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Dear Friends,

The Pope and I are resigning.  I had not anticipated the news from the Vatican which adds a further excitement to this spring of change. There is a new Archbishop of Canterbury awaiting his enthronement on 21st March, and a new Patriarch of Bulgaria to be elected and enthroned on 24th February.

Now there will also be an election for a new Pope. Your prayers are asked for the electors in Sofia and Rome.  All Cardinals under 80 years of age will have to draw a line through their busy appointment diaries and head to the Vatican in order to elect the successor of Benedict XVI.

In Bucharest there will also be changes, as Lillah Houghton and I will both be leaving.  Lillah and her husband John are leaving Romania and returning to the United Kingdom, and I wish to place on record the Chaplaincy’s gratitude for all that she has contributed to our life and work. She has cast a motherly eye over the church building and spent hours in dealing with such dramas as temperamental boilers and faulty electrical connnections, as well as playing a key role in the church’s redecoration.  Lillah has organised memorable and very enjoyable Britannia Balls, Summer Garden Parties, and most recently a Fish and Chip Supper. That these flowed so smoothly is a tribute to her skill, but of course the planning and preparation required much time and effort, and for this considerable commitment we all are most grateful.

I too will shortly be leaving Bucharest.  My final service will be on 14th April and thereafter I will return to the United Kingdom. I will take with me from Romania many happy and some improbable memories.  My health has not been good in recent months and it will be helpful to have an opportunity to get to the bottom of whatever it is that has caused much of my time in Bucharest to be spent working literally singlehandedly. The Church of the Resurrection will of course continue.  In the future there will probably be a succession of temporary priests. These are known as “locums” from the Latin “locum tenens” (holding the place), precisely the same in meaning as the French “lieu tenant” familiar as a military rank.  Then my successor will be appointed.  In the meantime the Church as ever will be in need of financial support, and I hope that you will respond generously.  As I have often been asked if the Chaplaincy receives financial support  from the Church of England or the British Government it is worth repeating that the Church of the Resurrection is entirely self-supporting.  It does not receive any financial suppport from official sources and relies on the generosity of its congregation and its friends  In other words it relies on you!

Meanwhile the Church of the Resurrection continues to open its doors for worship and concerts.  We will begin the season of Lent with a celebration of Holy Communion with Imposition of Ashes at 6 p.m. on Ash Wednesday (13th February). Sunday worship continues as usual with services at 10 a.m.  On 17th March the Annual Meeting of the Chaplaincy will be held after 10 a.m. morning worship. You are invited and encouraged to attend. We are currently renewing the Electoral Roll of our members.  If you wsh to join or to renew your membership you will find a form attached to this newsletter.

In Holy Week there will be in addition to our Sunday services a service of Holy Communion at 6 p.m. on Maundy Thursday (28th March), the Liturgy of the Passion at 6 p.m. on Good Friday (29th March), and the Easter Vigil  at 6 p.m. on Easter Eve (30th March). Palms will be distributed at the Communion service on Palm Sunday (24th March) and we will hold a celebratory Family Communion on Easter Day (31st March) at 10 a.m. We follow the Western calendar and so our Easter will come much earlier than Orthodox Easter, which falls this year on 5th May. All are most welcome to attend these services, so do come as often as you can and bring friends or visitors with you.

On 28th February at 7 p.m. there will be a concert in church of music for organ, oboe, soprano and tenor.  The organist will be our very own Adina Cocargeanu. For this concert tickets @10 RON will be on sale at the door. On 18th March at 7 p.m., as part of the Bucharest St Patrick’s Festival, there will be a concert given by Irish cellist Vyvienne Long accompanied by a string quartet. This concert will be free with a retiring collection for church funds.

Last month we observed the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity between 18th and 25th January.  In Bucharest a service is held each week-night in a church of a different tradition, with preachers coming from other participating churches.  This year I preached in French in the Greek-Catholc Church and the Hungarian Reformed pastor preached in Romanian in our church, which as usual was filled for the occasion. Such services are an important part of our Christian witness, particularly in times like these when ecumenical advances are notable for their absence.

With my prayers for a holy Lent and a happy Easter,

Best wishes,

Father Patrick