Wednesday, 24th October / 6th November 2019, marked the feast of the icon of the Mother of God ‘The Joy of All Who Sorrow’ and thus the patronal feastday of two Diocesan parishes: that in Mettingham, Suffolk in England; and that in Menton, France.
His Grace Bishop Irenei celebrated the feastday, which also marks the anniversary of his own consecration to the episcopacy, at the Mettingham Church with evening services on Tuesday and the festal Divine Liturgy on the day itself, at which His Grace was joined in the Altar with clerics of the church, Priest Antony Bardsley and Deacon Mark Tattum-Smith, as well as Priest Spasimir Ivanov from the St Alexander Nevsky Parish in nearby Norwich. During his homily, His Grace reminded the faithful that ‘after Pascha, the Altar Feast is the most significant feastday in every parish and community, in which the heavenly protector of the temple is honoured and thanked for the rich blessings offered therein. Here, in Mettingham, you are blessed to have as your Protectress the All-Holy and All-Pure Mother of God, the “Joy of All Who Sorrow”, who, in a world filled with so much sorrow and despair, brings joy through the life of her Son, to Whom you have access in the Mysteries celebrated here, as well as through her own lovingly-maternal prayers.’ His Grace added, ‘It is a sign of your faith that so many of you have come today, despite distance and the strains of a working-weekday Feast, to piously honour her who prays for you as mother of our Saviour!’
Following the Divine Liturgy, a festal procession was made around the temple, followed by a meal and spiritual discussion.
Bishop Irenei also congratulated the Joy of All Who Sorrow Parish in Menton, France, by telephone following the Divine Services in Mettingham. Speaking to the rector of that parish, Priest Evgeny Nikitin, His Grace conveyed his heartfelt love and gratitude to God for the piety of the faithful in the historic community on the Côte d’Azur, and the warm pastoral care of its clergy, remembering fondly his recent archpastoral visit to the parish and looking forward to the next opportunity to visit.