Parish News

Celebrations in Rhodes

It was a great pleasure to receive a fraternal visit from the Custos in Rhodes and to mark and to participate in the celebrations that took place over the last three days to mark the unification of the Dodecanese to the mother-fatherland Greece. What an honour it was to meet the President of the Republic. His encouraging words and simple manner were an inspiration. What a pleasant gentleman he really is. These celebrations were combined with the presentation by Professor and Vice President of the Polytechnic University of Metsovio Tonia Maropoulo of the restoration of the Most Holy Tomb of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. Her explanation was well received in the magnificent chambers of the Knights Palace; what a fitting setting for this momentous occasion. She is a very humble and simple lady, yet she has an extraordinary intelligence and capacity which is manifested in this unique project of restoration of the Most Holy Tomb that she has planned, guided and executed in Jerusalem over the past two years. The Custos gave a speech in English about the restoration, perfectly delivered and well received by all present. Despite the demanding programme of events, he still managed to celebrate Mass for the parishioners. We had a Holy Hour and the Custos gave Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. He prayers of reparation Iddio sia benedetto etc he read perfectly in Greek to the amazement of the people. All the members of the newly reactivated Secular Franciscan Order were present and they and all present receive an olive wood rosary from Jerusalem from the hands of the Custos, as you can imagine they were delighted. We were so happy to have him and Father David the Custodial secretary with us. It was only a few days but we felt very blessed and encouraged in our mission.

From an Ecumenical aspect, the presence of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land, His Paternity Francesco Patton and Archbishop Sauel Ahoyan representing the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem was an absolute triumph for Rhodes. All the distinguished Church leaders were received with the utmost respect and cordiality by our own beloved Metropolitan Greek Orthodox Archbishop Kirilos with the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch Theophilos is a people’s person, he is so adapt at making everyone feel so very much at home. We all admire him very much.
Father Damianos is the representative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem in Athens. He ensured that all the travel arrangements and particular needs of the visiting prelates were taken care of. Naturally they were very grateful and impressed by his kind and attentive service.
The final evening was spent at the Metropolitan’s house. We all felt very much at home with our beloved Archbishop Kirilos. His hospitality and attention to his guests’ needs is faultless. We shared similar stories and there was much laughter and joy amongst us. I have always believed that we can in fact do many things together as fellow Christians when we are obedient and respectful to our church hierarchies who guide us in the way of truth and practice. This was very evident in the brotherly love that was evident that evening.

Naturally living in Rhodes I felt proud of the warm relationship between the Orthodox and Catholic Church. The fruit of our excellent cooperation and collaboration was very evident and remarked upon by the visitors. We may live on a smallish Island but we have much to offer to others. The Greek people are masters of hospitality towards their many international guests and the thousands of tourists who choose to visit every summer. Rhodes is indeed a true bridge between East and West and that obvious bridge linking Jerusalem and Rhodes for over two millennia of history continues to exist and to be an example that edifies all who come here.