On Sunday, November 22, 2020, His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden and All Scandinavia ordained the Deacon of the Metropolitan Church of the
Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo, Rev. Fr. Μaxime Francois Lesage, to the Priesthood at the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm. This ordination was initially planned for Palm Sunday and rescheduled for the second to last Sunday of November due to the measures in place to combat the pandemic presently plaguing the entire world. For this reason, Metropolitan Cleopas chose the day following the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, which also coincides with our entry into the Christmas season, to celebrate the ordination of a new Presbyter, who represents the 13 the new clergyman to join the brotherhood of clergy serving in this historic eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Scandinavia over the past six years.
In his address prior to his ordination, the Deacon thanked the Metropolitan of Sweden for the trust he placed in him and spoke about the significance of the priesthood and the modern challenges of our era. “I became the bridge between the Greek Orthodox faithful and all those
from local society in Norway who are joining our local Church. Now, with my ordination, thanks to You, I will continue to cultivate this pastoral relationship and ministry, and thus, both I and my spiritual father Fr. Alexandros will minister to Your flock in Norway. I express my gratitude to You and our brethren in Oslo, and I pray that I may continue to offer my best to them as a Priest, equally and impartially.”Afterward, Metropolitan Cleopas addressed the new Presbyter and his wife Delphine in Greek, English, and French, noting, among other things, the following: “I paternally advise you to refrain from fundamentalism, any speech that promotes hatred or is undignified, and which seeks to shame those different than ourselves. It is your duty to meet others, who might
be different than you, and to approach all communities and cultures in order to succeed in expanding the Church…
In recent months, we have become witnesses to a particular attack that is taking place, which is based on the power of brute force, the power of those in control, the power of domination, physical violence, emotional violence, an attack against symbols perpetrated through bullying and fake news. …
We forbear in silence all those who view the synodical system, the ecumenical nature of the Church, philanthropy, dialogue, the embrace of those tarnished and marginalized in this world, socialization, active engagement, and encountering those who are different from us as a novelty and a sin … We also forget or completely ignore the fact that there is a world awaiting us out there. A world that wants to see the Orthodox Church give meaning to life and serve as the hinge of love that will hold together societies that are coming apart. A world that is tired of rulers, of those who feel that they need nothing outside of their own selves and their power. A world that is injured by the friendlessness and lack of communion between people and Churches. Are we presently prepared for this kind of ‘togetherness?’”
Metropolitan Cleopas finished his speech by referencing an excerpt from a prophetic text of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Geron Meliton of Chalcedon entitled On Hypocrisy: “As a Church, we are intertwined with the path of the human race on this great adventure called History, which leads us to the fulfillment of the final days. By pretending to be in the past, we are absent from the present, and the future will arrive without us. … The past is long gone, and we aren’t even living out the present; the future is already at hand.”
Metropolitan Cleopas’ speech also included passages and excerpts from the writings of the Church Fathers, such as Sts. Maximus the Confessor, Cyril of Alexandria, Symeon the New Theologian, as well as quotes from the speeches and works of the poet-diplomat Nobel laureate George Seferis, composer Manos Hadjidakis, and poet Kiki Dimoula. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in five languages – Greek, French, English, Swedish, and Norwegian, and was broadcast live via the Facebook page of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden, under the technical supervision of Mr. Nikolaοs Kitsios. Concelebrating with the Metropolitan were the Very Rev. Archimandrites Fr. Bartholomew Iatridis, Parish Priest of the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm and Fr. Alexandros Loukatos, Parish Priest of the
Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo. The newly ordained Presbyter Fr. Maxime was born in France and currently resides in Oslo,
Norway together with his family. Aside from French, he speaks English, Norwegian, Chinese, German, and Dutch, and is knowledgeable in liturgical Greek. He recently completed his doctoral studies and received his Ph.D. from Trondheim University in Norway. The hymns of the day were chanted by Dr. Andreas Selasmsis, Dr. George Sidiras, and Mr. Demetrios Batselas. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Cleopas also conducted a Trisagion memorial on behalf of the souls of the ever-memorable Patriarch Irinej of Serbia and Metropolitan Ioannis of Langadas. His Eminence also prayed for the health and quick recovery of Their Beatitudes Archbishops Anastasios of Albania and Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece. Following the Divine Liturgy, the President of the Ladies Philoptochos Society of the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm Mrs. Fotini Batsela offered a luncheon in honor of the newly ordained Presbyter and his wife, where Fr. Maxime presented his recently published doctoral thesis to Metropolitan Cleopas as a gift, and the latter reciprocated by offering gifts and the
warm congratulations of his flock on the former’s academic achievements.