Since his death in 1993, the friends of Archdeacon James Goddard (1957-1993), have gathered each year on his birthday (21 October) to honour his memory with a commemorative dinner at which a collection is made in support of St. Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham. Abba Seraphim presided and his namesake and successor, Archdeacon James II (Maskery), joined the company. Speaking about the gathering, Abba Seraphim noted that, whilst the church liturgically commemorates her departed faithful at various times of the year, it is a significant tribute to the high regard in which he was held, that for almost a quarter of a century, his friends still meet together; and express the fruits of their fellowship in their laudable support for the hospice where he spent his last days. Archdeacon James – Memory Eternal !
On Remembrance Sunday 2016 (13 November), at St. Alban’s British Orthodox Church in Chatham, Abba Seraphim preached on the significance of this national commemoration. Whilst observing that the church had its own seasons for commemorating the Faithful Departed, he noted that today was a national commemoration of those who had given their lives in the service of their country.
“There are those who feel that the church should have no part with the armed forces, but should be absolutely detached as an instrument of peace, yet we owe a great debt to those who place their own lives at risk in order to protect their fellows, whether they serve in the armed forces, the police service or as firemen. Sadly, the reality of a fallen world is that the forces of darkness are always ready to exploit the weak and vulnerable, and it is one of the first duties of governments to protect their citizens and ensure their security. Of course, there are moral issues about the use of force and we know that, like all things, it can be misused; but the record of our armed services stands high in the responsible use of military force and is essentially to protect life, not to take it. My own knowledge of those in our armed services, especially those with higher authority, is that they possess a profound respect for the sanctity of life, a deep awareness of the huge responsibilities they exercise and a heartfelt reluctance to kill or injure, if other options are available to them.
In remembering those who gave their lives in defence of our freedoms and peaceful way of life, we owe them an immense debt of gratitude. We live in troubled times and the years of total peace have been few. Our commemoration begins with our own servicemen, many of whom lost their lives and are buried in foreign lands, but we also hold before God those in every nation who have fought righteously and we implore a merciful and loving Saviour to grant their souls eternal rest and to guide us into the ways of peace.”
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy a full church, representing every generation, and holding candles of remembrance, joined in the memorial prayers and singing “Memory Eternal!”
On 14 December 2016 it was with great joy that Abba Seraphim welcomed to the Church Secretariat three grandsons of a former British Orthodox bishop. Frederic Charles Aloysius Harrington (1879-1942) was consecrated to the episcopate in 1935, following the death of his wife, and largely ministered in the Islington area of London, where his service was based on a Chapel dedicated to St. Ignatius of Antioch. His early death was a great loss to the church, but he was greatly loved and his memory has always been cherished.
His three grandsons, Leslie, Michael and David Harrington, who have been researching their family history, visited Abba Seraphim to hear about their grandfather’s church ministry and to share family stories and memorabilia. Among the items preserved at the Secretariat is the pastoral staff made by their father, the late Patrick Harrington (1916-1989) for their grandfather’s consecration.
On 23 December 2016, Father David Seeds conducted two funerals on the same day; one for a local resident and another for a neighbour in the adjoining county. Graham Moore, aged 68, of Cusworth, was cremated at the Rose Hill Crematorium in Doncaster, followed by his family attending at the Cusworth Church for the burial of his ashes. Later that day, Father David had to travel to Chesterfield to conduct the funeral of a neighbour from Ashover in Derbyshire, the village where Father David lives.
On 17 January 2017, following a request from a Greek Orthodox family for an English-speaking Orthodox priest to conduct their mother’s funeral at Rose Hill, and having met with the family, Father David conducted the funeral of Mrs. Lita Brelsford. She came to Britain after the Ionian earthquake (also known as the Great Kefalonia earthquake) in August 1953. Damage was very heavy in Zakynthos’ eponymous capital city. Only two buildings survived there; the rest of the island’s capital had to be rebuilt. Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia, suffered substantial damage and all of Kefalonia’s buildings were flattened except for those in Fiskardo in the far north. As well as causing major destruction on the two islands, the economic impact was far greater, and damage was estimated to have totalled billions of Drachmas. Many people fled the island: but the majority emigrated from Greece entirely leaving both the islands and their economy in ruins. All her large family were British-born. Father David commented that it was a privilege to support her family in this way.