St. Catherine the Great Martyr Representation Church
Your Holiness, Reverend Hierarchs, Your Excellencies, Honored Guests, Reverend Clergy, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
It is with great joy that I am able to be present here today for the Tenth Anniversary celebrations of St. Catherine the Great Martyr Representation Church. To concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with His Holiness, the Reverend Hierarchs, and the venerable representatives of the other local Orthodox churches is a great blessing, and a strong and important witness to the unity of our Holy Orthodox faith.
I recall with great fondness the energy and enthusiasm that His Holiness personally showed in the establishment of this Representation soon after his visit to America in 1991. As the Vice-chairman of External Affairs at that time, I remember being impressed by His Holiness’ keen perception of the importance of developing in Russia a diverse body of Representations from throughout the Orthodox world.
His Holiness appreciated that the Orthodox world is truly a house with “many mansions”, embracing different cultures, peoples, customs, and languages. He understood that if we are “to grow up into him who is the head, into Christ”, we must remain in contact with each other; we need each other, and we are dependant on each other, “for the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
He understood that isolation, homogeneity, and a false sense of “self-sufficiency” are among the greatest enemies of the Church of Christ.
His Holiness, and my predecessor, His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius, were well aware of these realities when, ten years ago, they decided that our two churches would be strengthened and enriched by the establishment of a permanent channel of communication and contact here in Moscow, to complement the Russian Representation in New York city.
Working with the other representatives in Moscow, this Representation would give us even greater opportunities to strengthen the bonds of love between us, to learn from each other, and to witness together to the universality of our faith. Most importantly, it would allow us to gather—as we are now—to serve the Divine Liturgy and to experience that unity which transcends all ethnic and national boundaries, language, and customs, by partaking, as one Body, of the very Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.
I am deeply pleased to see that this powerful vision is alive today in the mission of St. Catherine’s Representation Church.
The Orthodox Church in North America, founded over two centuries ago by Russian missionaries, and shaped by innumerable waves of immigration from virtually every Orthodox tradition in the world, has developed a unique Orthodox culture and ethos. St. Catherine’s is a place where the Russian Orthodox world can encounter this North American tradition.
Just as importantly, it is a place where American Orthodox people can begin to experience the riches of the ancient Russian church. I am deeply pleased that St. Catherine’s has developed into a parish where such relationships can be established and strengthened.
I am also pleased that this work has always included building a positive and welcoming presence within the broader American community in Russia. In particular, a close and warm relationship has developed with our Embassy here in Moscow. Orthodoxy has an important role to play in the positive development of relations between the United States and the Russian Federation, and I am confident that St. Catherine’s will continue to become a place of fruitful and prayerful encounter between our two nations, cultures, and peoples.
As we look over the last ten years, we recognize that the development of our Representation has been considerable and its achievements many. In ten short years St. Catherine’s earned a reputation for excellence in preaching, hospitality, social service, and missionary outreach. It has become an important and welcome addition to the mosaic of Orthodox parishes in Moscow.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Protopresbyter Daniel Hubiak, Archimandrite Nicholas Iuhos, and now, today, Archimandrite Zacchaeus and his staff, St. Catherine’s has also undergone an extraordinary physical transformation. Much of the church’s property has been returned, and, through the support of the church’s generous benefactors, numerous projects have been undertaken to restore much of the church’s original beauty. This work will be of lasting significance for the Representation, and the entire church in Moscow.
As the parish now embarks upon its second decade of existence, I pray that our Lord may continue to grant growth to the many good seeds that have been sown in this place. No doubt the parish will be faced with numerous challenges and changes in the years to come. But I am certain that the firm foundations of faith that have been established here will stand all of its members in good stead in the years to come.
Fr. Zacchaeus, and parishioners of St. Catherine’s: please be assured of my paternal affection and my fervent and constant prayers as you continue your work. You are an integral part of our church. Know that you all remain close to the minds and hearts of all the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America.
Finally, Your Holiness: allow me to say that it has always been your personal support and your paternal love that have guided and supported the development of this Representation and the lives of all of its parishioners. You have kept alive a vision that has allowed us to be here to celebrate this tenth anniversary.
I humbly ask you to continue to keep our Representation close in your prayers and thoughts, as I know you always have, and I ask you to join with me in invoking God’s blessing upon this parish, its rector and all its parishoners and benefactors, that through the prayers of the Greatmartyr St. Catherine, God may grant them many, many blessed years!