This post was originally published on this site

Bishop Paul of Chicago, pilgrims received by Patriarch of Jerusalem

Bishop Paul and pilgrims received by Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.

His Grace, Bishop Paul led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from May 26 through June 5, 2019, visiting the many holy sites and shrines associated with the life of our Lord.

His Eminence, Archbishop Theophanes of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, accompanied Bishop Paul and those traveling with him for most of their journey.  Having lived in the Holy Land for over 55 years, Archbishop Theophanes provided a wealth of information based on his vast biblical knowledge and experience.

In addition to visiting and praying at multiple sites associated with the life of our Lord and the Church in the Holy Land, Bishop Paul and the pilgrims were warmly received at an audience with His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, where they they visited the Patriarch’s chapel and beautiful gardens.  His Beatitude and Bishop Paul, who greeted the Patriarch on behalf of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, exchanged gifts, and each pilgrim was given a commemorative coin and icon as mementos of their visit.

Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem with Bishop Paul.

“I am most grateful to His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilus, for blessing our visits to these sites and for giving us Archbishop Theophanes as a guide,” said Bishop Paul.  “His Eminence opened many doorways for us.  Because of him, we as a group, were able to venerate such sites as the Nativity of our Lord and the Holy Sepulcher without excessive waits.  At all of these sites, I read the Gospel relative to the sites we were visiting.  Our entire group was grateful for the assistance of Archbishop Theophanes to make our pilgrimage a prayerful one.”

While in the Holy Land, Bishop Paul celebrated the Sunday Divine Liturgy at the Russian Orthodox Monastery and Chapel of the Ascension [Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia].

OCA Secretary speaks at Diocese of Sourozh conference

Bishop Matthew of Sourozh and Fr. Eric Tosi pray at grave of eighth century Saint Bertram.

As one of his last official acts as Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi represented His Beatitude Metropolitan, Tikhon at the annual Diocese of Sourozh conference at the invitation of His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh.

Held May 31 through June 2, 2019 at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, the gathering had as its theme “Fools for Christ and the Way of Salvation,” developed by a number of speakers including Priests Andrew Louth, Mikhail Dudko, Igor Borisov, and Pavel Velikanov of the Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavre, Sergiev-Posad, Russia.  Nuns from Diveevo Monastery brought relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov and numerous women “Fools for Christ.”

In his presentation—“An Echo in the World: The Manifestation of the Fool for Christ in the North American Context”—Father Eric spoke of Saint Herman and Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco and the Blessed Olga of Alaska and the unique attributes of “holy foolishness” manifested by them.

After the conference, a pilgrimage to the tomb of the eighth-century Saint Bertram, King and hermit of Mercia, was held, during which Bishop Matthew and Father Eric concelebrated a Molieben.

“There has been a long and close relationship between the Diocese of Sourozh and the OCA,” Father Eric explained.  “Bishop Matthew was the guest of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops during its Spring Session May 7-10, 2019—an example of the OCA’s ongoing relationships with the world’s Sister Churches.”

The texts of the conference talks and presentations will be published in the near future in the Diocese of Sourozh’s Magazine.

Chicago’s Holy Trinity Cathedral Dean guest of Finnish Orthodox Church

Fr. Alexander Koranda with his Finnish hosts.

During the last week of February 2016, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and His Eminence, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland, signed an agreement pledging mutual cooperation in five important areas of Church life—including the desire to engage in clergy and monastic exchanges to strengthen the mission and witness of the OCA and the Finnish Church.

As widely reported, Archbishop Leo was a guest of Metropolitan Tikhon at the 19th All-American Council, held in Saint Louis, MO in July 2018, after which the Archbishop and Archpriest Rauno Pietarinen visited Chicago’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral, where they celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the cathedral’s Priest Alexander Koranda.

“While in Chicago, Archbishop Leo and Father Rauno invited me to visit Finland, and Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky encouraged me to accept the invitation as a part of the 2016 agreement,” said Father Alexander.  “I arrived in Helsinki on May 20, 2019, en route to my final destination—the Lapland Parish in the northern city of Rovaniemi.

“I spent the majority of my time in the parish, which maintains five churches served by two priest and two full-time choir directors,” Father Alexander continued.  “I was afforded opportunities to visit the elderly and infirm, and even taught a lesson on Orthodox Christianity at a local school.  Unlike the Sunday School model with which we are familiar, religious education in Finland for students who are registered as Orthodox Christians occurs during school hours.”

Father Alexander added that it was very beneficial to engage in informative discussions while getting to know the students’ families.

“On Sunday, before returning to Helsinki, I served and delivered the homily at the Divine Liturgy at the parish’s main Church of Saint Andrew,” Father Alexander continued.  “On Monday and Tuesday, I was greeted by and met with the Archdiocesan Staff and toured Helsinki’s landmark Uspensky Cathedral and related facilities.”

Father Alexander believes that his visit is a step in “creating strong relationships among the young clergy for the benefit and longevity of relationships between our churches, and I hope to see this continue by hosting Finnish clergy visiting the OCA in the future.

“I want to thank the OCA for allowing me to be a representative for this first clergy exchange, and I look forward to building these relationships and assisting with similar endeavors in the future,” Father Alexander concluded.