Thursday, September 3, 2015

New monastery in the West Coast: Monastery of St. Silouan

(ROCOR-WAD) - ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE BLESSING OF THE NEW MONASTERY OF ST. SILOUAN. (The following announcement will soon be available on the Western American Diocese's web site,, but as many are asking for details, I'm providing it here as well.)

By the grace of God, a new men’s monastery of the Western American Diocese will be formally blessed following a service of the Divine Liturgy on the new monastery’s patronal feast day of St. Silouan the Athonite (11th / 24th September 2015). The festal Divine Liturgy will be concelebrated by the Diocesan Hierarch, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, and His Eminence’s Auxiliary, His Grace Bishop Theodosy of Seattle. Following the Liturgy a moleben will be served, with a procession and blessing of the whole of the 47.5-acre monastery property.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia blessed the foundation of the Monastery of St. Silouan during its regular session in May 2015, and since that time work has been underway in earnest to prepare the property and facilities for its formal establishment by the Diocesan Hierarch. The large property, which is a generous benefaction given for the explicit purpose of founding the monastery, is ideal for monastic life: nestled in the Sonora Foothills at the edge of Yosemite National Park, it includes two wooded peaks separated by a valley with a small stream, its own well and a spring that all remain richly active even in the deepest drought, as well as ample land for building cells and structures, agriculture, and other monastic activities — all of which will form part of a Master Plan for the monastery’s development into the future. The property includes several existing buildings which, without requiring construction of any kind, are already being employed for monastery use: this includes a main monastery house, part of which has been converted into the monastery’s temporary chapel, kitchens and a refectory, cells and modest guest accommodations.

All are invited to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the Feastday of St. Silouan the Athonite and the blessing of the monastery, which will take place on September 24 2015. The founding of a new monastery is an infrequent event in the life of a Diocese, and we look forward to welcoming pilgrims not only from our own Diocese, but also from our fellow Orthodox jurisdictions in the area. By the mercy of God, we pray this new monastery may become a spiritual resource for Orthodox faithful for generations to come.


4.50 p.m. - All-Night Vigil of the Feast
Following the Vigil, a Pannikhida for the ever-memorable Schema-Archbishop Anthony will be served.

8.30 a.m. - Hours
9.00 a.m. - Greeting of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill, and Divine Liturgy. The Moleben and procession across the whole monastery grounds, including the blessing of the property and the planting of the cross on one of its highest peaks, will follow the Liturgy
11.30 a.m. (approx.) - Banquet

While normal Church dress is requested for the Divine Services, please note that the procession across the monastery property after the Liturgy will involve hiking up some rather steep hills in the summer heat. For those wishing to participate in the procession, it is essential to bring good walking shoes / boots that have solid traction, walking sticks if desired, as well as hats or other head coverings to protect against the sun. Those who are unable to hike the terrain will be offered refreshments at the monastery house while procession takes place; and a common meal will be shared by all at its conclusion.

The monastery is located at 21285 Old Sonora Columbia Road, Sonora, CA 95370-8807, which is approximately a 2 hour 20 minute drive from Sacramento, and a 3 hour drive from the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Accurate driving directions can generally be obtained from Google Maps or Apple Maps.

On-site accommodation is at this time extremely limited, and places have already been reserved for those assisting with the preparations for the festal Divine Services. However, there are a plenitude of affordable hotels in Sonora, ranging in price from ~$40 per night higher — and all within only a few minutes of the monastery grounds.

A separate posting will follow shortly with information on local accommodations, ranging from hotel rooms to RV sites and camping facilities for pilgrims wishing to stay overnight for the festivities.

If you are an Orthodox cleric of any rank and would like to discuss arrangements for serving at either the Vigil, the Liturgy or both, please contact Archimandrite Irenei on for further details. We request that all clergy contact us in advance, as space in our chapel is quite limited and we will need to make appropriate arrangements to accommodate clerics.

Russian Church can't get its cathedral back

(Moscow Times) - St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg will remain the responsibility of the State Memorial Museum after city authorities decided not to transfer it into the care of the Russian Orthodox Church, as the Church had requested, the city governor's spokesman Andrei Kibitov wrote via Twitter on Wednesday.

