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St. Paul Church Welcomes Bishop NICHOLAS to Naples

By Fr. Paul Girgis and Dr. Elias Hebeka

During the weekend of February 10, 2018, the St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church community in Naples, FL was infused with a tremendous energy through the visitation of their shepherd in Christ, His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS. This episcopal visit was Sayidna’s first to St. Paul as Diocesan Bishop, making it a fitting time to officially welcome him, while commemorating the founding of our lovely parish twenty-one years ago.

On Saturday, immediately upon his arrival, Sayidna spent several hours meeting with parishioners, our Antiochian Women, and the Parish council. The St. Paul community then gathered for a prayerful Great Vespers service and closed the day with a very enjoyable dinner together.

On Sunday of the Last Judgement, after hearing the sobering hymnography at Orthros, His Grace presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The faithful throughout the community packed St. Paul Church, while the concelebrating clergy of six priests filled the altar area. At the conclusion of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, four of our own faithful were inducted as new members to the Order of St. Ignatius.

This grace-filled visitation from our local bishop was beautifully sealed with the Welcome Brunch that followed, which 125 parishioners and guests attended. His Grace, after congratulating the St. Paul community for their accomplishments, pierced the souls in attendance, lighting hearts aflame, with his practical message. “I expect Fr. Paul, as your new priest, to not only comfort the afflicted but also ‘afflict the comfortable’ – it is time to take it up a notch. Our purpose is to know God, which can only be done through a spiritual life.” Sayidna continued to unveil a beautiful and encouraging vision for the Diocese, while assuring our community of his fatherly love, care, and support.

The faithful of St. Paul Church in Naples are indescribably grateful and blessed to be under the love and care of His Grace Bishop NICHOLAS. Eis pola eti despota!