History of Donnybrook

 

Donnybrook is located 34 km north from Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, and is just 2 km east of the Hume Highway. The area is best known for the natural mineral springs where the Macedonian Orthodox monastery “St Prohor Pcinski” is located now. Donnybrook Mineral Springs is the nearest first-known sparkling water to Melbourne.

This area, named Kalkallo, is located on the Hume Highway and was known as Rocky Water Holes. This place was the first location for an overnight stay for those travelling overland to Sydney.

In the past, there were two places called Donnybrook. Before either name was given, the place Donnybrook on the Hume Highway was known as Rocky Water Holes. The name was changed from Rocky Water Holes to Donnybrook in 1853, probably after the Donnybrook Parish in Dublin. The present one is the second name, created in 1872 when the railway line was opened. It took its named from the first Donnybrook, which was on the Hume Highway. Both places are situated in the Parish of Kalkalo, which was the name of an estate of W.J.T. (“Big”) Clarke, the name thought to be Aboriginal word for the types of trees in Australia, bug trees or tomahawk.

The first record of settlers in this area dates back to 1840, especially when the first inn (hotel) Fountain Inn was built in 1842. This inn became the first of seventeen such establishments in Donnybrook, one having stabling for 150 horses. The popularity of this northern directed road increased particularly after gold was discovered in Beechworth.

In 1948 the Presbyterian Church “st. John ” was built, which still exists today and is on the Register of the National Estate. The church used to be a school, which was the site of the district’s second school in 1855.

Donnybrook reaches its popularity in a short period of time due to its location near the main road to Sydney. This contributed to the construction of a number of churches in Donnybrook along with several grocery stores, inns (hotels), slaughterhouses, a flourmill and a tannery.

The railway station in Donnybrook is located on the North East railway line and has a railway crossing on Donnybrook Road. The station was officially opened on October 14, 1872, with a single platform on the west side. This station was opened a few months earlier as part of the North-Eastern Railway to Wodonga. When the railway line opened, Donnybrook received its name and two years later the original Donnybrook was named Kalkallo. Its trade and activity dramatically declined as traffic transferred to the railway.

In 1876, a bluestone bridge was built of the Merri Creek between Kalkallo and Donnybrook that exists today.

In 1882 a second platform was opened but duplication in both directions was not completed for a few more years.

In 1888 the first store was opened (shed) for groceries.

In 1900 the current railway station was built and no changes have been made since.

 

During World War II, this area was used for dairying. Little remains today other than the Kalkalo hotel, the disused Presbyterian Church and the bridge, both built of blue stone and protected with the Register of National Estate.

In late 60s, German immigrant August Sattler had used the mineral water to produce soft drinks. He turned the rural area in a ​​12.5 hectares recreational area around the spring. He built barbecues, undercover huts, lots of playground equipment, a kiosk and toilets, and on the weekends horse and cart rides. Many of these undercover huts and children’s parks remain today, which attracted the local crowd.

In 2002 the area was purchased by the Macedonian Orthodox Church Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and its been known as the Macedonian Orthodox Monastery ” St. Prohor Pcinski ” since, which is the first monastic living Macedonian Orthodox Monastery in Australia and in the Macedonian diaspora.

In the 1840s, the population in this area was about 400. In 1911 the census population for Kalkallo and Donnybrook was 136 residents and 224 in 1954.  As Donnybrook area is now a part of the Melbourne city more than 40,000 homes will be built and the number of residents is expected to be the highest so far.

 

History of the Orthodox Monastery St. Prohor Pcinski in Donnybrook

Location

 

The monastery of St. Prohor Pcinski, is situated on ​​12.5 acres. It is located between Merri Creek and the railway line Sydney-Melbourne, in the area called Donnybrook. This place is still known as “Donnybrook Mineral Springs”, because here is the oldest known source of mineral water in Victoria. About hundred years ago this was a popular picnic area. Because of its nature, many cultural – entertaining activities were celebrated here. Many people from Melbourne and the surrounding area, including many Macedonians came here with their families for outings.

 

In 2002 His Eminence Metropolitan of Prespa and Pelagonia and Australian and New Zealand administrator Petar purchased this land under the administration of the Parish Church of St. Petka, in Mill Park.

Having established the necessary legal documents, this estate officially became the property of MOCDANZ.  Donnybrook Mineral Springs on 130 Springs Rd, Donnybrook, 3064, became known as Macedonian Orthodox Spiritual Centre – Monastery “St. Prohor Pcinski” in Donnybrook, and the former picnic area “Donnybrook Mineral Springs” turns into a spiritual center that becomes the focal point for all members of Orthodoxy, to gather and celebrate spiritual holidays in the nature created by God, next to the beautiful river and natural springs.

 

From a picnic area to a Monastery

When the picnic place became the property of MOCDANZ, it was in a bad condition. Meanwhile, daily work has been done to restore the place and adjust it to the monastery needs. New mounds of soil have been brought for horticulture. One of the buildings has been turned into a worship chapel (paraklis), dedicated to St. Prohor Pcinski.

 

On August 31, 2002, His Eminence Peter sanctifies the building and held the first Divine Liturgy. Almost every priest of MOCDANZ and many faithful people of the surrounding area of Melbourne took part in this Liturgy.  Prelate Very Reverend Tone Gulev was appointed as an elder of the monastery and Siljanoski Tode was nominated to protect and maintain the site.

 

First services

Archbishop, His Eminence Peter made the first schedule of services where every Saturday and on major holidays, priests from Melbourne would serve Liturgy in the monastery chapel (paraklis).

At one time, Reverend Stavrofor Alexander Spirkovski regularly served Liturgy up until His Eminence of Macedonia invited the first Abbot of the monastery, Father Gabriel (Galev).

 

The First Abbot of the Monastery St. Prohor Pcinski

In October 2005, His Eminence invited Abbot Gabriel from the Diocese of Strumica and appointed him to be Abbot of the monastery.

With his arrival on January 26, 2006, the Monastery of St. Prohor Pcinski becomes first living monastery MOC – OA in the Diaspora. From that moment, the service schedule was changed and Liturgy was served every day. At the beginning, small number of believers attended the Sunday Liturgy.  Later, that number of the faithful reached one hundred.  Most of them are young people. They all regularly confess, fast and receive the Holy Communion. After his arrival, Father Gabriel became a favourite not only in the Macedonian community but also in the wider communities. Many Macedonians want to talk to Father Gabriel, to confess and some even want to donate for a good cause. The monastery became the spiritual centre for many Macedonians in Australia.

Thanks to its modern approach and cooperation with many organizations, the monastery St. Prohor Pcinski turned into a cultural nest, where people of all ages work together and try to make a better place for everyone: both for the young and old and for the future generations too. Slowly but surely the monastery’s financial condition is improving. Numerous donation dinners were held at the monastery, raising money for its construction, and to help people that need financial support for urgent medical help in both Australia and internationally.  Donation dinners are held also to help victims of natural disasters: floods, fires, etc.

By God’s will, today, Abbot Gabriel has three novices by his side that strive to follow God’s path. The work of Abbot Gabriel is of big importance for the monastery and the Macedonian community.

 

Building the Monastery Church in old Byzantine style

Upon Father Gabriel’s arrival, the monastery financially recovered and began to grow and progress. After receiving the necessary documents for construction, the architectural plan was approved. The plan was drawn up by ​​the famous architect Victoria Pop Stefania from Ohrid, Macedonia. This plan was drawn up according to our old monasteries in the Macedonian Byzantine cloisonné style.

In March 2006, the construction began. On the 9th September, 2006 after consultations with His Eminence Archbishop Peter a decision was made to sanctify the stone fondation of the new monastery church. His High Eminency, Abbot Gabriel, Professor Dr. Reverend Stavrofor Jovan Takovski and almost every priest of MOCDANZ sanctified the new church of St. Prohor Pcinski. Representatives of the state government and many faithful attended this ceremony.