He published an official letter from the Deputy Governor Alexander Govorunov — acting governor while Georgy Poltavchenko attends the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok — stating that if the cathedral were operated by the Church, the maintenance costs would have to be covered by the city budget, and it is too great a burden in a “tough economic situation.”

“Every year the museum spends up to 200 million rubles ($2.99 million) on restoration works and maintenance. It also pays up to 70 million rubles ($1 million) in taxes to the city budget. Urgent restoration works will require 750 million rubles ($11.2 million) — part of which will be budget funding — until 2020,” Govorunov wrote in the letter.

If these expenses were laid fully on the city budget, funding for other social projects and programs would have to be cut, the acting governor added, concluding that it would be more rational to keep the cathedral within museum operations.

The letter, according to Kibitov's Twitter account, was sent to the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday.

The Russian Orthodox Church's request to take over the cathedral was addressed to Georgy Poltavchenko, the governor of St. Petersburg, in late July.

St Isaac's Cathedral is St. Petersburg's third most-visited cultural site and listed as a UNESCO cultural asset. The Soviet government turned the cathedral into a museum, but today the space is periodically used for church services.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Synaxis of Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne

(EP) - From August 29-September 2, 2015, at the invitation of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a Synaxis of Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne gathered from all over the world at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Taksim Square. His All-Holiness delivered the Keynote Address to over 140 Hierarchs of the Throne, speaking to developments and challenges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church in general during recent years.

Introductions were presented by senior Metropolitans on ecclesiastical, pastoral and theological initiatives and ministries, including the forthcoming Holy and Great Council, the regional Assemblies of Bishops, the World Council and European Council of Churches, the Theological Dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, the Pre-Chalcedonian Churches, the World Lutheran Federation, the Anglican Communion, the World Communion on Reformed Churches and the Old Catholic Church.

Further presentations were delivered on contemporary vital issues, such as the Orthodox response to bioethical issues, the root and impact of climate change, as well as the phenomenon of immigration and the pastoral ministry of the Church toward the humanitarian refugee crisis.

On September 1, 2015, the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, His All-Holiness presided over the Divine Liturgy, together with the Hierarchs in attendance. There followed the traditional Act of the Signing of the New Indiction.

Another OCA bishop accused of sexual impropriety

September 1, 2015 – Grass Lake, MI (ROEA) - The Episcopate Office has been notified by the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations (ORSMA) of the Orthodox Church in America, that His Grace, Bishop Irineu (Duvlea), Bishop of Dearborn Heights and Auxiliary Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, is being investigated for allegations of sexual misconduct.

His Grace Irineu is presumed innocent pending the outcome of the investigation. According to the Policies, Standards and Procedures (PSP) of ORSMA, His Grace Irineu has been placed on Leave of Absence and does not have a blessing to serve liturgically in our Episcopate or at any other location.

The process is highly confidential, and no one should discuss the investigation with anyone. However, since this investigation is being made known to others by His Grace Irineu, the Episcopate decided to make a general public announcement about this matter. We pray for His Grace, Bishop Irineu and all those participating in this process.

+NATHANIEL, Archbishop

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Glorification of Ss. Mardarije and Sebastian

UGCC church in Canada completely destroyed by lightning

(UGCC-Edmonton) - It is with a sad heart that I inform you that Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Spedden, Alberta has burned to the ground. At about 3:00 am. Friday morning, August 28 our church in Spedden was struck by lighting during a severe lighting storm. The volunteer fire department in Vilna arrived on the scene within 20 minutes of the call. Unfortunately at this point only part of the front wall was left standing. Who knew that our service on Sunday, August 23 would be out last service in this church. The hearts of our parishioners are grieving the loss of our beloved church. We now need to decide where we will continue to hold church services, at Vilna or Stry. Please keep us in your prayers.

God’s Blessings,
Fr. Don Bodnar

Monday, August 31, 2015

Assembly of Bishops September meeting agenda announced

(AOB) - The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America will hold its sixth annual meeting September 15-17, 2015 at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel.

This year’s meeting will include two sessions devoted to canonical regional planning. In the first of these sessions, the Assembly’s 12 jurisdictional first hierarchs will have an opportunity to offer their comments on a proposal that has been prepared by the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning for submission to the Great and Holy Council in 2016. In the second session, the Assembly's hierarchs will engage in a facilitated discussion about the proposal. This year’s meeting also includes a working session on pastoral practices of marriage and divorce.

