Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News of the East


By Serge Keleher

Dublin - 09/09/2002 - His Holiness, Gregory III, Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East began his first visit to Dublin on Wednesday, 4 September 2001. Invited for the International Reunion of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, the Patriarch was also visiting the Greek-Catholic Congregation in Dublin (celebrating its tenth anniversary) and marking the seventieth anniversary of the Dublin International Eucharistic Congress, when the Blessed Hieromartyr Nicholas (Charnetsky), C.Ss.R., offered the Pontifical Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom for the first time in Irish history.

At Dublin Airport just before noon, Archimandrite Serge Keleher of the Greek-Catholic Congregation welcomed Father Archimandrite Exarch Nicholas Antiba, Pastor of the Church of St. Julien le Pauvre, Paris, and sent Father Archimandrite Nicholas to Jury's Hotel, Ballsbridge. At 1 PM Dr. Conor O'Tuathaill of the Greek-Catholic Congregation welcomed Father David White, arriving from England. At 1:30 PM in the VIP room at the airport Father John Leonard, C.Ss.P., Mr. John Kerry Keane of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, Dr. Conor O'Tuathaill, Father David White and Father Archimandrite Serge welcomed His Holiness Patriarch Gregory III and the Patriarch's Secretary, Father John Ghoneim, who arrived on the flight from Munich. While the airport staff transferred the luggage to the waiting cars, the Patriarch and those who had come to greet him took coffee and discussed the arrangements for the next few days.

The Patriarch and his party then went to Jury's Hotel, Ballsbridge, where they lodged during the Reunion. On Wednesday evening a reception at the National Gallery of Ireland formally welcomed the Patriarch, with a private showing of four of the most treasured icons of the National Gallery's collection: the Miracle of Saint George and the Dragon (fifteenth century Novgorod School), the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (fifteenth century Moscow School, influenced by Dionysius and Theophanes) - the present writer considers this to be the best of the four, the Crucifixion (Constantinople, fourteenth century) with the Theotokos and Saint John the Theologian, and the Archangel Michael between Saint George and Saint Nicholas (Greek, eighteenth century). Dinner was served in the Great Hall of the National Gallery.

Dublin has two cathedrals: Christ Church and Saint Patrick's. Both are pre-Reformation but both are now in the hands of the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. Each cathedral welcomed the Patriarch at Choral Evensong.

On Thursday morning Father Deacon Thomas Stadnik arrived from New York; he was invited to serve at the Patriarch's Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

On Thursday evening, the service was at Christ Church. The guest preacher for the occasion was His Grace Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales and Archbishop-Elect of Canterbury (in addition to his more important distinctions, Archbishop Williams is a member of the editorial board of Eastern Churches Journal). Following the service, the Irish Government welcomed Patriarch Gregory III at a civic reception in Saint Patrick's Hall at Dublin Castle, complete with music from the bagpipes and the harp!

On Friday, the Patriarch had a very busy day. His Holiness flew to Cologne, Germany, to serve the funeral of a priest who was a long-standing friend, and then flew back to Dublin to be at the service in Saint Patrick's Cathedral; after this service new members were inducted into the Order of Saint Lazarus and various chivalric awards were given. The Archimandrite who is also Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem arrived to take part in the concluding events of the Patriarch's visit.

On Saturday evening, the Reunion Banquet was held at the Great Hall of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

On Saturday the Patriarch visited Trinity College, Dublin, where he was invited to see the Book of Kells. On Saturday evening, the Lord Mayor of Dublin welcomed the Patriarch at a reception in the Mansion House.

Because Dublin's two cathedrals are both in Protestant hands, the Catholic Archdiocese has a Pro-Cathedral, constructed early in the nineteenth century, just before Catholic Emancipation. It was here that the Patriarch would serve the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, there was some confusion to do with airline schedules, so the service had to be somewhat abbreviated, but was nevertheless quite splendid.

The icon-screen was erected in front of the High Altar. The forty-voice Palestrina Choir (which normally sings the Latin Mass on Sundays in the Pro-Cathedral) had learned the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy, with some responses in Irish and some in English. One of the ladies of the Greek-Catholic congregation heroically pressed all the vestments late Saturday night, so that all would be "without spot or wrinkle", in the words of Saint Paul the Apostle. A service-book was prepared especially for the occasion, so that all would be able to follow from the same text. Jack Figel of Eastern Christian Publications did the design, layout and typesetting while Charles O'Riley of Dublin did the printing (such are the possibilities of internet communication in our times).

The Apostolic Nuncio and Bishop Raymond Field (representing the Archbishop of Dublin, who was leading the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes at the time) were present in the sanctuary.