The frame of the monastery church has been built and soon the roof will be installed. In Macedonia a marble iconostas is being prepared.  Two professional painters from Macedonia have been invited to frasco paint the monastery church.

The previous service building has been renovated in a modest but beautiful chapel with new iconostasis and icons. Besides the church a bell tower and a small shop were built.

Kids farm

A small animal farm was built at the Monastery for children to play. Currently there are ponies, alpakers, dogs, cats, chickens, geese, parrots, pigeons, peacocks etc. Planting of new trees and flowers is performed daily. The monastery also has a green park and a park with swings for children.

Spiritual centre

Even though the monastery is not complete yet, it has been transformed into a cultural centre not only for the Macedonian people in Australia but for the locals too. The monastery is a place to find piece both for the monks and the believers. The piece found here is one of the main characterisitics that impress the visitors.

 

Current Activities

The main activity at the monastery is the completion of the church and the monastic quarters.  Once the monastery is completed the next step is to fresco paint the monastery church in the old Macedonian Byzantium style.

 

The Liturgy in the Monastery

Liturgy is the centerpiece of the entire spiritual life. The youth in Australia, especially the children, have minimum knowledge of the Macedonian language, therefore some parts of the Liturgy Abbot Gabriel reads in English language.  English is the second official language in this Diocese. The Gospel is read in Macedonian and English, also part of the songs and prayers. The preaching is done in Macedonian language.

Confession

With several visits to the monastery, attending sermons and contact with Father Gabriel, the believers began to fast, have regular confession and receive the Holy Communion.

Byzantine singing

In 2006 Father Tone Gulev handed in the youth group ‘MOYA’ and the church choir of St Petka in Mill Park to Father Gabriel, to help him in the initial stages of him being the Abbot of the monastery. With hard work and a lot of effort, Father Gabriel taught the youth group to sing old Macedonian songs. In time, the faithful learnt the songs of the Liturgy to take part in the singing during Liturgy.

 

Synaxis

In 2006 the monastery introduced religious studies. Every Thursday from 8:00 pm, the Akathist to the Theotokos is read and afterwards, all the guests gather in the guest room for synaxis. Synaxis consists of two parts. The first part is the religion, with matrimony lecture on a religious topic, followed by a discussion with all of the guests. The second part to the synaxis is the organisation and arrangements for upcoming activities.

 

Byzantine – Icon Painting Studio / School St. Theophilus of Strumica

2009: The Byzantine tradition of icon painting in the monasteries was also given to us by Father Gabriel. With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Peter, in the monastery of St. Prohor Pcinski under the instructions of abbot Gabriel the Icon painting School, St. Theophilus of Strumica was established.

The school and later the studio got their name after St. Theophilus of Strumica, who was confessor for icons in his native Macedonia. Since then the students from this studio are introduced to the world of theory and practice of ancient Christian art from the Byzantine period under the Macedonian iconographic schools.

The study of this discipline is based not only on technical skill but also on the connection between the hand, mind and heart, all merged into one. When these are joined together they run the personality of the artist over the technical skill that is required in most artistic fields. This study crossers everything that is within the frame of the standard and initiates the birth of a new person in the artist and the beginning of principles that may have been long forgotten.

The students go beyond the world of brush and colors into the world of spirituality, studying the discipline and the symbolism of this sacred art to create their work in this studio.

Only natural materials are used when creating Holy Icons: wooden boards covered with linen and natural gesso, 24 carat gold leaf is applied on a bole, egg tempera technique, earth pigments etc…

In this studio, the students follow the method of the Ohrid Orthodox School of iconography, which is very distinctive and unique. 
To reach that level of craftsmanship, it requires great concentration, studying the hagiography of the saints while saying the Jesus Prayer. Even though the aim of the school is to achieve the high artistic skill of the old masters, the work of the students reflect their level of concentration and personal discipline, particularly their spiritual growth. In this studio, we believe that the artist (iconographer) does not change the icon, but the icon changes the artist.

