In order to maximize the opportunity for the clergymen of the diocese to gather for mutual spiritual support and communion, our Mid-American Diocese this year is holding clergy retreats in both the southern and northern parts of the diocese. The Southern Clergy Retreat took place from Monday, March 13 through Wednesday, March 15 at the Sts. Joachim & Anna parish in San Antonio, Texas.
On Monday evening the traditional General Unction service was performed for the gathered clergy and faithful. Hundreds of faithful from throughout the southern half of the diocese participated in this sacrament, with the anointing going on well into the night. Archbishop Peter prayed in the altar during the service and received anointing at the end of the service. The Kursk Root Icon was present in the temple during the Divine Service for the veneration of the faithful.
Tuesday was the working day of the retreat, with diocesan business of various sorts taking place, as well as a presentation by Archpriest Christopher Allen on the feasibility of Orthodox Christians serving in the United States Armed Forces in the contemporary social context. Fr. Christopher is the Dean of Chaplains for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), reporting directly to the military endorser of ROCOR, His Eminence Archbishop Peter. That evening Great Lenten Vespers was served, along with a Moleben and a Akathist to the Kursk Root Icon. Again, hundreds had the opportunity to venerate the icon from throughout the southern half of the diocese.
Wednesday morning Archbishop Peter led the gathered clergy in the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. The choir sang beautifully, as it had throughout the retreat, and virtually everyone present partook of the Holy Mysteries. At the lesser entrance Hieromonk Alexander (Cordos) received the Nabedrinik for his diligent service to the Holy Church. Following the Divine Service a meal was offered by the parishioners, who had labored diligently to nourish the gathered clergymen throughout the retreat with delicious lenten foods.
After the meal the gathered clergymen and faithful departed to their parishes, and the Kursk Icon was taken to the Michigan Deanery where it will spend the next days before the icon is present for the Northern Clergy Retreat in Chicago, March 20-22.
San Antonio Lenten Clergy Retreat 2023: Resolution
Having gathered in the divinely protected city of San Antonio, Texas at the parish of Sts. Joachim and Anna, we give thanks to God for the opportunity to join in prayer before the miraculous Kursk Root Icon of the Theotokos. With the blessing of Vladyka Peter, we take this time to pray for our flock and discuss the issues that impact our diocese and the Orthodox world.
As the war in Ukraine continues, our diocese remains vigilant in supporting His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry in his struggle for peace and the safety of the canonical Church. Metropolitan Onuphry has directed his flock to follow a simple daily prayer rule consisting of Psalms 45 and 90, 12 prostrations, and the Lord’s Prayer. Vladyka Peter asks that in support of the Ukrainian church, we consider adopting this prayer rule to show solidarity with those suffering in Ukraine. In addition to the prayers we offer for Metropolitan Onuphry and his flock, we continue to offer financial support. Vladyka Peter encourages that we all write to our government representatives, voicing our support for the canonical Church in Ukraine and our disagreement with the American government's support for the schismatic church.
Furthermore, modern culture forces the acceptance of gender and sexuality contrary to nature. We believe that the Orthodox Church has a living tradition that positively impacts the lives of those suffering with gender dysphoria and disordered sexual passions. We emphasize that the Orthodox Church is a spiritual hospital open to all that are seeking healing and love that can only be found in Christ. Vladyka Peter encourages all parents to guide and protect their children so they are not deceived by the modern world but instead are brought up in the truth of Christ’s teachings. Vladyka stresses the critical role parents play in the development of young children. They are the first teachers and must set a positive example in their upbringing.
Additionally, the Diocesan Assembly has increased the financial and material support of Vladyka Peter. We appreciate and value the continued love and dedication he shows to his flock. This increase allows Vladyka further ability to tend the parishes in our diocese. The Diocesan Assembly also laid the foundation for a future vicar bishop to assist with diocesan responsibilities.
Finally, we as clergy discussed the importance of supporting chaplains in pursuit of upholding a moral presence within the military. We encourage any clergymen who are interested in this calling to speak with Fr. Christopher Allen, the Dean of Chaplaincy for our diocese. This opportunity is both a wonderful ministry to the faithful as well as a viable career for supporting a clergy family.