Popadias & Diaconissa Gathering 2017
“And the angel...answered and said unto the women,
“Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus...” Matt.28:5
It is no small thing for a woman to agree to become the wife of a priest or deacon in the Orthodox Church, by consenting to his ordination. It, like marriage itself, is a commitment of a lifetime. Indeed, anyone who dedicates their life to Christ and His Church has stepped onto a path that will require all that you have to give, and yet will also give you access to the Pearl of Great Price. The wives of the clergy can add a great deal to the life of the Diocese – through their prayer life, supporting their husbands, caring for the parish, often serving as a reader, choir member, festival planner, prosphora baker, and filling many of the other needs in their parish life.
It is with this in mind that His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph blessed the Gathering of Popadias and Diaconissas, to precede the annual Diocesan Convention every year. This year marked the 12th Gathering, held July 20-21 at the beautiful Holy Trinity Eastern Orthodox Church in Madison, Illinois.
Surrounded by the stunningly beautiful depictions of the saints shining in the stained glass windows, we began our schedule on Thursday with vespers, followed by a dinner for Metropolitan Joseph, His Grace Bishop Daniil, the diocesan clergy and their wives. Every year, this Gathering has been richly blessed to receive an address from the Bulgarian Patriarch to our gathering. Beginning with Patriarch Maxim, of blessed memory, and continuing with His Holiness Patriarch Neofit, these letters encourage, instruct and bless the women to grow spiritually, serve the Lord, take care for others, and love the Lord with our whole hearts. The address is read to the group, and is followed by an address by our ruling hierarch, Metropolitan Joseph, who takes care for us, urging us to trust in the Lord and His Holy Mother, and giving us the direction we need to more truly follow Christ.
The following morning, we gather in the church for a Hierarchal liturgy, preceded by matins and the opportunity to give confession. The day continues with brunch, and then the women meet together on their own. This is a rich time of fellowship, discussion of important topics, and strengthening our bond to pray for and love one another.
Later in the afternoon it is time for “Tea with Dedo Vladiko”, where we are joined by His Eminence and His Grace, and we receive another talk from His Eminence, and then have the opportunity to just talk with him/them.
We adjourn to the church once again, and end our Gathering by singing the Akathistos Hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos, with the clergy who are arriving for the Diocesan Convention.
Though we are a small Diocese, over thirty-five women have attended these conferences over the years. This year, our gathering was small, with eight of us able to attend. But it was no less rich and rewarding, for, as the Lord said,
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” –Matt 18:20