The Sunday of the Veneration of the Life-Giving Cross

Dear brothers and sisters,

After a wonderful pilgrimage to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony, yesterday, Mid-Lent was celebrated in the parish today with the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Life-Giving Cross, just days after we gathered before the Cross to chant the akathist to the Lord’s Passion, as we will again after Thursday confessions.

As expected, Mothering Sunday dented service attendance, though one of our trustees confirmed that there were still around forty souls gathered for Liturgy. We venerated the Cross at the end of the service, and express our profound thanks to matushka Alla for the floral frame in which it was placed. Spasi Gospodi!

Thanks also go to our choir, reduced to three voices today by commitments and illness, and to our oltarniky. Young Stefan served his tenth Liturgy this morning, and given his confidence and knowledge, it is hard to believe that he has only served for two and a half months.

We rejoice that when we next celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we will have three newly-enlightened members of the parish and partakers of the Holy Mysteries, after the baptism of Dan, Mo, and Germaine on Saturday afternoon – and look forward to welcoming them to the chalice of the Holy Mysteries by their baptismal names of Patrick, Brigid and Mary. Please pray for them as they approach the mystery of Holy Baptism and Chrismation, and as they prepare to for confession and communion of the Lord’s Holy and Life-Giving Body and Blood.

Today brought the joyful news that another of our students wishes to be admitted to the catechumenate in the next few weeks, after faithful attendance in both the Cardiff parish and its Cheltenham mission. Glory to God!

It was very interesting to talk with brothers of the parish in a local café regarding the place of Father Seraphim (Rose) of Platina in the spiritual journeys of those coming to Holy Orthodoxy, and – interestingly – of the spiritual characteristics of the communities encountered that frown upon their parishioners reading his works: in a word, renovationsist and modernist pick-and-mix parishes that don’t really make sense to those seeking traditional, patristic Orthodoxy. I am heartened to hear of the traditional spiritual reading of our parishioners – with a good appreciation of the Holy Fathers, including those of the 19th and 20th centuries like St Ignaty Brianchaninov, St Theophan the Recluse and St Paisios the New. I have also been struck by the appreciation of the lives of the Holy Fools among the brothers of our parish – and as a great admirer of the yurodivy, I am very pleased by this.

After Liturgy, I was glad to see that our oltarnik, Oswald, continues to gain parish support for his icon stall, having ensured I left with an icon of St Gerasimos and the lion. His icons are now sold by White Horse Wares, from whom we have bought excellent candles and gifts –

Looking ahead to this week, confessions will be held late on Thursday afternoon, and due to the commitments of some of our parishioners we will chant Compline and the Akathist to the Passion of the Saviour at the later time of 19:00.

Given the worsening situation of the persecuted Church in Ukraine, I would like to draw parishioners’ attention to the open letter written by His Grace, Bishop Irenei, which may be found on the diocesan webpage (in English and Russian):

All of our parishioners are called upon to redouble their prayers for the suffering Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and for the Brotherhood of the Kiev-Caves Lavra in particular. The clergy of the diocese will serve molebny for the Lavra Brotherhood on 29th March, the day the state-persecutors have set as the deadline for the monks to vacate the Lavra.

I will post the canons to the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev-Caves Lavra on our Facebook page, so that parishioners may pray them for the sake of the persecuted brotherhood.

As mentioned, Saturday afternoon will see the baptism of Dan, Mo and Germaine. We will gather in St Nicholas at 14:00 and anyone wishing to attend should email me for details.

Next Sunday celebrates the memory of St John of the Ladder, with our celebration commencing with the Hours at 10:40, followed by the Divine Liturgy. The variables for the service may be found at

Having discussed Holy Week with Sister Anna, I will publish service details in the next few days.

May God bless you all, and give you strength for the second half of the Great Fast. If things have flagged a bit, take encouragement from this Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross to regain momentum and spiritual direction.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Our Parish Pilgrimage to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony

Dear brothers and sisters,

I was incredibly happy to finally be able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with a small band of parish pilgrims in Little St Marys’s at Capel-y-ffin this morning.

After the suspension testing journey from Hay-on-Wye, with the wild and beautiful terrain (under a dramatic cloudscape) of the Brecon Beacons falling away or rising on the sides of the narrow road snaking over the mountains, the pot-holed and weathered lanes brought us to Capel-y-ffin, our arrival heralded by the sight of the lopsided belfry immortalised in Eric Ravilious’s  ‘Wet Afternoon’, painted in 1938.

However, this arrival was on a sunny spring morning and it was wonderful to arrive at the gate of the little churchyard and see parishioners already there, all of whom seemed to have made the smoother journey up the valley from Abergavenny.

They had come with icons, candles and flowers – using the window ledges and surfaces to bring the visual signs of Orthodox liturgical life to St Mary’s.

Whilst the clergy arranged the little sanctuary for the Divine Liturgy, Father Richard Williams – the incredibly welcoming and personable priest-in-charge – talked a little about the history of the site, starting well before the building of the present church, including the appearance of the Mother of God there in the years after the Norman Conquest, before the bells rang out over the narrow valley, announcing the joyful tidings that the Holy Liturgy would make this little sanctuary the place where heaven and earth would conjoin in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

Having bidden Father goodbye, so that he could be back in Hay in time for the Angelus, the little congregation were able to see and hear the vesting prayers and proskomedia at close quarters, before an intimate and simple Liturgy in the tiny church, celebrated in English, Welsh and Slavonic – though a little Greek also crept in at the Trisagion.

The sun poured in through the clear glass windows, and during the epiclesis it was wonderful to look up and see the sides of the valley to the east beside the trees in the churchyard.

The Liturgy in the simplicity of the church was a great blessing and a source of great joy and peace, knowing that St David had founded a monastic settlement a few miles down the valley, and after a lovely picnic lunch at Capel-y-ffin, we descended to Llanthony, where the medieval ruins of the priory give no hint of the earlier Celtic foundation.

After chanting a litia to St David in the parish church where we celebrated Liturgy in the past, we visited the medieval ruins and were happy to sit down together in the little pub in the vault of the former abbot’s lodging and enjoy hot drinks and chips. This was a very enjoyable time of fellowship, and I hope that we will be able to enjoy Llanthony in the summer time, sitting among the ruins to picnic and enjoy ice-creams and Herefordshire cider, as some of have in the past!

Our thanks go to Father Richard for his hospitality and encouragement to always feel at home and welcome at Capel-y-ffin, and to our parish sisters Melangell and Mary for their fine organisational skills in helping it all happen.

Hierarch of Christ, David, pray to god for us!

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish News at the Beginning of the Fast

Dear brothers and sisters,

What an incredible weekend we had Cardiff, with our pilgrimage to Llandaff, in honour of St Teilo and our services for Forgiveness Sunday.

After a week in Walsingham, I was rather tired, but the combination of prayer and fellowship over the weekend certainly put a fresh spring in my step, before the dozens of prostrations during the rite of forgiveness put pay to any bounce and flexibility.

As I have already written, the warmth of our welcome in Llandaff Cathedral was wonderful, and the Dean’s love and devotion to St Teilo over-flowed in his encouragement for us to always feel at home in the cathedral and before the saint’s relics. Father Richard stayed with us for the moleben, and kindly explained some of the cathedral’s history to the faithful before we retired to lunch – greatly enjoying time together over a meal.

Our services for Forgiveness Sunday were very well attended, though not everyone was able to stay for vespers, after refreshments. We were very happy to have the new student-visitors return, and see their commitment to exploring Orthodoxy and being part of our worshipping community. I know that they had a good chat with our parish elders and with some of the other students and young people. This is where the warmth and serious stewardship in our community is so important.

The end of vespers, of course, brought the Rite of Forgiveness, and the number of worshippers became obvious when the growing line of the faithful stretched from the solea, all along one side of the convent church and round the corner to the confession boxes. As always, on this Sunday, it was a joy to quietly sing Paschal hymns, with the members of the kliros joining me as the mutual forgiveness and many prostrations were completed.

I will not be in Cardiff until Thursday, when I will hear confessions in the late afternoon, before the chanting of the Great Canon of Repentance in the convent church at 18:00. May I ask for confessions requests as soon as possible, and not later than midday on Wednesday.

There will be nightly services in the chapel of St David and St Nicholas, where the Great Canon will be chanted from Monday to Thursday), and compline with the akathist-hymn to the Mother of God on Friday. Address: 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carms SA14 8LS.

Looking forward to celebrating the Sunday of Orthodoxy and the Restoration of the Holy Icons, may I encourage parishioners to bring icons to church, so that they may be placed on the capacious window sills around the building. Following, the Liturgy of St Basil, we will offer a moleben for those who have fallen into error.

Obviously, food for refreshments after our services must be lenten/postny. No shellfish please!

Our next parish pilgrimage will be to Capel-y-ffin, where we will offer the Divine Liturgy in honour of St David, meeting at 10:30 and aiming to begin the Hours and Liturgy at 11:00. We will have a pew-picnic after Liturgy and Fr Richard Williams has invited us to visit St Mary’s in Hay-on-Wye (bookshops and tea!!!) afterwards. Anyone interested, should contact Tracy:

Our senior-sister, Menna, would like to remind you all, that there is a very active and vibrant parish WhatsApp group, where parishioners can share news and prayer requests, discuss Orthodox matters, view spiritual and pastoral articles, and generally share aspects of parish-life. Anyone wishing to join should contact her or Deacon Mark.

Equally, anyone wishing to be added to the mailing list should speak to one of the clergy or parish officers who will be glad to add you to the list so that parish circulars are received. I would like to encourage parishioners to read the news and announcements sent out, as it is obvious that some people are missing news and announcements that have been sitting in their inbox.

Wishing you a good start to the Great Fast, with the hope that as many parishioners as possible will pray the Great Canon each evening.

Asking your forgiveness for Christ’s sake.

May God bless you!

Hieromonk Mark

Today in Cardiff – Tomorrow in Walsingham

Dear brothers and sisters,

Our busy weekend continued with our celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Nazareth House, and we were very pleased that our kliros was well provided with singers, making for strong and confident singing. Together with the continued blessing of double-deacons, this made for a splendid Liturgy and I greatly appreciate having two deacons with whom to concelebrate and share the Holy Mysteries.

Though we were a little thin on the ground due to half-term, we were very happy to have four new students visiting and experiencing their first Orthodox service, and were able to chat after the service.

After refreshments to break to our fast, we held our AGM, with reports from the clergy and treasurer. Among the topics discussed were the provision of resources and information for visitors and those exploring Orthodoxy, the availability of printouts of the creed and Lord’s Prayer for visitors, developing pilgrimage and reflecting our local culture in parish life – including use of Welsh in the Liturgy. With our bishop having blessed a parish brotherhood, we also touched and the need to invigorate our parish sisterhood, noting that it is not simply our catering department.

As announced at the Liturgy, I will be serving in Walsingham this week, travelling with Norman and Georgina tomorrow. We look forward to the joy of being with our friends there, especially Mother Melangell, whom we have known for many years. Our Liturgy will be blessed by the presence of Father Mark Tattum-Smith from Mettingham, with whom I will concelebrate as a priest for the first time, and with whom we will be discussing local devotions and promoting ROCOR pilgrimage to Walsingham – with our diocesan connections going back to the very first days of the shrine church. We look forward to the development of local Orthodox Walsingham cells.

Whilst I will obviously be contactable in emergencies, may I remind you that Norfolk is a very long way away, and any interactive pastoral needs need to be directed to Fr Deacon Mark. So that he is able to arrange any provision of support.

However, we will be VERY pleased for us to email us with requests for intercessions and intentions:

We will return on Friday, in time for our pilgrimage to Llandaff cathedral on Saturday, where we will celebrate our moleben to St Teilo at 10:00. After our service and time around the cathedral, we will enjoy the hospitality of the Maltster’s Arms for drinks and lunch at midday.

Just to remind you that we are in the eve of Cheese-Fare week and that meat should be consumed by tonight, though fish will be permitted throughout next week. As Orthodox maximalists, we refute the idea of pancake day… but rather enjoy a whole week. So… enjoy!

The first opportunity to hear confessions will be in Nazareth House on Saturday, after our ‘pilgrim lunch’, and I would like those wishing to confess to email me by 16:00 on Thursday to allow me to email as we will be travelling for much of Friday.

Sunday will be Forgiveness Sunday, and we will celebrate the Vespers of Forgiveness after Liturgy, marking the liturgical beginning of the Great Fast.

Please make the most of the week and get ready for the Fast – in terms of food, prayer and reading.

