Pastoral visit of Archbishop Gabriel of Comana to the Parish of St. Peter & St. Paul, Clapham, London 30th-31st October 2010

Archbishop Gabriel joined us for the celebration of the Vigil, during which he blessed the people, on the evening of Saturday of 30th October. This came at the end of a busy day during which he had spent the morning chairing a meeting of the clergy of our Deanery, as he had the previous evening.  After the vigil Archbishop Gabriel, the clergy and some members of the parish council were invited at the nearby home of Alexis Martinowsky, our parish treasurer, who prepared a most delicious meal!
On Sunday morning of the 31st October Archbishop Gabriel presided at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. It was an immensely joyful occasion with a good-sized congregation of over 100 adults and children.
A special Episcopal Eagle mat depicting at its base historic buildings of London was used during the service. It was especially embroidered by Margaret Stevens, who during the last few years lead the team of parishioners responsible for the production of all of our vestments and altar covers.
Amongst other things, Archbishop Gabriel spoke of the importance of fraternal relations and practical co-operation with other Christians and of the way in which we have a God given vocation to be a living icon of the ancient Apostolic Church for our all our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
After the Liturgy, Archbishop Gabriel read out an announcement which informed us that the parish had been bequeathed a house in Wimbledon, to be used in future as the parish house, together with a substantial legacy. This generous gift, received with deep gratitude from a much loved, founding member of our parish, who fell asleep in the Lord earlier this year, will enable us to continue the building up of our parish.
Special thanks and prayers were offered for the 25 years of priestly service of Father Alexander, our parish rector, and to celebrate the first anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Father Ian.
The Divine Liturgy was followed by an excellent parish lunch in the church hall, consisting of food prepared by our parishioners, during which good use was made of the opportunity to talk with and get to know the Archbishop.
One impression of the two days that has remained with all of us with great clarity is that Archbishop Gabriel seemed to be totally ‘at home’ in our parish and, to an equal degree, the parish was ‘at home’ with him. It was a time of great joy in which the parish was able to be ‘The Church’ to the fullest extent – the people gathered around the Bishop in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.