BOC Portsmouth Congregation represented at House of Bethany

Subdeacon Antony-Paul Holland represented Father Simon Smyth (who had been invited but was, regrettably, unable to attend) and the British Orthodox Portsmouth congregation at a Mass held on 5 November for the installation of Mother Rita-Elizabeth as Superior to the Society of the Sisters of Bethany for a further five years.  The British Orthodox Church of Saint Mary the Mother of God and Saint Moses the Black in Portsmouth and the Society of the Sisters of Bethany in neighbouring Southsea enjoy warm ecumenical relations.  Mother Rita-Elizabeth and other sisters have joined the British Orthodox congregation for celebrations of the Divine Liturgy and British Orthodox members from both the Portsmouth congregation and from Southampton have attended Quiet Days at Bethany House and stayed on retreat there.

Bishop Trevor Wilmott of Dover, the Episcopal Visitor for the Society, led the celebration of the Mass.  He was assisted by the House Chaplain, Father John Preston (a good friend to Orthodox locally).  During the service Mother Rita-Elizabeth was brought before the congregation, then before Bishop Trevor she made her vows again as Superior to which she had recently been re-elected by her Sisters. It was with great joy that she was welcomed by all those present, who included several priests, monks and nuns from various parts of the country and ecumenical friends.

After the service a buffet lunch was enjoyed in the garden with opportunity for ecumenical friendship and conversation.