Saint Birinus

Saint Birinus Cross

About Us

WRO Mass at Saint Dunstan Church in Poole

We are the end result of the interest in the Orthodox Western Rite over the past 15 years or so in the UK. The beginning of the revival of interest started in 2007 with a retreat organized by Father Michael Mansbridge-Wood, who used to spend winters in the UK and return to Australia for their winter.

In those days, the Orthodox Western Rite was available outside North America only from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. We remained a small group of interested Orthodox faithful, relying on Fr. Michael’s returns from Australia every winter. For a period in 2011 - 2013, we were under the care of Abbot James Deschesnes of Christminster, a ROCOR Monastery in Canada, then we had Fr. Anthony Bondi looking after the ROCOR WR under the direction of Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral.

Eventually, Father Thomas Cook from the UK was ordained, thanks to the efforts of Fr. Bondi in autumn 2012. Father Thomas was now able to look after the ROCOR WR here in the UK. Because of the wide geographical location of our interested members, we tried to have our Sunday Masses said in fairly central and accessible locations. After experimenting with Weston-super-Mare and Poole, we started having monthly Masses at Oxford in the Headington Cemetery Chapel.

Eventually, after discussions, it became obvious that we had to be nearer London to be accessible to more members. In 2017, one of our parishioners was able to secure the side chapel at Saint Mary the Virgin Church in Isleworth, a church that he used to attend. We have built a strong bond with the community there and we are always made very welcome.

With the death of Metropolitan Hilarion in 2022, the ROCOR reviewed the management of the WR and decided to have local Bishops overseeing each WR Parish. This meant that our Parish at Isleworth would now come directly under the newly installed Bishop of London and Western Europe, Vladyka Irenei. It became known that Bishop Irenei did not have the resources to look after us, so we looked for another Bishop. After an unsuccessful attempt at joining the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, we were advised by Bishop Irenei to look to the Antiochian Archdiocese in the UK.

At this point, we realized that we had to have one of the Antiochian priests speak on our behalf with Metropolitan Silouan. Reader Gildas happens to be a Director of the Management Committee of his local church. So, he asked the Parish Priest, Father Chrysostom, if he would communicate with Metropolitan Silouan and explain our problem. The subject of the WR had already been discussed within the Antiochian Archdiocese on a couple of occasions over the previous two years, but it was deemed to be too early. However, this time we explained the urgency of our predicament to Fr. Chrysostom. Needless to say, the negotiations went very well.

On Saturday, 24th February 2024, Metropolitan Silouan received the Saint Birinus Orthodox Community formally under his omophorion, he approved the Liturgy of Saint Gregory the Great to be used within his Archdiocese and asked Father Chrysostom to be responsible for all Western Rite developments within the Archdiocese.

We are deeply indebted to both Father Chrysostom and Metropolitan Silouan for their help in preserving the use of the Western Rite within the British Isles.

Deo gratias!