Metropolitan Kallistos – Memory Eternal

Dear brothers and sisters,

By now, many of you will have heard the news of the repose of Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia in the early hours of the morning.

It feels like we have a lost a landmark that has been there for so long, and that we took for granted, despite his venerable age and deteriorating health: a spiritual equivalent to the White-Cliffs of Dover or the Tower of London… an enduring part of our Orthodox consciousness as believing-people in this corner of God’s world. But, all flesh is grass…

We cannot even begin to describe the debt that the Orthodox Church owes him, especially for the fine translations of the Festal Menaion and Lenten Triodion (undertaken with Mother Mary) that have served English speaking parishes and faithful so well over the decades.

Just over fifty years on from the publication of the Festal Menaion, it is so easy to forget what an ’English language desert’ it was for English speaking people coming to Orthodoxy, with only a handful of translated liturgical texts having been printed.

Fr Luke has described the elation people felt when they were able to have the festal and Lenten texts in English, with those living far from the few Orthodox churches then existing being able to buy these books to celebrate and pray at home.

As such a very English figure, Metropolitan Kallistos’s life and labours demonstrated that Orthodoxy was not the preserve of ethnic enclaves, and this is where his text translations where so vital, in opening the prayer and rich liturgical wealth of Orthodoxy to English speaking people.

Like Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, he showed Orthodoxy to the English-speaking world, but he did so as an insider – as the most English of Englishmen – and though serving and lecturing in Oxford may not have brought contact with the broadest spectrum of society, his writings (especially ‘The Orthodox Church’ and  ‘The Orthodox Way’) and the liturgical translations made him a household name in Orthodoxy: a name known by all who have explored Orthodox Christianity.  

Perhaps his impact could have been greater had his patriarchate made greater use of such an inspiring and talented bishop, but such was his life as an English hierarch in an ethnic ecclesiastical setting that clearly prefers to advance ethnic mediocrity and fund-raisers to men of wisdom, prayer and elevated spiritual-life.

Many clergy now serving the Church, and many members of the laity were inspired by Metropolitan Kallistos, following his journey and making their own spiritual home in the Orthodox Church where, with a deft lightness of touch he managed to transcend jurisdictional divides and avoid conflict, making him a loved and revered pan-Orthodox figure in an increasingly fractious Orthodox world.   

May the Lord grant him a place in the heavenly mansions and may his memory be eternal.  

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

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.