Looking forward to the Fast, it is our hope that by finding twenty readers to commit to reading a kathisma of the Psalter each day, it may be read every day until the eve of Lazarus Saturday. We really need commitment to this rather than people wanting to join in for a week or two, so if you would like to participate in this spiritual offering, as an act of intercession for our parish, please email for further information.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Feast of St Philip of Moscow With Bishop Irenei

Dear brothers and sisters,

Given the great spiritual, physical and culinary labours of the last few days, there are, no doubt, many people in our community who are tired, but saying “Slava Bogu… glory to God!” for the blessing of being able to welcome our hierarch and archpastor, Bishop Irenei to Cardiff – with today’s hierarchical Divine Liturgy as the crown of our celebration.

After more than a year and a half since his last hierarchical visitation, Vladika’s visit was important, especially given the great changes and expansion in our parish and local missions since the trials of covid and lockdown.

We rejoice that we were able to come together as a scattered community of Orthodox faithful, representing our Cardiff parish and our Cheltenham and Swansea missions, with the blessing of welcoming Deacon Andrey and Reader George to serve with us. The contribution of Hierodeacon Avraamy – now blessed to serve in our South Wales communities – was also most welcome.

Gathered around our hierarch, the Liturgy expressed the spiritual bond and catholicity/sobornost of our common and shared life as the Church, in which each of us called to individual ministry and vocation, as alluded to by Vladika in his homily.

Within our community we glorify God for so many vocations, great gifts and talents – in singing, reading, icon painting, cooking, liturgical expertise, floral craft, and the simple ability to organise hospitality and to welcome all who gather not only to the Holy Table of the eucharist, but also to the table of Christian fellowship to share in food and drink.

As well as catching up with familiar parishioners in the parish, His Grace was able to meet those who now travel from England for Liturgy, those baptised since his last visitation, and our catechumens, several of whom will be baptised in the next couple of months. For many parishioners this was their first meeting with Vladika, and for some, it was there first encounter with an Orthodox bishop – and such a personable, warm and positive one.

We were also very happy to welcome our brother-priest, Father Sorin of the Romanian Parish of St Stephen, and were so pleased that he was able to meet Vladika Irenei once again, and join us for trapeza.

The festive table on this feast of the Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow summed up the wonderful diversity of our parishioners – with Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Romanian, Spanish, British and Caribbean fare feeding all those assembled, as well as supplying many parishioners with meals for the next few days.

We are so very grateful to all who contributed so generously, and especially for Melangell who took on the role of Senior Sister, having this episcopal visitation as her first rather daunting duty, ceremonially starting with the welcome she offered to Vladika, with the traditional offering of bread and salt, after which the children of the parish offered posies of flowers to their bishop.

We are particularly indebted to our kliros and oltarniky, for their part in the Liturgy, particularly to our oltarnik Oswald, who so capably served with Reader George in fulfilling what would ordinarily have been the obedience of subdeacon.

As Vladika commented, it is the choir who face the greatest challenge in the Hierarchical Liturgy, given the many variations from our usual celebration. May God bless you all!

Thank you everyone for your many and varied offerings, obediences, gifts, generosity and goodwill in making the feast of St Philip such a truly memorable and joyful day and for welcoming Vladika Irenei to lead us in our celebrations.

Above all, we express our thanks to His Grace Bishop Irenei, for his fatherly love and care, and for visiting and nurturing his flock in the fullness of Orthodoxy within our God-Preserved Diocese.

Eis polla eti Despota!

Confessions This Week

Dear brothers and sisters, 

As announced at Liturgy on Sunday, confessions will be heard on Thursday and Saturday this week. 

Those who confessed last weekend are blessed to commune at the Theophany Liturgy, and those preparing for communion on Sunday may confess after the Great Blessing of the Waters. 

There will be limited time before our 11:00 Liturgy, so I would appreciate an idea of how many confessions are expected. I have already received several requests, and will confess those respective parishioners first. If needed, parishioners may be confessed and communed after the service. Please let us know if you would like to confess on Thursday. 

On Saturday, we will celebrate Great Vespers with Vladika at 17:00, and I and Father Luke will be available to confess people before and after the service. 

There will be confessions before the Sunday service, but these must end by 10:55, as Vladika will be greeted at 11:00. Those confessing should be mindful of the time, and long confessions will NOT be possible. 

Whatever day works best for you, please drop us a line. 

May God bless you all! 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Nativity Celebrations in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Born!

Wishing you a joyful, ongoing celebration of the Lord’s Nativity.

What a wonderful three days of celebration in our parish, with services in both Nazareth House and St John’s, where we celebrated Liturgy today, so that we could then have our parish Christmas lunch.

The Nativity brought parishioners together from our unlikely catchment area, enveloping South Wales, Hereford, Gloucestershire, Bath and Wiltshire. Not having had a night Liturgy after the vigil we thought that there might be quite low attendance on Friday night, but we were pleasantly surprised.

We were glad to have parishioners from our Llanelli mission for the well attended Christmas Liturgy, with over seventy people, including parishioners’ visiting families, the core of our Cheltenham mission, and new visitors. The Nativity Liturgy was particularly joyful, with extra Ukrainian singers moving to the kliros for the Liturgy and then for koliadky after the service. One of our young parishioners commented on feeling awestruck and spiritually warm at the Liturgy – and hearing this brought great joy.

As we no longer have anywhere to eat in Cathays,  we were glad to celebrate the Synaxis of the Mother of God in St John’s today, where our parish had it’s ‘temporary’ home for several years. The familiarity of the church, with its kitchen and space to eat, was much appreciated and nobody was in a rush to leave.

We were happy to welcome first-time visitors, including friends of our Serbian parishioners, for whom bread, zhito (kutia) and wine were blessed in honour of the holy Apostle, Protomartyr and Archdeacon, Stephen, for their family slava, tomorrow. After the blessing of the offerings, the golden Slavski kolač was incised with a cross into which the blessed wine was poured, before the turning of the loaf by the members of the Terzic family and the priest. Young Stefan, played his part in the breaking of the loaf and the kiss of peace as the halves were placed back to back and turned.

For many of our parishioners, this was the first time they had witnessed the slava prayers and blessing – and a good opportunity for them to learn the Orthodox traditions of their brothers and sisters.

We wish Branka, Stefan and Tara a blessed and joyful feast: Srećna slava!

Following the slava blessing, parishioners enjoyed a wonderful Nativity feast of delicious festive food, with plenty of Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian favourites, with the rector being very happy to celebrate the Nativity with shuba and kulebiaka!

So many people worked very hard, singing, serving, baking and cooking, arranging flowers, setting up the churches and putting everything away again – as well as transporting things to and fro. Thank you everyone!

Also, thank you for the great seasonal kindness and generosity shown to the South Wales ROCOR clergy. Thanks also to the Sisters of Nazareth, who have shown such incredible warmth, generosity and kindness in positively encouraging our return to Nazareth House. It is wonderful to be back there, and to have their friendship and encouragement. We are truly blessed.

Glory to God for all things!

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The past weekend and the weekend ahead…

Dear brothers and sisters,

Despite the impact of illness and parishioners being away, it was a joy to celebrate the Liturgy in Cardiff  yesterday, and slightly lower numbers did little to lessen the numbers confessing and communing, or to diminish the joy of worshipping together.

Our starting time has been somewhat affected by numbers of confessions, and realistically, I think this will continue to be the case as we settle back into life in Nazareth House. However, it is impossible to confess all needing to do so in thirty minutes, so those wishing to confess need to arrive a little earlier than at present, and we will hopefully resolve this over the coming weeks so that the Hours can begin at 10:30.

Deacon Mark and I have been very pleased with the beauty of our Liturgies since our return to Nazareth House, recognising the hard work of our small but conscientious kliros. We thank our singers and also our oltarniky, reduced to only two yesterday, but working hard and serving well.

Before the kissing of the cross, we chanted years for our parish elder Andrew (Allan) who celebrated his nameday in the past week. Many, blessed years to him!

Compared to last week, we were very thin on children, but the few we did have happily spent time at during the homily, arranging lovely little ikebana flower arrangements, which they showed to us at this time. Giving some of these as gifts.

The Liturgy was only the first part of our day, and as members of the congregation chatted and visitors were greeted after the service, a team of our parish gentlemen prepared for the afternoon’s baptism, filling our pop up ‘font’ with enough water to immerse a ten-year-old: the youngest son of one of our Herefordian families. Though his older brother was baptised as an infant in Tikhvin, Josh – Georgiy in Holy Baptism – was never been baptised. So, it was a very great joy to welcome Tom and Julia with their family, with Georgiy’s older brother Maximus representing godfather Igor, who was unable to travel here from Russia.

