Bishops’ Conference (by phone) with the participation of the ROCA District Council

Bishops’ Conference (by phone) with the participation of the ROCA District Council

8th and 20th of July 2020.

Conference agenda:

1. Archbishop Andronik’s report.

2.  Bishop Andrei’s report.

3. Church life in today’s difficult times.

4. Celebration of ROCA’s 100th anniversary.

5. Other matters.

Vladyka Andronik’s report:

Recently, Vladyka ordained deacon Gregory Axelrod for the St Sergius church in Valley Cottage. After the ordination, deacon Gregory concelebrated with Vladyka 40 Liturgies at the New Martyrs of Russia monastery in Mountain View. 

Preparations are being made for ordaining Father Timothy Clader to priesthood. He will serve in the State of Florida. 

Priest Constantine was accepted through cheirothesia into our Church from the Rumanian New Calendar Church. Currently, Fr. Constantine has to return to Rumania as the period of his immigration visa is about to expire.

Bishop Andrei’s Report:

Due to the imposed quarantine, church life in Australia has become difficult. Bishop Andrei cannot visit the parishes in Brisbane and Sydney because the state borders are closed. In Melbourne, there had been no services in church since the middle of Great Lent. Services are performed at the monastery of Saint Theognios, but because of the quarantine, it’s quite difficult for the parishioners to attend. The police operate check points along the highways and fine those that are violating the quarantine.

In Sydney, Fr. Daniel Laptev is servicing two of our parishes: Archangel Michael and Kazan Mother of God. In Brisbane, the parishioners hold reader services. Fr. Peter Fomin performs services in his house church, which is a 2-hour drive from Brisbane.

The construction of a small church (50 sq. m.) at the monastery of Saint Theognios has begun.

Church life in the setting of the coronavirus crisis.

In these difficult times, the parishioners await from their pastors words of encouragement, empathy and support. But what is needed from the Bishops in the first place is – leadership. As the prayer of cheirotonia states Bishops were placed to be “guides”. With regard to the current crisis, an epistle has to be compiled and sent by the Bishops’ Council, outlining our common view on what is transpiring in world events.

Due to the closure of the Canadian border, Fr. Nikita Grigoriev is unable to perform services in his Toronto parish (there is another priest replacing him there), he has organized a weekly meeting with his parishioners through Zoom. During these contacts, he explains the order of Church Services to them and answers their questions. This communion is very valuable as it strengthens the tie between the pastor and the parishioners.

With regard to the coronavirus epidemic, some parishioners have ceased to attend church services from the fear of being infected in church. Thus, they feel more secure in their houses than in God’s house. This shows a lack of faith.

Some are disconcerted from the use of one spoon during Holy Communion; as well, they are perturbed because the after Holy Communion drink is being taken by a number of communicants from the one cup.

The pastors must convince their parishioners that such a fear is not based on factual reality.  There has been not one instant where somebody fell ill from having Holy Communion. An example can be shown where after all the parishioners had partaken of Holy Communion, the priest consumes the remaining Holy Gifts, and there hadn’t been one instance that somebody got infected.

The Priest has to remind the parishioners that they are partaking of Christ’s Flesh. It’s unthinkable that one can receive anything bad after having Communion of Christ’s Flesh and Blood. This type of fear comes from lack of faith.  The Priest must uplift the parishioners by example with his faith: he should try to convey his faith to the parishioners.                       

We mustn’t change anything in our church practice because anything – even an insignificant change (like singular use of cups for after Communion drink) will be relinquishing our position: displaying our lack of faith. On the other hand, while we must be patient with regard to those weak of faith, we ourselves cannot accept any compromises.

Regarding the kissing of Icons and the Cross: when we wipe the inset glass of an Icon, we do this not because we are afraid to catch an infection from the Icon, but from our reverence before an Icon i.e. we wipe the Icon not for ourselves but for the Saint whose image is portrayed on the Icon.

Decrees by the authorities in relation to the Church are making church life difficult, and even impossible. As an example: in Melbourne, all the churches are closed even for private prayers. Recently, in the State of Ontario, the authorities issued an order forbidding the giving of Holy Communion, singing in church, collective repasts etc…

The partaking of the Holy Gifts is the core of our church life. Likewise, our church service without singing is unthinkable. We openly declare that we don’t agree with these governmental actions: we don’t acknowledge similar directives and regard them as persecutions of the Church. The transition to a catacomb existence is becoming a distinct reality.

Preparation for the celebration of the 100 year anniversary of ROCA’s establishment.

Although the current circumstances may interfere with the performance of the required acclaim of the celebration, we shall within our power, continue the preparatory work for this important church event.

The anniversary Icon is now being painted, while the work on a brochure about the history of ROCA is continuing. It has been proposed that a film be made, which will contain interviews with people who had the opportunity to meet ROCA Hierarchs and other notables. This film can be screened on the day of anniversary.

We need to post material about ROCA history on our websites. This is already being done on the website the Holy Trinity parish in Astoria:

Our parishioners often know very little about the history of our Church and consequently, don’t treasure Her significance. In the past, the ROCA parishioners cherished their Church and were proud of Her. Today, this is not the case. The reason lies in the 2007 betrayal of the Hierarchy, as well as turmoil and schisms in the following years, which produced disappointment and fatigue. Many even left ROCA and went over to other local Churches.

The ROCA 100-year Anniversary presents a magnificent opportunity to remind our parishioners as to what a spiritual treasure that we have in our Church. We have to awaken the love of our Church among our parishioners. We have to rouse their awareness to the fact that in spite of our limited strength, we are carrying the responsibility for our Church.

Our talks with the Serbian TOC.

Everybody is aware that we have entered into a critical period for the Church. At this point of time, it’s becoming especially important that we have communion with those of like mind. That’s why it would be very good if our talks with the Serbian Hierarchs were crowned with success. In the face of a mutual danger, secondary obstacles have to be forgotten and a communion forged on a mutual front against the advancing powers of antichrist.