On October 30-31, 2010, the congregation of St. Raphael of Brooklyn Orthodox Church , located in Chantilly, Virginia, and its priest, Fr. Thomas Palke, gratefully received His Grace Bishop Thomas. Bishop Thomas' visit was his first to the mission since the mission's move to Chantilly from nearby Centreville, Virginia, where we had met for four years. Sayedna Thomas presided at Great Vespers on October 30, during which he offered words of instruction, admonition, and encouragement to the congregation. Afterward, the congregation enjoyed dinner and a mini-concert from violinist Michael Munayer, a member of St. Raphael's. Over dessert, Sayedna spoke briefly and opened the floor for questions from the faithful. Among other topics, he discussed with the faithful the prospect of administrative unity among the Orthodox churches in America. Joining the mission for the evening's events were Fr. John Anderson, attached priest of St. Raphael, Fr. Patrick Cardine of St. Patrick's Orthodox Church in Warrenton, VA, Fr. Nicholas Aflord of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, D.C., and Deacon Peter Maris of Holy Cross Orthodox Church of Linthicum, Maryland.
The next morning, October 31, the mission joyfully celebrated Orthros and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, with Deacon Peter Maris also assisting. Sayedna Thomas delivered the homily. In his sermon on the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Sayedna encouraged the congregation to grow in its support of the mission through outreach to the community and care for the poor. Sayedna also cautioned the faithful that, by showing hospitality to strangers, many had unknowingly entertained angels, and that we always should be prepared to cheerfully give to the work of the Lord. At the conclusion of Liturgy, Emma Salameh, daughter of Mike and Katrina Salameh, was churched. The morning concluded with a sumptuous assortment of food provided by members of the congregation. During this time, Sayedna conversed with a number of members and guests.
Bishop Thomas has faithfully visited our mission every year and provided wise counsel and words of encouragement. We are thankful, Sayedna Thomas! Many years, Master!