On the weekend of November 5-6, 2022, Bishop Sergei of Hamina, a newly elected auxiliary bishop to Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, visited the see of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia in Stockholm.
On Saturday November 5, an archieratical concelebration of the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the St. Nicholas Finnish parish in Stockholm to commemorate the synaxis of the luminary saints of Karelia. Metropolitan Cleopas presided over the Divine Liturgy, assisted by Bishop Sergei of Hamina, who delivered the sermon of the day. The hymns were chanted by the choir members of the Finnish parish.
Metropolitan Cleopas welcomed Bishop Sergei, congratulating him on his recent election to the episcopacy, and emphasized the spiritual bond shared by his eparchy and the Church of Finland, along with its primate Archbishop Leo. The Metropolitan also asked his guest to convey his respect, esteem, and brotherly love to the neighboring Archbishop and his entire eparchy.
On Sunday, November 6, the archieratical Divine Liturgy was once again concelebrated at the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm, with Metropolitan Cleopas presiding and aided by Bishop Sergei and the clergymen accompanying him, Protopresbyter Fr. Jonah and Archdeacon Andreas, along with the presiding priest of the Cathedral Archimandrite Bartholomew Iatridis. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Greek, Swedish, English, Finnish, Romanian, and Slavonic.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan addressed Bishop Sergei, noting the following: “Your Grace, we welcome you today to the St. George Cathedral and receive You as an angel of peace. We had an opportunity to listen to You preach the Holy Gospel yesterday at our Finnish Parish, as well as today here at our Cathedral, and we received Your blessings and prayers. Truly, my beloved brother, during these difficult times, we continue to seek out peace. A peace that people all over the world are in search of in their homes and hearts. All the nations cry out daily, like the people during the time of the Prophet Jeremiah: “‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14).
Even today, in nations all around the world, like Sweden, our fellow citizens welcome refugees. The Christian faithful are ready to offer many sacrifices to minister to them, to dry their tears, to hearken to their cries, to ease the suffering evident from just looking at them, as they wait for the opportunity to return to their homeland or learn of the fate of their displaced loved ones.
Your Grace, lift up Your hands in prayer once more and bless the clergy and faithful of our missionary Eparchy. And I assure you that we too shall pray with all our heart and all our soul, and stand by you.
Your Grace, your presence here today confirms the indivisible nature of Orthodoxy and affirms the words of St. Paul the Apostle: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” As members of this body, we share in your joys, sorrows, and concerns, problems and challenges, just as you are conscious of ours, respectively.
I convey the paternal greetings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and, expressing my heartfelt thanks yet again, I kindly ask that You convey my sentiments of respect, esteem, and love to His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, whom I thank for the invitation he sent me to concelebrate the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross together with him and yourself, and the kindness His Eminence shows in sending fine clergymen to celebrate holy services here at our Finnish parish in Stockholm.”
In his reply, Bishop Sergei thanked Metropolitan Cleopas for his hospitality, kind words, and congratulated him on the restoration work completed in the Cathedral and the installation of 36 icon frescoes. As a small token of gratitude, he offered the Metropolitan a piece of the holy relic of St. Seraphim of Sarov, an icon featuring the holy hierarchs who composed the Divine Liturgy, as well as publications of the Holy Archdiocese of Finland.
Metropolitan Cleopas offered his guests a copy of an album he recently published through the Church of Greece’s publishing house Apostoliki Diakonia dedicated to the Patriarchal Visit to Stockholm in 2019.
After the Divine Liturgy, a luncheon was offered at the Museum of Hellenic Christian Heritage in honor of Bishop Sergei and his entourage.
Aside from the aforementioned clergymen, guests included Rafail Poumeyrau, head legal adviser to the Holy Metropolis of Sweden, Mr. and Mrs. Bengt and Tania Svedberg, the parish council president of the Finnish Parish of Stockholm Mr. Berdt Tryphon Arell, and Mr. Konstantinos Clint Westermark. The meal and related details of the luncheon were prepared courtesy of the President of the Cathedral’s Ladies Philoptochos Society Mrs. Fotini Batsela and Mrs. Tania Svedberg.