MOUNT CARMEL - Saint Michael Orthodox Church will welcome the Right Rev. Mark, bishop of Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania, for its 9 a.m. service Sunday.

The bishop will be met at the door of the church by the Rev. Theophan Mackey, new pastor of the parish, with a blessing cross; Sandy Tosca, parish council president, with the traditional offering of bread and salt, and the young children of the parish with roses.

"The people of the parish look forward to this archpastoral visit with great anticipation," Mackey reported.

In the Orthodox faith, the bishop is the shepherd of his diocese, a geographic area which encompasses numerous individual churches, but he remains the head of each individual church as well.

Even though he may reside many miles away and visit only infrequently, it is through the bishop's authority that a priest serves a parish. This is signified by the antimension, a cloth icon on the altar which is signed by the ruling bishop, which must be present for a divine liturgy to take place," Mackey said.

"The bishop derives his authority from God and through apostolic succession, the unbroken chain of consecrations of bishops back to the Apostles of Jesus Christ himself, which links each local church to whole Orthodox Church worldwide and throughout the past," he added.

Although all clergy in the Orthodox Church wear vestments, unique to the bishop is the omophorion. He wears this wide band of cloth around his shoulders; it presents a picture of the "Good Shepherd," carrying the sheep on his shoulders.

"Being unique to the bishop, the omophorion represents both his authority, as we are considered 'under the omophorion' of our local bishop, and his service to the people of the church," Mackey said.

The choir will greet the bishop with the song, "Eis polla eti despota!," which means, "Many years to you, Master!"

The public is welcome.