The paternal visit of His Eminence Silouan to our community in Eastleigh, Hampshire—dedicated to the Twelve Apostles—was held in a spirit of joy and love. Sayidna presided from the throne over Vespers on Saturday 1st April where we were joined by Fr Ioannis Pantelidis, the pastor of the nearby Church of St Nicholas in Southampton, Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, showing the fraternal bonds between our communities. At the conclusion of Vespers, Sayidna spoke of the importance of preparing well for the Divine Liturgy.
On the following day, the fifth Sunday of the Great Fast dedicated to St Mary of Egypt, Matins and the Divine Liturgy were served. In his homily after the Gospel, Sayidna spoke of how St Mary of Egypt purified herself to receive God: through fasting, prayer and forgiveness. He picked up particularly the theme of forgiveness, that we must ask forgiveness of each other as well as of God. At the end of the Divine Liturgy a memorial service was held for His Eminence John, Metropolitan of Lattakia, Syria, whose anniversary falls at this time and who had such a vital role in the formation of Sayidna as well as a great impact over the whole Church of Antioch. May his memory be eternal!
Sayidna was able to speak with many members of our community following the services and a delicious meal was served as is the custom each Sunday of the Eastleigh parish. Sayidna addressed us all, bringing together the life and example of Metropolitan John and the importance of building a true community.
Sayidna made time to talk with the pastor of Twelve Apostles’ Church, Fr Alexander Haig, about the present situation in the parish as well as opportunities for the future.
This second visit of our Father in Christ to our Church strengthens the mutual love between him and us so that we may work together for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We eagerly await his return.