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.