On Saturday, January 7, the Great Feast of our Lord’s Nativity, Archimandrite Seraphim and brotherhood were honored to host an afternoon visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Antonios (Al Soury) of the Antiochian Church.
Late last year Metropolitan Antonios was appointed by His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch as Patriarchal Vicar in charge of overseeing the nomination process for a new metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. For several months His Eminence has been visiting parishes across the country. Meeting with as many Antiochian clergy and laity as possible, his itinerary included a visit to three Antiochian parishes in West Virginia. There he celebrated the divine services, and blessed the Kanawha River (the largest inland waterway in West Virginia) near the state capitol of Charleston.
It was during this full schedule that Metropolitan Antonios took the time, together with accompanying Antiochian clergy, to visit the brotherhood of Holy Cross. Greeted by the festive pealing of bells and the singing of the Nativity troparion by the brotherhood in Znameny chant, His Eminence venerated the altar table and then gave a loving exhortation to the brethren, encouraging them in their Christian lives and monastic vocations. He especially conveyed the greetings, love, and prayers of His Beatitude Patriarch John X to the community. Finally, in a touching display of fraternal love he gifted the monastery an icon of St. Tikhon and St. Raphael, commemorating the brotherly relations between the Russian and Antiochian churches in this country.
After blessing the brotherhood, Metropolitan Antonios received a tour of the church and workshops. He was very pleased both with the progress of the construction and with the industriousness of the community. At an informal reception afterwards, His Eminence was very warm, joyous, and affectionate with the fathers. He spoke a little about monastic life in his brotherhood, monasteries in Lebanon in general, and his time here in America. He also very graciously took a few minutes afterwards to visit Abbot Seraphim in his cell, as he is still recovering from knee replacement surgery.
At his departure, Metropolitan Antonios expressed the fervent wish to see the brotherhood again, assuring them meanwhile of his prayers. Likewise, the Holy Cross brotherhood continues to remember his Eminence and the Antiochian Archdiocese in prayer as they prepare to elect a new Metropolitan.