At the congregation’s request, Rev Fr. Dr. Joseph Zachariah from Chennai came to conduct the Holy Week service in April 2003 with the consent of the Diocesan Metropolitan. The services were held at the St Chad’s Anglican Church, Sandringham.
On 9th April 2003, Mar Irenaios sent a kalpana (encyclical) declaring the congregation as a parish and a Parish Managing Committee was appointed. Thus the St Dionysius Indian Orthodox Church (SDIOC), came into being and is the first parish in Chennai Diocese to be named after St.Dionysius, the illumina-tor of the church. On 7th May 2003, the SDIOC was incorporated in New Zealand.
H.G. Dr Abraham Mar Severios, who was then Bishop for Ankamally Diocese, en route to the US, visited New Zealand from 15/5/2003 to 30/5/2003. H.G cele-brated Holy Eucharist twice in Auckland. During this visit, the city of Hamilton had our first Holy Eucharist celebration on May 25, 2003 at the St.Luke’s Church, Melville, Hamilton. H.G. also visited community members in Wellington and addressed an ecumenical prayer meeting.
Our mentor and Diocesan Metropolitan His Grace Dr. Yakob Mar Irenaios came on his first visit from 9/8/2003 to 15/8/2003. His Grace conducted Holy Eu-charist on Sunday and on the Feast of Dormition of the Holy Theotokos. Four boys were ordained to serve at the altar. The Metropolitan initiated the formation of the spiritual organisations such as Sunday School, Prayer Group, Youth Movement and Martha Mariam Samajam. John Varghese was appointed as Sunday school Headmaster. Mar Irenaios also launched a website for the parish; which was developed by Mr Cherry Cherian. His Grace visited every household of the parishioners and exhorted to search for eligible members to enrol in the parish.
In the absence of a resident Vicar, the Vicars of our Churches in Melbourne & Sydney were instructed to conduct occasional services in Auckland. Accordingly, Vicar of our Sydney St.Thomas Cathedral, Rev Fr Thomas Varghese also celebrated Holy Qurbana in Auckland on August 23, 2003.
Later Rev Fr T.G. John took charge as the first resident vicar from 26th Sept 2003 in Auckland. Fr John con-ducted regular church services and revamped the spiritual organisations. P.J. John was appointed as Prayer Group secretary, Ashok Varghese as Youth Co-ordinator and Annie Shiju Mathew as Martha Mariam Samajam Secretary. Fr. John conducted the first Holy Eucharist in Wellington on November 22, 2003.
During the second visit of the diocesan Metropolitan in October 2003, His Grace expressed the desire for a permanent place of worship. Our membership was growing and temporary set up for every service was a hard task. The Parish general body reviewed the parish accounts during the visit. The Metropolitan also visited our parishioners in Wellington & Palmerston North.
Rev. Fr. T.G. John was on visit visa and left in early Feb-ruary 2004. Rev. Fr. Varghese Vaalayil, assistant Vicar of our St.Mary’s Cathedral in KL, Malaysia, conducted the first parish Feast of St Dionysius later in the month at St.Chad’s, Sandringham. In April 2004, Very Rev Philip Thomas Cor Episcopa, Vicar of our St.Mary’s Cathedral in KL, came to lead our Holy week services; these were held at the St Mary’s church, Parnell.
Mar Irenaios came on a third visit in April 2004; this visit was used for building up relationship between members within and for developing contacts with other church leaders.
Rev. Fr. Varghese Philip Idichandy arrived and took charge as vicar on 22nd May 2004. From then on we had regular church services on Sundays and the regular functioning of the spiritual organisations. During his term which lasted three years, several families were added to the church. But venues were difficult to get for regular worship. The parish became more aware for a permanent place of worship. Rev. Fr. Idichandy’s tenure also kick-started the public fund raising events begin-ning with a Food festival, which eventually turned out to be annual event for fundraising in the years ahead.
One day during that difficult period for us, Mother Wendy who was in charge of the St.Alban’s church, had a vision of St.Dionysius. It was Mother Wendy who permitted us to have our first Holy Eucharist at the St.Alban’s Church. She used to attend our services sometimes. In her vision, St.Dionysius told her that his people didn’t have a place to worship and re-quested her to accommodate them in her church. He also said that the present membership in her Church would grow. St.Alban’s had only a dozen or less mem-bers for years. A few days later, she saw the emergence of new members at her church and suddenly recollect-ed the vision she had few days ago. She then sum-moned our parish P.R.O and narrated the vision. She suggested replacing an existing shrine they had inside the St.Alban’s Church and agreed to call it the Shrine of St.Dionysius. The vision she had and the outcome was informed to our parishioners and they were overjoyed to have a shrine de