Bishop THOMAS's visit to St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Parish in WIlkes-Barre, PA
May 26-29, 2006
That evening Sayidna had dinner with 60 of the parishioners who welcomed him with open arms and were truly glad to have him back in our midst. On Saturday morning he visited his great aunt who is in a local nursing home. His Aunt Sally was very honored to have her nephew, the bishop, come to see her.
On Saturday afternoon, Bishop THOMAS, along with Father David and Khouriyee Anne Hester, went to the graduation ceremony at St. Tikhon’s Seminary to see one of the Antiochian Seminary students, Father Christopher Morris, graduate with Distinction. Both Sayidna and Father David, who teaches Patristics and Church History as an adjunct Associate Professor at St. Tikhon’s, were in the academic procession.
Later that evening His Grace presided over Great Vespers which were chanted by the Antiochian Seminary Students of St. Tikhon’s assigned to St. Mary, along with the parish chanters. After Great Vespers, Sayidna had dinner at the Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre with the members of the Order of St. Ignatius and the members of the Parish Council.
On Sunday Morning Bishop Thomas presided over Orthros and then served the Divine Liturgy for a crowded church. During his homily, Sayidna thanked the parishioners for their welcome and for all their hard work for the church. He then reminded them of the importance of being a welcoming community and spoke of the day when people would be moving into this area and the importance of our willingness to accept them into our Antiochian Orthodox Church community. After the Liturgy, the parish Spaghetti Dinner Workers prepared a breakfast for all to share with the Bishop—no, it wasn’t spaghetti. The Bishop then met with the children and teens of St. Mary in the Church Temple, where there had a question and answer session with the bishop. A number of the children were delighted to learn that they were cousins of His Grace.
On Sunday evening, Sayidna’s aunt and uncle, Mike and Sarah Cross, invited Sayidna to their home for a Kibbee dinner with all kinds of delicious Middle Eastern foods. Along with Father David and Khouriyee Anne, Sayidna’s cousin Phyllis, his aunt and godmother Rosemarie Kresge and her husband, and Sayidna’s Uncle Sam and his wife were also present.
On Memorial Day Bishop THOMAS presided over the Memorial Day ceremonies in St. Mary’s Orthodox Cemetery. This gave Sayidna an opportunity to visit the graves of his grand parents and great grand parents, along with the graves of Father Michael and Khouriyee Sarah Simon, who besides being related to His Grace, were also very influential in his life and served as great examples of ministry to him. In addition to the Trisagion for all the reposed, there was also a civil ceremony with a flag lowering, Taps, a Memorial Bell ringing, and a rifle salute. Following the service, there was a luncheon in the Church Hall where everyone again had the opportunity to visit with Sayidna.
It was a very special weekend for all the people of St. Mary, and they were very pleased to have Bishop THOMAS with them again and were much affirmed by his many encouraging words to them.