Patriarch Gregory III brought a new antimension and a good supply of Holy Chrism for the Greek-Catholic congregation (which serves on most Sundays in Saint Kevin's Oratory at the Pro-Cathedral).

At the doors of the Pro-Cathedral, both Irish and Eastern European faithful of the Greek-Catholic parish, including adults and children, welcomed the Patriarch with the traditional gifts of bread and salt and flowers. The Patriarch blessed the gifts and the givers, and was especially pleased with the children. Father John Delaney, Administrator of the Pro-Cathedral, then welcomed the Patriarch with the Precious Cross. Before the Divine Liturgy itself, the Patriarch used this Holy Chrism to consecrate the new patronal icon of the Greek-Catholic congregation; the icon shows Saint Patrick and the Hieromartyr Nicholas (Charnetsky) flanking the Church of Saint Alphonsus, where the Hieromartyr Nicholas in 1932, during the Dublin Eucharistic Congress, offered the first public celebration of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in the history
of Ireland. He later died during the Communist persecution in the Soviet Union; in June 2001 Pope John Paul II beatified him.

After consecrating the Icon, the Patriarch gave an instruction on the significance of the consecration and the liturgical importance of the icon, which Father Feargal MacBhradaigh and Father Gabriel Burke then carried in procession.

There were nine priests concelebrating with the Patriarch: Archimandrite Serge Keleher, the Archimandrite from Jerusalem, Monsignor George Appleyard from the (Saint Josaphat) Eparchy of Parma, USA, Father Feargal MacBhradaigh, Father Gabriel Burke, Father David White, Father Edward Jackman, O.P., Father John Ghoneim and Father Shafiq Abouzayd. There were two deacons: Father Deacon Thomas Stadnik (Eparchy of Stamford, serving at Saint Michael's Russian Greek-Catholic Church, New York City) and Father Deacon Patrick McGinley of Dublin (who was serving at a Byzantine Liturgy for the first time and did brilliantly - he was responsible for the Gospel, the Great Synapte and other petitions done in Irish).

Serving as Subdeacons were Pól Ua Bradaigh, Oleg Fartukh, Michael Fedunyshyn, Daithi Lonergan, Padraig Purcell, Declan Sheehy, and several others. Dr. Conor O'Tuathaill read the Epistle in Irish and the Reverend John Salter repeated it in English. The Patriarch preached the sermon.

There were several moments of the Patriarchal Liturgy of particular interest. As at every Hierarchal Liturgy, the Trisagion was sung antiphonally by the Choir and the clergy - but this is certainly the first time that the Trisagion was sung in that way in Irish! The Irish clergy at the Altar sang the clergy parts, rather to the surprise of some of the other clergy. Some of the guests from abroad (who were under the impression that Irish is a dead language) were startled at the extensive use of Irish during the service, but the Irish people present offered a great many compliments and expressions of gratitude that vernacular Irish was so prominently used. Patriarch Maximos V, of blessed memory, bestowed the approval on the Irish translation of the Divine Liturgy on 1 October 2000.

During the Great Entrance the Patriarch commemorated the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Archbishop of Dublin, the President of Ireland "and all the faithful Irish people, in their homeland and abroad in the diaspora".

It is relatively rare to have the full proclamation of the Diptychs during the Anaphora, but on this occasion it was done: the Patriarch prayed for the Pope, the senior Archimandrite prayed for the Patriarch, and the Deacon then proclaimed, by name, the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs, the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, and the two sui iuris Metropolitans (of Romania, and of the Byzantine-Ruthenians in the United States).

Those interested in the present discussion of English translations will perhaps note that the Patriarch had no difficulty in using the second-person singular forms, and pronounced the phrase "unto ages of ages" without any hesitation.

Just before the Communion of the faithful, Patriarch Gregory III had to leave for the airport, first thanking Archimandrite Serge and all whose labors had enabled this service to take place. The Divine Liturgy continued; rather more than 800 faithful received Holy Communion, which was given from six Chalices. Father Gabriel Burke offered the Ambo Prayer in Irish. After the Dismissal, Father Deacon Patrick McGinley intoned the "many years" in Irish; the Palestrina Choir responded in an Irish transposition of Bortniansky's ever-popular setting. Six priests also gave the faithful the Cross to venerate during the distribution of the Antidoron; one of the six priests, Father Athanasius George, is pastor of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Bray, County Dublin; his deacon accompanied him. Father Sergius Scott of the British Orthodox Church (Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria) was also present.

Each of the faithful who kissed the Holy Cross and received the Antidoron was also given an icon-card of the Holy Theotokos Odigitria, as a prayerful memento of this historic occasion.

After these packed days, the clergy and faithful returned to their homes, spiritually uplifted though physically exhausted, and thanked Almighty God for all His benefits.


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