959 to 11 April 1959 – Roof Erected
The framework for the roof is erected. See the photographs below.
12 April 1959 Father Ilya Pijov Appointed as Parish Priest – Rector
9 May 1959 Installing the Dome and Cross on the Cupola (Steeple)
The cross and dome were made by G.N. Ostroukhov. See the photographs below.
Building The Church 18 April 1959 to 20 June 1959
The exterior walls and roof are completed. See the photographs below.
31 May 1959 First Service of Worship Held in Yet Unfinished Church
A tireless servant of the Lord, Father Ilya Pijov, constructed a temporary throne and iconostasis. He decorated the yet unfinished walls of the Church with icons and with the permission of Archbishop Savva at the end of May 1959 conducted the first service of worship in the still unfinished church.
Building The Church 4 July 1959 to 5 Sept 1959
The interior fittings and linings were installed. The floor is put in and electricity and water are connected. The walls were completely finished, with the active involvement of members of the Sisterhood N.Y. Tavrel, N.N. Baitch, S.V. Petrowsky, and N.K. Matveeva. At the same time, the roof covering the church was completed. See the photographs below.
Building The Church 1 August 1959 to 19 September 1959
The windows and doors are installed. The building reaches a lock-up stage. Father Ilya Pijov visits the site in the capacity of Parish Priest. He had been actively involved in the project as a fellow site worker. See the photographs below.
19 November 1959 Blacktown Advocate “Volunteer Labour Built Unusual Church”
How times have changed? These days our Church would not raise an eyebrow compared with the range of other types of places of worship. The article can be read below and can also be viewed and downloaded as a Pdf file HERE