The continuing joy of Theophany

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Sunday of Theophany turned out to be quite a gathering in St John’s, with representation from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset swelling the number of those who had come from closer to home.

This required lots of confessions, reflected in the number of communicants, and it was a special joy – as always – to commune the children. We are grateful for everyone’s patience as confessions before Liturgy and before communion made things a bit longer, but the early arrival of those confessing helped immensely.

The day’s celebration was long, given the Great Blessing of the Waters at the end of Liturgy, but all seemed to go remarkably quickly, and the joy of Wednesday’s celebration in the cathedral was repeated in St John’s, though I was – perhaps – a little more restrained in sprinkling the faithful with Theophany water!

Whilst trapeza was arranged, priestly ministry moved to the porch of St John’s, where I was very happy that the feast should be the occasion to admit George, one of or students, into the catechumenate. We will now have him as our own special intention as we pray the Litany of the Catechumens each week, and we anticipate the making of other catechumens in the weeks ahead.

To return to the celebration in the cathedral – given the use of St John’s on weekdays, and limits on availability, it is our hope to organise group visits to the cathedral for weekday feasts, when we are unable to celebrate in Cardiff. We all need to remember that we have two homes: our parish churches, and our cathedral, and I wish to see the relationship with the cathedral developed. It was wonderful to be in the cathedral and to celebrate with the London clergy and parish, for whom it was a great blessing to have an experienced deacon for the feast.

Theophany brings house-blessing season, and Deacon Mark has already received some requests. It is my hope to perform some blessing whilst in Cardiff during the week. Anyone wishing to arrange a house blessing should contact the clergy. Of course, this year will see us going further afield to bless the homes of the faithful – in Cheltenham, Bath, Chippenham and Warminster, as well as in other corners of the Marches and the West of England. I pray that the renewed joy of the feast will accompany the house-blessings, however long it takes us to get around every home – no doubt long after the octave of the feast.

I would like to remind the faithful that the great veneration and respect for the water blessed to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord is reflected in the fact that we drink it whilst FASTING – especially reserving it for when we are unwell, for feast days and for Sundays when we may be unable to attend Liturgy and partake of the Holy Mysteries. Water from the monthly Lesser Blessing is used at other times, and any requests for this may be addressed to the clergy. Like the artos from Pascha, Theophany Water is greatly revered as a special gift from the Lord – uniquely connected to the feast, and treated as an extra-ordinary blessing and source of grace.

I would like to thank all who worked so hard over the last week, and all who are a constant support for the clergy, sometimes encouraging and sometimes telling them to slow down and breath. We are greatly blessed to have such a supportive and caring community – praise God!

We are also blessed to have gifted and talented individuals, and today was rewarded with the latest accomplishments in iconography and musical composition. We look forward to the growth of iconography in the parish, as our iconographers receive more training in painting and gilding, and I look forward to hearing the work of our own musicians being sung in Liturgy in the year ahead.

This year needs to be one in which we utilise and develop the many talents and skills of our parishioners: painting icons, writing music, making candles and incense, as well as vestments and Church textiles. We need to make the most of the many wonderful skills distributed between the brothers and sisters of the parish.

Looking forward to next weekend, prompt confession requests will be appreciated, and I shall no doubt hear some confessions at the end of the week.

May God bless you all, and may the feast continue be a source of joy and grace in your families and homes, which should be resounding with the troparion of the feast:

When Thou, wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast
enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.

Во Иoрда́не креща́ющуся Тебе́, Го́споди, Тро́йческое яви́ся поклоне́ние: Роди́телев бо глас свиде́тельствоваше Тебе́, возлю́бленнаго Тя Сы́на имену́я, и Дух в ви́де голуби́не изве́ствоваше словесе́ утвержде́ние. Явле́йся Христе́ Бо́же и мир просвеще́й, сла́ва Тебе́.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Forthcoming Services

Dear brothers and sisters,

We find ourselves in a quiet time between new calendar Christmas and the civil New year, when family obligations, limited public transport and various other factors inhibit parish-life.

Additionally, we have parishioners in Russia and Ukraine, and our students away for the university holiday.

This was reflected in Sunday’s Liturgy, with only twenty, or so, adults, but though simpler than it usually would be with a larger kliros, the Liturgy was prayerful and peaceful. We expect that next Sunday’s Liturgy will be much the same.

We will have confessions in Deacon Mark’s office this Thursday, though I may hear some confessions during home visits. May I ask that those requiring confessions email me promptly, so that I can organise confessions as soon as possible. Email by tomorrow evening, please. I know that this allows little time, but your swift attention will be very much appreciated.

Next Sunday will see the Hours and Liturgy at the usual time of 11:00, and I need to remind you that the covid-risk assessment of the diocese of Llandaff has escalated, so that the wearing of masks and two-metre distancing is mandatory.

Looking forward to the Nativity… Like last year, we will celebrate the feast during the night.

The vigil will start later than last year, as St John’s will be in use during the evening. We will celebrate the vigil at 21:30 (with confessions heard from 21:00, and during compline/ pavechernitsa and matins/utrenya) and the Liturgy will be celebrated at midnight.

We will be celebrating the Sunday of the Fathers this weekend, and will be only days away from the Nativity. Whilst some parishioners have health issues affecting fasting, as a general rule those who are to commune should be fasting NOW.

Those confessing will be asked whether they have been fasting, and the clergy remind you that receiving Holy Communion is subject to a blessing. Absolution at confession is NOT a blessing to receive the Holy Gifts.

The morning services of the Eve of the Nativity will be celebrated in Llanelli, and we will advertise these services separately. The diminutive size of the chapel will severely limit attendance.

Fr Luke and his parishioners will be with us for the Vigil and midnight Liturgy.

The Sunday of the Holy Fathers: 02/01/22

Confessions: 10:15

Hours and Liturgy: 11:00


The Eve of the Nativity: Wednesday 06/01/22

Confessions 21:00

Christmas Vigil 21:30 (Confessions during the service)

Christmas Liturgy: 00:00 Midnight


Sunday after the Nativity: 09/01/22

Confessions: 10:15

Hours and Liturgy: 11:00


May God bless you.

In Christ – Fr Mark



Celebrating St Spyridon in Llanelli

12/25 December: the Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker

As Father Luke has to travel to England to visit family tomorrow, the celebration in Llanelli will consist of the Hours, Typika (with Holy Communion), and a moleben to St Spyridon the Wonderworker. 

Time: 08:00 

Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA14 8LS 

As this is a domestic setting, Fr Luke would appreciate knowing if you would like to attend: Tel: 01554 755690. You are also welcome to email me: 


Eleni: Memory Eternal – Ελένη: Αιωνία η Μνήμη.

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have just received news that our sister Eleni, one of the original members of the Orthodox community in Llanelli has fallen asleep in the Lord. 

This remarkable lady was one of a whole group of Cretan women who came to South Wales and made their home in Llanelli: Tinopolis.

Together with her fellow Cretans – especially the redoubtable Eleftheria – their Welsh spouses and families, she supported Archimandrite Barnabas in bringing the Orthodox Church to Llanelli, and continued to do so for as long as she was able.

Eleni – already a talented linguist – excelled in the Welsh language and loved the Welsh saints as much as those of her native Greece. She was not interested in division, jurisdictionalism or nationalism, for she was with the Holy Apostle in saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Guided by this principle, Eleni sought to bring all to the Lord; to encourage everyone in the Faith; to share the Gospel; and to communicate the sacred Tradition of the Church with all of her Orthodox sisters and brothers.

After Father Luke transferred to ROCOR, she still came to services for as long as she could, and said that he had not changed, his Faith had not changed and the chapel was still the one in which she’d prayed since it was built in it’s small initial incarnation.

Elderly, unwell and suffering, Eleni remained a bond between local paishioners who wished to coninue to belong to the the Archdiocese of Thyateira, and the parishioners who supported Fr Luke to form the ROCOR parish, remaining a mother and sister to those in each community.

Beyond this, Eleni showed a remarkable love for all Christians here in Llanelli, where she built her life and raised her family, spending more of her life than in Crete.

She was loved and respected by the members of the local chapels, and even taught Greek to some of the chapel ladies, meeting for coffee and a lesson each week. They would practice their Greek and she would practice her Welsh! Sometimes in the car, she would try to make us practice both, whether we were capable of doing so or not.

Over the decades, she brought so much to our lives, singing and praying together – especially the Akathist Hymn each Lent – sitting drinking Greek coffee or mountain tea, sharing the food she had made for us, telling others so much about the spiritual life and discussing all things Greek, Byzantine and linguistic.

One of our last conversations at Father Luke’s table was about the enkomia for the Dormition of the Mother of God, whom she loved with all her heart and to whom she loved to sing the ‘Axion Estin – It is truly meet…’

It was lovely to introduce her to the internet, sitting to watch the Burial Service of the Mother of God, singing along to the enkomia, and to have her remind us how young we all once were  in the days  when Father Luke (before ordination) and the future Prebytera Cacilia took on the reins of the parish – but, time has passed, we have all grown older, and now this matriarchal figure has departed to the Lord.

