From Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th of July, His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen; former primate of the Orthodox Church in America) performed an archpastoral visit to St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Columbia, SC. Over the very full weekend, His Eminence led two All-Night Vigils and two Divine Liturgies, co-served by Archpriest Mark Mancuso (parish rector and dean of the Carolinas & Tennessee Deanery) and Deacon Columba Wilson (parish cleric), as well as the following visiting clergy: Archimandrite Maximos (Weimar; abbot of the Holy Cross Brotherhood in East Setauket, NY), Archpriest Thomas Moore (rector of the Holy Apostles Church OCA in West Columbia, SC), Archpriest Antonio Perdomo (rector of St. George Church OCA in Pharr, TX), Priest Mark Rowe (dean of ROCOR Western Rite parishes), Priest Job Watts (rector of St. Nektarios Church in Lenoir City, TN), Priest Eugene Antonov (rector of Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Atlanta, GA), Priest Richard Reed (rector of St. Joseph of Optina Church in Virginia Beach, VA), Priest Benedict Simpson (chaplain of the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension in Resaca, GA), Hierodeacon Dionysios (Hatcher; cleric of Holy Cross Brotherhood in East Setauket), Deacon Daniel Gregoire (cleric of Sts. Cyril & Methodius Church in Summerville, SC), and Deacon Aidan Griswold (cleric of St. Nektarios Church in Lenoir City).
On Friday night, Metropolitan Jonah served the All-Night Vigil for the eve of the feast of the Nun-Martyrs, as well as the Liturgy on Saturday morning. In his sermon, His Eminence spoke about how St. Elizabeth was crowned thrice: crowned as a Grand Duchess, crowned by her good works, and crowned by martyrdom. After the murder of St. Elizabeth’s husband, the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, she became a monastic. Her ascesis was to dedicate her life to the service of others. The Metropolitan spoke of how St. Elizabeth’s aristocratic background would have allowed her almost no access to the life of common people, yet she freely chose to help and serve the poorest denizens of her adopted homeland. His Eminence said that, while not all are called to dedicate themselves to monastic life, everyone can benefit from following St. Elizabeth’s example of charity and service, as St. Elizabeth’s own sister and nieces – the Holy Empress Alexandra and her daughters – did.
After the service, the clergy, parishioners, and guests gathered for a festal luncheon in St. John’s Parish Hall next to the church. Metropolitan Jonah and other guests were then taken to Downtown Columbia to visit the South Carolina History Museum and Confederate Relic Room.
On the evening of July 18th, Metropolitan Jonah returned to St. Elizabeth’s Church to serve the All-Night Vigil for Ven. Sisoes the Great, and another Hierarchical Divine Liturgy the next morning. His Eminence gave a homily on the Gospel reading for the day. Following the Liturgy, the faithful gathered for Sunday luncheon in the parish hall. After the meal, the Adult Sunday School session was taught by Metropolitan Jonah, as he spoke about Temple worship in the Old Testament and how it prefigured and is continued in the Orthodox Divine liturgy.
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