On Friday, December 7, the feast of the Great Martyr Catherine, His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Rus and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the OCA’s Representation Church of Saint Catherine in Moscow.
“The last time we concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in this temple and at this holy altar was on the day of its consecration, June 11, 1999,” Metropolitan Theodosius remarked to Patriarch Aleksy and the large number of faithful who gathered for the festal celebration. “At that time I noted that ‘This Church of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr, now consecrated, stands as a visible and vibrant link between two autocephalous Churches.’”
Metropolitan Theodosius continued by reflecting on the “common faith and worship and common history and heritage” shared by the Churches of Russia and America. He also recalled “the lives and holiness of the monastics who left the Russian Land as missionaries to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to North America over two hundred years ago.”
“Today, in light of so many recent tragedies, we must also note that we are united in a profound and poignant way by our common desire and in our common effort to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that is so in need of hearing that Good News,” Metropolitan Theodosius continued. “Since our concelebration in this Temple over two years ago, the peoples of Russia and the peoples of America have suffered tragedies that have shocked them and have re-awakened within them a sense of national unity and of unity with all people of good will who pray and work ‘for the peace of the whole world.’”
Drawing a parallel between the times in which Saint Catherine lived and today, Metropolitan Theodosius concluded by recalling how “the terrorist bombing of the underground shopping mall here in Moscow in August 2000, the horrific accident aboard the Submarine Kursk and the catastrophes suffered in America on September 11th, were terrible events that took the lives of innocent, unsuspecting victims. These times are reflective of the times in which Saint Catherine the Great Martyr lived and gave her life for her faith. Saint Catherine witnessed the suffering of innocent victims whose only crime was that of seeking the truth and professing their faith in Jesus Christ. Through her prayers and intercession, may the Lord comfort those who grieve, strengthen that work for justice, and grant peace to His world.”
Metropolitan Theodosius presented Patriarch Aleksy with an exquisite icon at the conclusion of the Liturgy.
Among those concelebrating the Liturgy were His Eminence, Archbishop Herman of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; His Eminence, Archbishop Arseny, a Vicar to Patriarch Aleksy; His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada; His Grace, Bishop Nifon, Representative of the Antiochian Patriarchate in Moscow; His Grace, Bishop Gurij; Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, OCA Chancellor; Archimandrite Nicholas [Iuhos], Rector of the Church of Saint Catherine; and many others.
A luncheon reception followed the festal Liturgy at the Monastery of Saint Daniel. Among those present were US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow, who spoke on ongoing developments between the United States and Russia in light of the events of September 11, 2001.
Later that evening, Metropolitan Theodosius was the guest of Protopresbyter Matthew Stadniuk, Rector of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Epiphany, and Mr. Nicholas Kapchuk, the cathedral’s warden. Metropolitan Theodosius spoke of his long friendship with Father Stadniuk, who for many years had served as Rector of Saint Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral, New York, NY. Metropolitan Theodosius also presented Mr. Kapchuk with the OCA’s Order of Saint Innocent, Silver Class, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.