Archpastoral Statement on the 27th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence

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Послання Постійної Конференції Українських Православних Єпископів поза межами України: 27 РІЧНИЦЯ НЕЗАЛЕЖНОСТІ УКРАЇНИ

Worldwide Prayer for Ukraine

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Join us at the Spiritual Center of the UOC of the USA (South Bound Brook, NJ) for the Worldwide Prayer for Ukraine – August 24, 2018

Metropolitan Tikhon to begin first official visit to Church of Poland

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Thousands of pilgrims flock to the Holy Mountain of Grabarka, Poland each year for the Great Feast of the Transfiguration.

At the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon will make an official visit the Orthodox Church of Poland August 17-22, 2018.  The occasion marks the first time Metropolitan Tikhon has visited the Polish Church since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America in November 2012.

Members of the delegation accompanying Metrooplitan Tikhon include His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; Archpriests Alexander Rentel and Daniel Andrejuk; Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa will welcome Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation upon their arrival at Warsaw’s Chopin International Airport on Friday, August 17,  after which they will visit the capital’s landmark Cathedral of Saint Mary Magdalene and engage in discussions on a wide variety of topics.  The following day, Metropolitan Tikhon will travel to the Monastery of Saints Mary and Martha, Grabarka, Poland for the annual pilgrimage marking the Great Feast of the Transfiguration.  The monastery, located on what is known locally as the “Holy Mountain,” is especially popular with pilgrims, many of whom arrive at its gates after walking several days from their home towns.  On Sunday, August 19, Metropolitans Sawa and Tikhon will concelebrate the festal Divine Liturgy with the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Church of Poland, delegation members, and clergy from across the country.

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The imposing Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene is a landmark in Warsaw’s Praga district.

During the following week, Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation will visit Church-related sites in northeastern Poland, including Holy Trinity Cathedral, Hajnowka, where they will be welcomed by His Grace, Bishop Paul of Hajnowka; Saint Nicholas Church, Bialowieza, a village on the border with Belarus that boasts Europe’s only strictly preserved forest and had served as the site of a hunting compound enjoyed by Tsar Nicholas II; the Church of the Dormition, Bielsk Podlaski, where they will be greeted by His Grace, Bishop Gregory; the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the village of Zwerki, where they will pray before the relics of Holy Child Martyr Gabriel of Zabludow, who is especially venerated throughout the region; and the Churches of the Holy Resurrection, the Holy Spirit and Holy Wisdom in Bialystok, where they will meet with His Eminence, Archbishop Jacob of Bialystok and Gdansk.  His Grace, Bishop Andrew of Suprasl will welcome Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation at the 600-year-old Monastery of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, Suprasl.

Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation also will visit southeastern Poland, where they will be hosted by His Eminence, Archbishop Abel of Lublin and Chelm as they visit Lublin’s Church of the Transfiguration and Holy Trinity Chapel.

Prior to World War II, the Orthodox Church in Poland numbered some several million members.  After the war, however, much of Poland’s territory was incorporated into what is today Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, greatly reducing the Church’s geographical and numerical size.  Today, the Church of Poland numbers over 700,000 faithful in more than 300 parishes and missions throughout the country.  In addition to the Archdiocese of Warsaw, the Church maintains dioceses in Bialystok, Lublin, Lodz, Wroclaw, and Przymysl.  It maintains a graduate theological faculty and undergraduate seminary in Warsaw, a growing number of monasteries, and a very active national youth fellowship.

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For some 600 years the monastery in Suprasl, Poland has been a center of spiritual life.

The Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Church of Poland have enjoyed a long and especially close relationship.  Saint Patriarch Tikhon served as Bishop of Cholm after his departure from the US in 1907 and before his election as Patriarch of Moscow, while the OCA’s late Metropolitan Ireney, the late Archbishop Kiprian and many other clergy served the Polish Church prior to their arrival in the United States after World War II.  In recent decades, the two Churches have cooperated closely in such areas as youth ministry and religious and theological education.  A number of hierarchs and clergy of the Church of Poland are amongst the alumni of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY.

Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation will leave Poland to return to the US on Wednesday, August 22.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk

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On Tuesday, August 15, a meeting was held between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia and the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk in the Patriarchal Residence in Moscow.

Archdiocese Mourns the passing of Presvytera Margaret Orfanakos

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The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America mourns the passing of Presvytera Margaret (Pavlides) Orfanakos of Wayne, New Jersey who passed away to the Lord, peacefully and surrounded by her family on Monday, August 13th, 2018. She was 75 years old.

DCE releases fifth volume in activity book series

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The fifth in the series of activity books prepared by the Department of Christian Education [DCE] of the Orthodox Church in America, titled “Saints Who Were Physicians and Healers,” is now available for downloading free of charge.

Like the previous four activity books, “Saints Who Were Physicians and Healers” offers the life stories of 15 saints, accompanied by original iconographic renderings, maps of the saints’ travels, activities and puzzles, hymns, references and journaling questions.  The volume also includes an extensive glossary.

“Most of these 15 saints have been designated as ‘unmercenaries’ by the Orthodox Church, meaning that they healed and ministered without accepting payment,” explained Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, DCE Chair.  “There are saints from the time of Christ, others who lived in the later 20th century, and still others who lived in the years in between.  Many of them were martyrs, while others carried on the struggle that leads to healing.  His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon mentions this healing struggle in his Of What Life Do We Speak? Four Pillars for the Fulfillment of the Apostolic Work of the Church}, in which he writes that we should not be afraid to let our young people experience it.  Knowing about the lives of these saints can inspire our young people to undertake the struggle.

“For example, Saint Matrona of Moscow was blind and faced poverty, bullying, loss of the ability to walk, and fierce opposition from the all-powerful Soviet government in the early 20th century, yet she was a source of hope and healing for thousands of people, and maintained her own hope through patient prayer,” Matushka Valerie continued.  “Many centuries earlier, Saint Spyridon started life as a simple, uneducated shepherd known for his blunt speech and manner.  He had very little leisure time for study and learning, but through many years of effort, he prepared himself to become a bishop, and astounded participants at the Council of Nicaea with his clear and convincing explanation of the Holy Trinity.”

The DCE’s activity books are ideal as supplements to Church school curricula, Vacation Church School and summer camp programs and those who home school.  The variety of activities and approaches in the books makes them useful for students in all kinds of situations.

SVOTS’ 50th Orthodox Education Day to celebrate half century of SVS Press

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This year’s Orthodox Education Day—the 50th in the history of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary—also will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary [SVS] Press.

Slated to begin at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 6, 2018 on the seminary campus, the double anniversary will be marked with the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the relics of Saint Innocent and the Boston Byzantine Choir, public lectures, activities for children and teens, tasty food offerings, music, a concert, a teen talk, book sales and other events and activities.

According to Archpriest Chad Hatfield, SVOTS President, SVS Press “began with not a nickel in the bank to support the idea of an English-language, Orthodox-based press.  Many recall that there were so few books in English available when the seminary was founded 80 years ago that the library fit into a bathroom in the old location!”

Today, SVS Press is the largest and most active publisher of Orthodox Christian books in the English language, with more than 400 titles in print.

Delivering the day’s keynote address will be John Maddex, CEO of Ancient Faith Ministries, which operates both Ancient Faith Radio and Ancient Faith Publishing, another major publisher of Orthodox works.

Admission to Orthodox Education Day is free and open to the public.  A flyer with additional information is available on the SVOTS website.

In related news, SVS Press has published a special anniversary catalogue, which may be downloaded from the seminary website.  Hard copies may be requested by calling 800-204-BOOK [2665] or emailing bookstore@svspress.com.

Holy Transfiguration Monastery celebrates 50 years of witness

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Mother Christophora and the Sisterhood of the Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PA, welcomed hundreds of hierarchs, clergy and faithful from across the United States and Canada to their annual pilgrimage on August 4-6, 2018.

The pilgrimage—which marked the 50th Anniversary of the monastery’s founding by the late Mother Alexandra, the former Princess Ileana of Romania—opened on Saturday, August 4, with the celebration of the Vigil for the Prefeast of the Transfiguration.  His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, presided at the Vigil, as well as at the Sunday Divine Liturgy.  Concelebrating were Archpriests Peter Pawlack and Michael Hatrak, Priests Dan Hoarste and John Bunea, and Deacon Peter Ilchuk served.

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On Sunday evening, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, officiated at the festal Vigil.  Concelebrating clergy included Archpriests Chad Hatfield and Michael Senyo; Priests Michael Gavrilos and Dan Hoarste; and Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak.  In addition to Archbishop Benjamin, His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detrot and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania; and His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest, were in attendance.  Responses were sung by the monastery choir under the direction of Mother Seraphima.  Following the Vigil, some 100 visiting clergy and pilgrims enjoyed dinner and fellowship.

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Monday, August 6—the Great Feast of the Transfiguration—opened with the celebration of the Akathistos Hymn “Glory to God for All Things,” after which 40 vested priests were led in procession by the nuns to the outdoor chapel, where the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated. After greeting the visiting hierarchs at the monastery’s newly constructed guesthouse, Tabor House, the nuns led them in procession to the chapel, where Mother Abbess Christophora formally welcomed Metropolitan Tikhon.

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“We are very pleased to welcome you to our 50th anniversary and patronal feast day celebration, and we are blessed by your fatherly love and concern, as well as your great respect for, and commitment to, monastic life,” Mother Christophora continued.  “Our monastery has been protected and supported by your prayers, and by your personal example and dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.  May God continue to grant you good health, strength and wisdom to do His holy will in your sacred service to Him and His Church. Many year, O Master!”

Mother Christophora also spoke of the releationship between Archbishop Nathaniel and the monastery’s foundress, Mother Alexandra.

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“Archbishop Nathaniel was a spiritual and personal friend of our foundress, Mother Alexandra, and has for 50 years been by our side with complete, loving and total dedication—as priest, spiritual father and diocesan hierarch,” Mother Christophora related.  “Thank you, Your Eminence, for all you have done for our monastery!  Words can never summarize your labors, concern, direction, guidance and love.  And our words can never fully express our deep, deep appreciation.”

In addition to Archbishops Nathaniel and Benjamin and Bishop Paul, His Grace, Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America concelebrated, while Archbishop Melchisedek was in attendance at the festal Liturgy.  Concelebrating clergy from the OCA and other jurisdictions also served.  Liturgical responses were sung by the monastery choir, directed by Mother Seraphima, and a male choir directed by Seminarian Zachariah Mandell.  Bishop Paul offered the homily after the Gospel, in which he encouraged the faithful to carry the cross God has given them as a way to Transfiguration.  The traditional Blessing of Fruit was celebrated after the Liturgy.

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At the conclusion of his post-Liturgy remarks, Metropolitan Tikhon awarded the Order of Saint Innocent, Silver Class, to Mother Christophora “for over 30 years of faithful and humble service to Jesus Christ as the Abbess of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration and for offering, together with the sisters of the community, a living example of prayer, hospitality, and monastic obedience to the Orthodox Church in America through integrity of life, sactificial service and liturgical beauty.”  He further commented on the role and burdens, as well as the joys and consolations, faced by monastic superiors.

Mother Christophora then introduced three invited speakers who have supported the monastery since its establishment.

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Sam Teolis—Mayor of Ellwood City when the foundress, Mother Alexandra chose to locate the monastery on a 96 acre property four miles from the town center—recalled meeting her for the first time when she deplaned at the Pittsburgh airport, after which he drove her to see the property.  He explained that she had chosen the acreage because the land and surrounding hills reminded her so much of her beloved Romanian homeland.

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Attorney John Regule, the monastery’s lawyer and legal advisor since it was established, offered remarks on the monastery’s history and its legal incorporation in 1967.  He recalled how persons from all jurisdictions were enrolled to serve on the Board of Trustees and local planning committee.  He also reflected on the condition of the property that, at the time of purchase, had no facilities other than an old log cabin, subsequently replaced by a trailer to house Mother Alexandra and early residents.  He concluded by extolling the work of Mother Benedicta and Mother Christophora, who served as the monastery’s second and third abbesses respectively.

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Finally,  Finally, Archbishop Nathaniel—a young priest monk when the monastery was founded—recalled the accomplishments of the three abbesses: Mother Alexandra, who was especially known for her talented handwork, Mother Benedicta, who saw to the further organization of the monastic community, and Mother Christophora, whom he thanked for her many years of dedicated service.  He also thanked the Sisterhood for electing someone capable of filling the difficult role of Abbess, before acknowledging the oldest member of the community, Mother Elizabeth, for her service to the monastery since 1980.

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Mother Christophora concluded her remarks by thanking the sisterhood for their very earnest, dedicated and dependable service to the monastery, without which “nothing would be here—neither buildings, nor liturgical services, nor hospitality—without their labors.” Following the festal services, hundreds of pilgrims enjoyed a complimentary catered luncheon and spent time in the monastery gift shop, where copies Mother Alexandra’s autobiography, I Live Again, were available. The pilgrimage drew to a close after the celebration of the Mystery of Holy Unction by Bishop Paul and seven priests. Videos of pilgrimage services may be viewed on the monastery’s website.


Photo Credit: Victor Lutes.

Metropolitan Antony Released From the Hospital

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A Note to Archbishop Daniel, Clergy and Faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Concluded Formal Centennial Celebration Festivities in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, who continues to recover following a major car accident, Archbishop Daniel represented the fullness of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora at the events of the Centennial Celebration of the UOCC.

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