September 18, 2001
While an entire week has passed since the tragic events in New York City, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania took place, it is only now that the full effects and reactions are settling in on us as individuals, as families, as parish communities, and as the Orthodox Church in America.
If there has been any joy during this past week, it has been in the many positive reports I have received relating the wonderful efforts that our clergy have made in offering pastoral care and assistance to the faithful of our parish communities. I know how difficult the past week has been for all of you, not only in terms of the amount of time spent in ministering to our faithful, but in the emotional strain under which all of us are laboring. And, on behalf of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, I wish to extend heartfelt thanks for your exemplary efforts in helping our faithful cope with the changes we have experienced during this past week and will continue to experience for a long time to come. Please know that your efforts are deeply appreciated and that you are in our prayers as you continue to meet new challenges.
I also wish to express thanks for the many telephone calls, e-mails, and other messages sent to the Chancery during the past week. Indeed, it has been hectic for our Chancery staff, especially for those responsible for communicating with our parishes and communities via telephone, e-mail, and our OCA web site, but your many signs of support have been graciously received and appreciated. I am also very thankful for the many positive responses we have received to our initial emergency relief appeal. Please know that your generosity, and that of the faithful of your community, will be used to assist those in greatest need, especially those identified by our clergy in the New York City area.
In the days immediately following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, we had maintained contact with our parishes to determine whether any of our faithful had been unaccounted for. Sadly, we have just learned that Mrs. Anna Fosteris, a member of Saint John Chrysostom Church, Woodside, New York who worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center, remains among the missing. We ask you to join us in expressing our deepest condolences and prayers to her husband, Michael, their family, and the faithful of Saint John Chrysostom Church. May God strengthen them in their loss.
Enclosed with this letter you will find a number of prayers and petitions that have been adapted for use at all liturgical services as indicated. You will also find a copy of “Make the Evil Good,” a resource packet prepared by the OCA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for use in Church schools, youth discussion groups, and young adult forums. While the resources contained in this packet were posted on the OCA web site within days of the tragedy, not all parishes or clergy have access to the internet. Hence, it is hoped that the enclosed “hard copies” of these resources will prove to be most useful to you and the young people of your community.
On Saturday, October 20 - Saint Demetrius Memorial Saturday and the 40th day after the terrorist attacks - we ask that you especially remember in prayer the thousands who lost their lives, as well as their families. If you are unable to celebrate a Memorial on Saturday, we ask that you do so at any other time during that weekend.
Finally, in response to the many enquiries that have been received by the Chancery and our Communications Office concerning the obvious lack of Orthodox participation at the ceremony held at Washington, DC’s National Cathedral on Friday, September 14, I wish to inform you that the organizers, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA, did not extend invitations to any Orthodox hierarchs or their representatives, and that neither the Dean of our Saint Nicholas Cathedral, nor the Dean of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, were invited. The lack of any Orthodox presence at that prominent gathering was deeply felt by all of us, as well as by many non-Orthodox individuals, and we are exploring the matter further.
Again, thank you for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do in the days ahead. May the sorrow, which has impacted each and every one of us be lightened by our faith and hope in the abundant love of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and our renewed commitment to Him and to one another.
Robert S. Kondratick