Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

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The Saint Brieuc Parish Community

The Saint Brieuc Community brings together the Orthodox faithful of the Breton city of the same name and its beautiful coastal region in Côtes-d'Armor. It was at the request of Archbishop Gabriel, that Father Jean-Michel Sonnier, at the time deacon for the Community of Sainte Anne in Lannion, began to lay its foundations at the end of 2008, when he soon was supported by a small but motivated team.

The creation of a Cultual Association followed, and then the search for a suitable place for its celebrations. The historic chapel of a village near St-Brieuc having been spotted by Marie-Edith Combrade, an early member of the community, and then recognized as suitable in several respects, an agreement was eventually signed between the Catholic diocese favorable to this project and the young Orthodox community. Thus, the liturgical use of this chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, at a place called Le Sépulcre, in Plérin s/ mer was thereby delegated.

After a period of renovation work, a first liturgy was held there, bringing together about sixty adults and fifteen children. From the beginning, the community was rich of its diversity, when the Our Father was said in French, Russian, Georgian and Romanian. However, one could notice a Georgian preponderance which contributed to the adoption of the old style for the liturgical calendar, although the celebrations were essentially French-speaking. Over the course of celebrations the community grew stronger, becoming more regular and subtsantial, with parishioners travelling up to an hour and a half to reach the church. Bishop Syméon, accompanied this growth with regular visits for several years.

In 2011, Father Pierre Tchesnakoff, a priest well known to the Orthodox of the West, which he was one of the first to serve for many years, and his two sons gave the Archdiocese a chapel built 36 years earlier near Dinan, in the village of Plumaudan, - used initially to bring together every summer many Russians who were on holiday on the nearby coast, then the dispersed members of the West. It thus became the first Orthodox place of worship in Brittany, dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God, a summer feast that has become the annual meeting place for many of them.

It was then our neighboring parish of St-Brieuc which was entrusted with the responsibility of this emblematic place. Before long thirty to forty faithful gathered throughout the year, the services alternating from then, between the two churches. The building next to the chapel was then fitted out with the help of several of the faithful, in order to create a place of parish life where agape, meetings and catechisms have been held since then on Sundays and feasts.

At the same time, a beautiful iconostasis was completed in Plérin, as well as other elements of the iconographic program of the church, with the precious help of Matushka Anne. Our Archbishop, Metropolitan John, visited there at the beginning of 2017, and was able to observe the vitality of this still young community, but now well established in the Orthodox landscape of Northern Brittany. Since then, the community has shown him and the Archbishopric its loyalty.

From the start, the community was placed under the protection of one of the 7 holy founders of the bishoprics of Brittany, which goes back to the time of the undivided Church, and with the aim to be both anchored in the Tradition of our Fathers and open to the mission, by the fraternal welcome of all those who come knocking on our door (Lk 11, 9-10).

Archpriest Jean-Michel Sonnier, Dean of Brittany

Community website : http://orthodoxestbrieuc.blogspot.com/

Contact : communaute_orthodoxe_saint_brieuc@orange.fr

Address of the churches : Chapelle du Saint Esprit, rue Montesquieu, Le Sépulcre, 22190 Plérin;Chapel of the Dormition, place called La Touche, 22350 Plumaudan.