 

MOYA ( Macedonian Orthodox Youth of Australia )

MOYA, or the Macedonian Orthodox Youth of Australia, was established by the youth group at the church of St. Petka in Mill Park, Melbourne. Today the group continues with its activities in the monastery under the spiritual leadership of Father Gabriel. Every Thursday a synaxis is held at the monastery and other activities are organized. The following activities by MOYA are the most successful ones:

The annual seminar regularly held at the monastery for six years in a row.

Activities held on the religious and national day Ilinden.

Organizing presentations of the Macedonian culture as a part of the Heretige program of the City of Whitlessea.

Organizing trips to the mountains in winter (skiing, sledding…)

Cinema and theater evenings

Activities for financial assistance to the monastery.

Visits to museums and galleries (exhibitions) etc..

Working with aged people and people with special needs

The monastery has been cooperating with the Macedonian Community Welfare Association (MCWA) since 2008 with a state project. There are also other organizations that cooperate with the monastery.

 

Web Pages

For successful missionary work, father Gabriel had two websites built, which he edits himself. One is www.mpceanz.org.au which is the official website for MPCEANZ, and represents the Diocese. This site contains religious education, current activities and the activities of the component Bishop, as well as current news about our Diocese. Another website is www.stprohor.org.au dedicated to activities at the monastery of St. Prohor Pcinski. Both sites are regularly visited and read.

Library

The monastery of St Prohor Pcinski also has a new library containing spiritual literature in Macedonian, English, Serbian, Russian and Bulgarian languages, which are available for anyone to borrow.

 Place for prayer

The new Cross was built next to the natural spring in the monastery. His Eminence Archbishop sanctified the Cross.

 

Monastery Celebration Days

The nameday of the monastery is held on January the 28th. The other memorial day of St.Prohor is celebrated on November 1. As the monastery has a natural spring, a regular prayer service of Bright Friday has been held there for the last sixth years. Dinner is organized after the service.

 

 

Volunteers

Many believers do everything they can to help the monastery. Many men are working voluntarily on the construction and maintenance of the monastery. Women organize dinners for donors to provide financial assistance for the construction and maintenance of the monastery. Women also help in the kitchen and maintenance of the premises. The youth help with maintenance of the yard, gardens and the small church.  Everyone involved in helping the monastery feels like home, but above everything they do, they come to the monastery for their spiritual growth that can only be found here.

Financially support and donations

The building of the monastery is supported mainly by voluntary donations.  Three large monastery picnic events are held annually to collect donations for the maintenance and construction of the monastery. In the hall of the monastery, fundraiser evenings are organized by Humanitarian organizations.

Thanks to the donations, other small facilities have been restored in the monastery.

Many trees and flowers were planted and the animal farm got bigger.  Now the monastery looks like a mini zoo where people can come along with their children to play.

Monastery objectives

Because we live in a rapidly dynamic world and a very contaminated spiritual life we are faced with everyday stressful situations. The monastery offers a place where anyone can escape of the daily routines and tension. There is no other place where you can open yourself before God and feel the peace and the prayers.

The monastery is good especially for young parents to bring their children to see another way of life, very close to the life in Macedonia (many churches, monasteries, beautiful nature, animals and the presence of God), completely oposite to the life we are used to today, a closed and technology captured life.

The monastery is a place where parents can teach their children about traditions of their ancestors of the Holy Orthodox Church to help them to become healthy and generally good adults.

The main purpose of the monastery is to bring people together, give comfort, support and to help people better themselves.  God blessed us to praise the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit now and always into the all ages. Amen!

With God’s help, the monastery needs to continue with the current activities to meet the following objectives:

Completion of the construction of the monastery, including dormitories and administrative buildings,

Regular worship services

Spiritual counseling and helping people in need

Kids farm

Accommodation to those who need spiritual advice.

 

Any good deed done in the monastery is done with God’s help and with blessing and prayers of His Eminence Mitropolitan Archbishop Peter.