On Tuesday evening, September 15, the Assembly will sponsor a pan-Orthodox youth gathering for high school and college students in the Chicago area. The event will provide an opportunity for dialogue between the youth and a panel of hierarchs.

The agenda for Assembly VI can be found here, and a flyer for the youth gathering here. The hierarchs of the Assembly request the prayers of all clergy, monastics, and laity for a spiritually fruitful meeting.

Will the 6th Assembly of Bishops Result in Canonical Order?

We would do well to remember the words of the saint whose feast we celebrate today...

"He Himself warns us in His Gospel, and teaches saying: 'And there shall be one flock and one shepherd.'And does anyone think that there can be either many shepherds or many flocks in one place?"

- St. Cyprian of Carthage
The Unity of the Church

(OCL) - Canonical Orthodox Churches have always been Churches in specific geographical areas. Where the Bishop is, so too is the Church. The Church is not a colonial extension of bishops ruling or directing from other geographic areas. Canonical order is bishops in a geographic area meeting as a Synod, electing their own head and working with clergy and laity to build up the body of Christ.

This is not true for the Churches outside the boundaries of the old Roman Empire. In the USA, the situation is chaotic. We have 14 parallel jurisdictions of Orthodox Bishops directed from foreign lands. In 2008, the Autocephalous Patriarchs set up a process for Assemblies of Bishops to meet and develop blueprints in the lands outside of the Roman Empire, so that the Church in these lands could be canonical. Presently, they exist in canonical disorder. Since 2009, the Assembly of Bishops of the USA and Central America has been meeting once yearly - all together some 58 bishops of 14 different jurisdictions or groupings. Their sixth meeting will be held September 15-17, 2015 in Chicago. In between sessions, they have met in various committees. The work of some of these committees, especially studies on College Students, Pastoral Practices and Regional Planning, have been noteworthy. The great accomplishment of these six years has been that the Bishops have met each other, some for the first time, and a sense of fellowship has emerged. See the Assembly website ( for more information.

But where is the plan for Canonical Unity? Will we see it or learn about some of its details after the September 17 Chicago meeting? Which Bishops will be absent from this meeting? Will a consensus emerge? A draft document was supposed to have been developed by June 2015, but the bishops could not agree on a document. Seventeen members of the Secretariat and committee heads, excluding Antiochian Archdiocese members, instead traveled to Istanbul to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew. There have been no reports posted on the Assembly of Bishops website about the substance of this meeting.

The clergy and laity are prayerful that the Holy Spirit will guide the Bishops to create canonical order, which is to make the Assembly a Synod and elect a head. All other details related to a unified, self-governing Church in the USA will be resolved by the Synod working with the clergy and laity. As a result, the Orthodox Christian Church in the USA will have the opportunity to be renewed and become a truly mission Church.

Pat. Theodoros II of Alexandria completes Russian pilgrimage

( - On August 28, 2015, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. The Primate of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria was accompanied by Bishop Meletios of Naukratis.

Participating in the meeting were Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the department for external church relations (DECR), Metropolitan Athanasios of Kyrene, representative of the Patriarch of Alexandria to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, DECR vice-chairman, and Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox Relations.

Addressing his high guest, Patriarch Kirill said, ‘We have an opportunity to meet and talk from heart to heart and exchange our opinions. I would like to stress once again the very good nature of relations between our two Churches. To a great extent, this nature is determined by your personality: you know Russia, the Russian people and the Russian Church very well. You love our Church and our people, and we can feel it by our hearts’.

Stressing that the Patriarchate of Alexandria is a missionary Church whose responsibility extends to the whole African continent, Patriarch Kirill continued, ‘The Russian Church is a missionary Church too, both in the classical sense, because it is necessary to enlighten peoples on the vast Eurasian continent, who have not yet become Christian, and because of the need to carry out today a new mission among people who are traditionally Orthodox but who still remain uninitiated to the church and sometimes even unbaptized. Certainly, it is a legacy of the difficult past we have experienced. Precisely for this reason we open today new dioceses, unite dioceses into metropolias, including in the Far East, Siberia and the extreme North, since these regions have suffered the most from the persecution against the Russian Orthodox Church’.

Bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople

(Cyber Desert) - Over the next few days a total of 140 archbishops and bishops will participate in a five-day event in Istanbul (Constantinople) between August 29 and September 2. The Synaxis of the Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne is an annual event of the Patriarchate to celebrate the beginning of the Ecclesial Year and coincides with the Orthodox day for the Environment.

This year’s event is quite unique, as this is perhaps the first time that the fullest cohort of bishops possible was invited (rather than just representatives) and a large number came. All the bishops of the “new lands” in Greece were invited, for example. These are diocese now within the Republic of Greece who find spiritual authority in the Ecumenical Throne but were cut off from the Ecumenical Throne some eight decades ago with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and while still under the spiritual aegis of the Ecumenical Patriarch are also members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.

The purpose of the meeting seems to be twofold to celebrate the beginning of the Church Year on 1st September, but also to prepare for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, which is scheduled to be held next year (2016) and as a forum for the prelates to exchange ideas and discuss a wide-range of issues, such as the environment and churches’ role on the matter, interfaith dialogue and other social issues. Clerics from churches in the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia are in attendance.

Let us pray for our hierarchs and the Church of Christ.

St. Cyprian of Carthage remembered today (NC)

Only the ROCOR's Diocese of the East can match Trisagion Films in terms of content and professionalism for a US-based source of Orthodox videos. On that point, it has been 9 months since the last ROCOR-EAD video.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fr. Josiah Trenham on secularism and the public square

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Orthodox Church in the Philippines sees amazing growth

(ROC-The Philippines) - With great joy and gladness, we announce the reception through a mass baptism the parish and catechumens from St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church. Photos taken during the mass baptism last August 21, 2015, Friday, of the newly accepted St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Ladol, Alabel, Sarangani Province, Philippines. A total of 239 catechumens are baptized including two Aglipayan (Philippine Independent Catholic Church) "bishops" and four Aglipayan "priests". Aglipayan "bishop" Esteban Valmera was baptized as STEFAN; Aglipayan "bishop Rogelio Ringor was baptized as GREGORY; Aglipayan priest Elieser Delfin was baptized as ELEASAR; Aglipayan priest Dioscoro Bergado was baptized as Alexy; Aglipayan priest John Collado was baptized as Timothy and Aglipayan priest Renato Buniel was baptized as ROMANUS.

Also baptized during this event are the five candidates for seminary in Russia. The baptism was performed by Fr. Kirill Sckharboul and Fr. George Maximov after the almost two years of Orthodox catechisms. This parish formerly serve as the Aglipayan Cathedral where Aglipayan bishop have his See. NOW, it becomes as the 4th Parish of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Philippines.

With this event, it marks a new stage, a series of mass baptism of 29 parishes from different parts of Mindanao is expected in the following weeks. Many years to the newly baptized Orthodox Christians!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Group wants made-up "Turkish patriarchate" out of cemetery

(Hurryiet Daily News) - The Greek Orthodox community in Istanbul seeks to remove the graves of the founder of the self-declared Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate and his successors out of their historic cemetery in Istanbul, daily Cumhuriyet reported Aug. 22.

The old controversy that took a new twist has been revolving around the graves of Papa Efthim, who declared himself the pope of the church he founded in 1921, and his sons and successors, Turgut Erenerol and Selçuk Erenerol, in the Şişli neighborhood of Istanbul.

"This is the Greek Orthodox cemetery. These men were not even Orthodox, let alone Greek. They were excommunicated," Cumhuriyet quoted Mihail Vasiliadis, who owns the Turkey-based Greek daily Apoyevmatini.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul's Fener neighborhood, which has an estimated 300 million Orthodox believers around the world, had excommunicated Papa Efthim I, Efthim II and Efthim III after the church's foundation, which was supported by the Turkish government in 1924.

However, Efthim I were buried in the historic cemetery as a government initiative in spite of local Greeks' opposition in 1968, before his successors followed the suit with their funerals.

"They had found a fake church. In order to be a church, one must be recognized by the Ecumenic church and the other 17 churches," Vasiliadis added.

Temple with no believers

According to Elçin Macar's book titled “Istanbul Greek Patriarchate, the “Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate” was a state-sponsored project that aimed to end the influence of the Greek Patriarchate on Anatolian Christians.

