Metropolitan Demetrius conducted his first visitation of St. Irene parish in Michigan on 13-14 August ns, 2016. His Eminence was accompanied and assisted by Archimandrite Agathangelos, Protosyngellos of the Metropolis.
His Eminence met with the parish council for over two hours on Saturday morning, reviewing the parish's progress, discussing its greater integration into the activities of the metropolis as a whole, and hearing proposals for future plans. The metropolitan warmly congratulated the rector and the parish council on their progress, noting that St. Irene has quickly advanced through the mission phase and gone directly to being a functioning parish on a small scale. He praised the beauty of the parish's current temporary chapel, noting especially the professional quality of the templon erected by the skill of the parishioners.
On Saturday afternoon, His Eminence met with the leadership of the parish's educational outreach program, the Holy Wisdom Academy, a classical Christian school that meets for four hours on Saturday afternoons during the school year, offering instruction in Orthodox catechism, Classical Greek and Latin, Modern Greek and Romanian, and traditional rhetoric. His Eminence blessed the Academy's intention to provide a blueprint for similar programs throughout the metropolis and its efforts to create a comprehensive catechism curriculum in particular.
After Great Vespers on Saturday evening, His Eminence and Fr. Agathangelos graced an informal gathering at a parishioner's home, at which those present were able to ask questions and enjoy spiritual converse with their archpastor on a variety of topics of concern.
The parish greeted the holy Fast of the Dormition with an especially joyous Feast of the Procession of the Holy Cross, graced as it was by the metropolitan's presence and prayer. His Eminence presided over Great Vespers and celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday, preceded by Orthros, the Veneration of the Cross, and the Lesser Blessing of Water. Archimandrite Agathangelos and Presbyter Steven Allen, the parish rector, assisted in what everyone present later described as a brightly calm, peaceful, and prayerful concelebration. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence blessed apples in memory of St. Irene, the holy patroness of the community.
An "unexpected joy" came with His Eminence's visit, in the form of holy relics of the saints that he gifted to the parish, relics of the Holy Great Martyr George, Holy Great Martyr Eustathios Plakidas, St. Arsenius of Kerkyra, St. Clement of Ochrid, St. Pachomios of Chios, St. Nectarios of Pentapolis and Aegina, and the New Hiero-confessor Glicherie of Romania.
A festive trapeza followed the Divine Services, at which His Eminence repeated to the parish brotherhood the congratulations he had offered on the preceding day to the parish council and academy faculty. A joyous, indeed Paschal, mood prevailed throughout the day, and both the clergy and faithful of such a small and unknown community can only reflect with much gratitude on this experience of the fullness of apostolic grace ever present in the true Church.
May St. Irene of Cappadocia, Abbess of Chrysovalantou and Wonderworker, bless our metropolitan for his archpastoral solicitude and labors, and be ever present as our help, to the glory of the Holy Trinity Whom she loved.
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