A long-time cleric of the Western European Diocese given Synodal award

On the feast day of St Barbara the Great-Martyr, to whom the historic church in Vevey, Switzerland is dedicated, the altar feast of the temple was celebrated with Divine Services headed by the Diocesan Bishop and his Vicar. 

His Grace Bishop Alexander of Vevey, joined by His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, served the festal evening services. On Saturday morning, Vladyka Irenei was greeted at the doors of the church and the two bishops concelebrated the festal Divine Liturgy, co-served by the clerics of the Parish, Priest Aviv Saliou-Diallo and Protodeacon Michel Vernaz, together with clergy from nearby parishes who arrived for the Feast: Archpriests Pavel Tsvetkoff and Emilian Pocinoc and Archdeacon Dometian from Geneva, and Archimandrite Martin (de Calfish) and Hieromonk Dimitry from the Monastery of Dompierre (Korsun Diocese).

At the Little Entrance, His Grace Bishop Alexander, on behalf of the Ruling Bishop, awarded Priest Aviv Saliou-Diallo the right to wear the nabedrennik. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Bishop Irenei bestowed the Synodal Order of the Sign, 2nd Degree, upon Protodeacon Michel Vernaz — a high honour granted by the Holy Synod of Bishops in recognition of the 45th anniversary of Fr Michel’s diaconal service, celebrated on this feastday — and presented him with both the medal of the Order and a gramota signed by the First Hierarch. 

During his homily, His Grace Bishop Irenei called to mind the life of St Barbara, and in particular the manner in which the young saint was touched, and even transformed from Paganism into the True Faith, through her experience of the beauty of creation. ‘She was surrounded by beauty’, Vladyka preached. ‘Cut off from all the society of the world, it was the world itself that came to speak to her, and the inexpressible glory of what she beheld touched her heart. She began to wonder about the Creator of so splendid a world, of its origin, of its purpose — and when finally her father released her from the tower and permitted her to reenter society, she ran to the Christians of the region and asked about precisely these things; and so it was that the Pagan girl arrived at the knowledge of God, and loved Him, and was plunged into the waters of Holy Baptism, to be united with Him. So it was that she arrived at so profound a faith that she would even join Him in a martyr’s death, perfecting that love which had been born in her through the mountains’ beauty and the testimony of the stars.’

At the conclusion of his reflection upon the Saints’s life, the Bishop exhorted the faithful: ‘Receive from the beauty of creation a desire to grow ever closer to the Creator God. As St Barbara went from her tower to the Christians, and from them to the font, let us also rush from the mountains and lakes into the temple, and receive the Holy Mysteries that render our life eternal, knowing that one day, if we persevere in repentance and asceticism, we may behold the making-new of the whole created realm, and become the inheritors of God’s beauty forever.’

Following the Liturgy, the Hierarchs joined the clergy and faithful in the parish hall for a generous festal meal and several hours of spiritual conversation, at the end of which Vladyka Irenei departed by car for Geneva, where he will serve the Vigil and Sunday Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross.



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