His Grace Bishop Thomas visited the community of St. George Cathedral  in Oakland, Pennsylvania over the first weekend of Lent, arriving on the evening of Thursday, March 1st and departing on the afternoon of Monday, March 5th.
During the weekend, the clergy and the faithful of St. George were blessed to worship at eight different services with His Grace! On Thursday evening, we prayed Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. On Friday evening, we prayed the Little Compline with the Akathist Hymns to Our Lady Theotokos. On Theodore Saturday morning, we had Orthros and Divine Liturgy and, in the evening, had Vespers. On Sunday morning, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we had Orthros and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. Later in the evening, the Orthodox community of the Greater Pittsburgh area gathered for the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers, which was presided over by His Grace Bishop Thomas and His Grace Bishop Melchisedek of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (Orthodox Church in America). Over 20 priests and deacons from every jurisdiction of the Greater Pittsburgh Orthodox community participated in the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers! Of course, every service was followed by the joy of coffee hour and fellowship in the Church Hall.
Throughout the weekend, Bishop Thomas reminded our community that every person is a living icon, made in God’s image and likeness. He admonished us to always be mindful that our body is the temple in which the Immortal King Himself and Holy Spirit dwells. Thus, we must strive to live in a manner that reflects the divine presence of God within our very being: worshipping God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; forgiving one another of sins; and asking that our Lord may have mercy on us and forgive us our sins. Bishop Thomas also reminded us to care for and treat one another – clergy, faithful, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike – with the greatest of love, concern and respect, since every person is a living icon, made in God’s image and likeness.
During His Grace’s visit, the Cathedral hosted the Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood of Greater Pittsburgh’s bi-annual Icon Festival – over a dozen of vendors of icons, books and sacred images were in attendance. We were also blessed with inspiring talks from Professor Edith Humphrey, the William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Father Bogdan Bucur, Assistant Professor of Theology at Duquesne University and Pastor of St. Anthony’s Church in Butler, PA. Literally, hundreds of visitors, many of whom had never been in an Orthodox Church, came through the Cathedral on March 3rd and 4th, in order to attend the Icon Festival, hear the inspiring talks, and participate in the worship services.
Finally, on March 5th, the Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood of Western Pennsylvania gathered for a retreat at the Cathedral, which was led by His Grace Bishop Thomas. At the retreat, Sayedna delivered an informative talk on stem cell research and related bio-ethical issues.
We are thankful to God for Sayedna’s love and leadership and look forward to his next visit to the Cathedral for Holy Week!