Having gathered in Chicago from the far-flung reaches of our diocese in the presence of the wonder-working Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, we give thanks to her Son and our God for His great mercy shown towards our church in the past year. For all these many gifts our Lord has given us, we give thanks to God. We call upon our flock as well to seek diligently in their lives to see God’s many blessings given to them. We ask that all pray for the speedy recovery of Priest Martin Swanson of St Basil the Great Parish in St Louis, MO, who suffered a heart attack during the first week of Great Lent. Fr Martin is an invaluable member of the Diocesan Council, a sincere, diligent, and hard-working pastor, and a mentor and example to many of us.
We would like to acknowledge and thank deeply our fellow-workers in God’s vineyard, those who so often are forgotten and overlooked: the wives of our married clergymen. Too often it is assumed that the work of the parish priest is his alone, while in reality, this burden is shared to a large extent with his entire family. May God grant His eternal glory to those who receive no glory on this earth for the heavy cross they bear! We ask also of our flock that they acknowledge the difficult life of the clergyman’s wife and not have unrealistic expectations of her or her family, and that they support her in any and all ways possible, so that she may better and more easily care for their own spiritual father, their parish priest.
We continue to support all efforts past and present towards the reconciliation of the Russian Church. We are inspired by the outpouring of faith and fervor exhibited by the Russian people during the recent visit of the relics of the New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara. During their short visit to Russia, millions of people took the opportunity to venerate the relics of these holy women, so long venerated by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. We rejoice at this example of cooperation between the two parts of the Russian Church (as well as others, such as the joint efforts in Beslan) and we hope that the fervor of the faithful in Russia will inspire our flock to emulate such piety and zeal. We encourage our faithful to take part in pilgrimages to Russia and visit the significant holy places there so tied to the lives and sufferings of the New Martyrs such as Butovo, Ekaterinburg, and Solovki. We would strongly support, if it were God’s will, a reciprocal visit of holy items from Russia to our diocese. Likewise, we hope that as unexpected misunderstandings arise between our Churches, they will continue to be settled face to face so as not to undermine such long-awaited and essential accomplishments.
We recognize that the process of reconciliation has been somewhat slow, but fortunately steady. We realize that the process by which reconciliation will take place will be largely determined by the upcoming All-Diaspora Council presently being planned by our Church for spring 2006. While the process has been lengthy, we pray for the work of all involved and hope for a fruitful and swift reconciliation built on truth, oneness of mind and faith, brotherly love, and an understanding of local practical realities. We call our flock also to such prayer, a prayer reminiscent of the prayer our Lord uttered nearly 2000 years ago on the very night of His Passion: ТThat they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.У (John 17:21) It is our hope that a unified Russian Church will provide for yet a greater witness of Orthodoxy throughout the world and to those who have yet to learn of the saving truth of Orthodox Christianity in our diocese.
May our Lord continue to bless us, and may He provide the strength necessary for all of us to complete well the course of the fast, that we may worthily meet Him just a few weeks hence, gloriously risen from the dead!
Agreed to unanimously by the gathered clergy:
His Eminence Archbishop Alypy
His Grace Bishop Peter
Protopriest Peter Burlakov (St Sergius Cathedral, Cleveland, OH)
Archimandrite Daniel (St John Community, Columbus, OH)
Igumen Ioann (Holy Resurrection Skete, Minneapolis, MN)
Protopriest John Shaw (Holy Trinity Church, Milwaukee, WI)
Protopriest Eugene Gruchetski (St Panteleimon Church, Minneapolis, MN)
Protopriest Paul Bassett (St George Church, Cincinnati, OH)
Priest John Sykaluk (St Vladimir Church, Rock City, IL)
Priest Anthony Nelson (St Benedict Church, Oklahoma City, OH)
Hieromonk Raphael (Holy Resurrection Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Priest James Rohr (Kazan Icon Church, Urbana, OH)
Priest Christopher Stade (St John Chrysostom Church, House Springs, MO)
Priest Victor Trotskyy (Holy Ghost Church, Sterling Heights, MI)
Priest Jeremiah Loch (St Innocent Church, Wheaton, IL)
Priest Victor Boldewskul (St Sergius Cathedral, Cleveland, OH)
Priest Thomas Kulp (St John the Baptist Community, Blue River, WI)
Priest Valery Vovkovski (Holy Virgin Cathedral, Chicago, IL)
Deacon Basil Gilliland (St Panteleimon Church, Minneapolis, MN)
Deacon Matthew Williams (St John Chrysostom Church, House Springs, MO)
Deacon Julian Miloradovich (Holy Virgin Cathedral, Chicago, IL)
Priest Gregory Joyce, Secretary (St Vladimir Church, Ann Arbor, MI)