Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia visited the cities of Jönköping and Linköping in Sweden during the Second Week of Lent. It was his fourth archpastoral visit to those cities since his enthronement in June 2014.
He began his visit on Friday, March 10, 2017 in the city of Jönköping, where he presided over the 2nd Salutations Service to the Theotokos at the Sts. Constantine and Helen Church and spoke about the Virgin Mary’s role in the Incarnation of Christ.
A reception offered by the parish followed immediately afterwards, which was attended by parishioners and honored guests including Rev. Hans Boeryd, past Vicar General of the Church of Sweden in the city of Jönköping, and Rev. Fredrik Hollertz, President of the local Christian Council (Jönköping Kristna Samråd).
A meeting followed between the Metropolitan, the parish priest of the newly established parish Rev. Presbyter Nicholas Rigas, and the members of the parish council Panagiotis Delezizis, Panagiotis Theodorides, Georgia Syraka, Christos Baltas, and Parthenios Theodorides, during which the Metropolitan congratulated them for their zeal and devotion, and was briefed by them on the new programs and ministries of the parish, aimed at engaging the youth in parish life.
The next day, Saturday, March 11th, Metropolitan Cleopas visited the city of Linköping, where he presided over the Divine Liturgy that was celebrated in the St. John the Theologian Church.
In his sermon, Metropolitan Cleopas pointed out how impressed he was by the large number of children who attended the holy services, and also spoke about the services of Great Lent and the symbolism of the bishop’s pectoral icon/medallion.
Moreover, he pledged to visit Linköping again on May 20th, where the Metropolis will organize an all-day gathering featuring activities for the local area youth, in conjunction with Rev. Rigas and a group of volunteers, and where he will also have the opportunity to visit the local Greek School and Hellenic Society.
The Metropolitan was invited to a luncheon by a group of doctors who recently migrated from Greece to work in area hospitals, during which they discussed the necessary steps to set up a regular ecclesiastical presence and ministry in the area.
On Sunday, March 12, the hierarchal Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Sts. Constantine and Helen Church in Jönköping, presided over by Metropolitan Cleopas, who was assisted by the local parish priest Rev. Dr. Nicholas Rigas and the Rev. Presbyter Christos Letsios, parish priest of the St. Cleopas the Apostle parish in Kalmar, Sweden.
The byzantine hymns were chanted by Mr. Ioannis Theodorides, a graduate of the Theological School of Halki.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan spoke about the opportunities for spiritual contemplation and intensification of prayer which are offered by the many services held during the ecclesiastical period of Lent, and praised the parish’s volunteers and donors for their multitude of ministries, while also highlighting the importance of volunteerism and selflessness as factors critical for the success and viability of a parish.
Afterwards, in the presence of the congregation, Metropolitan Cleopas offered Rev. Rigas an extensive collection of high-quality bilingual publications of liturgical texts and other books in Greek and English from Narthex Press in the United States, translated and compiled by the Rev. Protopresbyter Spencer T. Kezios.
The Metropolitan expressed his deep gratitude by the touching donation made by the widely heralded Fr. Kezios to the missionary Metropolis of Sweden.
A luncheon followed immediately afterwards in the church hall, which was attended by parishioners and honored guests including Dr. Ann Aldén, Vicar General of the Church of Sweden in the city of Jönköping, Swedish Parliament member Mr. Sotirios Delis, Metropolis Council Member Mrs. Maria Kehagia, Presbytera Despina Letsiou, and Christos and Evropi Petrides of Kalmar.