Sunday, May 19, 2024

First Orthodox Metropolitan in Ireland enthroned

The Christian Orthodox Church in Ireland has officially ordained its first Metropolitan (head of a large city or diocese).

The enthronement ceremony also marks the reopening of the Greek Orthodox Church in Stoneybatter, Dublin, which closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The appointment of a Metropolitan is in response to an increase in the number of Orthodox Christians in Ireland.

According to Census 2022, the Orthodox Religion accounted for over 100,000 people, which is an increase of 65% in six years and of 128% in the 11 years since Census 2011.

Over half of the Orthodox grouping were aged between 25 and 49 years in the recent census.

While the Dublin 7 church proudly displays a Greek flag, the Christian Orthodox Church comprises many nationalities, including Russians, Ukrainians, Palestinians, Moldovans, Romanians, Serbs, Bulgarians and Ethiopians.

These nationalities are represented in Orthodox Church in Ireland, which felt the need to support its community in Ireland.

The enthronement also means the carbon footprint associated with sending priests from the UK on a weekly or monthly basis for the Divine Liturgy will be reduced.

Metropolitan Iakovos, who was born in Greece and grew up in Germany, got news of his transfer to Dublin after spending 13 years in Canada.

He said that he likes Dublin city and is not perturbed by the Irish weather.

"It’s ok, I’m used to the cold after Canada. You don’t get to the same minus figures here", he said.

Asked how he feels about moving to Ireland, he said that while he does not know a lot of Irish people but those that he has met so far have been welcoming.

"So yesterday, you know, I was sweeping outside and there was like, this man who said 'so do you have time for my garden?’.

"It’s something I like because it develops a relationship between people, and you don’t feel like a stranger".

A Metropolitan holds a similar ranking to an Archbishop, so there is no denying that it is a significant moment for the Orthodox Church in Ireland.

Friends of Metropolitan Iakovos from Greece, Canada and Germany have travelled for the "historic event".

Following his ordination, it will be time for the new Metropolitan to get to work.

Metropolitan Iakovos plans to work with leaders from other Christian faiths in Ireland.

There is now a large cohort of Ukrainian Christian Orthodox in Ireland, so one of his first meetings will be with the Ukrainian Ambassador.

He acknowledged that his wish is to expand the community.

"We have a lot of Greek Orthodox people here, like young people who came to work and study, but also other Orthodox people.

"I want to extend that community here on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and make people see that there's a different way in life to approach life.

"Everybody's equal before Christ. So, we try to embrace everybody."

There were no Orthodox parishes in Ireland before the late 1960s according to the Irish Council of Churches.

A small number of Russian emigrés arrived shortly after the 1917 Revolution, among them Nicholas Couriss, later to be Ireland's first resident Orthodox priest.

By the early 1950s, several hundred Orthodox including Greek and Greek Cypriots had settled in the country.

The church site on Arbour Hill is believed to have been a former national school built by the military.

It was the site of an Amateur Boxing and Physical Culture Club for a time, before it became a sewing factory in 1950.

The Greek Orthodox Church was consecrated in 1994.