SUNDAY 11 / 24 JULY 2022: On the Sunday of St Olga and St Euphemia, His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe made an archpastoral visit to the Parish of St Elisabeth the Grand-Duchess in Wallasey, England. The patronal feastday of the parish had been celebrated the preceding Monday, but with the Bishop’s blessing the festal ‘after feast’ period in honour of St Elisabeth was extended to the weekend, and prayers in honour of the great new-martyr were lifted up during the Sunday services.
After preparing their hearts with beautiful and peaceful evening services on Saturday, the Diocesan Bishop was greeted on Sunday morning by representatives of the Parish Council, and proceeded to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, co-served by the Rector of St Elisabeth Parish and Chancellor of the Diocese, Archpriest Paul Elliott, together with the parish’s Deacon Alban Illingworth. Joining them were Priest Justin Venn, resident in the parish with the blessing of the Patriarchate of Alexandria; Archpriest Joseph Skinner of the Diocese of Sourozh; and Priest Vyacheslav Lyahovskiy, who had arrived with his family only the day before from war-torn Ukraine and were welcomed warmly into the parish.
The Divine Liturgy was sung by an expanded parish choir, and the Altar served by a host of local subdeacons, readers and altarniki, together with some who had come up from London to join in the joy of the parish’s festivities — together with a group of pilgrim-parishioners from London, Belfast, Manchester, and other parts of the UK.
A special spirit of joy marked out the weekend’s Divine Services, felt especially deeply in the diverse community of believers that makes up the ever-growing St Elisabeth Parish. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, all the faithful joined the clergy in a Cross-procession around the temple, during which special hymns to the Saint, to the Theotokos, to the Cross and to Christ the Saviour were sung, and the Gospel was proclaimed in the hearing of the whole city. A wonderful meal followed the procession, during which the Bishop and faithful remained for many hours, speaking about the spiritual life, welcoming into the parish new members and its newest clergy-family from Ukraine, who join many other Ukrainian refugees already living in the embrace of the Parish.