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Clergy and faithful from parishes across the United States and Canada began to arrive on Thursday, September 7, in the Seattle, Washington area for the 91st Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, which took place the weekend of September 8-10, 2023, hosted by Three Holy Hierarchs Church in Mountlake Terrace. This is the first time in the diocese’s 90+ year history that this event is taking place on the West Coast. Also attending as a guest will be His Grace￼, Bishop Alexei of Alaska, who will bring with him the wonder-working “Our Lady of Sitka” Icon of the Mother of God.
On Thursday evening, 7 September 2023, His Grace Bishop Andrei, in the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel and His Grace Bishop Alexei of Alaska, celebrated Great Vespers with Litia for the Feast of the Nativity of the Ever-Virgin Mary at Three Holy Hierarchs Church in Mountlake Terrace (Seattle), Washington, assisted by parish priest V. Rev. Fr. Ioan Catana and several visiting priests who had arrived early for the Episcopate Congress. Those present had the opportunity to venerate the relics of St. Herman of Alaska brought by Bishop Alexei on his visit.
On Friday, 8 September 2023, the events of the 91st Episcopate Congress officially began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Nativity of the Ever-Virgin Mary by His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, guest hierarch His Grace Bishop Alexei of Alaska and His Grace Bishop Andrei, assisted by dozens of clergy. After lunch that afternoon, the annual clergy conference took place, at which Bishop Alexei offered a spiritually nourishing presentation. That evening, clergy and faithful welcomed the wonder-working “Our Lady of Sitka” Icon of the Mother of God to the church and celebrated the Mystery of Holy Unction (Sf. Maslu).
The 91st Episcopate Congress has officially opened at Three Holy Hierarchs Church in Mountlake Terrace (Seattle), Washington, with 150 clergy and lay delegates representing parishes from across the United States and Canada!
On Saturday, 9 September 2023, the events of the 91st Episcopate Congress continued with a service of Invocation of the Holy Spirit and the opening of the Congress sessions where 150 clergy and lay delegates heard reports and planned activities of the coming year. A recently produced short video on the life of Bishop Policarp Morusca, the first bishop of the Romanian Orthodox communities in North America, was shown. The Congress then welcomed the Ambassador of Romania to the United States, His Excellency Andrei Muraru, who offered his best wishes to our parish communities. The attendees also heard a presentation on the Orthodox Church in Alaska presented by guest hierarch His Grace Bishop Alexei of Alaska. A new Episcopate Council was also elected for the 2023-2025 term. Following the meetings, a Parastas Memorial Service was celebrated with Great Vespers, after which Fr. Herman Belt, Dean of St. Michael Cathedral in Sitka, offered a few words on the wonder-working “Out Lady of Sitka” Icon of the Mother of God which was available in the church for veneration. The Grand Banquet was then held in the social hall at which guests were treated to a program of songs by a group of clergy and a wonderful artisitic program presented by the youth and young adults of the parish.
On Sunday, 10 September 2023, the 91st Episcopate Congress concluded with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, followed by a lunch for all in attendance. His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel celebrated the Liturgy together with guest hierarch His Grace Bishop Alexei of Alaska and His Grace Bishop Andrei, assisted by numerous clergy who remained through the weekend. At the end of the service, His Eminence presented a copy of the “Protectress of Vatra Românească” icon to parish priest V. Rev. Fr. Ioan Catana and the Three Holy Hierarchs parish in gratitude for all their efforts in hosting this event. The faithful then came forward to receive an icon card and blessing from Bishop Alexei, venerate the wonder-working “Our Lady of Sitka” Icon of the Mother of God and the relics of St. Herman of Alaska brought by Bishop Alexei, and receive Archbishop Nathaniel’s blessing.