News From Around the OCA
• Syosset, NY
The Synod of Bishops of the OCA began its Fall meeting yesterday. The three day gathering began with the canonical election of Archimandrite Matthias Moriak to the vacant See of Chicago and the Midwest. Father Matthias was nominated, after a lengthy search process, from a slate of three candidates by delegates at a special Assembly of the Midwest Diocese convened at Saint Mary Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. (Read that story here.) The new bishop-elect will begin his duties as administrator of the diocese next month. His episcopal consecration is scheduled for May, 2011 in Chicago.
In addition to the address of Metropolitan Jonah, and reports by the Church’s officers the Synod’s agenda includes “...a variety of items concerning external affairs, financial and legal matters, OCA departmental ministries, 2011 priorities, the Strategic Plan, the All-American Council,” as well as transfers (including the awaited reception of Bishop Mark of Toledo into the OCA from the Antiochian Archdiocese) and matters of church discipline.
Fr. Kondratick, again?
OCANews.org has confirmed that Metropolitan Herman has written a letter to the Synod requesting Robert Kondratick be reinstated to the priesthood. Metropolitan Jonah has expressed sympathy for Kondratick's reinstatement, adamantly refusing for the past three years to remove the defrocked from his position as administrator of the Venice, Fl parish, despite calls to do so from fellow Synod members, the Metropolitan Council and several diocesan assemblies. The new Bishop of New York, Michael (Dahulich) is also reported to have expressed sympathy for reinstating the former Chancellor. On the other hand, several members of the Synod are known to openly oppose reinstatement - including Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop Benjamin - who oversaw Kondratick's church trial and presided over the SIC Report, respectively.
Interestingly, Metropolitan Herman himself as been the subject of a recent Synodal investigation, following the STIC Report that detailed his mismanagement of St.Tikhon's monastery and seminary during his 30 year reign in South Canaan. (That Report, which was posted on the OCA site, has since been removed.) On the basis of that Report the Synod may also discuss possible sanctions against +Herman's suspended Protodeacon, Alexis Klimitchev.
The Five Points
In a frank and open statement to his Albanian Diocese at their September 23rd meeting, concerning external affairs of the OCA, Bishop Nikon of Boston referred to the 5 draft points that set forth the OCA Bishop's position regarding the Chambesy process. The Bishops may seek to formalize these points during this meeting. Bishop Nikon stated:
“I will say that for the members of our Holy Synod, most if not all*, are not inclined to request maximal autonomy at this time but are open to (other) avenues to achieve true Orthodox unity in America. In my estimation, it is too early to make such a lateral move or change. We are from the beginning committed to Orthodox Unity in the United States; the road to achieving that reality should be explored over the next few years. ...”
The Bishop then affirmed that any decision regarding any redefinition of autocephaly would not be made by the Bishops alone, but the entire Church:
“Should the OCA, (bishops, clergy and laity; we are a part) at some later date, opt to rescind autocephaly, that would make any, especially our agreement (with the OCA) null and void, and new agreements would then be in order or new affiliations may be in order.”
Bishop Nikon concluded:
“Now is not the time to act, now is the time to stand firm on the mountain top and see the promised land of
Orthodoxy in America and ascertain the best avenue in order to achieve it. This is evidenced by five points
outlined by the members of the Holy Synod.
1. The OCA understands itself to be a local, indigenous, multi-ethnic, missionary Church,
continuing to bring Orthodoxy to Americans.
2. The OCA affirms that it is historically derived from Russian Orthodox Church as a historical realty; as
the heir to the Russian Mission of 1794, the Diocese in Sitka, 1843; the Diocese in San Francisco 1870; and its relocation to New York in 1907 and the Autocephaly of 1970.
3. The OCA is functionally autocephalous Church, electing her own bishops and Primate, without
confirmation by any other Synod, maintaining inter-Church relationships with all other Churches, and consecrates its own chrism, according to the Tomos.
4. The autocephaly will be fulfilled when the OCA is merged into a united Autocephalous American
Church, recognized by all and including all.
5. The united American church is being cast in terms of the Chambésy protocols. The OCA is prepared
to work within the Episcopal Assembly in order to realize this goal.”
(Editor’s note*: Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Nathaniel are alone among members of the Synod to have spoken in any way favorably regarding the idea of possibly “redefining” autocephaly as “maximal autonomy”. under the Russian Church. The idea has found no support among the other Bishops, in the Administration, the Metropolitan Council, nor among the clergy and lay delegates at several diocesan assemblies where the idea has been broached.)
• Toledo, Ohio
The Bulgarian Diocese of the OCA, which includes 19 parishes in the USA and Canada, concluded its Fourth Diocesan Congress-Sobor on November 12-13th at the diocesan cathedral, located in Rossford, a suburb of Toledo. According to the OCA: “The main item on the agenda was the approval of an amended Diocesan Constitution, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority,” The amended Constitution removes references to Communism in Bulgaria, and eliminates the provision, adopted during the Cold War, that nominees for Bishop of Diocese must be Bulgarian. According to one observer, “The sentiments of the Diocesan Conference this year was that any major overhauls on the Constitution would be up to the next bishop, so the main thing was positioning the diocese to get a bishop.” The amendments now clear the way for a new bishop to be elected by the Diocese, which is currently administered by Bishop Melchizedek of Pittsburgh. (You can read the amended Constitution here.)
Archpriest Andrew Jarmus, Coordinator of the Bulgarian Diocesan Episcopal Search Committee, then stated that the Committee “had hoped that the delegates would have been able to vote on a nominee for Diocesan Bishop at this meeting”. However, “ due to logistical issues” and “in order to allow for sufficient time for the members of the Diocese to get to know the candidates, the Diocesan Spiritual Council decided to postpone the balloting for an episcopal nominee by holding the Fifth Congress-Sobor at the time of the 48th diocesan conference, which will be hosted by Saint Nicholas Church, Fort Wayne, IN.”
That event will take place July 8-10, 2011.
The “logistical issues” include the fact that not all the proposed candidates have, as yet, accepted or declined the invitations to put their names forward. Thus, it was agreed not to make any of the names public until all the candidates are in place.
• Scarsdale NY
The relics the Holy and Great Prince Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles, were available for public veneration at Three Hierarchs Chapel on the campus of Saint Vladimir’s seminary on Saturday and Sunday, November 13-14.
This was the first, and only opportunity, in the US for Orthodox Christian faithful to venerate the relics, which brought together clergy from the OCA, Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR for services to celebrate the occassion. The choir of St. Tikhon’s Seminary joined the St. Vladimir’s choir to honor the saint.
The relics, one of only two sets of relics of St. Vladimir in the entire world, have just completed an October tour throughout the OCA’s Archdiocese of Canada (with visits in Vancouver, Victoria, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Halifax, Calgary, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg) before returning to Kyiv after their New York stop.
They almost did not make it. In the early morning of October 29, 2010 Igumen Alexander (Pihach), who was in charge of the relics, discovered his kitchen window was open - with a dirty trail of footprints on the floor, leading to an open back door of his Edmonton home. The relics of St. Vladimir and several other items from the house were missing and had been apparently driven off in his own car, stolen out of the garage. Realizing the gravity of the situation, and in fear of a potential diplomatic incident, the Edmonton police began an immediate investigation. Within a few short hours the police had located Fr. Alexander’s stolen vehicle - with the relics of St. Vladimir still inside it.
The following day, October 30th, the 8th Police Squadron, which was responsible for locating the relics of St. Vladimir, visited St. Herman’s Cathedral, where a service of thanksgiving was held. An icon of St. Vladimir, along with the thanks of the entire OCA Archdiocese of Canada, as well as the entire Orthodox world, were given to the Police, who, fittingly, requested that St. Vladimir be made their Squadron’s patron saint.
• Dayton, OH
OCANews.org is honored to be nominated again as “The Best Church News Blog” by the 2010 Eastern Christian New Media Awards. The annual award is given to the “Best blog at keeping up with current events and providing insightful commentary”. The other nominees in this category include:
American Orthodox Institute - http://aoiusa.org/blog
Byzantine, TX - http://byztex.blogspot.com/
ROCOR United - http://www.rocorunited.com/
You can see all the nominees in all categories, and cast your ballots, here.
- Mark Stokoe