After the reading of the exorcism prayers, Georgiy ably made his baptismal renunciations and after spitting on the devil, overseen by his older brother, he turned to the east and confessed the creed.

It was lovely to baptise someone who is still a child, but old enough to really take part, so explanations were interspersed between the actions so that our newly enlisted soldier of Christ could appreciate what was happening.

As most of those involved were British, the baptism was largely celebrated in English, but with some Slavonic, as the baptism was being filmed for godfather Igor, in Russia, whom we remembered in our prayers.

Having been anointed with the oil of the catechumens, our youngster climbed into the water and knelt to be fully submerged and baptised in honour of the Holy Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George. So, we now have two Herefordian Georges in our community, and Yuriy was happy to hear that there would be another Georgiy, and gave his namesake the ikebana he had arranged.

We look forward to welcoming Julia with both of her sons to commune of the Holy Mysteries! Many years to Georgiy, his godfather Igor and all of the family!

Deacon Mark and I would particularly like to thank Oswald for being such a great help, staying to help with the packing away and clearing of the church, not setting off for Stroud until after 17:00. We are very grateful.

This morning, we celebrated the feast of St Nicholas with Divine Liturgy in Llanelli, with Father Luke celebrating as I chanted on the kliros with Ruth-Silouana and Nicholas, and following the Liturgy, a panikhida was chanted to mark the anniversary of  the repose of the mother of one of the Llanelli parishioners. It was a lovely, prayerful Liturgy, and only a pity that more people did not come to celebrate the feast.

Tomorrow, we celebrate another great Church Father, St Ambrose of Milan and our wonderworking father St Nil Stolbensky, and later this week we will celebrate the feast of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos by St Anna and the Icon ‘Unexpected Joy’.

Next weekend will, of course, be Western Christmas, and as such will occupy many of our parishioners with family commitments. However, we shall still celebrate Liturgy for the feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker of Tremythus. Even though there will be few of us, I greatly look forward to this feast.

Anticipating only a small number of confessions, I expect to be able to hear all confessions before Liturgy. However, I would still appreciate an email from those wishing to confess and commune on Sunday, asking that emails are received by Thursday.

Finally, may I ask that on arrival each Sunday, parishioners remain towards the back of the church until all residents have exited, given the number of viruses, coughs and colds that are in circulation and the age and vulnerability of those who live in Nazareth house.

May God bless you all. Struggle to maintain the momentum of the Nativity Fast.

In Christ – Fr Mark

A Busy Weekend

Dear brothers and sisters,

This has been a very busy weekend for our clergy, with services in Cheltenham and Cardiff.

Our Saturday started early and finished late, with a prayerful Liturgy in Cheltenham to celebrate the feast of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. We greatly enjoyed being with our small, but faithful and loving community, honouring the Mother of God in the place where we had venerated her wonder-working icon only eight months before, with yesterday’s Liturgy and feast bringing us together from South Wales, the Forest of Dean, Bath, the Cotswolds, Cheltenham and Gloucester.

We were very pleased to admit Germaine and Kyle as catechumens before the Liturgy, and we pray for God’s blessing on their journey towards the Mystery of Holy Baptism.

Having celebrated the Liturgy, it was lovely to relax over lunch and to have time to chat and socialise. We then made a hospital visit so that I could hear a confession and perform Holy Unction.

After collecting prosphora for the Liturgy on our homebound journey, we arranged the convent chapel for this morning’s Liturgy, looking forward to not only celebrating the Liturgy, but serving a litia in honour of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God.

Today’s cold start made us wonder whether parishioners from the valleys beyond the Severn would make it to church, but we were very happy to have faithful from Merthyr Tydfil, Bath and Wiltshire, who were determined to make it to Liturgy… and what a beautiful and prayerful Liturgy it was, ending with the litia before our copy of the Kursk-Root Icon, and St Nectarios’s ‘O Holy Virgin’ chanted during the kissing of the cross.

Many thanks to all who contributed to the celebration, serving, singing, giving lifts, doing crafts with the children, bringing flowers, and packing away – as well as those who have given support throughout the week.

