April 24, 2002
To the Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Faithful
of the Orthodox Church in America
Dearly beloved in the Lord:
It is with deep joy and paternal love that I invite you to participate in the 98th Annual Pilgrimage at the Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, this Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-27, 2002.
Every pilgrimage is, of course, a gathering of the People of God’s Holy Church for the express purpose of growing in faith and the spiritual life. But this year, for a number of reasons, the Annual Pilgrimage will be of singular importance.
Through the gracious blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch ALEKSY II of Moscow and All Russia, and with the concurrence of His Beatitude, Metropolitan VLADIMIR of Kiev, we will be privileged to have in our midst the wonder-working icon of Our Lady of Pochaev. The source of many miracles, this icon of the Mother of God has been venerated by countless faithful throughout Eastern Europe. I recall my own mother telling me how her family would walk for miles to pray before and venerate this holy icon of the Mother of God at the Pochaev Monastery.
The Mother of God herself prophesied: “All generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). It is my ardent hope that we, in our country, will demonstrate to the Mother of God the same faith and reverence that our forebears before us have demonstrated in Eastern Europe.
Additionally, for the first time during the Annual Pilgrimage, we will celebrate the consecration of a new Bishop to help shepherd the faithful of the Orthodox Church in America. On Friday and Saturday of the pilgrimage weekend, Archimandrite Nikon (Liolin) will be elevated to the episcopacy. You are invited to share in these liturgical festivities as well.
As you know, this will be the final Pilgrimage at which I will preside as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. It is my sincere wish and humble prayer that as many of our clergy and faithful as possible will join the Holy Synod of Bishops as we gather to honor the Mother of God and venerate her sacred icon and as we celebrate the consecration of a new hierarch.
Looking forward to praying with all of you at this upcoming Pilgrimage, I ask that God’s plenteous grace be upon you and your loved ones. Be assured of my archpastoral blessing and a constant remembrance in my prayers.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada