Communiqué of the Pastoral Conference of Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America
October 1/14, 2011
Protection of the Mother of God
Des Plaines, Illinois
We the clergy of the Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America, gathered together for our annual Fall Pastoral Retreat, with His Grace Bishop Peter, to discuss matters of mutual concern and to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of the feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue of Ochrid), which is the patronal feast of our Diocesan Cathedral.
We welcomed His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Grace Bishop George of Mayfield, as well as His Grace Bishop Matthias of Chicago (OCA), who joined us for the liturgical celebration of the feast.
During our meeting we read Bishop Matthias’ pastoral letter to his flock on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. We wish to thank His Grace for his firm and compassionate stand on the issue, and we decided to establish a working group to formulate a clear and detailed explication of the teaching of the Church on these and other related issues in preparation for our Diocesan Assembly next year.
We also welcomed Rev. Tramaine Combs, who discussed issues of mutual concern from the perspective of the African American community. Rev. Combs pointed out that since Roe v. Wade more than 15 million African American babies have been aborted. He also discussed the problem of the disintegration of the family in the African American community.
We wish to thank Fr. Ilia Marzev for his work on the Diocesan Youth Committee, and for his report on recent and upcoming youth activities in the diocese. We want to encourage our youth to participate in the upcoming St. Herman’s Youth Conference in Houston, TX, as well as the Great Lenten retreat for young adults which will be held at the ORPR camp in Vladimirovo (Rock City, IL). We also welcomed Reader Nikolai Lochmatow, the new Diocesan Youth Coordinator.
Mr. Nikita Buick of the Russian American Cultural Society addressed us on the topic of social outreach at the parish level and beyond, both in the US and in Russia. We wish to thank Mr. Buick for his labors as well as for his specific suggestions for how each parish can become a more effective witness for Christ.
Fr. Martin Swanson, Dean of the Pastoral School of the diocese, reported to the gathered clergy that this year the Pastoral School had its largest incoming class ever: 18 new students are studying Orthodox Theology via the Distance Learning pedagogical method at the Pastoral School this year.
We heard a report on the activities of the St. John Kochurov Society, and we wish to encourage the faithful of our diocese to become members to help provide the necessary funds for the support of charitable efforts and the financial needs of our diocese.
Finally, we thank our bishops for their firm and unwavering witness to the Truth of Orthodoxy and the traditions of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.