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Bishop Thomas Visits Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, MD

Father Gregory Mathewes-Green writes:

Over the course of several days in September 2010, the clergy and faithful of Holy Cross Church in Linthicum, MD, were blessed by a visit from His Grace, Bishop Thomas. Several events, liturgical and otherwise, were held during this period, giving the faithful multiple opportunities to greet, speak with, and be blessed by Sayedna.

Early in the week, the clergy and many of the faithful journeyed with His Grace to St. Mary Church in Hunt Valley, MD to join that congregation in the celebration of their Patronal Feast (Nativity of the Theotokos). Father Theodoros Daoud and the congregation welcomed us and provided a wonderful reception after the Liturgy.

On Wednesday, September 8, Holy Cross members and others met in the Parish Hall to hear an address by Bishop Thomas' spiritual son Dr. Tristram Engelhardt, entitled "After Christendom: Living in an Aggressively Post-Christian World." The address was well-received and discussion was vigorous and thoughtful.

The following day, Sayedna Thomas was the guest of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), which has its headquarters outside of Baltimore. Sayedna met with the entire headquarters staff for a fruitful discussion of their work, and then met personally with IOCC's Director Constantine Triantafilou. In the evening, His Grace presided at Vespers and met with the members of the Teen SOYO of Holy Cross Church, to the delight of the teenagers.

On Friday evening, Rev. Deacon Mark and Ina O'Dell hosted a dinner for Bishop Thomas at their home. The attendees all enjoyed the meal and conversation with the Bishop.

Sayedna was taken to lunch by Fr. John Monto, recently assigned to Holy Cross, and much of the rest of Saturday was spent at a "Missions Festival" at Holy Cross, an event designed both to express gratitude to the Deacon and his Shamassy for fourteen years of exceptionally creative and truly devoted service to the Church, and to promote awareness of, and provide opportunities for contributions to, several missions (OCMC's SAMP program, Project Mexico, and Romania's Protection of the Theotokos Baby Center) whose work is especially near and dear to the hearts of the O'Dells. The day concluded with Great Vespers, at which His Grace presided.

Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday included a powerful sermon by Sayedna Thomas, and was followed by lunch and reception in the parish hall.  In the late afternoon, Sayedna delighted one of our senior parishioners by attending her surprise birthday party.

Monday evening was the culmination of every other event and the original reason for having Bishop Thomas visit Holy Cross: Great Vespers with Litia and Artoklasia, followed by our Patronal Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, a magnificent outpouring of the Church's prayer and praise of our God with beautiful music and several local clergy concelebrating with His Grace. During the Liturgy, Subdeacon Peter Maris was ordained to the Holy Diaconate, an event eagerly anticipated by the Holy Cross faithful, and at the conclusion of the service Deacon Peter preached a very moving sermon on the significance of the Holy Cross in our lives. A reception followed, during which what is known locally as Festive Fasting Finger Food was served. At the end of the evening, the Holy Cross congregation reluctantly said good-bye (and Many Years, Master!) to Sayedna, already looking forward very much to His Grace's visit of September 2011.

--Father Gregory Mathewes-Green, Pastor