July 6, 2004
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
As we look back to the first half of the Twentieth Century, we are reminded of the many cruelties that were inflicted upon innumerable innocent victims as a result of political upheaval around the world. We recall, most especially, those people of all faiths and confessions who suffered unthinkable persecution in concentration camps.
Among those who suffered in the concentration camps that were established during the First World War were the Lemkos. It was because of their Orthodox Faith that many were confined to these concentration camps. The most infamous of the camps was Talherof, which was located in Austria. Although they comprised only a small percentage of the general population, the majority of those imprisoned at Talerhof were Lemkos. It is unclear how many actually lost their lives in Talerhof; however, those who survived also suffered greatly. These included the wife and son of Saint Maxim Sandovich, who was martyred in Gorlice in 1914 and was canonized by the Polish Orthodox Church in 1994.
The first Sunday of August of each year has been designated as a day of special prayer and remembrance for those Orthodox Christians who lost their lives at Talerhof. I once again invite you to participate in this annual commemoration by offering special prayers for the victims of Talerhof—as well as all those who have suffered for the Orthodox Faith—on Sunday, August 1, 2004.
May all those faithful Orthodox Christians who have given witness to Christ throughout the centuries continue to intercede for us. Following their example, may we also remain faithful to Christ and His Holy Church.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada