On Saturday, May 21, 2022, the funeral service of Marie-Thérèse Peckstadt-Janssens, widow of the late Protopresbyter Ignace Peckstadt and mother of the Belgian Metropolitan and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Mr. Athenagoras, took place in the city from Ghent, Belgium. Marie-Thérèse, better known as Mita, died to the Lord on Monday May 16, 2022, full days, at the age of 94.
The funeral service was celebrated by her son, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, assisted by Bishop Dositheos (Patriarchate of Georgia) and twelve priests and deacons, including Father Bernard Peckstadt and Dominique Verbeke, son and son-in-law of the deceased.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was represented by Apollonius Joachim, Auxiliary Bishop of the Metropolitan of Belgium. Among the many clergy who attended the service, Archbishop Mr George Kourie of the Syriac Church, as well as Reverend Elders Mr Frans Mistiaen, Mr Hildebrand Vandermaelen (Roman Catholic Church) and Fr Agapius of the Coptic Church, were prominent. The Evangelical Church of Belgium was represented by Dr. Geert Lorein, leader of the Evangelical Church in Belgium. Also present was Elder Joanna, accompanied by a nun from the Convent of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Asten, The Netherlands.
In his speech, Metropolitan Athenagoras emphasized about his eternal parents: “They complemented each other. Our mother followed our father in all his decisions, but our father could not make decisions without our mother. They were always together. For each other, but together for the next. The same was true of our father’s law firm; and in service in the Orthodox Church. This is all the more true since they founded the Orthodox parish in Ghent together 50 years ago. With our father’s ordination, Mita became the “elderly mother” and in a sense the mother of all parishioners. She was the tireless ear for those who wanted to share their personal story with someone. Many trusted her and she led every problem to the right solution. Our mother lived in perfect harmony with her beloved husband Ignatius. She was a loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to her children. (…) How many people from different countries of the world have not tasted and appreciated their hospitality? Old and young like in a novel. All were received with warmth and honor. Not to forget the countless and adventurous family outings as the end and highlight of the year.”
After the speech of Metropolitan Athenagoras, Bishop Joachim, delegate of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, took the floor. The Ecumenical Patriarch also sent a message to Metropolitan Athenagoras saying: “We remember with affection this unforgettable woman at the side of the Venerable Fr. Ignatius Peckstadt on her visits here and not only as a couple to the Holy Chaplains willingly and conscientiously offered their own instincts to the Holy Church. The virtue, kindness and charitable character of your blessed parents will remain engraved in our memories and in our hearts.”
The speech was then addressed to the two grandchildren Justine and Nicolas, children of Fr. Bernard Peckstadt and the song “Alleluia” by Leonard Cohen sung by the singer Eefje de Visser, wife of Pieterjan Coppejans, the grandson of the deceased.
Among the large crowd were the Ambassador of Greece, Mr Dionysios Kalamvrezos, the Consul General of Greece, Mr Vasilios Zarbalis, His Excellency Sir Mr Konstantinos Vamvakas and his wife, and Mr Philip Kotsaridis, President of the Greek Community of Brussels.
Marie-Thérèse’s body was buried in the family plot at Langerbrugge Cemetery near Ghent, where she now rests with her late husband, Protopresbyter Ignation Peckstadt.