In the 1920s, Pavlos Karahisarithis changed his name into Zeki Erenerol and became the first leader of the church after he declared himself "Papa Efthim I." He was granted permission by the government to settle in Panayia Church in the Galata neighborhood. In 1965, his sons also took control of two other churches in Istanbul, although their "patriarchate" was described as "a temple with no believers."

Efthim was accused of supporting the Sept. 6-7 pogrom targeting Istanbul's Greek community in 1955 and had admitted in 1995 that he had regular meetings with the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT). His sons, and successors, had been arguing for the "expulsion" of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

"Do I have to see the graves of these [Turkish] nationalists who did harm to Greeks each time I visit the graves of my parents? As Greeks, we want their graves out of here," daily Cumhuriyet quoted Vasiliadis as saying on Aug. 22.

Sevgi Erenerol, Papa Efthim's granddaugher who now claims the title of “public relations representative of their church, was arrested during the controversial Ergenekon coup attempt case.

The prosecutor had described Erenerol as an ultranationalist who established an organization to provoke public unrest” and preparing the way for a military coup, in which their church served as “the headquarters and the financial hub” of the covert gang, called the Ergenekon.

Controversial case

In the politically-charged Ergenekon case, 274 coup-plot suspects were sentenced on Aug. 5, 2013 to hundreds of years’ imprisonment in total, with many high-ranking army members, journalists and academics given aggravated life sentences.

In April 2014, the long-awaited detailed ruling in the five-year-long marathon Ergenekon trial was issued, nearly eight months after the initial verdict, stating that the organization had targeted a long series of governments.

The mammoth detailed ruling, which ran to 16,798 pages over three volumes, said the court’s verdict was the “first judicial ruling on the deep state.”

“It has been understood that the Ergenekon organization was established within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) under the name of ‘headquarters houses,’” the court state in the ruling.

The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals will hold the first hearing in the appeal case on Oct. 6.

A prayer for Child-Bearing

Some days ago a fellow priest asked me if I had a prayer for a married couple who wanted to have children. I checked my four volume Book of Needs, my smaller Book of Needs, my Greek Mikron Euchologion, and then searched online. There was no such prayer to be found. I then asked an online clergy brotherhood forum for help. Much discussion was had on the value of pilgrimages, St. Irene Chrysovalantou, and the relic of the belt (zone, cincture) of the Theotokos. Eventually, someone mentioned that the Priest's Service Book (Mikron Euchologion, Agiasmatarion) by Fr. Evagoras Constantinides of blessed memory has such a prayer. He supplied me with a photo of the page and I was able to pass it on. Sadly, I am unable to find a hard copy of this book and Holy Cross Bookstore no longer carries it.

Pastorally, I would personally advise a couple to make a pilgrimage and send them off with this prayer. God willing, this prayer will be useful to priests and couples praying for the blessing of a child.

O Lord our God, you created man in your image and likeness and established him as the king of creation. And so that he would not be alone on the earth, you took one of his ribs and formed woman who you gave to him as a helper fit for him. And you told them "Be fruitful and multiply, and have dominion over the earth," this giving them the gift of procreation.

Through your first miracle at the wedding at Cana of Galilee, you affirmed the lawful union in marriage and child-bearing therefrom are, indeed, in accordance with your divine will and purpose.

Yet, on many occasions, faithful couples like Abraham and Sara, Jacob and Rachel, Zacharias and Elizabeth, and Joachim and Anna were without children. But when they came to you in prayer and supplication, you responded mercifully to them, answered their prayers, and rewarded their patience and trust in you with one or more children.

In like manner, your servants [Name] and [Name] who were joined in matrimony in your holy name, O Lord, in order to fulfill your will, have not as yet been blessed with child. Therefore, with profound humility and utmost faith and trust in you, the pray to you and supplicate you and ask of you, it it be your will, to be gracious and merciful to them, to remove their pain and sorrow, and to bless them with fair offspring at a time pleasing to you.

Yes, Lord our God, accept the petitions of me, your unworthy servant, and bring to your servants [Name] and [Name] joy and peace by granting them their request and blessing them with with a child.

For you alone are merciful and compassionate, and to you we ascribe glory and thanksgiving and worship, to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages.