Dear brothers and sisters,
As the next week will be such a busy and itinerant one, I am writing my weekly message now, not so many hours before our Sunday Liturgy.
Today, the feast of St Anthony, the founder of the Kiev Caves Monastery, saw Deacon Mark and I travel to West Wales for our first pastoral visit to Ukrainian refugees accommodated in the Urdd residential youth centre at Llangrannog, on the Cardigan Coast.
Just over two hundred displaced Ukrainians are currently living at the centre, though the Orthodox are a small minority amongst mainly Greek Catholics.
Already well accustomed to travelling to serve the faithful in Cheltenham, with our ‘mobile church’ we arrived with the things needed for Liturgy, making a room overlooking the refectory into a temporary chapel for the morning, confessing the faithful and celebrating the Liturgy surrounded by green hills and overlooking the sea
It was a quiet Liturgy with only a dozen people, but it was a blessing to celebrate the feast of St Anthony Pechersky in such a beautiful and scenic setting, and to be able to see Nataliya from Newquay (and meet her parents), having not been together for such a long time.
We were blessed to have the assistance of Reader Bohdan, a graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy and native of Kiev, who visited us for Pascha in St Mary, Butetown, and who will hopefully become a regular part of our parish life.
Tomorrow, of course, sees the feast of St Olga, and I know that the morning will be a particular challenge with confessions, but we will make it work, somehow.
I would like to remind parishioners that this week will see me undertaking one of my other obediences on behalf of our diocese, visiting Walsingham and serving in the Shrine, with which our diocese has had an association for close to a century. I look forward to days of prayer and reading, and celebrating the feast of Holy Great Prince, St Vladimir, the Equal of the Apostles.
I shall return on Thursday and, given that this will be a long and tiring day with Liturgy, trapeza and the journey home from Norfolk, I need to have requests for Friday confessions by Wednesday evening, with 22:00 as the cut off point. I will not be accessing parish emails on Thursday, so anyone emailing after this deadline will not be able to confess. Please recognise that the clergy have good reason for giving deadlines, as plans need to be made, and fitting some pastoral activities into the time available is sometimes an almost impossible challenge.
So, confessions will be heard in the Church of St Mary, Butetown, on Friday, with the schedule sent out after the Wednesday 22:00 deadline.
Saturday sees James’s baptism in Chippenham, and we ask you to keep him in your prayers, and Sunday’s 11:00 Liturgy will see the celebration of the Baptism of Rus, closely following tomorrow’s celebration of St Olga, and Thursday’s celebration of St Vladimir.
I am particularly looking forward to this feast, given its message of the common baptismal waters of the East Slavic peoples, who should rejoice and be united in the shared legacy of the Holy Equals of the Apostles, Vladimir and Olga.
May God bless you all!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark