Orthodox Christians of various nationalities from the Greater Toronto Area gathered together this year at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Toronto to celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the First Sunday of Great and Holy Lent.
The sacred service was presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios, with more than 30 clergymen, one deacon and many altar boys participating. The hymns were chanted wonderfully by the excellent St. Nicholas Choir and its chanters.
As is customary for all Orthodox around the world, a procession of holy icons, held by clergy and lay people, took place to honour this venerable day for the Church and to commemorate the triumph of true doctrine over heresy.
The Pan-Orthodox Vespers brought together many dignitaries from predominantly Orthodox countries including the Ambassador of Serbia to Canada, His Excellency Mihailo Papazoglu; Consul General of Serbia, Mr. Spasoje Milicevic; Consul General of Greece, Mr. Alexandros Ioannidis; Consul General of Cyprus, Mr. Constantinos Christofides; as well as Toronto City Councillor (and former Member of Parliament), the Hon. Jim Karygiannis; Toronto City Councillor, Ms. Mary Fragedakis; the President of the Philoptochos in Canada, Ms. Efthimia Coutsougeras; and, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mr. George Koccoris and Mr. John Liagakis.
Metropolitan Sotirios delivered a passionate homily about the need for, and importance of, nourishing our Orthodox Christian faith and keeping our traditional values in today’s society. When we are close to Christ, we will be unwavering confessors for Orthodoxy during these turbulent days, His Eminence said very characteristically.
Following the Vespers service, which was conducted in several languages, the Community of St. Nicholas offered a complimentary Lenten meal to all participants in the Metropolitan Cultural Centre, adjacent to the parish.