For the first time since his 1998 installation as Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland, His Beatitude, Metropolitan SAWA of Warsaw visited the United States at the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America May 19-30, 2000.
Accompanying Metropolitan SAWA on his ten-day visit was His Eminence, Archbishop Adam of Przemysl and Nowy Sacz and Igumen Atanasy of the Monastery of Saint Onuphrius in Jableczna, Poland.
Upon his arrival in New York City, Metropolitan SAWA and his entourage were met by Metropolitan THEODOSIUS; His Eminence, Archbishop PETER of New York; His Eminence, Archbishop HERMAN of Philadelphia; Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor; the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky; and other members of the OCA Chancery staff. The entourage made its first stop at the OCA Chancery where a Service of Thanksgiving was celebrated in Saint Sergius Chapel. A welcoming reception followed.
On Saturday, May 29, Metropolitan SAWA and Arcbishop ADAM concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Metropolitan THEODOSIUS at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY, and participated in the school’s commencement ceremonies. Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, SVS Dean, welcomed Metropolitan SAWA to the seminary campus. Metropolitan SAWA was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity honoris causa.
Later the same afternoon, the entourage flew to Washington, DC, where the following morning the hierarchs concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Following the Liturgy, the hierarchs enjoyed a luncheon with clergy families from the Diocese of Washington.
In addition to attending several private receptions while in Washington, Metropolitan SAWA visited the US Department of State, where he briefed officials on the situation of the Orthodox Church in Poland and discussed other matters of mutual interest.
An especially moving moment was shared by the hierarchs as they visited the US Holocaust Museum, where Metropolitan SAWA reflected on the millions of his countrymen who suffered and died during World War II. Metropolitan SAWA was also honored at a reception held at the Polish Embassy in Washington.
During a one-day side trip to Baltimore, MD, Metropolitan SAWA visited Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral and the headquarters of International Orthodox Christian Charities, the pan-Orthodox humitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. He also attended a breakfast hosted by Baltimore’s William Cardinal Keeler, who took the Metropolitans and their entourage on a tour of the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Assumption.
On Tuesday, May 23, His Grace, Bishop JOB of Chicago welcomed Metropolitan SAWA, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Archbishop ADAM and their entourage to Chicago. Following a visit to Christ the Savior Church, the hierarchs were the honored guests of Bishop JOB at a reception at the Midwest Diocesan Chancery. Numerous religious and civic leaders were in attendance and greeted the hierarchs.
The following morning, the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, Metropolitans SAWA and THEODOSIUS, Archbishop ADAM, and Bishop JOB, together with two dozen priests and deacons of several jurisdictions, concelebrated the festal Divine Liturgy at Saint Joseph’s Church, Wheaton, IL, which conducts an outreach ministry to the Chicago area’s growing number of Orthodox Polish immigrants. Metropolitan SAWA also presided at the groundbreaking for the parish’s new hall, dedicated in honor of Saint GABRIEL of Zabludow, whose relics are in Bialystok, Poland, the site of Poland’s largest Orthodox diocese. [Prior to his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland, Metropolitan SAWA had served as Archbishop of Bialystok and Gdansk for 18 years.]
Prior to their departure from Chicago, the hierarchs and their entourage were hosted at a reception at the Polish Consulate in Chicago.
On Thursday and Friday, May 25-26, Metropolitan SAWA visited numerous religious and civic leaders in New York City. A highlight of his visit was a luncheon reception hosted by His Eminence, Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at Archdiocesan headquarters in Manhattan. Metropolitan SAWA was also the guest of the Right Rev. Richard F. Grein, Episcopal Bishop of New York, at a dinner hosted in his honor, and visited the headquarters of the National Council of Churches in Christ. After a visit to the United Nations, the entourage was received at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Poland to the UN by His Excellency, Ambassador Janusz Stanczyk.
While in New York, Metropolitan SAWA celebrated a Service of Thanksgiving and attended a dinner hosted by the faithful of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral, Brooklyn, NY, which also conducts an active outreach ministry among Orthodox Polish immigrants.
On Saturday, May 27, Metropolitans SAWA and SAWA and their entourage traveled to Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, where Metropolitan SAWA presided at commencement exercises at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. The following morning, Metropolitan SAWA concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Metropolitan THEODOSIUS and Archbishops ADAM and HERMAN in the Monastery Church of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk. Later that afternoon, he concelebrated with members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and guest hierarchs from the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America at the Vigil service, during which the Glorification of Bishop RAPHAEL [Hawaweeny] of Brooklyn took place. The ceremony marked the first time a Primate of the Polish Church has participated in the canonization of a saint by the Orthodox Church in America.
On Monday, May 29, Metropolitan SAWA also participated in the annual Memorial Day pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, which was attended by a record number of pilgrims.
Metropolitan SAWA and Archbishop ADAM left the US for Poland on Tuesday, May 30, following a farewell luncheon hosted by Metropolitan THEODOSIUS.
“The official visit of Metropolitan SAWA reflects the strengthening and ever-growing relationship between the Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Church of Poland,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “During the past decade, there have been several exchanges of youth and young adults between the two churches, and many OCA youth have participated in the Polish Church’s annual summer institute for Orthodox young people at the Monastery of the Annunciation in Suprasl, Poland.”
In 1997, shortly before his election as Primate of the Polish Church, Metropolitan SAWA visited the US to gain insights into Orthodox military chaplaincy programs, visiting Chicago and Saint Louis, MO, Father Matusiak added.
A detailed feature on Metropolitan SAWA’s visit with accompanying photographs will appear in the June-July 2000 issue of The Orthodox Church newspaper, the official publication of the Orthodox Church in America.