7.10 am. Leave for the church in Essex where at 8.00 I have to meet an engineer about a fault in the sound system in the church. I get there early and he too. We shall need one new microphone and two extra speakers.
8.30 am. I have time to tidy the church and then see a Bulgarian woman who has problems with her son who is studying medicine.
10.00 In September a drunken man crashed into the perimeter wall of the church at 3.20 in the morning. He managed to get out of his car unharmed though the car was a write-off. Having found out the car registration from the police, now I have an appointment with a builder who is to give a quote to our insurance company to repair the wall. It will cost them several thousand pounds. For some reason he wants to see me and not the caretaker. He turns out to be an Irishman who wants to talk to a priest.
10.25 Get the church caretaker to be present for the fitting of a new smart meter for the electricity in the church.
10.40 I call on two parishioners in Colchester, originally from Saint Petersburg, a mother and daughter. The mother, born during the German siege in the War, has dementia.
11.30 Visit a parishioner in Colchester whose husband is Turkish and hesitating about being baptised. We already have three Turkish parishioners and I want him and his wife to come tomorrow where I will be baptising another Turkish man. Once he has accepted baptism, I will be able to marry him and his civil wife.
12.15 Visit the graves of my parents and my brother fifteen minutes away. Tidy them
12.40 Phone call from a parishioner in Thetford in Norfolk whose friend’s mother has just died. I will serve a panikhida tomorrow, St Dimitri’s Saturday. O Lord, give rest to Thy servant Larisa who has fallen asleep.
2.00 pm. Despite the covid lockdown, I have to go to one of the prisons in west Suffolk, about an hour away, where I am the Orthodox chaplain for an emergency, to see a Russian man on suicide watch. He is clearly suffering from severe depression. I manage to listen to his first ever confession and give him communion. He says he feels better.
4.00 Call in on a parishioner about forty minutes from the prison. She obtained British nationality two years ago, but her foreign-born daughter still does not have it. She is panicking and tells me that her daughter may be deported. I reassured her and telephoned an advice centre, who inform me that there is no hurry and that the daughter will obtain a British passport within six months, after payment of just over £1,000. The problem is only financial, not worse. We read the akathist to St Nicholas together in her icon-corner.
6.00 Get home which is thirty minutes away. Answer two letters and pick up messages from parishioners left on the landline.
7.30 E-mail the lists of parishioners with a circular about arrangements for confession and communion during the forthcoming new closure of churches. A rush of phone calls on my mobile starts.
8.00 Tell the cleaner that she need not come in next week because of covid-19.
8.05 Phone the second and third priests about the new arrangements.
8.15 Phone-call with the future deacon about service-books.
8.20 Phone call from a couple whose marriage at crisis point.
8.40 Order a mantle for the Bishop from the Ukraine.
9.00 Phone call from a Moldovan woman in East London: Please pray for my uncle and aunt, Sergei and Elena. They were climbing in the Himalayas when they fell into a crevasse on a glacier. Their bodies cannot be retrieved for burial, at least not for some centuries. She is in tears.
9.10 Answer e-mails, including an e-mail from a family who have had to move to a place on the other side of the country where there is no church. I tell them that if they can find other Orthodox there and premises, we can ask the Bishop about the possibility of starting a mission. But we are so short of priests; we need at least three more just in our area.