On March 19, 2011, His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the congregation of St. Patrick’s Western Rite Orthodox Mission  in Warrenton, Virginia. Since the establishment of the mission, Sayidna Thomas has been a great encouragement, always offering his time, guidance, and love. He is a true shepherd and spiritual father of the community. After greeting and giving his blessing to a group of smiling children, Bishop Thomas prayed alongside Fr. Patrick Cardine during Solemn Vespers. In the midst of worship he spoke with ardent love about our Most Holy Mother’s betrothed husband, St. Joseph. As though recounting the life of a dear and close relative, Sayidna told the story of St. Joseph’s deep faith, humility, and trust in God. His words could not have painted more clearly the reality that our Holy Church is truly one large family. Indeed, “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”!
The following morning Bishop Thomas presided at Holy Liturgy. It was a memorable event in the church’s calendar year. We are taught that wherever the Bishop is, there is also the whole Catholic Church. This was tangibly experienced by the parish that Sunday. In his homily Sayidna encouraged the mission noting the church’s growth and urged the community to remain close to the priest. The church is not a corporation, he said, it is a family. The relationship of a priest to his parish, and vice versa, is not business-like or professional, it is familiar. The priest is truly our father, and we his children – and this relationship mirrors our relationship with our heavenly Father. May we always adhere to Bishop Thomas’ advice! We are all so grateful for his visit and pastoral care. Thank you and many years, Sayidna Thomas!
See also the reflection Greece Prepares Me for the Western Rite .