The feast of the patron of our Archdiocese, St Theodore of Tarsus (19th September), has also become the date of a significant event in the life of our community in Colchester: the ordination of a new deacon. Many gathered together in the Church of St Martin in the centre of the town—which the community are in the process of purchasing—for the event on the Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Sayedna Silouan presided over Matins from the throne and, at its conclusion, ordained Mark Shillaker to the Sub-diaconate. The parish choir, augmented by some guests who had come for the occasion led by Margaret Haig, sang Matins and the Divine Liturgy. Serving with Sayedna were Fr Alexander Haig, the parish priest of St Helen’s, and Fr Alexander Haig, the parish priest of our community of the Twelve Apostles in Eastleigh, Hampshire, who had travelled to help and support the Colchester parish on this joyous day.
At the conclusion of the Anaphora, Sub-deacon Mark was led around the Holy Altar three times and knelt at its south-west corner. When the faithful present had knelt, Sayedna placed his omophorion on the head of the sub-deacon and called down the Holy Spirit, “The Grace Divine, which always heals, that which is infirm, and completes that which is wanting, raises through the laying-on of hands, Mark, the most devout Subdeacon to be a Deacon. Wherefore, let us pray for him, that the Grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.”
To the cries of “Axios! Mustahek! He is worthy!” Deacon Mark was presented with his orarion and cuffs and began his diaconal ministry by standing among the people and calling all to pray the Litany before the Lord’s Prayer; later he was able to give Communion to the faithful.
In his Homily on the Sunday after the Holy Cross, Sayedna said that each of us has to find our own Cross and ascend it as Christ ascended his, to crucify our ego, our pride, our passions: then we may be able to purify ourselves that we too may enter Heaven.
The Liturgy was followed by a magnificent feast laid on by the parish where many were able to offer congratulations to the newly-ordained Deacon Mark and to talk with our beloved bishop.
May the Lord bless his Deacon Mark and grant that he may serve faithfully God’s people in his new ministry
Axios! Axios! Axios!
Fr Alexander Haig (Jr)