We then were off to St. Mark’s Convent and the Syrian Orthodox Church. Vassula met with Father Shemun Can. They had met before as well. He invited us to stay for lunch during which time he said the prayer, “The Our Father” in Aramaic. He spent time explaining to Vassula some of the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church. He also blessed Vassula’s mission for church unity because of his involvement with the ecumenical group in Jerusalem. This group has an icon that is believed to have been painted by St. Luke, the Evangelist. Father Can is looking forward to participating in the 2007 TLIG Ecumenical Pilgrimage.
We then went to The Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem. It is wonderful that they are all so close by. Truly they are neighbors! We were just going from appointments to appointments which we called the "Spiritual Marathon." Bishop Aris Shirvanian and Vassula were sharing on the dialogue of unity and she asked him how he feels about the unification of the dates of Easter. Vassula invited him to the next pilgrimage as well and he said he would be looking forward to it.
Vassula’s next meeting was at The Maronite Patriarchate in Jerusalem where Vassula met with Archbishop Paul Sayah. He was interested to know about her ecumenical meetings so she told him that she had, in 2001, been invited by the International Bridgettine Centre of Farfa in Italy to speak on Ecumenism and Spirituality and that she would mail him her Farfa speech. He then took us to the roof top where there is a beautiful view of Jerusalem from which can be seen the Dome of the Rock on one side and the Mount of Olives on the other.
We went back to the hotel at Notre Dame to check out, and providentially, while we were putting our luggage into the car, we saw Bishop Timotheos of The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate there in the courtyard. Well, this was the Finale! The Lord surprised us with this one. We had tried earlier to go to the Patriarchate but at that time, they were not receiving guests. It was such a pleasant surprise that the Lord brought Bishop Timotheos to us! He was there in the courtyard having a meeting. He recognized Vassula whom he had met before on a previous visit, and came over to greet her. He expressed his pleasure at seeing her again and asked her for her latest book. I ran to the car to give him the CDF in English, and also two small booklets, the Bridegroom (He had said, "Is this Nimphios?" which means bridegroom in Greek) and the Odes. He assured us that he would read them.
Bishop Timotheos then asked Vassula what she would be able to do for the Church in Greece. They were talking like good friends. He said to her, "I welcomed you into my office. Remember?" I was at an advantage because I knew what they were saying in Greek. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo. Believe me! I was later so upset not to have taken his photo with Vassula, but at the time I was so excited about this Divine Providential meeting of the two, that I just froze. Here at least is a photo of him below from the Jerusalem Patriarchal website.
The True life in God people of the Holy Land did a wonderful job setting up all these meetings and our accommodations. They showed us great hospitality and may God bless their work. It was wonderful spending time with them in the Holy Land right there where they live. I thank God for such a memorable and exciting time with Vassula and meeting His Shepherds who are so unique, diverse, and yet all belong to Him!