At the Clergy Meeting and first ever meeting of the Diocesan Council of the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland, presided over by the Diocesan Administrator, Bishop Irenei, on Saturday 2 September, it was resolved to hold a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Alban every year. Also, in another historic event, all parishes were blessed by Vladyka to keep the third Sunday after Pentecost as the Sunday of All Saints of the British Isles and Ireland, using the service composed by Archpriest Andrew Phillips fifteen years ago.
It was notable that the Clergy Meeting was for the first time ever attended by representatives from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as from England. Both meetings were informed that the finally magnificently frescoed London church (with images of the local saints) will be consecrated on Friday 21st September 2018 and that the church in Colchester will at last be consecrated, probably in 2019, on its eleventh anniversary. There were also lengthy discussions about new missions, among several other places, including in Kent and Cambridgeshire, the need to found a monastery, about publications, websites and the involvement of the young people of the Diocese and the need to nurture their faith, as with the new Searchlight youth magazine.
The Diocese now has thirteen priests, a number never exceeded even in the 1950s. Moreover, they are multinational in background and ROCOR seems to becoming the only multi-ethnic Orthodox Diocese in these lands. Bishop Irenei’s visit to the reborn Diocese is the fourth episcopal visit this year, and not the last. Other candidates for ordination are coming forward, encouraged by Bishop Irenei who will not reject worthy candidates. One parish which had only had two episcopal visits in nineteen years has now had four episcopal visits in eight months.
It is remarkable what an episcopal presence can do, just as we had always thought, and all look forward to Bishop Irenei’s permanent return to this country in the near future. All are grateful to him and especially to the Most Reverened Metropolitan Hilarion and the Very Reverend Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco, without whom none of this would ever have been possible. It has taken a great deal of effort over the last nine years to arrange all this after a long and dark period in our 300-year history.