From December 5-12, 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios continued his pastoral visits to the Communities of Western Canada, visiting the faithful of British Columbia.
On December 5 and 6, His Eminence visited Sts. Nicholas and Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Community of East Vancouver for their feast day. Metropolitan Sotirios, assisted by Fr. Timoleon Prattas (Parish Priest), and all the clergy of Metro Vancouver, presided over the Great Vespers service. Although the weather conditions were very difficult, faithful Christians still managed to come to the service. Following Vespers, five Altar Servers were tonsured as “Readers” by His Eminence: Dimitrios Panagiotis Kontogiannis, George Koseos, Nikolaos Costopoulos, Nickolaos Sachinidis and Joshua Altilia. May they always be worthy!
On the feast of St. Nicholas, Metropolitan Sotirios, assisted by Fr. D. Partsafas, Fr. D. Tryfonopoulos, Fr. P. Kondratyev and Fr. T. Prattas (Parish Priest), celebrated the Divine Liturgy. At the end of the Liturgy, an Artoklasia service was held for the Port Corps - Hellenic Coast Guard, offered by Captain Charalambos Mouzakis of the Consulate General of Greece in Vancouver. Afterwards, the Greek Orthodox Community of East Vancouver honoured their first Parish Priest and Presbytera, Fr. Dorotheos and Presbytera Stavroula Tryfonopoulos, for their years of service to the Community.
On Wednesday, December 7, His Eminence and the Reverend Fathers of British Columbia held a Clergy Meeting. They discussed various topics. It was a fruitful discussion, where Metropolitan Sotirios urged the clergy to make every effort to grow and improve our various youth programs.
On Thursday, December 8, Metropolitan Sotirios, assisted by Fr. Constantinos Economos (Parish Priest), and the clergy of the area, celebrated an evening Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Conception of the Theotokos by St. Anne at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Vancouver. The Cathedral has the blessing to have a piece of the holy relics of St. Anne, along with a new chapel dedicated to her memory. After the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan took a photograph with all the Altar Servers of St. George, who serve the Lord faithfully.
On Friday, December 9, His Eminence was to attend the Greek School Christmas celebration of the local Hellenic Community. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the weather. Nonetheless, His Eminence congratulates the students for all their hard work and dedication.
On Saturday, December 10, His Eminence, accompanied by Fr. Constantinos Economos, Fr. Demetrios Partsafas and Fr. Dorotheos Tryfonopoulos, attended the Christmas celebration of the "Grecian Society", a seniors association in West Vancouver. His Eminence had the opportunity to speak with the members and wish them a Merry Christmas.
In the evening, the West Coast Byzantine Chanters Society and the Greek School of the Greek Orthodox Community of East Vancouver had a joint Christmas celebration of Byzantine Music, poems and songs. This event was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the enthronement of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Ecumenical Throne. His Eminence expressed his warmest congratulations to all of the organizers and urged them to establish a Nursing Home and a Greek Orthodox day school.
On Sunday, December 11, Metropolitan Sotirios celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Constantine and Helen Church in Surrey, assisted by Fr. Konstantinos Kaltsidis (Parish Priest) and Fr. Dorotheos Tryfonopoulos. The parish was filled to capacity; in his homily, His Eminence reminded all parishioners that the Christmas season is centred on the birth in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that He is waiting to be born in our hearts.
On Sunday, December 11, the Youth of St. George Vancouver celebrated Youth Sunday. GOYA had a sleepover the night before, our HOPE + JOY youth had breakfast with Santa after church, and our ENA young adults had a Donut Fundraiser Sale.
On Sunday evening, His Eminence had a meeting with all of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Parish Priests in the Vancouver area. They discussed a number of matters like the establishment of an Endowment Fund for the Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy, and the upcoming fundraising luncheon in support of our Theological Academy which will take place next month at the Greek Community of Vancouver with participation of all the Greek Orthodox Communities of the area.
As His Eminence departed British Columbia for Toronto, he thanked God for all the blessings He has given the Church in B.C., along with all the people who were very helpful during his pastoral visit. He prays that all the faithful have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, blessed by our Lord.