The clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church  in Linthicum, Maryland, welcomed His Grace Bishop Thomas to our Patronal Feast of the Elevation of the Cross from September 13-15, 2013. Along with His Grace Bishop Melchizedek (Orthodox Church in America), over twenty visiting clergy and many other well-wishers joined us in commemorating  both the 20th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Cross as well as Sayedna Thomas' 25th year of ordination. The weekend also saw the ordinations of Lt. Col. Kelvin Gardner (chaplain, USAF). In total, four services and a banquet were held. Also included in the weekend was the annual retreat of the deacons of the Eastern dioceses with renowned scholar Dr. Christopher Veniamin, professor of Patristics at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
The Vigil of the Feast was served on Friday evening and presided over by Vladyka Melchizedek, with superb chanting by the parish chanters. Father Stephen Mathewes served the Matins portion of the Vigil alongside his father. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the morning included a new setting of the Cherubic Hymn, composed for the occasion by Fr. John Monto of Holy Cross. Sayedna Thomas gave a powerful sermon on the Cross and during the Liturgy, Kelvin Gardner, who took the name "Joseph", was ordained a deacon. Fathers John Mefrige and John Stefero served as his his sponsors.
Following the morning Liturgy, a banquet was held to honor both His Grace Bishop Thomas and Holy Cross parish. A check for $4,000 presented to Fr. Anthony Yazge, Antiochian Village Camp Director, inaugerated the Bishop Thomas Fund, established to refurbish and create new Village shrines. His Grace ended the program segment of the banquet with inspirational remarks, and Bishop Melchizedek presided at the Great Vespers which was served in the Banquet Hall.
Matins and the Hierarchical Liturgy were served the next morning, during which Vladyka Melchisedek preached a moving sermon on Christian discipleship. The newly ordained Dn. Joseph was raised to the Holy Priesthood on Sunday, again accompanied by Fathers Mefrige and Stefero.
The months of prayer and planning that preceded the weekend were very much rewarded with blessings from Our Lord. As we look forward to many more years of episcopal ministry for His Grace, and commit Holy Cross Church to a future of worship, witness, and service, our hearts are full of joy and gratitude to the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages!