The ICC has four Orthodox traditions: Antiochian, Greek, Romanian and Russian.
Orthodoxy in Ireland
No Orthodox parish existed in Ireland before 1969. A small number of Russian emigrés arrived shortly after the 1917 Revolution, among them Nicholas Couriss later to be Ireland’s first resident Orthodox priest. Several hundred Orthodox including Greek and Greek Cypriots settled in the country by the early 1950s. In 1969 a parish was established by the Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR) with Father Nicholas as priest. A number of Irish were received into the Church. From 1971–3 he was assisted by Fr Michael Beaumont, University College Dublin lecturer and priest of the Moscow Patriarchate. Father Nicholas died in 1977 and with him the house chapel.
The first Greek Church was consecrated in 1981 at St Mary’s, Mary Street, Dublin. In 1986 the building was declared unsafe. A mendicant period ensued. A permanent building at Arbour Hill was consecrated in 1994. Father Tom Carroll is their pastor (086–239 4539). The present congregation of the Church of the Annunciation is multinational and numbers about 70.
The late 90s saw an influx of people from Eastern Europe. The Russian Church (Moscow Patriarchate) began its services in 1999 with monthly Liturgies at the Greek Church Arbour Hill, but subsequently moved to premises at Harold’s Cross Dublin in 2002, thanks to the Church of Ireland (Anglican) with Fr Mikhail Nasunov (+353–86–734 7934) as pastor. There are about 1,500 members of the church. Fr Nicolay Evseev (+353–86–100 9531) is pastor of the Russian community at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic church in Drogheda. They also have monthly Liturgies for members in Cork, Limerick and Waterford.
The Romanian Church came into being with its own priest in October 2000. From January 2001 worship took place in Belvedere College chapel in the centre of Dublin, courtesy of the Jesuit Fathers. In June 2005, the Church of Ireland made available their church building at Christ Church Leeson Park, Dublin 6 to the Romanian community. The Pastor of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is Fr Calin Florea (+353–87–614 8140); his assistant Fr Constantine Uncu (087– 251 2101). There are two deacons. A second Dublin parish is in Hartstown Community Centre, Hartstown Road, Dubin 15 with Fr Raul Simion pastor (+353–87–639 4530) and Fr Godfrey O’Donnell assistant (+353–87–678 0150) who is also ecumenical representative of the Church in Ireland; there is a deacon. A third Dublin parish is found in Porter’s Road, Coolmine Industrial Estate, Dublin 15 with Fr Ireneu Craciun pastor (+353–87–794 1988) and Fr Petru Vlaic assistant (+353–86–394 0784). A seventh priest, Fr Viorel Hurjui (+353–87–677 2241) was appointed pastor in Cork, and Fr Tudor Ghita (+353–86–228 2690) was ordained with responsibility for a new parish in Galway at St Nicholas Collegiate, Lombard Street. Fr Tudor also services Limerick at the Sisters of Mercy, Westbourne Convent, Courtbrack Avenue. Fr Cornel Clepea (+44–777 525 9542) looks after Ballymena at All Saints RC church, 4 Broughshane Road, BT43 7DX; St Paul’s, Falls Road, Belfast, BT12 6AB has a liturgy once a month with Fr Cornel. There are also occasional Liturgies in Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Mullingar, Portlaoise, Sligo and Waterford. This church serves about 1,500 in the Dublin area, about 120 in the other parishes.
The Antiochian Orthodox Church founded in Ireland in 2004. They have two parishes, one in Belfast, St Ignatius’, St James COI, Corner of Antrim Rd & Cliftonville Rd, with Fr Paul Totten (+44–7798 655548) as pastor and a community of 50. Fr John Hickey (+353–86–791 3689) is pastor at the Carmelite Church Community Centre, Whitefriar Street Off Aungier Street, Dublin 2. Fr John also holds a Liturgy in Holy Trinity Friary, Fr Mathew Quay, Cork on the first Saturday of each month. The deanery priest Fr David Lonergan (+353–87–652 7184) currently serves the Georgian Orthodox parish of St Maximos the Confessor at St Mary’s Church, Bloomfield Avenue, Dublin 4.
Three of these Orthodox Churches are apostolic in origin. The church of Greece has approximatively 9 million members. The Antiochian, one of the ancient Christian patriarchates, 750,000. According to the 2002 Romanian census, 18,817,975 out of the 21,680,974 inhabitants of Romania are Orthodox Christians (86.8%). In terms of population the Church of Romania is second in size only to Russia, and the most numerous Orthodox Church of any state in the EU. Christianity in Russia developed slowly from a gradual infiltration from Byzantium, Bulgaria and Scandinavia with definitely a church in Kiev in 945. The Russian Princess Olga became a Christian in 955. Around 988 Olga’s grandson Vladimir who reigned from 980–1015 was converted to Christianity and married Anna sister of the Byzantine emperor. Orthodoxy became the state religion. Today there are 150 million adherents worldwide.
The Orthodox Mission in Ireland
The mission of the Orthodox Church in Ireland is seen as fulfilling the instruction of Christ our Saviour to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28, 19–20) since He ‘desires everyone be saved and come to knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2, 4). In Ireland this will be primarily done by continuing to preach and serve those Orthodox of the diaspora presently living and working in Ireland, other Orthodox who have no spiritual home, and those others, particularly Irish, who might be drawn to the Orthodox faith. For us it is not about getting into competition with other Christian Churches. It is about sharing the riches of our tradition and an invitation ‘to come and see.’(Jn 1, 46)