The parish of Saints Peter & Paul in Potomac, MD celebrated the first weekend of Lent with a pastoral visit by the Diocesan Bishop, His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn, who also presided over the Pan-Orthodox Vespers for the Sunday of Orthodoxy of the greater Washington, D.C. area. His Grace was accompanied by Deacon Andrew Honoré, who is a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.
Sayyidna began his visit by presiding over the Akathist, or Madayeh, service. Sayyidna’s remarks following the service reminded the faithful of the significance of the Sundays that led to the beginning of Lent, and of the purpose of Lent. The service was followed by a potluck dinner during which the faithful greeted His Grace.
On Saturday morning, His Grace met with the Church School children. He engaged the children in a fun and thoughtful discussion about the purpose of coming to church, as well as the Bible’s teaching on the life of Christ. A Lenten lunch was served for His Grace, the Sunday School children, the Parish’s teen SOYO members, and several visiting teen SOYO members from St. George’s Church in Washington, D.C. and St. Mary’s Church in Hunt Valley, MD.
Following lunch, Sayyidna held a thought-provoking and engaging session with the teens, during which he addressed various issues of interest to them including peer pressure, drugs, and sexuality. Following the meeting with the teens, Sayydina presided over the Service of Great Vespers. To cap off a busy day, His Grace had dinner with the Young Adult Fellowship at a local Lebanese restaurant.
On Sunday, His Grace presided over Orthros and Divine Liturgy, offering an inspiring sermon on the significance of this first Sunday of Lent during which we celebrate the restoration of the Holy Icons. He stressed that we do not worship the icons, but rather we venerate them and the persons depicted in them, and we use them as reminders of the events depicted in them.
The weekend culminated with the Pan-Orthodox Vespers of the Sunday of Orthodoxy for the Greater Washington D.C. area. His Grace presided over the Vespers, which were attended by 25 members of the clergy from the Orthodox Clergy Council of Metropolitan Washington D.C. and many Orthodox faithful from the area who filled the church to the brim. The procession of all clergy with the icons was an impressive sight, and the reading of the Synodikon of Orthodoxy inspired the faithful in the proper use of icons in our Church. Sayyidna’s remarks reminded the faithful of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the true faith, including the Antiochian saints, even to the present day of persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The service was followed by a reception hosted by our parish’s Antiochian Women.
His Grace’s visit was a success thanks to the hard work of the clergy and people of the Saints Peter and Paul’s parish family, and we thank God for the blessings received at the start of the holy season of Great Lent.
SOYO LuncheonBishop Nicholas addresses SOYO teens
Presiding at Sunday morning Liturgy
Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers
The faithful and clergy at Sunday of Orthodox Vespers