WESTERN EUROPEAN DIOCESE: December 21, 2021
Bishop Alexander of Vevey leads feast-day celebrations at St Nicholas Parish in Switzerland
On 19 December, 2021, the feastday of St Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia, which this year fell on a Sunday, festive celebrations were held in Basel, Switzerland, at the parish dedicated to the saint.
With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Irenei, Ruling Bishop of the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe, the Vicar Bishop of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Alexander of Vevey, presided over the Divine Services of the feast. His Grace was co-served by the Rector of the parish, the Reverend Priest Pavel Golinsky and the Reverend Priest Vladimir Svistun, a cleric of the Pokrov Parish in Zurich. Numerous parishioners came to share the joy of the Basel parish’s feastday, not only from Basel itself, and other cities in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, but also parishioners from neighbouring territories in France and Germany. The Divine Services themselves were adorned by the skilful singing of the local parish choir, which has grown and expanded in recent years.
During the reading of the Hours, Samuel Milko, a longtime parishioner and Altar server of St Nicholas Church, was tonsured as Reader. After the Liturgy, a moleben was served and a prayer was offered up to Saint Nicholas, and the smallest parishioners received sweets from the hands of Vladyka Alexander, as a small gift with the feast.
At the end of the service, Bishop Alexander addressed the faithful with a sermon, stressing that the present day providentially coincided with Sunday, so that the faithful might conjoin the prayerful keeping of the feast of their patron with the joy of the Resurrection of Christ — a kind of ‘second Pascha’ for the parish. Congratulating the newly-tonsured Reader Samuel with his stepping into the first degree of the Priesthood (as the services call the office of Reader), His Grace expressed his desire that the young clergyman would become a reliable support for the parish’s Rector in the spiritual work of tending to the vineyard of Christ. Referring to the Gospel reading about the ten lepers, the Bishop called on the newly-tonsured Reader, and all the parishioners, to be grateful to the Lord God for every gift and every trial, which come upon all of us every day, remembering the example of the wise leper, who, after receiving healing, was the only one who returned to Christ and kneeled down to give glory to the Lord.
On behalf of the parish, Priest Pavel addressed Bishop Alexander with an expression of their shared gratitude for his arrival at the parish, and for his leading of the Divine Services on the occasion of their patronal feast day. In commemoration of the visit, His Grace was presented with a gift, after which the entire Holy Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, and the newly-tonsured Reader Samuel, were commemorated with a joyful proclamation of ‘Many Years!’
In honour of the feast, a meal was held at which faithful and clergy continued fruitful spiritual communication at the festive table.