Glory to Jesus Christ! Slava Isusu Christu!
I sincerely welcome all participants of this meeting and give my archpastoral blessing for its working!
Because of the celebrations honoring the second anniversary of the Enthronement of His Holiness patriarch Kyrill in Moscow, I unfortunately cannot be present at our diocesan meeting this year. I hope that during my absence the work of the meeting will be successful and significant in the life of our parishes as traditionally has happened.
Review of the state of our parishes and the activity of the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada in 2010.
The number of registered parishioners – 763 people.
During the past year our priests performed: 37 Baptisms, 10 Weddings, 27 Funerals.
As the ruling bishop of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada in 2011 I regularly served at the Cathedral in Edmonton, made 4 archpastoral visits to the parish in Ottawa and of St. Tikhon which is the Patriarchal Podvorye in Toronto. I also replaced priests during their absences. Archpastoral services were served in parishes on church holy days and on other eventful days in parishes. On several such days they are served regularly.
The events of 2011, in which many of you took part, were regularly published in the News Section of our site and also in the parish bulletins – therefore it isn’t necessary to go through things that are commonly known. I will only mention the most important.
The Protection Parish in Ottawa
Truly the most significant event of the past year was the end of the long court case tied to this parish. According to the court resolution, on Oct. 28, 2011 our lawyer Eugene Kozlov transferred to Reverend Dimitry Sever all the accounted for financial issues (300 thousand) from the parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the Protection Memorial Church. Father Dimitry in turn signed the document “Concession of Claim Action with regard to the property of the debtor” by which he fulfilled all requirements of him.
Orthodox V Parishes
In April-May there was a change of priests in these parishes. Priest George Sergeev returned to Russia. In Dec. 2010 priest Anthony Filchak arrived from Kiev to serve in Canada. At the end of Nov. a conflict arose because of the unwise and incorrect behaviour of the young and inexperienced priest. The root of the problem, based on the reports of both sides, was brought to the attention of the Administrator of the External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate Archbishop Mark. Archbishop Mark was very distressed by the information I had passed on to him and called Priest Anthony to repent, ask forgiveness of all those involved, and presented him with time to correct the shortcomings in his service resulting in the complete mutual forgiveness by our parishioners. I assume that Archbishop Mark’s authority can settle the situation at this time. The problem was regulated in the following way: priest Anthony brought forth his repentance from in front of the alter, after which the decision to allow him time until Holy Easter to reconcile with the parishes under the condition that no other new action, which could lead to a division in our parishes, happen again. He is also expected to follow the established traditions. His visa to be in Canada expires at Easter. I have given him my blessing when he presented me with his documents to continue his stay in Canada. I especially ask that at the annual meeting of the Orthodox V parishes not to do anything which could divide and separate our parishes, which the Orthodox Church in America continues to be involved in, as has happened previously. With regard to priest Anthony Filchak’s service, the final decision will be made by the Administrator of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate Archbishop Mark.
General Questions and Concerns about the spiritual life of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada
In this section of my report I remind you that what has been stated by me at former meetings has not changed.
The main theme of every annual meeting is the unity of our Patriarchal Parishes under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. This spiritual unity with our Mother Russian Orthodox Church was bequeathed to you by your grandparents and great grandparents. This bequeath can only be secured and guarded by the strengthening of the Orthodox faith, the strengthening of our lives according to the Gospel, fulfilling the rules of the Church, directions of the Patriarch and Bishop, guidance of our clergy, in mutual love and cooperation.
For the strengthening of the unity our parishes should actively participate in all parish activities – for example in the services of “Orthodoxy Day in Canada” and St. Barbara’s Day at the Cathedral.
It is important that all of us learn that all important decisions in the parishes should not be done without consulting the priest nor without the blessing of the bishop as is stated in the rules of the church.
So that our parishes will become stronger and grow, our churches should become centers of enlightenment and missionary work.
The Divine Liturgy and the Mysteries spiritually transform our life and strengthen the faith.
The doors to the homes of the priests, whenever possible, should continue to be open to the spiritual community and for mutual help.
The parish should be a united spiritual family where everyone loves and respects one another.
The clergy, by example, should show the spiritual life, true prayer, benevolence, readiness to dialogue, openness and honesty in all relationships with the community. Brotherly love and respect should be shown at all times.
All of us should encourage active participation in the services, social work, daily prayer, reading the Bible and spiritual literature and doing good works.
It is important that the parish councils not forget to support their priests and the diocese.
Goals and Plans for the New Year
To improve the running of the parishes I plan the following. In 2012 to renew the work of the diocesan council called “the bishop’s council” – in Canada the diocese and church court councils do not officially exist. Their function will be structured on the basis of the commonly accepted regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church with consideration for local conditions. The council will include all clergy of the Patriarchal Parishes in Alberta with Bishop Iov.
The church court will be made up of all clergy. The job and frequency of the Council’s meetings will depend on the number of issues which require study and discussion.
An important aim for me is to study the question of judicial registration of the Patriarchal Parishes with regard to a general understanding as pertains to Canada.
Looking over the past year I can comment that with the Grace of God all results of 2011 are positive in that the Patriarchal Parishes fulfill the mission which has been placed on them. Let us lift up words of gratitude to All- Mighty God for His great and never-ending grace for us! Thank God for everything!
I whole-heartedly thank all of you for your service, dedication, help and prayers, donations and good works in the parishes. I call upon all to remember our common great accountability before God, the Church and our parishioners. May the Lord help us all in our endeavours!
Along with everyone else, I would like to congratulate Roman Lopushinsky on his 65th birthday.