STOCKHOLM – In the midst of the joyous ecclesiastical period of the Resurrection, His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia made a three-day archpastoral visit to Denmark from Friday May 13th – Sunday May 15th, accompanied by the Very. Rev. Archimandrite Alexandros Loukatos, Presiding Priest of the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo.
The clergymen arrived in the Northern Danish city of Århus on Friday May 13th, where they were welcomed by Mrs. Rena Christou. That same day, Mrs. Christou hosted a dinner at her home, which was attended by Metropolitan Cleopas, Fr. Alexandros, and local area Greeks who thanked the Metropolitan for visiting Århus, Denmark’s second capital, located on the Jutland Peninsula.
During the ensuing dinner conversation, Metropolitan Cleopas spoke about his eight-year service in the Northern Lands, the ministries and work of the local Church, and the need to maintain and strengthen interpersonal communication and networking with all the Orthodox Christian brethren living in areas where organized parishes have not yet been established, or where frequent contact between the members of the Greek Community is not possible due to the distance separating them.
The next day, Saturday May 14th, His Eminence presided over the Archieratical Divine Liturgy, which was concelebrated by Fr. Alexandros at the Tilst Chapel, and graciously made available by its pastor Rev. Lars Lindgrav Sörensen of the Danish Lutheran Church.
Upon arriving at the church, Metropolitan Cleopas thanked the aforementioned clergyman and offered him a copy of the Metropolis’ trilingual edition of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, published by the Church of Greece’s printing house Apostoliki Diakonia.
The Divine Liturgy was attended by the Hon. Consul of the Cyprus in Århus Mrs. Zoe Winding, together with her mother and a number of faithful, primary younger in age, who have become actively involved in the local area in recent years.
In his sermon, the Metropolitan spoke about the concern shared by him and his devoted aids, clergy and laity alike, for the flock of the Mother Church in Scandinavia, characteristically quoting the ever-memorable Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who would say “come, let us look upon one another”! He also pledged to send a clergyman to the city at regular intervals to minister to the liturgical and spiritual needs of the Orthodox Christian faithful living in the area.
A reception followed on site at the church hall, where Metropolitan Cleopas conversed with all those in attendance and discussed their concerns about the future of the Greek Community in Århus.
On Saturday afternoon, Metropolitan Cleopas and Fr. Alexandros took a flight to Copenhagen, where they attended a dinner hosted by the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Cyprus in Denmark Hon. Mr. Iakovos Girakosian at a local restaurant, with the Hon. Ambassador of Greece in Denmark Mr. Nikolaos Kotrokois also in attendance.
The following day, Sunday May 15th, the Metropolitan celebrated the Archieratical Divine Liturgy, assisted by Fr. Alexandros, at the Church of St. George of Ioannina in Roskilde.
During his sermon, Metropolitan Cleopas spoke about the healing of the paralytic and the anxiety he felt, as captured by the phrase “I have no one”. According to the Metropolitan, this phrase is an outcry of pain experienced by the paralytic because of his loneliness, which is the same outcry of anxiety coming from many people in today’s era who feel abandoned by the world. He went on to explain to the congregations that it is precisely in these instances that we must display our humanity and Christian ethos by supporting our brethren in need and those laid up in hospitals, imprisoned, under treatment at facilities, living in homes for the aged, and wherever else the cry of “I have no one” is being heard.
The Divine Liturgy was attended by the Hon. Ambassador of Greece Mr. Nikolaos Kotrokois and Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Cyprus Mr. Iakovos Girakosian, along with their aids, all of whom the Metropolitan thanked for their presence and support for the ministry of the local Church in Denmark, while offering them copies of the book entitled “Anavaseis” written by the ever-memorable Fr. Eusevios Vittis.
The hymns of the day were chanted by Mr. Panteleimon Smyrnakis, whom the Metropolitan thanked for his exemplary service in the Church of St. George of Ioannina.
Also, in attendance were parishioners from Roskilde and Copenhagen, members of the parish council, and the former teacher at the Greek school in Copenhagen Ms. Christina Gatzogia, whom the Metropolitan thanked for her pedagogical contribution over the past five years.
Metropolitan Cleopas also congratulated two members of the parish’s youth for their appointments to professorships at the Universities of Copenhagen and Lund, conveying the Holy Metropolis’ pride for the academic achievements and recognition of the parish’s two young members.
A reception followed in the church hall, bringing the “four flights and two Paschal Liturgies” to a close that afternoon, with Metropolitan Cleopas returning το his eparchy’s headquarters in Stockholm and Rev. Loukatos to his parish in Oslo.
Photo credit: Fr. Alexandros Loukatos, Nadia Christou, Pericles Rentopoulos.