Having gathering in the God-preserved city of Chicago in the presence of the miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God for our annual Great Lenten Diocesan retreat, we, the clergy of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America rejoice in the mercies our Loving Savior has so generously bestowed upon us.
Foremost in our hearts is the spiritual consolation bestowed upon us by the presence within our diocese of this much-loved icon of His Most Pure Mother, the Hodigitria of the Church Abroad. Through Her, the human means of the Lord's Incarnation, we see an example of the Christian life of faithfulness to our Lord to which we are all called and to which we all need to regularly recommit ourselves.
With her example before us, we cannot help but be moved to prayer for those who suffer around world and especially those who are suffering for their faith in Christ. We see the answer of many prayers in the recent release of the nuns from Maaloula Monastery in Syria. Therefore we urge all the faithful to continue their prayers for peace in Ukraine. We implore His Most Pure Mother to intercede before her Son to that end.
We rejoice that the Lord has sent more laborers to the vineyard that is our diocese and welcome Igumen Gregory (Zaiens), recently ordained priest Beninio Pardo and priest Joseph Towne. May God help these clergy to persevere and carry out a fruitful ministry among us.
We note that this year marks the 700th anniversary of the birth of the great Russian saint, St. Sergius of Radonezh. With the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion and the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, our diocese will host the official ROCOR celebrations of this event. The celebrations will begin with Vigil on October 7, 2014 at His Grace, Bishop Peter's seat, St. Sergius of Radonezh Cathedral in Parma, Ohio. The next day will include a hierarchical liturgy, festal trapeza and vigil for the feast of St. John the Theologian. On October 9th, the celebrations will move to the nearby Skete of St. John the Theologian in Hiram, Ohio for hierarchical liturgy on their patronal feast. We encourage all our parishioners to attend these spiritually important events.
The gathered clergy heard a talk by Professor Andrei Desnitsky on “The Bible and Orthodox Christians”. A biblical scholar who has worked for years at translating the Bible into minority languages of the Russian Federation, Dr. Desnitsky gave the clergy much to ponder and reminded us that we need to not only venerate the Scriptures, but to diligently study them and put them into practice.
Sealing our brotherly gathering with Communion in Christ's Mysteries, we adjourned and commend ourselves, each other and our diocesan flock to the ongoing Lenten journey towards the Lord's Resurrection.
March 17-19, 2014. Chicago.