Visiting with Metropolitan Kallistos

Last spring, Msgr. George Dobes and I had planned to travel to Oxford, UK and record some additional lectures for OLTV by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, retired Spaulding Lecturer in Eastern Christian Studies at Oxford University. Our flights were cancelled because of the disruption to trans-Atlantic air travel to and from Europe due to the volcano in Iceland. We re-scheduled the flights to be here this weekend.

In retirement, Metropolitan Kallistos seems to be busier than ever. In addition to being a new member of the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue, he has also recently been appointed co-chair of the Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue. Even though he has also retired as co-pastor of the Orthodox parish in Oxford, he still actively participates in the parish life by celebrating liturgies and administering the sacraments.

We stayed at a smallish hotel with just about 25 guest rooms a few blocks from his residence. On previous trips we were given smaller rooms on the upper floors in the new wing. But this time, we were lucky and assigned the two largest rooms on the main floor of the original building. The beds were the same size as before, what we would call “queen size” (but of course you can’t use that sort of term in England!), but in these rooms you could actually walk around the beds without hitting your shins on the frame. There was also a good size desk where I could set up my laptop and get some work done.

Our recording sessions were scheduled from 10 am to Noon each day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then we would leave His Grace to take care of his own lunch, have a rest and other appointments. On Friday evening, we met up again for a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called the Parsonage, which was the renovated residence of the Anglican church in the center of Oxford. Across the street was the Oratory where Blessed John Henry Newman visited and preached.

On Sunday, His Grace was scheduled to visit the Orthodox parish in the city of Bath, where he was born. Rather than take a train or have one of the parishioners there come bring him to Bath (about a 2 hour drive), we offered to go with him and all of us travel by rental car. Having lived in the UK for three years back in 1987-90, I was quite comfortable driving back roads and long distances on the other side of the highway (you don’t say “wrong side of the street” over there)!

The Divine Liturgy was beautifully sung in a mixture of Greek and Russian chant with mostly English translations by a small schola. About 100 persons attended the service which was held off to the side of a functioned Anglican parish. His Grace also ordained two subdeacons and elevated the pastor to Archpriest. After a wonderful celebration of many kinds of foods in the parish hall, we did a short driving tour of the city and stopped to view Metropolitan Kallistos’ boyhood home. He seemed very pleased to show us around, and remembered quite well walking the streets of Bath. It was his first visit in several years. We then drove back to Oxford, arriving in late afternoon.

On Monday morning, we made one last recording and then flew back to Washington on Tuesday morning. All in all, another great trip and wonderful experience with Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia!