LONDON: 30 November 2022
Nativity of the Mother of God Cathedral hosts the Western European Pastoral Conference

Over two-and-a-half God-provided days, clergy from all across Europe gathered in England for the Diocesan Clergy Pastoral Conference, held at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God and Holy Royal Martyrs in London.

Having not been able to organise such a large-scale gathering for several years, on account of pandemic-related travel restrictions, the occasion marked the first time that clergy from across the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe were able to convene together since the uniting of the formerly-separate Diocese of Western Europe and Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland. Thus the event marked a much longed-for opportunity for clergy from the vast diocesan territory — covering eleven countries — to personally meet their brethren who, in some cases, had only been known to one another from correspondence and on-line gatherings.

While the new challenges to travel posed by the ongoing war meant that several clerics could still not obtain the necessary visas to attend, nevertheless some 40 clergymen were welcomed to the London Cathedral by the Ruling Bishop of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, together with the Vicar Bishop, His Grace Bishop Alexander of Vevey. The days were marked out by an abundance of Divine Services, at which each clergyman had the opportunity to serve in different capacities, culminating in the Divine Liturgy of the Feastday of St John Chrysostom, concelebrated by both hierarchs and all the present clergy. At this service, clerical awards were bestowed upon several clergy of the Diocese.

Throughout Friday and Saturday, the clergy assembled in discussion in the Cathedral Hall, during which time Bishop Irenei spoke to them about many of the activities of the Diocese, about pastoral and spiritual matters, as well as liturgical questions and instructions. The Priests and Deacons took eager advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about pastoral situations faced by them in their ministry to the modern world, and to receive counsel and help from their hierarchs and experienced fellow-clergy. Special attention was paid to liturgical instruction and the preservation of the unique liturgical heritage of the Church Abroad, including practical and ‘hands-on’ instruction in many matters of Divine Service.

Considerable time was also provided for the sharing, by all the clergy, of their lives in their parishes and families; and for each clergyman to have the opportunity to make his own confession.

During the Pastoral Conference, a panikhida was served for the late First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as ‘Many Years’ for the recently-elected Primate, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas. Throughout, prayers were offered in the Cathedral, in the presence of the icon containing a portion of the incorrupt relics of St John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, who for many years was the Ruling Bishop of this Diocese.

Having been well cared-for by the Parish Councillors and Sisterhood of the London Cathedral, the clergy of the Diocese concluded their gathering with a festal meal after the Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, after which, having given thanks to our Merciful God for the blessing of having been together during these days and grown even closer in unity and fraternity, they departed London to return to their parishes across Europe.


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