Bishop Thomas' Letter of Sympathy on the Repose of Patriarch Ignatius IV
His Grace Bishop Thomas writes:
December 6, 2012
Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
Beloved Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic:
Christ is Risen!
By now, I'm sure you have all heard of the falling asleep in the Lord of our beloved Patriarch Ignatius IV. We are all saddened by the great loss suffered by all Orthodox Christians throughout the world.
I had the opportunity to meet with His Beatitude a number of times during the last twenty years. I first met him when I served as a deacon at the Church of St. George in Houston, Texas, when he underwent open heart surgery. His Beatitude passed on eight years to the day that I was consecrated a bishop. On December 5th, 2004, faithful from all over the world, including representatives from this Archdiocese, gathered at his home in Damascus. His Beatitude personally greeted each member of our delegation at his residence. He presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and laid his hand on my head. I also personally met with His Beatitude at the Patriarchal headquarters in 2008. The genuine love he possessed for me and the faithful of his flock was evident during this visit as well.
Many of you have had the opportunity to meet with His Beatitude and receive his blessing. Those of you who have enjoyed such an opportunity should consider yourselves greatly blessed.
Though His Beatitude has passed on to the Church Triumphant, we remember how he led us, the Church Militant here on earth, time and time again toward the kingdom of God. The Church now calls upon us to remember His Beatitude in our prayers. God willing, as we pray for him, he will continue to pray for us, as he has done for these many years.
Sometime very soon, I will be sending an expression of sympathy to all my beloved brothers in the Holy Synod of Antioch. This expression of sympathy will be sent on my behalf as well as yours. As our Metropolitans and Archbishops gather for His Beatitude's funeral, I ask that you remember all of them in your prayers that they may continue his example of "rightly dividing the word of Thy truth."
I extend my sympathy to all of you. May God give you long life and good health. May His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS rest in peace and may his memory be eternal!
Yours in Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic
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