To live an Orthodox life in Montreal is a big challenge, and to keep our churches full on Sundays is a bigger challenge for our Montreal clergy. By the grace of God, however, St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church  is undergoing a revival this year: our church is full, our youth groups are active, new families are joining our parish and, as one of our parishioners said at a recent luncheon, we are “alive and well.”
St. Nicholas Church was established by St. Raphael of Brooklyn and is the oldest Orthodox community in Montreal. We received great blessings this holy season, starting from the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross when we were visited by His Grace Bishop Alexander, who brought with him an antique cross, which has a relic of the Holy Cross embedded in it, with which to bless our parishioners following the Divine Liturgy.
On the following Sunday, the Feast of the Annunciation, we had a fabulous Mid-Lenten Luncheon hosted by our very active Antiochian Women. The next Sunday (St. Mary of Egypt), we were visited by His Grace Bishop Luka from our Patriarchate in Damascus, who asked that we pray for the Syrian people and reminded us of Syria’s rich Christian history.
Following the Divine Liturgy on St. Lazarus Saturday, our youth enjoyed weaving palm crosses for our parishioners to carry on Palm Sunday, when were visited again by His Grace Bishop Alexander. The police gave us an escort around the block for our parish procession. That day we also had an annual bake sale of Arabic sweets, prepared by our Antiochian Women, and a sale of handmade goods by the residents of Al-Kafaat (Lebanon). All of our daily Holy Week services were well-attended. On Holy Friday we hosted an All-Night Vigil for our Teen SOYO and for Adults, which followed a viewing of the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” The Vigil lasted the entire night and ended with the Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning. Our volunteer youth directors prepared a Lenten brunch for those who attended the Vigil and Liturgy.
Our Paschal Liturgy was wonderful and very well-attended. Following the service, one family sponsored a meal for the entire parish, which everyone went downstairs to enjoy at 1:00 a.m. At Agape Vespers later, many children came to enjoy the procession around the Church and the reading of the Holy Gospel in ten languages!
All in all, with the joint effort of the Pastor of four years the Rev. Fr. Mark Wyatt, a dedicated group of active volunteers, and our positive and caring parishioners, we are experiencing a healthy rebirth at St. Nicholas Church.
Following our local Bright Monday tradition, all the Antiochian clergy of Montreal and Ottawa gathered at St. Mary’s Church in Montreal to serve the Divine Liturgy with His Grace Bishop Alexander. Next year this joint service will be held at St. Nicholas Church, God willing.
Please keep us in your prayers and visit us in Montreal!