I've mentioned in passing several times how I am endeavoring to spread Orthodoxy in the Southern US, so I thought I'd share with those interested how we manage to celebrate Holy Week between our two missions in North Carolina, which are 90 miles apart. It's been several months since Holy Week, but this is the first chance I've gotten to put pen to paper on this topic. I hope it will encourage others working in missions and those contemplating opening a mission.
Holy Week in our North Carolina Missions
Whenever I visit our parishes, or speak to fellow Orthodox Christians, the topic of the missionary work we are doing in North Carolina always generates interest. I have previously written two articles concerning our missionary endeavors in North Carolina, “Our Missions in North Carolina” and “Our One Year Anniversary,” but for some time I have wanted to author another informal reflection to update our friends. Although it is now several months since Holy Week, that blessed time remains ever present in my heart and mind, so I will recount with joy how we celebrate this time in our missions.
I continue to serve both our missions in Raleigh (St. Mark the Evangelist) and Greenville (Nativity of the Holy Theotokos) regularly; generally speaking, three times a month in each location, by a combination of Saturday and Sunday liturgies. I maintain a secular job to support myself, and my on-call rotation has increased, so scheduling is often challenging, but God has always blessed it to work out in the end. I also occasionally find time to visit my other mission station, in Charlottesville, Virginia, or to provide pastoral care for families who have found us elsewhere and are hopeful to establish a mission, such as the folks in Nashville, Tennessee.
During Holy Week, there are several services a day. It would be impossible for me to sustain trips back and forth each day between the two missions, which necessitated some compromise. I was able to take off Holy Thursday and Great Friday, but worked Monday through Wednesday. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night, then, we celebrated the Bridegroom Matins in our Chapel in Raleigh. Holy Thursday, we celebrated the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil in Raleigh in the morning, and then after some rest, left Raleigh around four o’clock in the afternoon for the trip to Greenville, which takes about an hour and a half.Read More