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 history of the last century, we are reminded of the many cruelties that were inflicted upon innumerable innocent victims. 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. During the first and second decades of the twentieth century, the Orthodox Faith was growing in numbers and in vitality in Galicia, especially in the area populated by the Lemkos. As a result, the Austro-Hungarian government often looked upon the Orthodox Lemkos as Russian sympathizers. Because of their Faith, many were confined in various concentration camps. The most infamous of these camps was Talherof, located in Austria. Although comprising only a small percentage of the Galician population, the Lemkos were by far the majority of those imprisoned at Talerhof. It is unclear how many actually perished in Talherof; however, those who survived suffered greatly, including the wife and young son of Saint Maxim Sandovich, martyred in Gorlice in 1914, and glorified by the Polish Orthodox Church in 1994.
The first Sunday of August of each year is observed as a day of special prayer and remembrance for those who lost their lives at Talerhof, most especially those who died in bearing witness to Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church. I encourage you to participate in this annual commemoration by offering special prayers for the departed victims of this atrocity—as well as all those who have suffered for the Orthodox Faith—at the end of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, August 3, 2003.
May all those who, throughout the centuries, have given witness to Christ through their suffering and martyric deaths, continue to intercede for us. Like them, may we remain steadfastly faithful to Christ and His Holy Church.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada