Monday, December 13. 2010
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$%^ ON A STICK!
#1 syosset a sinking ship on 2010-12-13 15:12
This is NOT good news! ....
What we have here is the need for another leader of the OCA. The hdqrts of the OCA is going nowhere! Fester is tainted goods! More and more foreign monks - WHY? If + Jonah wants to play abbot, let him go do so somewhere, but don't have him try and lead the OCA! Time for another change!
#2 Anonymous on 2010-12-13 15:27
There are no foreign monks or nuns at St. Nicholas. The four nuns here now are all Americans. They just happen to have spent the last few years at a monastery in Greece. One Russian abbess is expected to join them.
I've been at St. Nicholas 10 years, and the only Russian monk I can remember staying here for any length of time was Fr. Simeon, who was but is no longer the nuns' confessor. He is no longer here.
I don't know Fr. Joseph Fester, but as much as we all love Fr. Constantine, everyone I've talked to at St. Nicholas believes this is good news for all concerned. I believe so, too.
(Editor's note: Thank you, Deacon, for the clarification. The term "Greek" refers to their affiliation, not ethnicity. As you point out, they have been members of a Greek monastery for the past years and remain so until accepted into the OCA.)
#2.1 Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2010-12-14 09:43
So much for the new "totally clean slate" we were promised in Pittsburgh!!
#3 David Barrett on 2010-12-13 16:16
The lack of a clean slate of course also the fact that the defrocked former priest R. Kondratick continues to serve an OCA parish as a salaried administrator. I think this is most inappropriate, but this has been allowed.
Fr. Fester receives another promotion. Why?
Lord have mercy!
#3.1 Those Weren't the Good Old Days on 2010-12-14 07:34
+ Jonah was elected in Pitt because he was a breath of fresh air. He made a good speech the night before the election and wasn't tainted. So, at the time, he looked like the best choice. What we have found since: he sympathizes with eliminating autocephaly and going under Moscow; he wants to eliminate Syosset and set up his own OCA hdqtrs in Wash, D.C. with his own Chancellor; he wants to radically change the OCA statutes; etc. + Jonah hasn't brought stability, but some weird, twisted ideas. I'd like to know who is advising him!
#3.2 Anonymous on 2010-12-16 16:51
Having the chancery of the national church within the boundaries of the diocese of the primate is not some "weird, twisted idea." It is in fact the way the Central Church Administration should be structured; what the OCA has had since the creation of the original Diocese of Washington is an aberration. Now is the time to normalize the structure.
#3.2.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-18 13:01
Moving the OCA hdqrts to Wash, D.C. isn't going to happen. + Jonah can forget about it or resign. His leadership is not the leadership the majority of the OCA wants and his actions prove this. Diocese shmiocese, the capitol of the world is NYC and the OCA hdqrts will remain in this area. ....The OCA needs stability and a Metropolitan who believes in the OCA, not Moscow!
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2010-12-20 13:46
Here we go! It is the same old same old....no input from Synod and the Met.Council but decision has been made....
What ever happeend to Father Brum being Bishop of the Diocese of the South...I'm hoping we get Bishop Mark after he moves to the OCA..but what am I? I just give money....maybe I should ask that none of my contributions go to Syosset or is it DC?
#4 STEPHEN on 2010-12-13 17:08
As member of St. Seraphim Parish Council I want to assure you that majority of our people would prefer that Fr. Joseph Fester stay in Dallas and continue to be a rector of the Cathedral.
Last time I‘ve checked (and it was yesterday!) we have no parishioners by the name “Steven S.”, or anybody with such initials.
If “Steven S” would be in the Cathedral last Sunday, he/she probably would see how many of our parishioners were in tears listening Fr. Joe announcing his transfer. Or, may be that person would see whole class of our teenage kids hugging him all together…
I cannot say much about Fr. Joseph’s life before his arrival to Dallas, but his five years tenure in St Seraphim proved him as a great priest and a leader. We will miss him in Dallas.
#4.1 Vladimir on 2010-12-14 13:42
Glory to IC XC!
Allow me a tangential segue, if you please. Subdeacon Vladimir's comments reminded me of Fr. Lawrence Farley's reflection (11.6.10:
The Nature of the Presbyterate) and this stimulates some thoughts.
We speak of bishops as being wedded to the diocese, though as Fr. Lawrence observed, "In the early church, the bishop was the local pastor, and his liturgical and canonical authority was rooted in his local pastoral work" but this role has been taken over by the parish priest-- which the bishops once were, though in concert with others.
The parish priest today is a central, if not the exclusive, figure for the parish in marrying, catechizing, confessing, baptizing & Chrismating, burying, visiting in the hospital, preaching, teaching, worshiping, and so much more. He functions as the one who is wedded to the parish. It is his job to love the flock entrusted to his care as much as it is the job of any man to love his wife, and ideally to do it was well as the Son of Mad loves His wife, the Church.
When the priest is transferred, much pain, confusion, and injury can occur for him and his family, as well as for the entire congregation. To be sure, transfers can be necessary-- that is not in dispute. In like manner, it may be necessary for individual lay members or families to move. In our mobile society, it is not unusual for anybody to move from one job to another, from one school to another, from one state to another in any given five year period.
We accept such moves as being the natural way of things or "that's just how it is." But, each move severs the social glue, the frequent contact and interaction which strengthens and builds the bond of love between people.
This isn't a proposal as to how to fix this problem. This is more of a call to be cognizant of the problem and for all of us -- bishops, priests, church councils, the whole laity -- to be wary of it and avoid it when possible. We would do well to remember St. Anthony the Great who himself moved a few times or so. When he was asked, "What must one do in order to please God?" he replied, "Pay attention to what I tell you: Whomever you may be, always have God before your eyes. Whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures. In whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved" (St. Anthony's saying #3).
A blessed Nativity feast to all of you! Forgive me, a sinner!
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#4.1.1 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2010-12-15 18:15
"Son of Man " is what I meant to type.
#188.8.131.52 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2010-12-16 16:47
Move on! There are many wonderful people who are and were confidants of RSK. Let it go ~ for your own soul!
#5 Anonymous on 2010-12-13 17:09
Spoken like a true believer who drank the Kool-Aid. We're fed up with the duplicity. The laity are done trusting those who like spending donations without accountability. FOS Fester was right down the hall from RSK and did his bidding. RSK was fond of commenting that Fester would occupy his chair one day. Perhaps he is on track thanks to Met. Jonah.
#5.1 Anon. on 2010-12-13 20:26
ANYONE would be better than the man that occupies the chair now!
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-12-17 10:14
Just when one was tempted to think that the OCA was truly moving on, the fox has been put back in charge of the hen house... What is Met. Jonah thinking? Better question: From what quarter is Met. Jonah getting political pressure? This is a risky political decision that should not be made without consulting with the Met. Council at this stage of the crisis, especially since it involves a Kondratick/Theodosius crony with unresolved SIC question marks painted all over his cassock. It is time for Fes to fess up. Pretending he knows nothing reminds one of Col. Clink in Hogan's Heroes.
#6 Anon. on 2010-12-13 17:24
Actually, that was Sgt. Schultz, not Col. Klink, who used to say, "I know nothing!! Nothing!!!"
#6.1 David Barrett on 2010-12-13 20:04
Correction. My Classic TV knowledge is fading. Sgt. Shultz is the one who uttered the well known disclaimer "I know nothing" repeatedly.
#6.2 Anon. on 2010-12-13 20:18
Yes, It was Sgt. Schultz. Although, I recall one episode where Col. Hogan was waving a pocket watch before the good Commandant's eyes, and Klink uttered the immortal phrase "I know Nothing, NOTHING!!!"
Unfortunately, neither RSK, Fr. Fester, or any of the old cronies truly knew nothing.
The question is Who still knows What about who did What when with or without Who's permission?
Confused? Fine. So am I!!!
#6.2.1 Mark Sudia on 2010-12-14 13:34
I thought it was Sgt. Schultz....
#6.3 Makarios on 2010-12-13 21:07
That's Sergeant Schultz, not Klink.
The contemporary climate of OCA affairs makes every single action seem suspect... or is it just this forum?
The Metr. is a kindly and holy man, this I know from long personal experience. I hope he is strong enough to keep the factions in some semblance of harmony. Too many golden parachutes to allow for a clean sweep; maybe by eventually closing down Syosset we can enjoy a cleaner break with a nefarious past. The bid to establish a monastic brotherhood and sisterhood in DC is a welcome gesture toward normalcy and community and will eventually yield spiritual fruit and practical advantage. The DC Cathedral needs to begin to function as a true spiritual center for our church, if that is possible. A lot of renovation of the whole culture of the OCA needs to take place to make that health bloom.
#6.4 Fr. John on 2010-12-13 22:03
Get over it. Move on. The Cathedral in DC is not the OCA. Actually, what percentage of OCA parishioners do you think know there is even a Cathedral in DC? If it's not in the diocese then it's not on the radar. The Cathedral in DC serves the community in DC as it should.
Your argument about this being political intrigue also makes no sense. The Diocese of the South is larger and wealthier than the Diocese of DC (by this I mean no disrespect to the Diocese of Washington DC).
#6.5 Dan on 2010-12-13 22:54
Actually it was Sergeant Schultz who used to say,
"I know nothing–NOTHING!"
#6.6 Subdeacon Robert Aaron on 2010-12-13 23:25
Fr. Joe has chosen this public path. Therefore, he must hold himself up to public scrutiny and stop insulting our intelligence with his "I knew nothing" mantra. He was as close to RSK as anyone at Syosset. I have no intention of supporting anything he does in the Church until he comes clean and repents, like he calls others to do each week. His behavior is the height of hypocrisy. The SIC report did not exonerate him. What kind of standard are we advocating for our leadership if we do not call them to account when they misbehave? At the very least Fester sat silent while many others known and unknown were skewered by the RSK regime. He knew what was going on. These are not the kinds of people in whom a Church can put trust, especially absent a mae culpa. "I know nothing" is an insulting response.
#6.6.1 Anon. on 2010-12-14 18:40
Actually, it was Sgt. Shultz: "I know nothing, nooothing!"
#6.7 Anonymous on 2010-12-14 06:58
That's Klink with a K, and you're thinking of Sgt. "I know nothing!" Schultz. But the your analogy is a good one. I'm digging an escape tunnel for me and mine. None of the guards has noticed.
#6.8 Doesn't matter on 2010-12-14 07:14
God Speed, Fr. Constantine White, on taking on St. Matthew's. However I'd like to suggest you start with an Exorcism, followed by mandatory confession, mandatory counseling for each leader of the four major groups that plotted to destroy Fr. Ray with +Jonah's help.....
#6.8.1 Hopeful on 2010-12-16 13:01
Constantine White at St Matthew? Whose brilliant idea was that? He was the first clergy person to be contacted in the Koumentakos case when he was Dean of DC and he ignored them. He lied in his court affidavits in the legal case. He is old chums with Velencia. What a nightmare. I feel horrible for those remaining people at St Matthew. ....
#7 Anonymous on 2010-12-13 19:16
As an outsider to the OCA, with no knowledge of its political dynamics, could I ask a couple of questions?
Everyone is treating Fester's transfer as a promotion, but, in reality, is it? He's going from being one of the top officers of a whole diocese to being the leader of a single congregation (albeit a high profile one). From where I sit it doesn't look like a real step up for a careerist; it looks more like being kicked upstairs. Am I wrong? Is the (presumably) high visibility of being Dean of the Cathedral in the nation's capital compensation for the much smaller stage on which to act? (Also, if anyone could elucidate the governance structure of the Cathedral that would be helpful too. What is the relationship, in the day to day running of the Cathedral, between the Rector, the Metropolitan, and the Dean? Is the Rector always the Metropolitan, or does that only happen to be the case right now?)
Second, there seems to be an assumption in some of the comments that Fester will be a prime figure in the administration of the Church once it is moved to Washington. I didn't see any specific indication of that cited in the article; am I missing something?
(Editor's note: The concern is that there are more shoes to drop; since moving the admin would almost surely involve personnel changes as well. As for Rector and Deans, think of an admiral and captain. The Dean, as Captain, runs the day to day.
#8 Mark AC on 2010-12-13 19:26
Metropolitan Jonah, you continue to dine regularly at Macbeth's House but refuse time and again to see Banquo's ghost.
This latest shenanigan only lends more evidence to the fact that Metropolitan's Jonah's vision of forgiveness is a phony political tool that projects his own egotism. How much longer must those who manipulated the Church at the expense of the faith of many be rewarded.
The SIC Report shows Fr. Fester to have a serious deficiency when it comes to good moral judgment. A Blessing does not turn right into wrong.
And yet such a man is promoted and rewarded while many faithful are scandalized.
Again, how high does the spiritual body count have to go......
#9 Andrew on 2010-12-13 19:31
I think the suspicious comments here are, in fact, gun-jumping oversights of a more obvious (and infinitely better) possibility. A mere few weeks before Metropolitan Jonah will personally lead the traditional OCA Pro-Life March in Washington, D.C., he pulls Fester out of the South and appoints him to a church where he will personally be under the metropolitan's thumb. Once there, +Jonah will teach Fester a lesson the latter won't soon forget about the need for the Orthodox Church to help promote a culture of life in the U.S. The metropolitan will have "de-Festerized" the Diocese of the South at the same instant he inserts a glorious, martyric bishop to administer said diocese. Sounds to me like the metropolitan is doing God's glorious work.
#10 A much better possibility on 2010-12-13 20:27
Are we really to be up-in-arms about all of this? No input from the Synod or the M.C. about moving the HQ's? For years people have moaned that the Metropolitan does not "live" in his own diocese... let him go (without complaint)!
Bartholomew lives in Istanbul
Theodoros II lives in Alexandria
Ignatius lives in... (well, not the best example)
Theophilos III lives in Jerusalem
Kirill lives in Moscow
... and I could go on-and-on. He's the Archbishop of Washington and should live in Washington and that's where our chancery should be located - preferably right next to our Cathedral so the Metropolitan can have a real presence in our nation's capital.
Sell the Oyster Bay Cover property, use the proceeds to establish a new office and any money left over be used to fund some sort of endowment for seminarians, widowed priests' wives, or any other number of noble causes.
Perhaps time would be better spent begging and pleading with the Lord to help our Synod understand His Holy Will and to guide the OCA in all righteousness and sanctity and less time lambasting the administrative decisions that should have almost zero affect on the salvation of our own souls. As history has shown time and time again, ineffective leaders that don't do the Lord's Will eventually find themselves out in the cold, six feet under, or both - and neither schedule is determined by us!
Back to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and shelter to the homeless. Those are all things we can do - no matter who is in charge, carry's a stick, or wears a funny hat, right?
~Methodios on the West Coast
(Editor's note: Well, to carry that logic to its conclusion, you don't even need a Church to give drink to the thirsty, or shelter the homeless, right? But since we are trying to act like the Church in doing the above, how about we follow our own Statute? We lost our way in the recent past, and ended up spending the monies for the orphans and widows, literally, on parties, trips and hotels, among other things. Let's not go that way again, OK?)
#11 Nikolai on 2010-12-13 20:32
The Orthodox Church in America, the Syosset Years: By Metropolitans Theodosius, Herman, and the unelected Metropolitan R.S.K. The 1st.
Sounds like a 1950's Grade "B" Science fiction story, right??? Not!!!
Actually a 21st Century Irwin Allenesque Disaster story. (Thankfully with many small happy endings).
Dear Nikolai: yes, moving the Chancery to D.C. would be wise for two , and possibly three reasons.
1. It would indeed signal that the O.C.A. is the permanent Local Orthodox Church in America, since H.B. Jonah would then reside in the national Capital, as the Other Holy Patriarchs of the East in many, (but not necessarily all of their Churches) do.
2. It would finally eliminate the anomaly of the Primate residing within the diocese for another seated Bishop.
3. And yes, it would finally retire the recent Syosset Years, and allow the O.C.A. to live in the present, since the new administration wouldn't be holdovers from the scandal years.
Unlike other posters to this site, I believe that H.B Metropolitan Jonah has merely stated his wish to move the chancery to D.C., ( perhaps a bit more emphatically than necessary), and that the Idea will indeed be discussed amongst the members of the Synod in 2011.
I also foresee that it might be an agenda item at the A.A.C. And in this case, it should be. For if the faithful endorse the proposal, than it will be final, and then a true time table can be set.
Finally, no, this isn't an issue that affects our salvation, (or that of Metropolitan Jonah) at all. But is is an administrative decision that should have been made shortly after metropolitan Theodosius became the Archbishop of Washington D.C.
But maybe, like the EA, the time is nigh for change.
Only God knows for sure.
(Editor's note: Well, Mark, are you willing to spend the millions, ( yes, millions) it will cost to move things? Is that the best use of our limited resources now? Of course, we could always ask the Russian Church to fund the move, just like they funded the recent buildings of the Czech Church in Prague. Ask them how that worked out... As for your three points: A) Washington has been the seat of the Metropolitan for the past 20 years, so moving the offices of the MEtropolitan, (as opposed to the diocesean offices - will make no difference in that regard.
As for the anomaly, there is none. His diocese has and remains DC. His Metropolitanate offices are in New York. The trouble with Herman wasthat he lived neither in his Diocese, nor at the Metropolitan's offices, but in yet a third place, of which he was not canonically connected, but continued, in fact, to control and run....) Finally, the current admin is not a "holdover" from the scandal years. They are making their own mistakes, thank you, not those of the ancien regime. If you are willing to let the "Herman & Theo" years taint Syosset, I have greater faith that + Leonty, et al, imbues it with a far stronger spirit that I, for one, would be loathe to forfeit because of some crooks. As for the AAC agenda, if someone is willing to donate $10 million to effect the change - ( you have climate controlled 6,000 sq. ft. in DC for the Archives alone?) then let's talk about it. (And if someone has $10 million, I want to talk to them!) But if not, let's move on and deal with real problems, not imprudent, unwise dreams.)
#11.1 Mark Sudia on 2010-12-20 09:49
Send the archives to St. Vlad's, where it can be cared for properly. Not in a basement in Syosset. It deserves better than that.
#11.1.1 Rdr. James Morgan on 2010-12-27 19:16
I'm confused. What was Fr. Fester convicted of other than being part of an "Inner Circle?" The Priest said he didn't know of any wrong doing - did the SIC find any wrong doing they he knew of and lied about? Is the investigation still going? If not, then what right do we have to keep assuming he is guilty of anything; and why would His Beatitude have to not appoint him to any position?
I'm only half defending Fr. Fester here since I am totally ignorant of the situation.
Also, I'm not sure what and who Father Hester has forbidden, but if he had forbidden me from taking part in a pro-life rally, then I'd just sort of chuckle a bit and perhaps remind him (on our own or through email) that it's not his job to forbid my political activity and then I'd do it anyway. If he is attempting to forbid people from expressing their values and they listen to him, then it's the parish's fault not his. That sort of obedience isn't called for and that is the assembly's responsibility to know.
#12 The Lorax on 2010-12-13 20:51
Fr. Fester back in with more authority, power, and financial rewards? And this, after he refused to speak the truth, refuse to help the Church, and defended a known corrupt and unethical monster like Kondratick? This is UNACCEPTABLE on ANY level!
Here we go again. The OCA is heading down the same road of unethical and unaccountable leadership with predictable results. This is EXACTLY what happens when corrupt men and evildoers are not made to account for their outrageous and shameful pillaging and thievery of GOD's talents and are allowed to continue to thrive in the church. Very little seems to has changed in ethos of the the OCA hierarchy after all. Lord Have Mercy!
I want to know if + Jonah went through a complete cycle of psych tests before being consecrated. His decisions & behavior lend one to ask if he is all there. Could he have been brain-washed while in Russia? Who is giving him the advice to make such horrible decisions? Clearly, this fellow needs to be put out to pasture.
#14 Anonymous on 2010-12-13 21:27
This is not surprising seeing as Met. Jonah needs Fr. Joseph around him almost constantly to make decisions.....
Here at the Cathedral in Dallas he has already caused great unrest and undue affliction to several people who remained loyal to Fr. John Anderson and spoke out against his tendency to "take control." In a national setting this can only lead to worse things. Jonah has shown, once again, why he should not be in charge of the OCA.
#15 Steven S. on 2010-12-14 00:15
Maybe the move from Syosset to Washington has something to do with the following:
Church Landscape Begins to Change in North America
As a result of a teleconference on 1 July (2009), the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America has divided its Washington and New York Diocese into two. This means that it has changed the title of its head, Metropolitan Jonah. He is now to be known as ‘Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of all America and Canada’.
This change means that there is now no overlap between Metropolitan Jonah’s title and that of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Metropolitan of New York and Eastern America.
This appears to be the beginning of further profound transformations in the Orthodox Church landscape of North America and indeed worldwide. We remind readers that the former head of the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in North America, Archbishop Mercurius, was earlier this year removed to Moscow and has not been replaced.
(Editor's note: It does not. The two dioceses of NY & Washington had always been seperate, until united by Metropolitan Herman, for his reasons, mainly for control and finances. Once he was retired, they were seperated again. )
#16 Gail Sheppard on 2010-12-14 00:33
The Diocese of Washington Assembly was held on Saturday, 11 December 2010, at St. Luke Orthodox Church in McLean, VA. I attended as one of the observers from St. Mark Orthodox Church in Bethesda, MD; my wife, Vice-President of the Parish Council, attended as a delegate. Metropolitan JONAH made no mention during the Assembly of (a) the coming change in the Dean at St. Nicholas Cathedral, (b) the assignment of Fr. Constantine White as the (permanent) rector at St. Matthew Orthodox Church, or (c) the reception of Bishop MARK as the Bishop of Baltimore and an auxiliary to Metropolitan JONAH. All of these actions have a direct impact on the diocese and its members. Why did Metropolitan JONAH say nothing about them to the Assembly? Why must those attending the Assembly learn of these decisions via the OCA web site and OCA News rather from the mouth of our diocesan hierarch?
His Beatitude did mention that he intends in 2011 to split his time equally between Syosset and Washington, spending one week in Washington and one week in Syosset. He also told the Assembly that he planned on moving most of the Central Church Administration activities to Washington during 2012. I, for one, assumed that the Synod and Metropolitan Council had already agreed with his plans concerning the move of the CCA activities to Washington. What does it mean if neither body has agreed? Do we once again have an "imperial primate?" What happened to the transparency and conciliarity that was supposed to be the hallmarks of the new administration?
(Editor's note: Good question.)
#17 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-14 05:37
Certainly the set of personnel changes were a little complex, and would impact on the Washington Diocese. But wouldn't it occur to everyone that the impacted parishes should be notified first out of courtesy. I think the Metropolitan staged the sequence of notice as good as possible, given all the interests. As a parishioner of St. Nicholas Cathedral, I am sure others as well as myself would have been outraged, had we found out of Father Constantine's departure through the grapevine. It seems your comments were not well thought out in terms of concern for others.
#17.1 Anon. on 2010-12-14 13:49
The personnel changes are not at all complex: Fr. Constantine goes to St. Matthew to replace Fr. Ray; Fr. Joseph comes to St. Nicholas to replace Fr. Constantine.
I have no idea whether or not either parish was informed of the personnel changes before the changes were announced on the OCA web site or here at OCA News; I do know that His Beatitude made no mention of the changes at the Diocesan Assembly because I was there. Although the announcement on the OCA web site was posted before 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 14 December 2010, I doubt that the final decisions concerning the personnel changes were made on Monday, 13 December 2010, and the announcement written and posted that same day; I also doubt that any decisions regarding the personnel changes were made over the weekend. If the Synod and the Central Church Administration can move that quickly in such mundane matters as clergy (re)assignments, why can't it move at least that quickly regarding more important matters ... such as suspending a hierarch under investigation for alleged multiple child molestations?
#17.1.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-16 04:51
During the Fr. John Vitko's presentation of the OCA Strategic Plan to the Diocese of Washington Assembly on Saturday, 11 December 2010, he revealed the extent of the changes to the original draft of the strategic plan approved and blessed by the Synod on the recommendation of the Strategic Planning Committee. In particular, Fr. John told the Assembly that the removal of the proposed changes in church governance was made because not enough healing had occurred yet in the church, that to make the proposed changes would cause more pain and division. Where is that concern for the lack of healing and the desire to avoid division in the move of Fr. Joseph Fester to St. Nicholas Cathedral? Fr. Fester is tainted by the financial scandal(s) of the Central Church Administration. Why inflict such pain and division upon a diocese already trying to heal from the scandal(s) involving Fr. Ray Valencia and St. Matthew Orthodox Church? Is Fr. Joseph such an extraordinary church administrator and does the Diocese of Washington or St Nicholas Cathedral have such problems that only he can effectively deal with them? It seems to me that, for the good of the Diocese of the South, Metropolitan JONAH would keep Fr. Fester in Dallas as the chancellor to provide some stability during this time of transition.
#18 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-14 06:01
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Another funny "story" from OCANews.org. And I would totally agree with #6; let it go people, let it go. What happened in the past is in the past. You're never going to change it. Time to look forward.
But NO, it's time to pile on the newest +Metropolitan and his "cronies"...hahahahaha. "My rumor mill" told me that it was the OCANews.org Editor who pushed for either, the late +Job or newly consecrated +Jonah (at that time). To all of you who voted for +Jonah, you got what you asked for. BLAME IT ON OCANEWS.ORG.
I love how the greatest majority of folks on here, just have to have their cake AND eat it too. Good luck to all of you and Merry Christmas!!!!!
(Editor's note: Actually, Mike, if you bothered to read OCANews.org, or the articles I wrote at the time, I did no such thing. Concerning the election I specifically said for everyone to vote for Archbishop Job on the first ballot. I concluded by saying:
"Should Archbishop Job receive a majority, but not the 2/3 majority required for nomination, a second ballot will be required. If this is the case, the two names I wlll write down are Archbishop Job and newly-consecrated Bishop Jonah. I invite other delegates to do the same. The Synod will thereby be given a stark choice: place their fate, and ours, in the hands of someone who, no matter his talents, is the youngest, untested rookie on the team for the next thirty years - or accept the choice that Providence has given us and prudence seems to require.
Let us choose wisely this time and choose Archbishop Job."
I stand by those words.)
#19 Michael Livosky on 2010-12-14 07:07
Perhaps Metropolitan Jonah is putting Fr Fester where he can better watch him? The old saying is keep your friends close and your enemies even closer so you can observe them better.
#20 Gunter on 2010-12-14 07:30
This might be good strategy for the mob or a petty bureaucrat, but we are (or should be) the Church and we need to rise above such debilitating intrigues. They are a cancer. Ask yourself if Christ would have thought similarly. If He would not have, then we must run from such unglodly logic ourselves. It only destroys and cannot possibly serve to build up the Body of Christ.
#20.1 Anon. on 2010-12-14 18:27
If I am not mistaken, Christ our Lord, never stopped loving Judas, nor did He ever forsake Judas or throw him by the wayside.
Now the question remains - was what Judas did more severe than what Father Fester did? What did Fr. Fester do actually? I still do not know other than being part of some "inner circle" - being associated with people who did wrong doing? He was part of a process yet there was no findings to incriminate him? Yet according to us he's a thug.
Or do people just have a personal beef with him because ideologies don't mesh?
Every decision that a Hierarch makes that we don't agree with can't be the end of the Church - or do we know all of the answers? It's one thing to hold our leaders to accountability, it's totally another to assume every word or action we do not understand is one of corruption or some underhanded scheme.
*(Editor's note: The criticisms of Fr. Fester, it would seem from the SIC Report, and comments posted here, stem from the unbelief that he was RSK's self-confessed "right hand man" for more than a decade, and yet, stated he knew nothing about the manifold misappropriations, financial dealings, etc., that occured in this period. As many people point out, if he was that unobservant, as many others far more removed from the center of power, knew of them, one could question his acuity for leadership. Or, of course, the other possibility is that he did know, and just misled the committee. Many have stated that his subsequent resignation in protest to RSK's firing is more evidence of the latter than the former. You decide. But the question remains - did he know and mislead, or did he really not know, leading one to question his skills. You decide.)
#20.1.1 The Lorax on 2010-12-16 08:49
Thanks Mark. You summarized my concerns well. Fester is no dummy. He knew what was going on. If he didn't, then he is incompetent and does not deserve an administrative role now. Either way, he needs to come clean before sliding into a new position. He has hidden behind RSK long enough.
The comparison with Jesus and Judas is curious. Jesus did not select Judas for an administrative role in the way you are describing Fester's situation. Using this logic, Fester will go out and hang himself. It is wrong-headed to knowingly choose corrupt people for leadership roles where TRUST is the coin of the realm. Without trust, we might as well get serious about running Madoff-style confidence tricks and be as corrupt as we can get away with. We must take the high moral ground and settle for nothing less; our fallen natures notwithstanding.
#184.108.40.206 Anon. on 2010-12-16 20:47
I was among the small group that met with Fr. Joseph briefly on his last two visits to our parish during his tenure as the Executive Director of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards (FOS). He seemed a very congenial and genuine man, given an immensely difficult assignment. I do not consider him a thug; I was and am disappointed in his support of Robert Kondratick as OCA Chancellor and his evaluation by the Special Investigative Committee (SIC).
I don't see keeping Fr. Joseph as the Chancellor of the Diocese of the South (DOS) during the tenure of Bishop Mark as the new diocesan administrator, the selection of a hierarch for the DOS, and the establishment of a new diocesan administration under the new hierarch as "forsaking" or "throwing" Fr. Joseph "by the wayside." I think it the prudent and loving care by the Metropolitan as the locum tenens.
The recent decisions of Metropolitan Jonah concerning personnel assignments in the Diocese of Washington are not "the end of the Church." The decisions may or may not be wise ones, only time will tell. The manner in which they were communicated to the members of the diocese is what I question. It seems to me rather hypocritical for His Beatitude to call for greater sensitivity from "the clergy, monastics, and faithful" of the OCA regarding what they say and how they say it when he seems to lack that very same sensitivity.
#220.127.116.11 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-17 06:06
OH. MY. GOD!!!
The phrase that keeps running thru my mind is from the Tropar of the Prodigal: "I have squandered the riches which Thou gavest me"
Lord have mercy!
#21 Alexander Ivsky on 2010-12-14 07:50
Yes, I agree. In my way of thinking, the Bishop and some part of the diocese should see the clergy and their families are in good health and have their needs met. How is it that a priest's wife should work 2 jobs from 6am until 12pm, 6-7 days a week and still because her husband has not been paid or used all his money eaten up in gas expense and travel for the parish and they lose their home to foreclosure.
How is it that a parish uses a ethnic language priest as a "develeoper" then send him out to a church on his own in a broken down old car on a major highway where he dies in a car accident before he is 35 years old? On the website the church has drawings of its future Byzantine style domedom.
What happens to the children of clergy whose families used all their monies and saving for the upkeep of the church and had they no funds for their education or health care? ... and they are already very wounded from a death in the family and other scars.
Wounds and more wounds and media bliz and pictures don't
cover the loses from higher gas prices, food prices, and utility costs in the last 3 month period. Those hurting hurt more and there seem to be no bishops who care.
#21.1 anon on 2010-12-24 23:04
Does the Metropolitan think that the AAC will vote for the move? The cost issues alone seem to make that extraordinarily unlikely.
Fester out of the south is good, and with +Mark there as administrator, the move to Brum as bishop stands a chance of being stopped. It's up to the people of the diocese, but it's not hard to imagine them embracing +Mark.
But Fester to DC, to a prominent role at the +MJ's right hand? Doesn't seem so much a case of radical forgiveness as radical foolishness.
Thought experiment: Give the benefit of the doubt that neither Fester nor Brum was complicit in RK's shenanigans. What conclusions does one draw about their fitness for high administrative roles? That they are unobservant, quick to excuse any appearance of financial excess, passive and accommodating of a friend, disinclined to question or to raise concerns about following normal procedures with respect to finances? Do these qualities recommend one for church administration?
At the end of one of the HP books, Neville Longbottom is awarded the decisive points in the competition for the house cup for standing up to his friends when they seemed to be doing something wrong. We need Nevilles, not Festers.
#22 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-12-14 08:39
Isn't the OCA incorporated in the state of New York? What are the legal implications of moving the administration to DC?
#23 Anonymous on 2010-12-14 09:25
I usually like to put the word "friends" in that blank, but I am tempted to think, as the old cliche goes, "with friends like that who needs enemies?"
At the risk of seeming to resemble the guy who brought a .22 to a bazooka party, do I dare mention Gal. 5? Yes.
We are called to "freedom," St. Paul says but we mustn't use it as an opportunity to induge the passions. v. 13 Our freedom is meant to be exercised in self-sacrificing love for others. Instant, reactive anonymous e-publication is FREEDOM all right.
But is it love? Knowing that "love" for others is a term people can readily bend to suit what they want to rationalize, St. Paul reminds us that it is only love when we treat our neighbor "as [we love and treat] ourselves." (v 14) How many of you writing this anonymous, reactive vileness about leaders who dare to take the risk of leading really would see the publication of pseudonymous aspersions on your motives and integrity, supported by little or no actual evidence (but plenty of guesswork and guilt by association) as being "love" if you were on the receiving end of the bazooka? None, and don't waste time arguing otherwise.
And then there is v. 15, warning in no uncertain terms that those who bite and devour one another must watch out that they don't gobble each other up. Gotta tell you folks that it seems to me there's a whole lotta chompin' goin' on.
In a climate of hyped suspicion and government by internet innuendo, will it become true that the only person who can survive as a leader will be the one who a) has never done anything that others couldn't resent or misinterpret, and b) makes sure to do nothing that can be criticized ... because so many are ready to assume the worst and criticize? We see more than a little of that in the practice of contemporary American elective democracy, where candidates have to bow to (or at least avoid annoying) every high-powered single-issue constituency lest a feeding frenzy of reactivity and negative publicity be triggered.
The tongue was said by the Spirit-inspired apostle to be an unruly evil, a deadly poison, the organ with which we praise God and damn - yes, DAMN - our fellow man. James 3:6-9 It sets everything burning with the fires of hell.
Maybe that megaton, mega-tongue, the computer, is too.
#23.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-12-14 16:50
It's always nice (not) to hear from the shill for unaccountable authority. As for your pious injunctions to those of us fed up with the clericalism you so perfectly embody, save your breath.
#23.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-12-15 12:58
Your "love" as evidenced in the Massacre at Ben Lomond is well known. As the other fellow said - save your breath.
#23.1.2 Heracleides on 2010-12-16 17:47
OCA is currently incorporated in the State of New York.
Note also that Para 12 of the Charter says: "The principal office of the corporation is to be located in the city, county and state of New York." (http://www.oca.org/PDF/official/ocacharter.pdf)
#23.2 Archimandrite Kyril Jenner on 2010-12-15 07:12
People really don't understand what is going on here! + Jonah's actions will destroy the OCA. This fellow MUST be replaced. His actions will result in the destruction of a recovering OCA admin while he builds his own structure of monks & lackeys. Let him go open up a monastery somewhere and play monastic, but get him out of ANY decision making role in the OCA. This has to be some bad dream!
#24 Anonymous on 2010-12-14 09:34
As much as I have misgivings about some of Jonah's present actions & words, I must say that I much prefer a monk playing at being a hierarch than our typical hierarchs' who played at being monks in past performances. It seems to me the former can grow into the role while the other can only be faked - and not very convincingly at that.
#24.1 Heracleides on 2010-12-14 17:49
Solely on an administrative level this is totally irrisponsible!
#25 anon on 2010-12-14 10:06
He wasn't brainwashed in Russia, but Platina with all of the CSB/HOOM weirdos...going' back to Cali, Cali, goin' back to Cali...I don't think so.
#26 Moses on 2010-12-14 11:30
I personally applaud Metropolitan Jonah for trying some new things. I don't know Fr. Fester but I know that he is well thought of in the Diocese of the South. I don't believe Metropolitan Jonah would just move him because it was somehow politically expedient. I'm sure that he feels that Fr. Fester is the best man for the job. Second guessing him doesn't really help anyone.
There is nothing but innuendo against Fr. Fester in the SIC report. There is no indication of any wrongdoing. While his support of Kondratick seems to me to be horribly misguided, I don't believe that I would completely condemn him for that. I think it is still hard for many people who saw the benevolent side of Kondratick believe that he could have done the things that he was accused of. Kondratick was an incredibly generous person -- with other people's money.
As to the move to Washington, I say let the Metropolitan have a chance at this. OCA Monasticism up until this point hasn't really produced a whole plethora of great spiritual elders, saints or bishops. Monasticism in other countries has worked relatively well so why not transport a few monastics to America and try things a bit differently.
I know Metropolitan Jonah to be an unbelievably caring and loving individual. What he may lack in organization is more than made up for in his love for people and the church. He is a far cry from the era of Theodosius and Herman. And yes, his approach to many things is much different than his predecessors. We all just need to give him a bit more time to lead the OCA rather than jump off the ship every time something is changed.
#27 Anon. on 2010-12-14 12:24
There are those who will forever attach the "Kondratick Confidant" and "Inner Circle" labels to Fr. Joseph Fester, and then proceed to render a judgment of unfitness for service to the Church. I disagree. Fr. Fester has provided invaluable service and leadership to the Diocese of the South and St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral over the past 4 1/2 years. The emergence of this Diocese as a financial powerhouse occurred during these years. Although the duty to promote and develop the financial model of this Diocese has been mine I can unequivocally state that the encouragement, guidance, support, and assistance of Fr. Fester have been major contributing elements to the boldness and confidence that marks the approach of this Diocese in meeting the developmental needs of its churches. He has been my priest, coworker, friend, and his daily presence in the Chancery Office will be sorely missed. Fr. Fester, Matushka Kathy, and their dog, Maximus, will be a blessing to the National Cathedral.
The antiabortion march prohibition allegation is looney tunes.
Administrator (Emeritus) and Treasurer
Diocese of the South
(Editor's note: That allegation has been removed at the poster's own request.)
#28 Milos Konjevich on 2010-12-14 12:35
I think it speaks volumes about the administrative capabilities of the Diocese of the South, that the Administrator (Emeritus) and Treasurer has time to peruse this website and comment about things that he probably has known about and remains silent.
#28.1 Anonymous on 2010-12-14 13:11
The OCA headquarters will not move to Wash. + Jonah's actions have become more & more suspect and he is not the person people thought he was. He cannot lead the OCA. If he has ears, let him hear this...resign and go be an abbot somewhere. Your leadership isn't going to work and more & more realize it!
#28.2 Anonymous on 2010-12-14 13:43
My stomach churns to read that turning a diocese into "a financial powerhouse" is considered a virtue.
#28.3 Anonymous on 2010-12-15 11:51
Wouldn't that depend, though, upon what uses the finances of the "powerhouse" were put?
#28.3.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-12-17 08:40
Fr. Dennis Buck wrote: "Wouldn't that depend, though, upon what uses the finances of the "powerhouse" were put?"
It would appear that the OCA needs plenty of money for hardball legal tactics.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Why are these hierarchs so afraid to talk under oath? If they did nothing wrong and followed due process then there's nothing to fear. What is so threatening to them that they spend $20,000 in legal fees to prevent anyone from questioning them in a court of law? What is wrong with simply going and speaking the truth?
Since when are church leaders exempt from ever answering questions and immune from testifying under oath, especially when a fellow priest has been denied due process and treated like a criminal without an explanation and without any accountability on the part of the OCA leadership.
This stinks to high heaven!
To all those who say "what's past is past" and "forgive and forget" seem to forget themselves that the transgressors and problem makers of the past are the ones still in power. Fester has gone completely unpunished and is now being moved to what +Jonah hopes to make the new seat of power in the OCA. The sad and recent past of the OCA keeps bubbling back up and the Metropolitan is blind to all of it. I pray that he comes to his senses. The administrative duties and responsibilities of the Orthodox Church in America cannot be left in the hands of people like Father Joseph Fester.
#29 Rdr. Phillip on 2010-12-14 12:59
I am so sick of people dragging the name of a humble and remarkably effective servant like Fr. Joseph through the mud. Whatever petty grievances they may have against him, he has never shown any malice or ill-will to anyone in the Diocese of the South. He is beloved by many of his fellow clergy and brethren and has shown himself a more than competent administrator. This site has shown, if nothing else, that in this time of reflection and prayer, there are those of us who need it more than ever.
And in regards to the equally disparaging remarks directed at our beloved Metropolitan Jonah, I would ask that we all refrain. He is still the spiritual head of the OCA and he deserves our respect, whether you agree with him or not.
#30 Annonymous on 2010-12-14 13:03
Bravo! Thank you for some sanity
#30.1 Anonymous on 2010-12-15 13:23
Not so long ago the head of the OCA marched down the road on its own leaving the body and it went horribly wrong.
Then the head was replaced with an echo and the echo went the way of its predecessor dealing a second serious blow to the already wounded body.y
Now it appears the head embarks on another solo act leaving the body behind, ignoring due attention to detail and coordination. Very much being an echo and in the pattern leading to what, twice now, has been charitably called 'epic fail'.
Perhaps an exploration of 'oops' as a concept is in order, and some hitting of the pause and reconsider button?
#31 Harry Coin on 2010-12-14 13:14
Fr. Joseph has been extremely divisive in his current position. Sadly, I must agree with that assessment. He does possess many outstanding skills, however, and if a good "match" has been found for him, then may he and the Church be blessed with good outcome.
#32 Anonymous on 2010-12-14 16:40
Readers of your web-site will recognize the name of another of the former chancellor’s “confidants”, and ardent supporters, the Monk James.
I have known and befriended Monk James for nearly 40 years, since his time as a novice at the Louisburg Monastery.
During the SIC investigation and the spiritual court trial of the former chancellor, Monk James confided in me that RSK had appealed to Bishop Merkuri, the former representative of the MP in New York for support. Monk James told me that Bishop Merkuri had personally interceded with Metropolitan Herman on his behalf. Monk James further informed me that RSK would be “fully vindicated, and restored” to his former positions “once Moscow has re-gained control over the OCA”.
At the time, I dismissed these statements as empty braggadocio; but perhaps there was more to them than I realized.
What is clear; is that Metropolitan Jonah is intent on eviscerating the OCA’s autocephaly, and insinuating representatives of the MP into the OCA’s governing apparatus.
If the people of the OCA want to preserve the vision of a church “that is both fully Orthodox and fully American” then they must take drastic action before it is too late.
The Patriarchate of Moscow is no more Orthodox than it is American !!!
The bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate have deliberately violated the ancient Apostolic Canons, and have broken the Savior’s commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. The Moscow Patriarchate maintains a schismatic “Abkhaz Eparchy” in occupied Georgia, whose “bishop” is the defrocked Archimandrite Vissarion Aplia. During the August 2008 war, the Russian bishops Panteleimon of Karabadino-Adyghe and Theophan of Saratov publicly “blessed” the weapons used to murder innocent civilians and used to destroy the ancient Ghvrteaba Cathedral and the Shrine of the Protomartyr Razhden in Nikazi. These “blessings” were even televised in both Russia and Georgia. You can see the video yourself on You Tube at:
As Bishop Hilarion admitted, the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate serve the will of the totalitarian dictator Putin, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The photograph published in the London Telegraph this week tells all you need to know about contemporary Russia.
The racist violence in Russia has been deliberately organized by the Putin government with the blessing of the Moscow Patriarchate. The fascist youth group “Nashi” and the violent “Molodaya Gvardiya” claim Archdeacon Andrei Kuroyev as their “spiritual advisor”, appointed by the Patriarch. Thanks to the racist indoctrination carried out in these groups, hate crimes against “blacks” including murders are a daily fact of life in Russia. (Only in Russia would Caucasians be called “blacks”; but that is just part of the collective insanity in Russia today). The church sponsored “Brotherhood of Orthodox Believers” has organized vigilante gangs, who have burned mosques and carried out attacks on supposed “foreigners”.
Among our own circle, my wife and I know of two Georgians, both Russian citizens and life-long legal residents of Moscow, who were stabbed to death in broad daylight on their way home from work by skinhead gangsters. These kinds of hate crimes are never investigated, much less prosecuted.
The Orthodox Church in America is in real danger. Metropolitan Jonah is intent on submission to the Moscow Patriarchate, and ultimately to the Putin dictatorship.
The Orthodox people of this land should tell Metropolitan Jonah to change course immediately. If he refuses, then a financial and spiritual boycott of both Syossett and Crestwood is in order.
#33 Francis Frost on 2010-12-14 18:44
Check out Patriarch Kirril's appeal on the broadcast of Vesti, yesterday, maybe you will change your tired old tune.
#33.1 miles to go before i frost on 2010-12-15 16:27
Without prejudice to my dear friend Francis Frost's legitimate concerns with regard to the painful situation in Georgia, I have to say that I don't recall telling him anything which would suggest that the OCA's possible reintegration into the Church of Russia would result in the restoration of Fr Robert Kondratick to his former position as chancellor of the OCA, or to any other office.
What I DID intimate was that -- should the Church of Russia or even the Ecumenical Patriarch intervene on his behalf -- FrRK would be vindicated, and that the 'spiritual court' convened to try him would be exposed as corrupt and compromised, and that their verdict against him would be voided, and that FrRK would be reinstated as a priest.
If the OCA will not revisit and correct the misrepresentations and misunderstandings on which the 'spiritual court' made its decisions, on the strength of a 'directed verdict', and if the lies about FrRK magnified by the SIC are not refuted, then it will still be possible for the european patriarchates to review the charges falsely brought against him, and to adjudicate the whole affair.
#33.2 Monk James on 2010-12-15 22:01
Please explain how you categorize the spiritual court which tried Robert Kondratick as corrupt?
Am I to assume that all of the documentation supporting the spiritual court's decision was bogus and untrue?
How can you defend this man? Is it simply because he said to you he didn't do anything wrong?
I once again bring you back to the email discussions of long ago, between Richard Rock (the former vestment maker who interestingly wound up in Las Vegas doing whatever), who specifically told Kondratick via email, "Bobby, stop looking like you are guilty". Wasn't that in and of itself the real beginning of this whole fiasco? Why was Rock ever consulted by Kondratick in the first place? Wasn't there even discussion between them of creating a paper trail? These are documents which came directly from their emails. Should I assume that these were planted in their computers by the "corrupt" spiritual court? Come on.
I guess you've also forgotten the summer Paul Hunchak observed the shredder in Kondratick's office going like a bat out of you know where 24/7. I'll assume the activity Mr. Hunchak observed had absolutely nothing to do with a late spring cleaning either.
Why in the world would your friend be unable to offer the name of one person or organization who he helped with 9/11 funds the church collected? Was this due to a sudden lapse in memory?
Kondratick being reinstated? He's already been DEPOSED. He's not on suspension. The only ones at this point in time who could reinstate him are the members of the OCA's Holy Synod, and that's not happening.
Have a Blessed Nativity!
#33.2.1 michael geeza on 2010-12-21 19:22
I would rather trust that Fr. Fester is being moved to the Cathedral where +Jonah can better observe him for better or for worse and, depending on how the former behaves under more scrutiny, it could become a redemptive move for everyone.
(Editor's note: While redemption is a wonderful thing, it is not the reason Fr. Fester is being moved to the cathedral. According to an email sent to the parish yesterday, the Metropolitan explained that Fr. Fester's fund-raising abilities and his leadership skills manifested by his long years in Syosset are required at the Cathedral at this time in its history.)
#34 MichaelPatrick on 2010-12-14 19:21
I'm thanking our Editor for sharing nuggets from that email re Fr. Fester's transfer to St. Nicholas Cathedral. I wouldn't think that Fr. Fester's time at Syosset working w/R. Kondratick would be any kind of recommendation, given the great scandal and financial hardship the former-Chancellor's regime plunged us into. Obviously our Metropolitan doesn't share this thinking. Your Beatitude, it's just too soon. Too much. Our OCA is still healing - and Fr. Fester becoming Dean of the cathedral in DC doesn't feel like healing.
I am a parishioner of St. Nicholas Cathedral, and I am saddened at what I am reading here. Insinuations, backbiting, lack of forgiveness or forbearance, and a dearth of vision, confidence and the Spirit of unity: these are signs that the Deceiver has been at work. I don't say that anyone here has lied, but I do think some of us have been lied to, by our fantasies, our fears, our pride, and our human foolishness. So, to the extent anyone cares:
First, +Jonah has many years of work ahead of him. He went from priest and hieromonk to bishop to primate in 11 days. He will have triumphs, and he will make mistakes. This condition is referred to as 'being human'. He was the choice of the Holy Spirit acting through the Holy Synod in association with the AAC, and it is our obligation to pray for him, advise him, and support him. We must do so with confidence, IN confidence, and not with sniping. It is unbecoming. Our Lord Jesus Christ never sneered at anyone behind his back.
Second, with regard to Father Constantine, he has been part of the heart and soul of St. Nicholas Cathedral. He has also been my confessor. When we confess to someone, he does not just learn about us: we learn about him. Fr. Constantine is tough, smart, perceptive, challenging, kind, balanced and strong. I reject, as inconsistent with his character, allegations of dishonesty on his part. And I believe St. Matthew's will benefit from his experience mediating a multiplicity of different kinds of people. I believe St. Nicholas's should and will honor his service.
Third, with regard to our incoming dean, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." No specific credible allegation against Fr. Fester was made by the SIC. If guilt by association is to become the standard for condemnation, then every one of us, associating as we do daily and weekly with sinners, stands under equal judgment. “"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” As far as I am concerned, Fr. Fester comes to St. Nicholas Cathedral with my warm welcome and best wishes. I decline to assert things I don’t know, nor do I assume the right to judge him.
I find it ironic that hanging on a column in St. Nicholas Cathedral is an icon apparently donated by the Kondratick family. "RSK" is now trotted out above like a boogie-man, a stick to be conveniently wielded for beating out one's point, but we still see fit to keep and display something that came from his 'soiled' hands. Frankly, isn't it like that with every single one of us, and more to the point, shouldn't it be so, since God's power and love are more powerful than our human frailties?
We should pray for unity, forgive our own and each others' faults, speak the truth as we see it in love (and NOT in rage or hatred), support our leaders -- and then pray some more.
#35 Joseph on 2010-12-14 21:11
Just wait, the next step for Fr F will be Chancellor of the OCA. I'd bet that this is going to happen within a year.
#36 Annonymouse on 2010-12-14 21:49
Annonymouse wrote, "Just wait, the next step for Fr F will be Chancellor of the OCA. I'd bet that this is going to happen within a year."
Maybe, but, I'd lay money, if I had any, that Fr. David Brum will be the next chancellor. I'd also bet that he will be appointed as auxilliary bishop to the metropolitan.
No one wants Brum & no one wants Fester. THEY ARE DAMAGED GOODS! They both should thank God every day that they are allowed to serve anywhere. Brum will never be in a role of leadership and Fester should turn down + Jonah's appointment and stay in TX anywhere. There will be great trouble!
#36.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-12-16 12:59
Fr David Brum as auxilliary bishop? Hard to believe. I've seen priests in the Diocese of the West avoid being around him ...
#36.1.2 Anonymous on 2010-12-29 00:29
I vividly recall the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when it was announced in Pittsburgh that +Jonah was elected by the Holy Synod. I could not believe that so many were swayed by an eloquent speech instead of supporting the integrity and experience of a persecuted archbishop whose selfless stand made the election of a new primate possible. I repeatedly cannot help but wonder what might be had wisdom prevailed in Pittsburgh and +Job been elected. For one I do not believe he would have died in a hotel parking lot alone in Toledo.
That said, +Jonah, I believe is an honorable spiritual man, who given experience may prove to be an effective primate. That, however, is not yet evident. One positive sign he could be headed in the right direction was his decision to get Fr. Fester out of the south, allowing Bishop Mark the opportunity to see things through his own eyes and hear with his own ears.
As things now stand, His Beatitude needs fervent prayers and helpful encouragement and may Archbishop +Job's memory be eternal and may he pray for us before the heavenly throne.
#37 Priest Dunsel on 2010-12-14 23:44
If I remember correctly His Beatitude in his empashioned speech in Pittsburg referred to ..... as thieves and rapists.
So instead of a misguided clan we now have to bring them back to power ? Who is this guy Jonah serving anyway?
(Editor's note: You remember incorrectly. The Metropolitan stated that the "Church had been raped." He did not mention any names specifically. )
#38 Withhold on 2010-12-15 06:35
What we are seeing here is the need for a change in the Metropolitan of the OCA's "TENURE." At each general council of all the OCA, the people and bishops should vote on renewing the Met or installing a new Met. The people (delegates) and the bishops should have equal votes; not the bishops have a greater say-so than the people. This would make sure a "run-a-way" Met doesn't go rogue. What we are seeing here with + Jonah warrants such a change and this should be written into the By-Laws of the OCA immediately!
(Editor's note: It is the Bishops who elect a Metropolitan; the people nominate. Nor would I, for one, wish that changed. But your fundamental assertion is really interesting - is it possible for the head of a Synod to be termed, intstead of tenured by that very Synod ? Is there any reason that could not be done? In an age of increasing longevity, and the ills of old age more manifest ( dementia, feebleness, etc.), the Romans have required their bishops to retire at 75; but not their pope. That didn't work so well with JP II, for his final illness paralyzed his church for almost 2 years. The recent experience with Patriarch Pavle, who spent the several last years of his reign in a hospital bed, or of the late, demented Archbishop of Cyprus, are but two Orthodox examples. It is clear that Patriarchal systems would find term, not tenured, elections difficult. But we don't have a patriarchal system in the OCA.... It's an idea worth exploring, no?)
#39 Any Moose on 2010-12-15 08:10
You are correct! At every general assembly of the church, the Met's performance should be reviewed and he should be held responsible. Term limits don't need to be imposed, but a REAL "vote of confidence" is necessary. If he doesn't receive a true vote of confidence by both the people & the bishops, someone else should become Met. The former Met can take the new Met's diocese.
#39.1 Anonymous on 2010-12-15 10:30
Getting really late to this, but I think anonymous above has an idea!
Why not elect the Metropolitan to a five year term in reverse order of seniority? Then all the bishops would have a chance to 'run the church', and only if retired could they get out of the role?
All would look at their 'promotion' with trepidation, fear and trembling! and would govern appropriately.
PS Why so many anonymice? Are you fearful of ecclesiological cats?
#39.1.1 Rdr. James Morgan on 2010-12-27 17:22
Well, with this latest development nothing has changed for the top administration of the OCA. You might as well still have the former bishops (metropolitans) and former Chancellor Kondr. at the helm. There is no wonder why there is so much criticisim from other jurisdictions. Why would any jurisdiction want to join the OCA? If I had a vote Metropolitan Jonah and his "crony(ies) Fester and group would be out. This is why non-denominational groups are flowering in the US and their churches are growing like weeds. Corruption, power, and glory is still reigining with news of the entire administration moving to the most expensive area of the country. The OCA administration is confused about earthly glory and power, and the power of Christ and the Church. As Christians we are to reject the power and glory of earth and be humble and meek. Metropolitan Jonah was a huge mistake for the OCA!
#40 anonymous on 2010-12-15 09:31
If this news wasn't sufficiently galling, then there's the insult to injury of Metropolitan Jonah trying to shut down criticism of this (and, to a larger extent, all of his decisions) via the bully pulpit of the Archpastoral Address for this year's Nativity:
Too often, we allow ourselves to be blinded to the light of God’s presence. We become preoccupied with anger and pride, lusts and the desire for material things, and -- even worse -- gossip, slander, judgment, criticism, and condemnation of those whom we should accept as our brothers and sisters.
I don't think it's quite "reading between the lines" to see that Met. Jonah is calling out those who question his ability to lead, and effectively putting a gag order on them. Indeed, Met. Jonah suggests that criticism of his leadership is even worse than the carnal lusts or passions, or materialism. (Ha!)
Though Met. Jonah has consistently used the Archpastoral Address to call for an end to "negativity" and "criticism" of his leadership, I found that reading this letter was like a time-warp, back to the time of his predecessor.
Met. Herman's Archpastoral Address on the Beginning of Great Lent, 2006: How often we engage in "fasting bodily" while failing to "fast spiritually" by struggling to gain control of those things that we so easily and unwittingly allow to control us - our anger, our gossip, our grudges, our self-righteousness, our passions, and our desire to be seen and heard and recognized and justified.
It's impossible to disagree with what Met. Jonah and Met. Herman are saying, on the surface. However, I don't think its a gross assumption to interpret these words within their political context.
Met. Jonah is telling his critics: shut up.
Instead of providing an abundance of pastoral discrection and sensitivity to his national flock, by recognizing that Fester, Brum, and Kondratick are "damaged goods," Met. Jonah insists on scandalizing the OCA with decisions like these.
I watch these developments with incredulity and amazement, and wonder how much longer Met. Jonah can continue to scandalize his flock before he faces a backlash similar to the one against his predecessor.
I would greatly recommend Met. Jonah take to the airwaves and explain decisions like these. He could use a method he is comfortable with (like the OCA website, or an interview with Ancient Faith Radio) or perhaps something bolder, like a reflection on OCANews, or a new Archpastoral blog. But all of the above are unlikely, as the fundamentalists among us believe that our hierarchs are beyond reproach, and that the laity must simply accept these decisions, no matter how upsetting they may be. The OCA won't die under these conditions, but it certainly won't grow, either in spirit or in numbers.
#41 Nilus on 2010-12-15 09:52
I believe that I have seen this same speech or Nativity Greeting in almost every Bishop/Metropolitan/Archbishop's ?pasrtoral and monsatic Nativity Greeting and Lenten Greeting over the past 20 years. I believe it is because it is what we as Orthodox Christians need to look at as we focus on our own Salvation,We indeed should indeed "fast spiritually" struggling to gain control of those things that we so easily and unwittingly allow to control us - our anger, our gossip, our grudges, our self-righteousness, our passions, and our desire to be seen and heard and recognized and justified. A wise monk once told me the single rule of a Fast is "not to eat men". Perhaps if we were able to live the Gospel we would lose our passions and anger, our grudges, self rightiousness and succeed in living and exemplifying the Orthodox Christian life to others.
#41.1 Gunter on 2010-12-15 10:48
You are right. It is impossible to criticize the message in the pastoral letters. Well, that is, if we accept the teachings of the fathers.
Perhaps you feel the way you do because you see these things within yourself?
The Orthodox manner of interpretation is to let these words change our lives. We read the Gospel in order for the Gospel to transform our being. We take the words of homilies and allow them to transform us. We read pastoral messages and take what is good to heart. The rest fades away, and has no affect on us.
This is the feeling we have when reading your remarks. You have, in effect, said, "The church fathers were right. The Gospel message is right. But it does NOT apply in certain circumstances, especially when we feel self-righteous. When we deem others to be damaged goods, they ought not exist."
Why are you doing this? Do you really want to tempt your fellow readers of this website to be skeptical of the teachings of the church fathers? Why taint this firm foundation of our life in Christ?
The Christian has one task, and that is follow the ten commandments, with the first and second commandment being most important of all. We have to love ALL as Jesus Christ.
This is not the Metropolitan's church. This is not the Metropolitan Council's church. This is not your parish priest's church. This is God's church. Quit being so afraid.
(Editor's note: Dear Friend, if you think being a CHristian involves one task - and that is following the 10 commandment - I suggest you re-read St. Paul again, and the value of following the Law. You are correct that we have to love everyone - but that does not mean we have to agree, collaborate, refuse to discern or fail to resist wrong-doing out of "love". Nor is that fear. Often, it is wisdom. Let us all pray for discernment so as to more easily recognize the difference. )
#41.2 Hrmph. on 2010-12-15 11:37
Case in point: "Hrmph."'s comment.
Comments like these make my point for me, while also causing me to wonder: what does the typical OCA member see as "the firm foundation of our life in Christ." Odds are, it'd be a pretty disappointing answer...
#41.2.1 Nilus on 2010-12-16 12:34
Nilus, forgive me. Either you trust the actions of our hierarchy or you don't, and for me to expect that others will presume that the teaching of our hierarchy is rooted in the Gospel teaching may to some be presumptuous. But please to do not attempt to prove your mistrust of our hierarchy by injecting cynicism into the teachings of the church. You damage the faith and the faithful by doing so. You will reply by saying that the faithful need to be enlightened, and need to practice discernment. If you are so enlightened and filled with discernment, please make yourself available for the leadership of the church.
To be clear, the firm foundation of our life in Christ is the teaching of the church fathers, recapitulated in both of the Nativity greetings that you cited. I criticized your post, and now I criticize our editor's comment on my response, because these posts draw other readers away from the teachings of the spiritual life given by so many of the church fathers:
"Judge not, lest ye be judged."
We must avoid this at all cost. To disparage this teaching is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
Our editor has skewed my comments so that it appears that what I speak about is something other than that which Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospel according to Matthew has made so abundantly clear:
""You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Please tell me what in the writings of St Paul contradicts the quote of scripture I have just given, and the understanding that I expressed earlier about the other eight commandments? Remember, there is much more in the law than the ten commandments--Leviticus and Deutoronomy come to mind. Besides, our holy tradition includes the ten commandments in the prayer book many of us use for morning and evening prayers. Do you really want to go down the path of questioning the spiritual value of keeping these commandments?
Maybe somebody needs to clue me in, but I just don't understand why we, as Orthodox Christians, feel the need to attack the foundation upon which we stand? Don't turn the teachings of the church against others in the presumption of guilt. Such an action will condemn you.
(Editor's note: LOL. Any other straw men you would like to erect and tear down?)
#18.104.22.168 Hrmph. on 2010-12-16 23:21
I'll be happy to "clue you in."
Our foundation is Jesus Christ--not the hierarchy. Over the centuries the hierarchy has, more often than not, betrayed our Lord in thought, word, deed and action. The state of Christianity today reflects that betrayal, and it will not be healed by lay silence and passivity, as you so inappropriately counsel.
We are all sinners and flawed human beings in need of forgiveness and redemption. But we are also all called to witness to the Truth, as best as we can discern it, as rational members of His body and flock. The hierarchy has its role to play--but it is one of service and sacrifice, which only then can result in true leadership.
#22.214.171.124.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-12-17 08:13
One thing is without question based solely upon reading this chain of responses. Healing and prayer is needed for those writing here. I do not say that to silence or to shame. While still an abbot in a mouldy
California monastery, +Jonah showed he was willing to listen and participate in church intrigues. As a result, his blessing to live as a monk has been taken from him until he retires. This is a good work in discovering his vocation ... the Church is a body and not all are called to be the heart. It is a mistake to think that the heart is a higher calling than some other part of the body ... that is the way the world considers such things. +Jonah's highest good is to attend to what God would have him do and not what some other man such as +Job is called to. It is probable that if +Job had been made metropolitan, the OCA would have been immediately bereft by his death. To speculate that +Job would not have died if made metropolitan is simply speculation and I would suggest not fruitful at that.
It has occurred to me (again and again) that holiness is not necessarily linked with administrative ability. It need not be exclusive. Stewardship and spiritual discernment on matters of personnel are not unholy. It is clear that our demands on the man who serves as bishop or metropolitan require not making everyone pleased. The greatest failure of administrators is saying yes to everyone until hell rains down.
+Job was beloved of God and man. Similarly, +Basil is beloved of God and man and has been enabled to grow into such a man in the care of a loving diocese ... while +Philip has foundered in a sea of unlove. It is not difficult to discern the unlove and fearfulness on the greater OCA playing field if the concerns represented in this thread are at all representative. I'm not saying that those who become metropolitan deserve what they get but I am suggesting that success, both from a visible, worldly viewpoint and a spiritual one, depend on both the man and the flock. Perhaps +Jonah, like President Obama, is finding the office is not as touted, the most powerful and influential (much less a reward or recognition of holiness) ... but a kind of prison made of physical and spiritual threats, surrounded by intrigue and scheming.
There is a reason that we pray for our leaders. It is a good work so perhaps each of us could incorporate into our daily petitions, a prayer for our metropolitan, that he together with us, be upheld together in God's love. According to God's grace, may we receive better than we deserve.
#42 Monologistos on 2010-12-16 09:11
I have to say that once again the manner in which Metropolitan Jonah gives out information is very troublesome. He seems to have his mind made up regardless of what anyone else may think. A few posts back someone suggested that the metropolitan get his message out however he is most comfortable. I, for one, agree with the suggestion. A kind of fireside chat would be very helpful.
I just have to say that it is very scary that Metropolitan Jonah doesn't like to go to Syosset (where his administrative staff work the last time I checked). What the heck is he doing then? And this idea of him spending his time in DC and New York sounds vaguely similar to another former metropolitan who spend half his time in NY and the other half in South Canaan, PA. As I recall there was an enormous request for Metropolitan Herman to pick one location because of the idiocy of the OCA paying for two locations. Funny how history has a way of repeating itself.
And to beat this just a little further, what about the staffing if Metropolitan Jonah follows through with this? Will there be Chancellor Garklavs in New York and Consigliere Fester in DC? Is this the vision of the OCA? Is the vision of the future of the OCA to have two headquarters then?
Someone has to stop the lunacy. The OCA by law must be headquartered in New York until such time as the OCA reincorporates in another state. Instead of trying to get new monks from the old country, he ought to be working on finding a good non-profit attorney before the OCA runs afowl of the IRS and the state of New York when Metropolitan Jonah moves everything to Washington, DC.
The Holy Synod of the OCA has its work cut out for it. Once again, we have a metropolitan who likes the white hat but doesn't seem to want to do the work and take the full responsibility that comes with it, i.e. living and working in Syosset, NY.
#43 Anonymous on 2010-12-16 14:25
Metropolitan Jonah splitting his time between Syosset and Washington is nothing at all like Metropolitan Herman dividing his time between South Canaan and Syosset. Washington is Metropolitan Jonah's see and home; Metropolitan Jonah will spend a significant amount of his time within the boundaries of his diocese, maintaining his home in the diocese, as called for by the canons. Metropolitan Herman spent very little time within the boundaries of his diocese and his home was certainly not within the boundaries of his diocese.
You are correct in citing a need to modify the governing documents of the OCA. That is something that should have been done when Metropolitan Theodosius was made the Archbishop of Washington ... but apparently was never considered all that important by the powers that be. Perhaps losing our tax-exempt status might drive home the folly of that sort of continuing attitude.
#43.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2010-12-18 13:26
If all the 'anonymouses on this list would speak up and use their real names (those on both sides of the Fester/Jonah fence particularly) I would tend to give them more credence. what do you people have to be afraid of here in the pleasant pastures of the OCA? It was understandable under more unpleasant times and places (the deserts of Englewood, and the forests of Swaikostan) but now it seems we are all free citizens. Hiding behind pseudonyms does not become the heroic Orthodox witness!
I didn't know any of the other actors (Brum, Fester, etc) but I do know our current Metropolitan and I think he's basically a good guy, and a real monastic to boot! Lets give him some slack and pray real hard for him, OK?
rdr. James Morgan
#44 Rdr. James Morgan on 2010-12-16 17:35
My good friend, Monk James has chosen to question my recollection of our past conversations. I would gently remind Fr. James, that my character is attested to by professional licensing boards in two states and by multiple professional accrediting organizations. My candor can be verified by many of the Orthodox clergy as I have served on parish councils and sung as a cantor in three parishes over the past 4 decades. Fr. James, on the other hand, has twice published sensational accusations against members of the hierarchy on this very web-site: accusations that he was unable to substantiate with evidence.
As for the tragedy in Georgia, Fr James, like so many others, tries desperately to avoid calling the Russian aggression what it is: a crime against humanity. The catastrophe in Haiti was a tragedy. The twenty years of military attacks on civilian targets, ethnic cleansing and the destruction of two entire Orthodox Christian dioceses, is genocide - a crime against God and a crime against man. What is more, these crimes were aided and publicly blessed by the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate. The tragedy is that our Orthodox leadership is incapable of telling the truth about this great sin because they fear man more than they fear God. That, my friends, is the real tragedy.
The people of the OCA need to remember one thing: the crisis regarding the unaccounted ADM funds occurred because the leaders of the OCA chose to act as intermediaries between American investors and the Russian church and the Russian government. The one greatest truth about the scandal was the defendant’s statement: “but that’s how it’s done in Russia”. If Metropolitan Jonah succeeds in dragging the OCA back under the shadow of the MP, then the people of the OCA can expect the behavior of the prior administration to once again become the standard operating procedure of the OCA’s administration.
#45 Francis Frost on 2010-12-16 19:43
Church accountant accused of embezzling more than $2 million
By LEWIS GRISWOLD - McClatchy Newspapers
FRESNO, CALIF. A woman who hosted formal tea parties for the women of Visalia First Assembly of God church was arrested Thursday on suspicion of embezzling more than $2 million from the church, where she worked as the accounting manager for 13 years.
Sandra Arreola, 51, who moved to Palm Desert, Calif., last year, turned herself in Thursday morning to police in Visalia, Calif. She was charged with embezzlement, money-laundering and a white-collar crime enhancement. Her arrest came after an 18-month investigation.
Arreola is being held on $1 million bail. Her arraignment is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
From 2003 to early 2009, Detective Kevin Kroeze said, Arreola swiped $2.1 million from collection plates, averaging nearly $7,000 a weekend. Police said she used the money to buy businesses and property - including a place on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The losses went unnoticed for years because the church, one of the largest in the city, failed to conduct regular and thorough audits, police said.
Pastor Mike Robertson said at a news conference Thursday that he ordered an internal audit after joining the church staff in February 2008. Irregularities prompted the church to hire a Los Angeles-based certified public accounting firm that specializes in auditing large churches.
Arreola "became uncooperative with the auditors and then resigned her position in 2009 before the audit was complete," Robertson said.
Police were notified in July 2009.
New procedures - including installing security cameras - have been put into place since to prevent fraud, the pastor said.
Church officials told members last year that money was missing.
Money might have been taken prior to 2003, but the audit only covered 2003 to 2009, Robertson said.
"My initial reaction was of sadness," he said. "How could anyone who attends our church do something like that?"
Those who know Arreola from church said they liked her.
Arreola was "always willing to help" and "a lovely hostess," said church member Becky Maze.
"One of the things she was well-known for was liking to have a tea for the women, and making the little cookies and desserts - the froufrou kind of things," Maze said.
Arreola's Facebook page shows a drawing of a teapot pouring tea into a cup.
Another church member who asked not to be identified described Arreola as "loving" and caring."
The motive for the alleged embezzlement is unknown, police said.
"There's no drug use, no gambling" as far as officers know, Kroeze said.
But the money is now gone, he said, spent on the businesses and the properties, which are all in foreclosure.
An insurance policy covered $500,000 of the loss, the pastor said.
Arreola has cooperated with police, Kroeze said.
Visalia First Assembly kept good records but had not done a thorough audit in several years, he said.
The church draws about 3,500 congregants each weekend, with three services on Sunday and one on Saturday. Its annual budget is $5 million.
The number of churches victimized by fraud appears to have increased in recent years, said Phill Martin, deputy director of the National Association of Church Business Administration in Richardson, Texas.
"People who get started in this, they never mean to do this," Martin said. Often they get behind on mortgage payments or medical bills and "borrow" the money with the intent of paying it back the next month - then it spins out of control, he said.
Pastor Brian Malison of Christ Lutheran Church in Visalia said 85 percent to 90 percent of a church's revenue comes from the offering plate. Churches should conduct an internal audit yearly and arrange for an outside audit every three to four years, he said.
Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/12/16/1775128/church-accountant-accused-of-embezzling.html#ixzz18PCXnuZO
#46 Anonymous on 2010-12-17 14:08
I would like to believe that spirituality, righteousness, and cleanliness are the order of the day for our church, but some clergy have acted with profane secularism as evidenced since all the financial scandals have sadly befallen our church over the past many years. The apple does not fall far from the tree, and I am afraid many will be leaving St. Nicholas with pain and sadness as my family will to find another spiritual home. This was our home long before the Syosset scandal and subsequent tumultuous time, and now we have to feel the effects for something in which we had no involvement. +Jonah should be in Washington, however, all changes or re-allignments are not for the best. It seems as though the welfare of the flock was not taken into account and there is innocent collateral.
#46.1 Distressed in DC on 2010-12-20 11:28
I don't see any nefarious motives in the transfers. First, I think that Archbishop Mark will be a huge asset to the OCA. In fact, if anything, it reaffirms the Metropolitan's commitment to the OCA being a distinctly American church, because wasn't it Archbishop Mark that championed distinctly American bridges to those Americans who sought a home in Orthodoxy? In domino effect, the diocese of the South no longer needed Father Joseph as administrator for the diocese of the South. Also, it is a fact that St. Nicholas Cathedral in DC has been operating on a deficit the last year or two, so the stated reason for the transfer being for Father Joseph to apply his skills to get the cathedral on sound fiscal footing fits with the facts. And no, it is not carnal to want the cathedral to be on sound financial footing. We don't need a financial powerhouse, but we need a sound financial foundation.
Regarding autocephaly, it occurs to me that somewhere in the Metropolitan's speaches or writings I think I have heard or seen him extol the unique virtue of the OCA as being a uniquely American church with no ties to a government. If someone is good at research and can find this, it might be useful to post on this thread.
The OCA is virtually unique in that we have restored the pre-Constantine purity to the church, at least as regards eliminating the unholy alliance between the church and state. That alliance was a perverse innovation in the fourth century, and it is about time that we return to the purity of the ancient tradition. Spiritual battles should be fought spiritually, while worldly battles are fought with the sword. If any leader attempts to re-establish that unholy relationship in the OCA, hell hath no fury like the resistance they will encounter by faithful men and women in our denomination. Given the recent WikiLeaks revelation, which we all suspected but it is still disturbing to see it documented, it would be particularly perverse to even consider coming back under the Moscow patriarchy. I think that's the farthest thing from the Metropolitan's mind.
Speaking of fighting spiritual battles spiritually, before we speculatively assume the worst possible motives to those whose motives we have no possible way of knowing, I suggest that we remmeber that whatever standard we apply to our brother, God will apply to us. If we assume the worst possible interpretation of other's motives, do we really want God to assume the worst possible interpretation of our motives at the dread judgment seat of Christ? Stating facts is fine, and discussing what is proper faith and practice is fine, but before judging other's motives on this board, I suggest first praying "Lord have Mercy on me, a sinner, for assuming the worst in my brother" 1000 times, and then see whether we still are led to post our judgmental speculation.
(Editor's note: Clearly, you do not know the Metropolitan's mind, for he has spoken of this to many, and it is not speculation. Let those who have ears, hear.)
#47 Ken Miller on 2010-12-19 20:19
I find the concept of moving the headquarters to Washington D.C. extremely troubling.
Given the Metropolitan's political statement with the Manhattan Declaration and his failure to support the healthcare initiatives with the guidance from the 10th AAC, can anyone wonder why I'd be concerned? The churches clear guidance of the 10th AAC was that people should have heathcare regardless of their financial wherewithall, but he was silent. It was more important to talk about what the church wouldn't do visavie homosexual marriage as if the US government would magically refute the constitution and force churches to marry gays which is more absurd than Muslim pork sandwiches.
For me, the church has been the one place I could call a refuge from the madness of the world. Not so with the ManDec, and then Not so with the silence on healthcare. Should I expect not so again with a move to Washington?
Some of you know I personally think abortion should be legal. I also think it is right the church condemn it. I also don't think the church should use it's resources to fight abortion's legal status. I also have no problem with the church using some of its resources to condemn it. But if you asked 100 OCA members, there would be different views and different amounts, etc. Many of those that would not want it legal would also not want the church to use its money in a fight, but some would, for example.
My reasons for condemning a move to Washington were best stated by Fr. Bobosh in a recent comment and I might be parsing his words a bit, but they are truly deep wisdom on this matter and capture the depth of my concerns. Fr. Bobosh is discussing symphony between government and the church, he was originally referring to Constantinople.
"Ever changing historical realities reveal exactly how symphony hurts the mission of the Church by entangling it in the intrigues of the kingdoms of this world"
Wow, that is deep stuff, but very, very important to hear.
So, is moving to Washington important to be on the stage of US policymaking? Is it to get involved in political gamesmanship on the abortion issue, or gay marriage, or healthcare-heaven forbid the poor get that? Is that part of the churches strategic plan (was that the part MJ contributed heavily to?)
I think Fr. Bobosh nailed it and I pray the Synod and the Council and Metropolitan Jonah recognize why the church should really not be based in DC.
A mild disclaimer now...most organizations would start a discernment effort to aid in a decision for a move. The discernment would look at all factors like money, strategy, operating costs, etc. It would not be done because the new leader wants to.. Now, if a discernment group decided DC was best, how in the world would the church stay out of the manure?
Finally, the OCA would shatter under any reversion to Moscow or any overseas rule. I doubt our Metropolitan is that foolish.
#48 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-12-19 23:11
There is absolutely no reason to move the OCA's hdqrts to Wash., D.C. In fact, this is a ridiculous notion. We really can't expect the U.S. to emulate Byzantium and need the head of the OCA to be our nation's capitol. This is just silly in a govt which tries to divorce itself from any one predominant religion. Yet, the Nation's Cathedral is Episcopal and the U.S. was founded upon the Protestant ethic. In any event, NYC is the "Capitol of the World." All the more reason the OCA hdqrts should remain in the NYC area. NYC is where all the nations of the world meet and where Orthodoxy interfaces with all nationalities & faiths. NYC is the proper place for the OCA head!
#49 Anonymous on 2010-12-20 10:02
As a rule I do not engage in these blog threads -- especially on this site. Also as a rule, I try not to weigh in on this I don't know about -- but I know Fr. Fester and his body of work in the DOS, and the truth here warrents speaking.
For those of you who continually cry out for us to stand up when those around us are in error, I agree. That's why I think it only right to state that Fr. Fester is a good man, a wonderful priest and his work in the DOS fulfills the high priestly calling. He protects the hurting and the needy, he encourages the weak, he challenges the strong to serve, and he steps in the line of fire at every turn for his flock.
Those who say otherwise are either anonymous or not part if Fr. Joe's parish. I will not lie, there are those who don't like Fr. Fester... but in every situation I have witnessed it has been because he did the right and difficult thing for the sake of the parish. I have seen him make Godly and selfless decisions time and time again; without fanfare and hope of the spotlight. Doesn't that speak to his integrity?
It also bears noting that Fr. Fester's tenure in the South has witnessed greater fiscal and administrative transparency than any other parish or organization than I have every seen. This transparency has increased during his time here. Being a "financial powerhouse" that the DOS Treasurer mentioned means that the DOS has increased mission plants and agressively paid down debts in the midst of an unstable economy.
I am all for accountability, but this site has not about accountability but about judging our brothers and sisters in Christ. I appreciate much of the news on this site, but have serious reservations about what it adds to the health of the Kingdom.
For those at St. Nicolas' who might be able to hear in this cacophony, listen to those who know Fr. Fester: you will be blessed to be under his stewardship.
Let's all go back to our parishes, our priests, and our prayer corners with renewed fevor to hold OURSELVES accountable.
As HB says, "mercilously persecute hypocrisy within ourselves".
#50 Jesse Cone on 2010-12-20 11:55
I do not doubt your perspective. For those of who have been on the receiving end of Fester's past duplicity, we have a different experience with him. If he is attempting to make amends in your midst, that's good. He needs to reach back now and deal with his past misdeeds and poor judgment. One can start digging into this in the SIC report which I had no hand in whatsoever. Fester is trying to gloss over some very big sins that require repentance. While he is due personal forgiveness like everyone, that doesn't mean we give him leadership positions in return for such misdeeds. That is misguided. The OCA needs to stop making such poor decisions about it's priorities.
#50.1 Anon. on 2010-12-20 19:57
For those who do know +Jonah's mind, would it be asking too much to have that mind repeated? Is it possible we are basing our knowledge of his mind upon listening to his passing remarks among friends? It seems to be the hallmark of the inexperienced to speak aloud ideas crossing the mind without necessarily being wedded to those ideas. Nepsis is warranted even in healthy community. (I know this only from having watched myself thoughtlessly blurt out foolishness again and again because my mind is disconnected from the deep heart to my shame.) On the other hand, if exploratory remarks are made to friends who abuse that trust for the sake of appearing to have one's finger on the pulse of things, discernment is required. I sometimes joke that I dwell in eternity ... but eternity does not fill me in on administrative details, dates and times. It certainly isn't given to me to micromanage the metropolitans of the Orthodox faith and I am reminded of Ignatius' letter to Polycarp where it is said that if a man reckons himself greater than the bishop, he is ruined. It does remind me that God's timing is perfect and even I might be brought to repentance.
It really isn't possible to construct what is actually going on from this chain of comments and I'm left wondering if anyone knows. The chief thing seems to be judging that everyone else is in peril for judging or not judging and fretting that the church is at the very edge of apocalypse. I truly hate to say that I am more impatient, irritable and judging than would be good for any one. Yet, some things are becoming clear. Why does someone not ask +Jonah what his intentions are? If you believe he cannot be trusted or is incapable of speaking his heart, build your case for this reasoning upon facts and present them. There is a logical possibility that plans are not announced because they are not yet our business. I'm not claiming that is the case but it should be said.
(Editor's note: There will be a posting tomorrow that will offer more of the Metropolitan's comments - and thus his mind - at a recent diocesan assembly. )
#51 Monologistos on 2010-12-21 09:54
I don't mean to make light of your painful experience, but I wonder how what you are referring to pertains to this discussion. Do you mean to tell me that you personally have suffered directly from Fr. Fester's "confidant" status, or some other alleged misconduct that might be inferred from the SIC? That seems unlikely. Or is it that he has harmed you pastorally in the past -- in which case this is not what is being discussed here. Moreover this is not the forum to voice complaints about clergy, valid or not.
I'm sure that there is any number of clergy that have sinned against their brethren and flock, and the accountability that this forum (at it's best) can provided is not a place to voice our complaints, hold on to and share our resentments, and pose a hurdle to overcome in reconcilliation.
I fail to see how any of us can responsibly say whether or not Fr. Fester is trying to gloss over anything, and I fail to see how Fr. Fester's assignment to DC has received any credible objections. Suspicions? Sure. But if you're not in a place to know, you don't know. And if you do know for sure, what would give just reason to accuse a member of the priesthood? If you cannot even sign your name to such an accusation, is it really responsible to publically denounce a fellow Christian and stir up suspicion and distrust in others?
Keep in mind, this is a person you speak of, with a wife and family and hundreds of parishoners that love him.
#52 Jesse Cone on 2010-12-21 12:01
Fester is a public figure by his choice. My identity is irrelevant. Your argument that public figures get the privilege of being treated like private parishioners is misdirected. Focus instead on this public figure's past behavior for which he has yet to account. The answer to your questions about my experiences are yes, first hand knowledge. He was not my priest. I have no interest or intention in subjecting myself and my family to Fester & Co's disingenuous representations once again. What were they? Follow the SIC trail. Those will be sufficient to reveal my grievances. Fester got off lightly only because he was not the focus of the probe; not because he was not culpable.
#53 Anon. on 2010-12-21 21:08
There are various reasons for wishing to remain anonymous. If "Fester and Co." pose no real threat to oneself or one's loved ones, it seems to me it would be better to remain silent than to make subtle references to accusations anonymously. Does Fester threaten anyone's lives or livelihoods? I don't know but presumably someone here knows. Inconvenience is not sufficient.
Forgiving is the work of our life ... If your anger and unforgiveness is for "Fester and Co" or for Metropolitans Jonah or Philip or your neighbor who votes differently or even a clergyman who molested your child, a gangster who killed your family or whatever, it is best to begin that work *now*. Fast from unforgiveness. Do you not know that to choose sin is to be apart from our Lord? Sin is death. Though the effort of forgiving cause your heart and mind to break and you to die, that would be better than hardening your heart against heaven for the sake of hell. I have only begun to forgive but I say this flatly in hope that you do not lose years upon years of the precious time you have been given. Let it not be that you are so miserly of love that you might as well have died years ago. There is also Love in the world. Sure, put back your ears like a donkey being goaded where he would not go. That's me. Then take up your cross.
(Editor's note: Friend, you have confused forgiveness with imprudence. No one has suggested not forgiving anyone connected with the Syosset scandals of the RSK regime. But is it prudent to put the same people back in positions of responsibility, subjecting them to the same temptations, after they have betrayed and misused those offices once before? I think not. Is that anger? No, that is prudence - and good stewardship, and care.)
#53.1 monologistos on 2010-12-26 21:14
"But is it prudent to put the same people back in positions of responsibility, subjecting them to the same temptations, after they have betrayed and misused those offices once before? I think not. Is that anger? No, that is prudence - and good stewardship, and care."
And, dear Editor, it is love and care for those very people ... how is it forgiveness to give a recovering alcoholic the keys to the liquor cabinet and to walk away?
Forgiveness cannot be separated from love, and love requires that we show care and respect for the demonstrated weaknesses of others.
Putting people back into situations that led them into temptation is neither love nor forgiveness -- it is playing make believe with people's lives and is an affront to truth.
#53.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-01-25 10:40
I look forward to learning Metropolitan Jonah's reasons for moving the headquarters to Washington. However, once again I find it ironic that the place where I have to learn about them is from this website. God bless Mark Stokoe for his untiring efforts.
It just amazes me that as smart as the metropolitan is, he does not communicate more effectively with the OCA faithful. He has been talking about moving to Washington almost since he was chosen to be metropolitan. He has been counseled repeatedly by his administration, the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council about the many issues and difficulties associated with a move to Washington and has stubbornly ignored them.
Just a few of the many issues:
The OCA is chartered as a not for profit in New York, not Washington.
The Chancellor, Secretary and Treasurer all live and work in the New York area.
All of the current administrative staff live and work in New York.
The archives reside in New York.
The External Affairs officer resides in New York.
The headquarters of the Greek, Antiochian, Russian Patriarchal, and ROCOR jurisdictions all reside in the New York area.
The largest OCA seminary is in the New York area.
The records of everything from parishes, clergy, financial, legal, administration, etc. all reside in New York.
The headquarters in Syosset, NY is an old estate that while not in the best condition is still worth millions.
Here are just a few reasons why now is not the time to move:
There is no money to move the records.
There is no infrastructure in Washington to hold this information.
There is no infrastructure in Washington to house the administration.
There is no indication that any of the officers of the church are even willing to move to Washington.
Does anyone remember how much difficulty was associated with getting the current administration in place?
Believe it or not, I couldn't care less where the metropoltan wants his headquartes to be, I just think that he has a duty and responsibility to make a well-reasoned choice and it needs to involve all concerned. Finally, it should also be realistic.
I look forward to seeing what Mark has to post about this plan of the Metropolitan and I hope that it answers just a few of these issues.
#54 Anon. on 2010-12-22 06:41
I must say I don't understand where some of the comment I've read in this thread are coming from, at least not entirely.
The one issue I agree that I would hope more information would be forthcoming on is the situation and reasoning with respect to R. Kondratick. Something definitely has to have gone on behind closed doors that the general membership of the OCA has not been made privy to. There may indeed be good and sound reason but given past history and its wounds more transparency here would be welcome.
With respect to Fr. Joseph Fester, I'm not so inclined to suspicion or outrage. He is well spoken of by every priest know personally who knows him. St. Seraphim's parish in general seems to have been happy with his labors for the Diocese of the South, so all I can conclude is this. If in the past he was somehow substantially involved in the fiscal wrongdoing that took place in the OCA then he was given a second chance and has demonstrated his repentance, or he was alway a good and honest servant, if not always a brave one who in the past saw no fruitful opportunity to bring to light what did know in a way that would have made things better, so he bided his time. With a new Metropolitan he had the opportunity to begin anew and do the good he had always wanted to do but was constrained beforehand. I simply do not see in his situation some covert return of an "evil" old guard.
With respect to his Beatitude and his administration of the OCA, it is here some of the comments strike me as the most troubling. First, the issue of moving the OCA headquarters is an administrative affair and as stated earlier he's basically restoring an earlier ordering of the dioceses that was changed under the former Metropolitan. The only legitimate complaint I've seen on this front is a question of cost. We are not a rich jurisdiction, and such a move if made should be as fiscally conservatively as is practical. But even so, once it's done, its done.
Secondly, and most importantly to me is the anger I see directed at the Metropolitan for his supposedly wanting to radically change/get rid of the OCA and of somehow becoming some sort of sock puppet for Russian interests. Such anger I do not think is warranted. Take the issue of the OCA as a jurisdictional institution. His Beatitude has day one indicated that the Orthodox witness in North America including the particular witness of the OCA does not need that the OCA survive in its current form. We need a canonically sound jurisdictional unity on this continent that is faithful to the witness lived out here from the time of the first Russian missionaries. That, it seems to me is the Metropolitan's ultimate aim, and always has been. So i don't see any moves that might in time result in the dissolution of the OCA as a jurisdictional entity if it results in its merger with/incorporation into/creation of a more canonically consistent Orthodox jurisdiction as problematic. It is in itself a joyful prospect. Finally we have a Metropolitan who is willing to take on this great and complicated issue head on and do what is right, even if what is right involves some pain. So, as much as I love the OCA, I love it because it is Orthodox, and if the faith is better served by some new larger fuller jurisdiction as its successor then Glory to God.
Now, if that means taking a step back with the Russian Church and our tomos, then that of course would require much thought and prayer, but insofar as our tomos is tainted in the eyes of a number of other Orthodox Churches, rightly or wrongly, is it not ours to do with as is right? Is it conceivable that it could be voluntarily surrendered if what comes out of it is a stronger Orthodox witness in North America? Granted there are big risks involved with that, but I don't think that means it should be off the table for consideration.
The Russian question is a thorny one and our beloved Metropolitan I hope would be very careful here. Russian bishops are used to high stakes national politics with respect to the Church. We, on the other hand have very little experience or history of that sort of thing here. It is in this arena that His Beatitude will have a very steep learning curve, no doubt. That said, I understand and largely sympathize with what may be regarded as His Beatitudes Russian leanings. After all, the OCA is a daughter church of the Russian Church. We've common history. His spiritual father is at Valamo, If I'm not mistaken, so it is to be expected that the Metropolitan would have very warm feelings for the Russian Church. It is also to be expected that a substantial amount of the counsel he receives from his spiritual father will be rooted in the Russian Orthodox experience.
It must be noted that the Russian experience, indeed pretty much the rest of Orthodox history in the world's experience knows nothing of the concept of the separation of Church and state. That is largely an American phenomena and has its roots in the historical religious hodgepodge of American society. The ultimate wisdom of it is debatable. It seems to me for all the good that has come of it, at least as much evil has attended to it as well insofar as it became a tool of forced secularization of the public square, and is increasingly becoming a tool of censorship and repression of religious speech. So I do not take any alarm from the fact that the Russian Church is regaining its place in the public sphere in there society, and any of that sensibility is spiritually profitable to the administration of our Metropolitan then Glory to God.
Finally, let me address the question of Russia itself with respect to the Metropolitan and the OCA. The question I think is larger than the person of Putin, of the particular political perspectives of high placed Russian clergy, either now or later. Humans are going to err, and some are going to sin, and some will do both in their association with the Church and its mission. Russia's got its problems, no doubt. But if we are Orthodox then we cannot look with hostility on Russia even if we feel the need to challenge its conscience from time to time. The Saints across the centuries have spoken at length about the vital role that Russia will play with respect to the the guardianship and desemination of the faith in the end times. They speak of the troubles and challenges it will face on the way to fulfilling that destiny. Russia's got some rough times ahead, but her faith will be her bulwark, and for a season that faith will shine out over the world. We in the OCA together with ROCOR are united to that heritage and that destiny. So I feel no umbrage whatsoever when I see or even hear of our Metropolitan forging closer ties…even if at some point it might mean placing the OCA back under the MP in some degree. In the end I trust God, and I trust that the Holy Spirit guided the OCA correctly in the choice of her Metropolitan.
He does not fail as Metropolitan if the OCA merges with another or another merges with her, nor does he fail if he feels it best to reset our status with the MP and the rest of world Orthodoxy and start anew without the complications that arose during the soviet times. He does not fail if he puts the OCA's financial house in order even it it involves putting to work the skills of servants who were less than faithful in the past but who with proper supervision can do the job. He fails if he does not teach, live, and bear witness to the fullness of the Orthodox faith as God gives him grace.
As things stand, while there are a few points of concern…for this particular member of the OCA, as strange as my views might seem to some, I am very pleased with and grateful for the leadership shown by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah. And as for the negative comment about his monastic inclinations in governance, I hope he can establish a hundred thriving monasteries, if that's what is on his heart to do and what it takes to deepen the Orthodox witness here in North America. I'm glad we've got serious monastic on the throne. I don't expect him to be perfect or to always get every practical thing right…I expect him to try though, and to correct himself when he learns to do something better. So far as I can tell, he's done just that. Many years to him.
#55 Robert Hegwood on 2010-12-22 13:30
I think your views are not the norm.
Most people I know in the OCA want nothing to do with the Russian patriarchy and it would be a disaster to place 'the OCA back under the MP in some degree'.
Not one person that I know of (perhaps I just don't know as I'm not well schooled on these things) has done a serious risk-benefit effort on any change to the way Orthodoxy is operating on this continent. Frankly, my intuition tells me if tomorrow, you rolled out a new plan with an American patriarch and all the churches here were no longer 'under' a foreign patriarch, you'd have a complete collapse of the church. Why? The idea the Greeks wouldn't have a Greek bishop, or the Arabs in Detroit wouldn't have an Arab bishop isn't going to bode well with anyone. I think the Antiochians have already proven that theory in the last 3 months! The only way to truly deal with the "problem" of overlapping jurisdictions is to grow past fiefdom logic. It doesn't matter to anyone but the people that are bothered by it!
What do I mean by collapse? I'd be willing to bet half of all US parishoners would change the way they contribute and participate. It is just my hunch, it'd probably be higher. I can imagine all sorts of odd things happening, like requiring English only services for those now that don't. It'd be great for me, but fast watch the half number flop go to 80% in some churches.
And, by the way, just try to see what happens if we return to the Moscow Patriarchy. Can you say financial collapse three times fast? Many churches would withhold assessments. I was a guy who argued against doing it until a few items were met in the last financial problem. I'd be all for it in this hypothetical situation.
Do you know how many people are on the edge of church participation already? All you need to do is crazy, nonsensical, bizarre redefining of the church and they won't bother to continue. I'd be on that list. My church life has always been halftime at best, I don't need financial misconduct and power struggles to give me reasons to go fishing on Sunday with the kids instead. [I do like fishing too much] People can say what they want about me and what kind of participant I am, but noone can say I'm not honest.
In this lofty goal of making all past wrongs right, nobody has really taken the hard look at what a return to fiefdom styled leadership would cause. Perhaps I could have more properly used a higher vocabulary, but for the edification of others.
On the benefit side, there are only a few I can think of and they are more subjective than the risks. I suppose you'd get rid of foreign meddling in US churches theoretically, but you'd still have bad bishops, and theoretically, you'd have more concentrated power for one person (oh yeah, that isn't a benefit for clergy or laity is it?). Perhaps an American Patriarch would have a higher degree of recognition, but I doubt it.
There are probably a few well learned Orthodox persons that could do a much better job of risks versus benefits, but so far, noone has told me where to look or even that they have looked.
There is nothing wrong with today's methods in the US unless you can't handle life beyond fiefdoms.
Our young Metropolitan doesn't seem wise enough to see it.
I'd say pray for him to know the serenity prayer. He shouldn't participate in anything where he is treated differently than any other Orthodox Metropolitan (unless the pastrami is really good). If he isn't given a chance to speak or vote or participate, that'd be that part of the prayer where you have the wisdom to know you ought not trouble yourself when you can't effect change.
I'm not trying to belittle your comments or the Metropolitan, just trying to share my distant (ahemm) views and hope they land on ears that hear. Our Metropolitan could change the way the rest of the Orthodox world view the churches here, he could actually argue the canons didn't account for something as special as what happened here. Instead of defining the Americas as a problem, he could hold them up as a shining example of Orthodoxy.
How truly horrible it is that we have some many overlapping jurisdictional boundaries. Yes, just awful it is.. Open your eyes people, ain't a bit of it bad that I've seen in my small world.
I've enjoyed Baklava and Kyrie Eleison, I've enjoyed the Serbian church, I've enjoyed the Ukranians (yes, even the meat eating during Lent, heaven forbid!) All this within 30 minutes of each other, hooray!
It ain't a problem, it is a gift.
#55.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-01-26 21:48
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