|Fr Serge in Dublin|
Father Deacon Richard Downer writes:
Back in early 1994, when I was a both a member of the Society of St John Chrysostom and of the Melkite-Greek Catholic Community in London, I arranged with Fr Shafiq AbouZayd for Fr Serge and two other Greek Catholic priests (Fr Graham Woolfenden and Fr Elias O’Brien) to come down from Oxford to serve the Divine Liturgy in English for our Melkite Community in London on a monthly basis. However, Carol, my wife, and I first met Fr Serge at Keston College, a research organisation in England that supported persecuted Christians in Communist lands. This was prior to Perestroika, if I remember correctly; perhaps around the time that Ronald Reagan had a meeting with Gorbachev in Iceland. Fr Serge kindly took Carol and myself down to his office in the college, where we had a long discussion about the then plight of the persecuted Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine. He was unmistakable on our subsequent visits to Keston College, wearing as he did his Kamelevikon and veil at public meetings of the College.
It was while he was at Keston College that Fr Serge published his book about the persecuted Greek Catholics in the Ukraine. He invited Carol and myself to the book launch, which was held in the Church Hall of the joint Russian/Greek Orthodox Church in Canterbury Road in Oxford. Among others, the Rev Michael Bordeaux, head of Keston College, the then Bishop Basil of the Russian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of the Greek Orthodox Church were present. The Orthodox presence in a Church Hall, a Hall that they owned, was quite remarkable considering the fact that Fr Serge’s book was about the suffering/persecuted Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Once again Fr Serge stood out, as it were, by wearing his Kamelevikon and veil; neither of the Orthodox Bishops wore theirs. What was even more remarkable, bearing in mind the topic of the book, was that Metropolitan Kallistos was chairing the book launch. Michael Bordeaux, as head of Keston College, spoke about the book and its purpose. At some stage during the gathering Metropolitan Kallistos also spoke. He started his talk in his own very English humorous way as follows: “God is a mystery; therefore because man is made in the image of God, he too is a mystery; but there is no greater mystery than Archimandrite Serge Kelleher!” How could one forget such an opening remark; in a way it was both a telling and an affectionate remark.
|Archbishop Joseph Raya and Fr Serge at Madonna House,|
In addition, many years ago, when the Society of St John Chrysostom in England had almost ceased to exist, there was a meeting held downstairs in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London attended by Fr Serge, the late Fr Graham Woolfenden, the late Joe Farrelly, myself and others, in order to see how the Society could be re-started, as it were. Following on from that meeting various things began to happen, and Fr Serge played an important role in this regard. This was some time before the formation of the Society of St John Chrysostom in the USA, a matter that we discussed at some of our Society committee meetings in London, prior to its formation. Another of Fr Serge’s projects was the launching of the Eastern Churches Journal, the first copy of which appeared for Winter 1993/1994, Fr Serge being the editor. Again this was a matter that we discussed on various occasions at Society committee meetings in London prior to the Journal being launched.
The Society is immensely grateful to God for Fr Serge, who not only helped to lay the foundations for the work of the Society today, but also the significant work of our sister Society in the United States and its conferences and publications in furtherance of Catholic-Orthodox unity following the Apostolic Letter of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Orientale Lumen.
May his memory be eternal!