Having survived the privations of the war, having seen much suffering even as a child, but also some wonderful miracles, Eleni bore illness and suffering with courage and patience, being greatly inspired by Father Luke’s late much-suffering matushka, Prebytera Cacilia.

Glory to God – Δόξα τω Θεώ for having blessed us with Eleni, and may He grant us to have even an ounce of her lively and fervent faith.

We ask you to remember her in your prayers, as well as her husband Christophoros, her children Giannis, Maria and Natasha, and their families.

Eternal Memory – Αιωνία η Μνήμη.

Parish News Round Up

Dear brothers and sisters, 

I hope that the Advent Fast is proving to be a spiritually fruitful time for all in our Cardiff and Cheltenham parishes. 

It is wonderful that my full-time appointment coincides with this season, allowing me to spend time with parishioners – especially those who have joined us since the summer. Simply having the time to chat and correspond by whatever means suits people is wonderful. 

It has also been good to spend time with friends of the parish, with last week seeing ‘catch-ups’ at the Oratory and the Catholic Chaplaincy, allowing discussion of present Russian Orthodox life and the development of the parish – not to mention some temporary limitations since the community left Nazareth House and moved to St John’s. 

One of the fruits of these discussions is the hope (and intention) to establish regular prayers before the relics of St Alban, who is the de facto patron of the British part of our diocese. It is a great blessing that a portion of his sacred relics are here in Cardiff, and we look forward to regular prayers and veneration at the shrine in the Oratory Church. 

Last weekend saw the celebration of the Kursk-Root Icon in Cheltenham (albeit a day late), with the Divine Liturgy celebrated in Prestbury, where the United Reformed Church remains our temporary home. 

It was a joy to be together, with the gathered congregation witnessing to the parish’s faithfulness to ROCOR and our Diocese, whatever virtual-reality, PR and spin is being propagated in cyber-space. 

Though Cardiff friends of the parish were unable to attend Liturgy this month, the faithful still travelled from North Wiltshire, Exeter, and the Forest of Dean, in addition to our Cheltenham and Gloucester parishioners. It was a great joy to see parishioners who are usually unable to attend on Saturdays, due to work commitments, but who changed their work plans to be able to attend Liturgy during the Fast. 

Though the little chapel is bare, as we would expect in a Nonconformist setting, our faithful brought icons to place on the window-ledges, vases of flowers to place before the icon-stands, and fragrant herbs with which to adorn the icons. 

We very much enjoyed being able to sit down to a hearty lunch after Liturgy, with friendly conversation and social-time together. 

Sunday’s Liturgy, in Cardiff, was especially bright and joyful, reflecting Aleksandra’s return from London. The singing on the kliros was excellent, with Agni Parthene (O Pure Virgin) chanted beautifully during the veneration of the Cross and the parish Kursk-Root Icon. We look forward to the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon itself to Great Britain, hoping that there may be a visit, however short to our Welsh capital and our Cheltenham Community. 

This Friday will see another Advent Moleben and reflection in the parish-room at St Mary Butetown, which provided an excellent venue, last week. 

Having reflected on the many meanings of Christ as the Eternal Logos, last Friday, we will remain with the Prologue of St John’s Gospel, reflecting upon the Saviour as the Creative Word of God: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 

Many thanks to Norman and Georgina for making arrangements with Fr Dean, to whom we are especially grateful for allowing use of the parish-room. 

Though I will confess a few parishioners on Friday, the weekly parish confessions for our locals will be on Saturday, so please let me know, as usual and the clergy will arrange a ‘rota’.  

I will, of course, confess those travelling from farther afield on Sunday, though there will be no ‘over-flow’ after the Liturgy, as we will have the joy of baptising baby Adam from Hereford at 14:00. This will mean that trapeza will not be so long in duration. Support at the baptism would be lovely, and we look forward to seeing Adam, as the last time we saw Ekaterina she still had a few months of pregnancy left. 

I will confess our travelling parishioners from 10:15 before Sunday Liturgy, and ask for advance notice, given that this time is a challenge for us. 

We very much look forward to celebrating the feast of St Nicholas, and the variables for the Liturgy may be found here:

In Christ –

Hieromonk Mark

News from Parish Life

Dear brothers and sisters, 

This is a week of significant celebrations in the life of the Church, having been the feast of the Burial of St Alexander Nevsky on Monday, the Great-Martyr Katherine yesterday, the Leave-Taking of the feast of the Entry of the Mother of God today, and the feast of the Novgorod and Kursk Icons of the Theotokos on Friday. 

I particularly hope that our parishioners are taking special notice of the commemorations and feasts on their Advent journey, so that the saints are our companions as we make the spiritual journey to the Lord’s Nativity. 

These feasts are all way-side markers, and the lives of the saints and sacred events celebrated point the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. 

We journey through this week, having been buoyed and filled with joy by the celebrations of the past weekend, and what a wonderful and grace-filled weekend it was. 

Saturday – the feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple – saw our student Elliot enter the icy waters of the River Ewenny, in which he was baptised and named in honour of the Holy Hierarch Aldhelm of Sherborne, in his native Dorset.  

The newly-enlightened Aldhelm emerged from the river shivering but smiling radiantly, and the late afternoon sun offered a little warmth during his chrismation and tonsure.  

The parishioners from our local ROCOR and Romanian parishes who gathered to support him and welcome him into the Church were filled with great joy and heartily sang ‘mnogaya leta’ before heading for a hot meal to celebrate the feast, to warm up, and to spend time together. 

Sunday began with Aldhelm’s churching before the Hours and a well-attended Liturgy, with his baptism, first-communion, and his excellent chanting of the Thanksgiving Prayers bringing a very special joy to our service.

We pray for God’s blessing on our newly-enlightened brother, that the Lord may grant him many years! 

Later this week, on Friday, we will chant an Advent Moleben before a seasonal reflection in the parish hall at St Mary Butetown, in Greek Church Street, our theme being ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ 

We will gather at 19:00 and expect that the prayers and Advent reflection will last around an hour, with time for refreshments and a chat. We are extremely grateful to Father Dean for his characteristic warmth and hospitality. I would appreciate a quick email or text from those joining us and look forward to our slightly delayed first Advent gathering. Email:

On a similar note, may I ask that those confessing on Saturday and Sunday also get in touch with us. We will be stopping off at Deacon Mark’s office on the way home from our Cheltenham Liturgy on Saturday and will look to begin confessions at 16:00. Please email me by Thursday night, as Friday will be a busy day and I will need to make arrangements for confessions before heading to Cardiff in the late-morning. 

In Cheltenham, on Saturday, confessions will be heard from our arrival at 09:15, and we will begin the Hours as close to 10:00 as possible, knowing that there are always lots for confession and communions, which is wonderful, given the recent schismatic-assault against our Gloucestershire community.  

Back in Cardiff on Sunday, the Hours and Liturgy will be at the usual time of 11:00, and I must remind parishioners that confessions are BEFORE the Hours, whilst Deacon Mark directs the setting up of the church. Confessions begin at 10:15. 

A bring-and-share lunch will follow both of our Liturgies, with the typicon allowing us fish, wine and oil.  

I would like to give advance notice that there will be a baptism at 14:00, on Sunday 19th December, and parishioners will need to be mindful of this with regard to post-Liturgy refreshments and food.

May God bless you, and give you good strength, and thank you all for your support over the last few weeks – especially to our ‘baptismal-team’!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark


Tomorrow: Saturday Events

13:00 Elliot’s baptism in the River Ewenny, Ogmore Castle – ALL WELCOME.
14:00-16:00 St John’s Christmas Fair, in the church.
17:00 Community celebration with a short Advent Moleben, the blessing of the Christmas tree,  and lighting up St John’s Crescent – mulled wine, street-food (Advent-friendly available) and mince-pies kindly provided by sponsors.
Confessions following the Moleben, and assistance tidying the church will be greatly appreciated.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Tomorrow, the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, will see the baptism of our catechumen, Elliot, in the River Ewenny, at Ogmore Castle at 13:00.
In baptism, he will take the name of the Holy Hierarch Aldhelm, a musician-bishop, and fellow-native of Dorset.
We look forward to welcoming Elliot into the Ark of the Church with joy and anticipation, and anyone wishing to support him on this momentous day is most welcome to join us near the stepping-stones for the service.

As you are already aware, tomorrow’s confessions have to be accommodated around the community Advent celebration and turning on of the Christmas lights in the Crescent starting at 17:00.

Orthodox Advent prayers will bless this occasion, and this provides is a wonderful opportunity for the St John’s community and the local residents to encounter our Orthodox parish. We have been asked to be there for the beginning of the proceedings at 17:00, but I have been offered little detail regarding timings, making it impossible to give a confession timetable.

As it is a Fast, there are more people communing than usual and there are thirteen confessions tomorrow, so may I ask you to be succinct and sensitive to time when you are confessing, and be useful whilst you are waiting! I know that Mother Frances is worrying about the clean-up in St John’s and Orthodox hands will be appreciated in assisting her and the Anglican parishioners so that we have a nice clean and tidy church for Sunday worship.

I very much hope that I may be able to hear some confessions before the evening festivities and thereby ease the pressure a little, and allow parishioners more time, and that next week may see me hearing confessions over several days.

Please remember Elliot in your prayers, and support as many the events of the weekend as you are able.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Week So Far and the Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

It has been a joy to leave secular work behind and take on the role of full-time parish priest, and though my role only formally begins today, the week has already been busy.

Monday was a day spent talking with parishioners and enquirers, and yesterday saw a long but wonderful day spent in Chippenham and Melksham with some of our ‘Wessex parishioners’ and friends of the parish, with a house-blessing in the evening after a much-awaited introduction to Masha’s cats.

It was a blessing to be able to be in Wiltshire, given the loyalty of our Wessex parishioners and the distances they drive to come to church.

Special thanks are due to Marina for her wonderful and warm hospitality, with the blessing of her new home being a prayerful and joyous occasion.

With God’s help, I hope and pray that our faithful in Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset will soon have services closer to home.

After a day of admin, today, the rest of the week will see me in the Vale, Swansea and Cardiff. Elliot will be baptised in the River Ewenny next to Ogmore Castle early on Saturday afternoon, and I will post an exact time as soon as these have been fixed.

Looking ahead to Saturday tea-time, as announced at Liturgy, the Anglican parish has kindly invited members of the community to attend the turning on of St John’s Crescent Christmas lights at 17:00 on Saturday afternoon. Advent-friendly street-food will be provided, as well as mulled wine, and all are not only most welcome, but encouraged to join this event. This will give us a welcome opportunity to spend time with the local community, and share Orthodox Advent prayers with our neighbours.

For those of you who are free earlier in the afternoon, St John’s Christmas Fair will be running from 14:00 till 16:00.

Those requiring confessions at the weekend should email me by Friday lunchtime, and I will organise confessions during the evening festivities at St John’s. The course of the parish celebration is not entirely clear, but I will hear confessions once I am free after the turning on of the lights and meeting our community partners.

Again, I ask Cardiff parishioners to be considerate and respect the distances our parishioners from across the Severn are travelling and the fact that they can only confess on Sunday morning. Please make every effort possible to confess on Saturday, or arrange another day in the week.

On Sunday, we will celebrate the second day of the feast of the Presentation of the Mother of God in the Temple. The Hours and Liturgy will be at the normal time of 11:00.

We had originally hoped to have our first Advent prayer and reflection group this Friday, but as there will be a concert in St Mary Butetown (where we will meet) we will have our first gathering on Friday 10th December at 19:00.

Asking your prayers.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Many Years to Deacon Mark!

Today is the second anniversary of the ordination of Father Deacon Mark to the sacred diaconate, and we send him our congratulations and best wishes.

I think that he will not mind me saying that his ordination was sooner than any of us had expected, but this event showed foresight and wisdom on the part of our bishop, given parish developments and trials we have faced as a community.

The demands of operating under lockdown and the subsequent growth of parish life made having a deacon an absolute necessity, rather than a liturgical luxury, and Deacon Mark has acted as a very able and professional parish-administrator, making things happen – such as my approaching full-time appointment.

His relationship with our parishioners, community partners and visitors is one of great warmth and trust, and – as a priest – I know that I am very fortunate to have such a fellow minister and concelebrant.

We thank Deacon Mark for his ceaseless and selfless labours on our behalf, and pray that his ministry may be blessed and filled with God’s Grace.

Father Deacon Mark, may God grant you many, blessed years!
Многая и Благая лѣта!

The Coming Weekend

The coming weekend will again see confessions heard in Deacon Mark’s office on Saturday, and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, which is the first day of the Nativity Fast, the feast of Saints Guriy, Samon and Aviv – the preservers of the Christian family – and the feast of the great monastic father, St. Paisiy (Velichkovsky) of Moldavia and Mt. Athos.
As always, I ask those wishing to confess on Saturday and Sunday to email me at as soon as possible.
The variable parts of Sunday’s Liturgy may be found at ‘Orthodox Austin’ –
If bringing food for the bring-and-share lunch after the Liturgy, please remember that the food must be Lenten – meat, egg and dairy free, though fish will be permitted.
I am delighted to announce that through the generosity of Father Dean, of St Mary Butetown, we will be able to use the small parish-hall attached to the church for our Friday Advent Reflection, with the first gathering on 3 December at 19:00. We will be reflecting upon the presence of the Saviour in the Old Testament and the ‘Christophanies’ that lead the way to His Incarnation.
As we are only permitted twenty attendees, due to the size of the room, we ask that you let us know if you wish to attend.
May God bless you all!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark