50 stories - Alexander Popov25 July 2022 Events and Discussions
Parish Priest at the Bulgarian church St. St. Cyril and Methodius
“The church is to enlighten people spiritually, to encourage them to become active in the Orthodox Christian faith, into which they were baptised.”
Me and my family were sent to Australia in 1973 by The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. My mission was to serve as parish priest at the Bulgarian church St. St. Cyril and Methodius in Melbourne. When The Holy Synod was electing me, they also took into consideration the fact that my wife, Dr. Maria Popova, was a Bulgarian language specialist. Her task was to teach Bulgarian to children and adults of Bulgarian background,which she did for many years. Our countrymen and women, who supported the church back then, consisted of three groups: religious Orthodox Christians born in Northern Greece (Aegean Macedonia); Bulgarians, who had been students in Germany before and during WW2; Bulgarians who had fled the communist regime. The church united everyone and was really a center for our ethnic group.
Today’s Bulgarian community in Melbourne consists of Bulgarians who came after the fall of the communist regime. They are people accepted in Australia as skilled professionals. On Sundays, Holy Liturgy services were, and still are held, as well as community evening gatherings and picnics. Besides its purpose to maintain faith and language, the church has helped our community to integrate into the Australian way of life and to introduce the Australian public to our culture through exhibitions and musical performances of visiting groups. My middle daughter Bagryana Popova has created and managed a multicultural women’s choir “Petrunka” performing Bulgarian folk songs
The story is from the book “Bulgarians in Melbourne” (2017) from Radost Racheva, who is also author of the photographs, provided pro bono for the project.