D.C. Area Clergy Offer Vespers in Support of Suffering Middle East Christians
The Antiochian clergy of the Capital Deanery (the Greater Washington, D.C. / Baltimore area) were invited by the Franciscans of Washington D.C. to offer Orthodox Vespers on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, as part of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagorus in Jerusalem in 1964. The 50th anniversary was also marked in Jerusalem this year by the meeting of Pope Francis I and Patriarch Bartholomew on May 25, 2014, where they prayed together for peace in the Middle East.
Prior to his repose, Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory received a request from the Franciscans asking for his blessing for this service, emphasizing the need to join together in support of the suffering Christians of the Middle East. Antiochian priests Fr. George Rados, Fr. Joseph Rahal, Fr. Isaac Crow, Fr. John Anderson, Fr. Nicholas Alford, Fr. Patrick Cardine and Fr. James Hamrick were joined by choir members from three parishes in offering Vespers in the beautiful Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After the service all enjoyed the warm hospitality of their Roman Catholic brethren at a reception in the cloister of the monastery.