Easter message for the Orthodox community from Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has issued the following message for Holy Week for the Orthodox Church which marks Easter on Sunday 19th April, a week after the date on which it is celebrated by the Catholic and Protestant Christian Churches:

“This is a very difficult time for our country as the Covid-19 virus continues to take a heavy toll. This emergency means that this is an Easter season like no other that any of us will have experienced. It is a matter of sadness that the usual packed church services for Orthodox Good Friday and Easter cannot take place this year.

I very much regret not to be able to attend the Good Friday service at St Katherine’s Church in Friern Barnet which has been such an inspiration to me when I have attended in previous years.

I know that the scenes at St Katherine’s of hundreds of people gathered inside and outside the church are repeated in many places where there is a significant Cypriot population. This is a demonstration of how strong the Orthodox faith is within the Greek Cypriot community, helping to bind it together.

Even though big gatherings for Holy Week and Easter Sunday will not happen this year, I very much hope that my Cypriot constituents will still be able to mark this most important week of the Christian calendar. It will be a painful time for families who have lost loved ones to the virus and I send them my deepest sympathy. Others will be separated from other members of their families, particularly elderly parents and grandparents. I wish them well and hope that they are able to keep in touch with their relatives even if they cannot be all together for the usual celebrations.

Despite the adversity, I am sure that the spiritual significance of Holy Week and Easter will be as strong as ever for the Cypriot community. The optimism and hope within the story of Easter can be an inspiration to us all during this period of anxiety and fear. We will get through this. I wish a very Happy Easter to British Cypriots and to all my constituents who are celebrating this festival on Sunday in accordance with the Orthodox calendar.

As well as Greece and Cyprus, the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity is also strongly represented in Bulgaria, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine and I therefore send Easter greetings to any of my constituents who come from these communities.”