This week will be a rather static one for me, given the train strike, so I intend to hear confessions on Saturday afternoon after setting up the convent church for Liturgy. Will those requiring confession please email me by Thursday midday.

May God bless you and your continuing journey through the Nativity Fast.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Sunday 20 November: Looking Forward to Our Return to Nazareth House

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Thanks to all who laboured for the celebration of today’s service, and to everyone for their patience given the number of confessions today and the delayed start to Liturgy. 

Today’s Liturgy was one tinged with sorrow, as we prayed for the repose of the soul of the newly departed Andrzej and Sara: a double loss for the Pietraszkewicz family, with Lukasz having lost both brother and goddaughter within days. Following Liturgy, I celebrated a panikhida, and we will continue to remember the newly-departed, praying for their repose in a place of refreshment, light and peace. May the Lord remember them in His Kingdom, and may their memory be eternal! We pray for all who sorrow and mourn at this sad and difficult time, commending them to the maternal care and protection of the Mother of God. 

As announced after Liturgy, today’s service was our penultimate celebration in St John’s, as we will be returning to Nazareth House for the first weekend in December, at the beginning of the Nativity Fast. I was very happy to visit and spend time with Sisters Aquinas and Marie, and the greatly-missed Morag the West Highland Terrier, yesterday – entering the church for the first time since the beginning of lockdown. 

After a series of ‘false-starts’ and disappointments, we will be returning just over five years since we first arrived in Cathays, and will do so with so many new parishioners who have never been inside the convent church. So much has happened since our initial arrival, with a whole series of baptisms, parishioners travelling from England for Liturgy, and so much growth in our community. 

The Sisters have missed our parish presence greatly and look forward to welcoming us back, to being surrounded by icons and having Orthodox worship within the House once more. We know that even in such a long absence, so many prayers have been offered before the shrines and icons. We have not been forgotten, and the imprint of Orthodoxy remains. 

I will be having further discussions with Sister Anna, the new superior on her return from a week away, and will confirm our new timings.

Though the Fathers of the Oratory are no longer Catholic chaplains to the univeristy, they retain spiritual care for Nazareth House and its residents, as well as the convent, and we are grateful for their ongoing support and concern for the Russian Orthodox parish faithful and clergy.

Father Luke, Deacon Mark and I will be in London for the diocesan clergy convocation from Thursday to Saturday and will be able to meet brother clergy from across our vast Western European Diocese as we celebrate services together and discuss diocesan and parish life. As I still feel under the weather, and will no doubt be very tired after these days away, there will be no possibility of hearing confessions on our return journey on Saturday.

Sunday morning confessions will be for those who did not confess this weekend, and who are preparing to commune of the Holy Mysteries. Those who have confessed this weekend may be blessed to commune next weekend unless a pressing need for confession arises. 

May I ask those requiring confession next week and who did not confess today to email me by Friday evening, just to establish how many will need to be confessed before Liturgy. 

We ask your prayers for Svetlana’s daughter, Julia, who will be returning to Ukraine for a week, for Lukasz who left for Poland today, for Masha and Neil, who are in Cyprus, and for our clergy who will be travelling to London from so many countries within Western Europe. We ask the Lord to bless their journeys. 

Looking forward to the week ahead, we celebrate some notable commemorations: 

  • Monday 8/21 – The Synaxis of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salaphiel, Jegudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel and the Other Bodiless Powers. 
  • Tuesday 9/22 – St. Nectarius (Kephalas), metropolitan of Pentapolis (1920) and the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who Is Quick to Hear” of Docheiariou, Mt. Athos (10th c.). 
  • Wednesday 10/23 – The commemoration of the beginning of the torture of Great-Martyr George (303). 
  • Thursday 11/24 – The Great-Martyr Menas of Egypt (304) and Blessed Maximus of Moscow, the fool-for-Christ (1433). 
  • Friday 12/25 – St. John the Merciful, patriarch of Alexandria (616-620) and Blessed John “the Hairy,” fool-for-Christ, of Rostov (1580). 
  • Saturday 13/26 – St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople (407). 

I will post lives of the saints and some of their canon as the week progresses. Please try to celebrate the saints in your daily prayers. 

May God bless you all. 

In Christ – Fr Mark