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an article for the sixth anniversary of the opening of the first Orthodox church in Dublin

© Gregory Strachan

2. Priests and sacramental life

During the first period we had three clergy serving the church and partish:
- Hiermonk Irineu Ilia (S.T.L., Maynooth), 24th May 1981 - 27th June 1982;
- Heirodeacon Theophil Panait (S.T.L., Maynooth), 24th May 1981 - 31st 1982; and
- Archimandrite Irineu Craciun (S.T.L., D.D. Maynooth), 8th August 1981 to the present (November 1987).

Fathers Irineu and Theophil came as deacons from the holy monastery of Secu, in Romania. In May 1981, Fr. Irineu was ordained a priest in London by the Romanian Archbishop Adrian of Western Europe; and upon the opening of the church in Dublin Archbishop Methodius named him priest in charge. Helped by Fr. Theophil as his deacon, Fr. Irineu gave the church its elementary liturgical furnishing, and met the basic spiritual needs of the newly organized Orthodox community by celebrating the Divine Liturgy and preaching.

Having received the blessing of the Patriarch Iustin of Romania, Archbishop Methodius asked Irineu Craciun to act as the new priest in charge of the parish with effect from 1st January 1982.

He immediately concentrated his attention on endowing the church with all the holy and precious things necessary for celebrating the Divine Liturgy in accordance with authenticate the Church. Given the isolation and singularity of this parish, everything had to be done at great sacrifice. Thanks to all these efforts the new church gradually became, as it were, a heaven on earth, where vigils, matins, vespers, Lenten, services, processions and, the crown of all, the Divine Liturgy, were properly celebrated to the great joy of our Orthodox faithful, some of whom had been deprived of all this for fifty years, and drawing to us many sympathetic visitors.

Meanwhile, Fr. Irineu devoted such time as could be spared from his studies to organizing the parish, carrying out pastoral visits and blessing houses. In the church he established the first choir, to sing in Greek, Slavonic and English. The first singer of our choir was Mr. Kostas Gamouras (24th May 1981 - June 1983). The present singer and leader of the choir is Dr. Torrance, assisted by Mr. Zonon Ellenas.

Period of Transition, 2nd May 1986 - 30th November.

Hardly had we become a normal parish at St. Mary's when we were uprooted for seven months. During this most difficult period Fr. Irineu ensured the continuity of our Orthodox life by setting up the chapel at Artane and holding our parish together until we finally emerged from the wilderness on St. Andrew's Day 1986.

Even more intense effort was required in order to prepare the new church in Ranelagh for dedication within the space of eight days - a further "tribute to the skill and energy of Fr. Irineu", to quote our parish President in an open letter.

His activity has included the reception of ten converts into the Orthodox Church, the baptism of ten children, three weddings; designing of the first iconostasis in 1983, which was erected by Mr. Keily of Wexford; securing basic liturgical items from our Archdiocese (England); receiving substantial donations, such as church banners (Romania), liturgical books (America), silver-plated icons and kandelia (Greece), vestments (Romania and Greece), handmade crosses, analogion and candlesticks (Ireland), a complete set of feast-icons (Greece), offerings of precious relics and incense (Holy Mountain), precious gifts of a chalice and paten (Greece); the design of the second iconostasis donated by Frixos Ioannides and made by John Johansson of Cork.

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