Since 2002 the British Orthodox Parish of St. Mary & St. Felix at Babingley, Norfolk, has participated in the local Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by sponsoring an ecumenical lecture during The Raising of Evening Incense. This year a full church welcomed The Right Rev’d Alan Hopes, 4th Catholic Bishop of East Anglia. Introducing him to those present, Abba Seraphim spoke warmly of his predecessor, the late Bishop Michael Evans, who had been the speaker at the St. Felix ecumenical lecturer in 2005 and had also served on the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum alongside Abba Seraphim .
Bishop Alan began by reviewing the progress of the Catholic Church’s ecumenical dialogue in the fifty years since the IInd Vatican Council and its serious commitment to ecumenical dialogue with a wide range of Christian traditions, of which the dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches was very active. Abba Seraphim later recalled that the meeting between the two newly elected Popes, Tawadros II of Alexandria and Francis I of Rome, last year was hugely significant, being the first meeting of heads of churches of both Popes, and came exactly forty years after the visit of Pope Shenouda III to Pope Paul VI in Rome.
Following the Evening Service, at which Abba Seraphim was assiated by Father David Seeds from Cusworth and Deacons Christopher Barnes and Daniel Malyon, all present joined together for a very British tea party and Bishop Alan was able to talk with local members of the British Orthodox Church as well as the wider ecumenical visitors.
On 16 July 2013 Abba Seraphim was among the ecumenical guests invited to attend the Mass & Installation of the Right Rev’d Alan Hopes as fourth Catholic Bishop of East Anglia. The service took place as the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Norwich and the installation was performed by The Most Rev’d Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, as Metropolitan of the Province of Westminster. Large numbers of Catholic bishops attended as well as Anglicans. After an interregnum of two years, since the death of Bishop Michael Evans, the local clergy and faithful were filled with joy at this new appointment. Bishop; Alan had previously served as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster with the titular see of Chester-le-Street. Among other Orthodox clergy attending were His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira; Archpriest Raphael Armour, Dean of East England for the Russian Orthodox diocese of Sourozh; and Abuna Shishoy El Antony, Coptic Orthodox priest for St. Athanasius Parish, Easton, Norfolk.
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
Divine Liturgy 2.30 p.m.