The Jubilee (1999) of the Slavic-Byzantine Church in The Hague

We present below an article about the Russian Cathlolic parish in The Hague, that appeared in a Dutch newspaper and was translated by St. Michael's parishioner, John Saxe van der Weide.

The Slavic-Byzantine Community of the Transfiguration of the Lord, located in The Hague celebrated this year (1999) its fiftieth anniversary. This little community is a special part of the Church in this Diocese, because it forms a link between the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. "There are nine Byzantine Churches in The Netherlands. We fall under the leadership of Rome, but the liturgy is celebrated according to the Slavic-Byzantine Rite in Church Slavonic. Our Church is set up according to the Eastern tradition. Before us stands the iconostasis, a wall with icons behind which stands the altar. What we see here has all been painted by Father Methodius, the first priest of this church", says Eugene Sarolea, the secretary of the Church located on the "Raamsweg" in The Hague.

The establishment of the Byzantine parishes in the Netherlands began shortly after World War II. Sarolea stated, "A few thousand Russian women, who had been forced to work in Germany during the war, fled to the Netherlands. And a group of these women had been married to Dutch men while they were in Germany. However, these women did not feel much like they were at home when they went to church in Holland, where at that time they had only the Western Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII gave the Capuchin-Franciscan Friars the task to help to help these women feel more at home with the Eastern way of celebrating the Divine Liturgy. This order had a small group of priests who were trained in Rome to serve the Eastern rite, but were prevented from serving in the East after the rise of communism. These priests helped the women in their own language and with the Eastern liturgies. A certain amount of the Slavic-Byzantine Churches were established of which this one (shown in the picture) is just one. It is good to see that also many people of the Netherlands had interest in the eastern rites. For many people the Church on the Raamsweg has become their spiritual home."

A few years ago the Capuchin Friars gave their task back to Rome. The nine Byzantine communities are now under the responsibility of the bishops of the Netherlands. Twice a month, the second and the fourth Sundays of the month, Fr. Anthony celebrates the Divine Liturgy at 10 o'clock according to the Slavic Byzantine Rite, and also on Wednesday morning at 9:30, except during Great Lent. The Saturday before the fourth Sunday each month, there are Vespers at 7 p.m..

During the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, from January there have been special liturgical feasts. On the 19th and 20th of August, there will be additional Vespers services for the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. On November 21st, there will be Vespers and a moleben — a celebration of thanksgiving — followed by a community gathering with folksongs in which anyone is invited to participate.

On November 22nd, there will be the closing of the anniversary year with a special Divine Liturgy to express the community's gratefulness and happiness that this Church is there. There will be a book presented about the history of the community and all the special events of this half century celebration.

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