With the blessing of their diocesan bishops, the superiors (or their representatives) of monastic communities within the Orthodox Church in America gathered at the Chancery here for a “Synaxis” July 21-23, 2014.
In addition to spiritual fellowship and mutual upbuilding and encouragement, common concerns and the emerging nature of North American monasticism were discussed.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, called for the Synaxis as an expression of his commitment to the strengthening of monastic life within the OCA and in an effort to identify areas of concern for the OCA’s monastic communities that could be better addressed on a wider level within the Church or by means of stronger inter-monastery cooperation. [See related article and gallery.
The OCA counts some 25 men’s and women’s monastic communities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the gathered superiors (or their representatives) issued the following statement at the close of the Synaxis.
STATEMENT OF THE SYNAXIS OF SUPERIORS OF MONASTERIES
July 21-23, 2014
As the Synaxis of abbots and abbesses, we were grateful to be together for these days and rejoiced at our intuitive sharing with each other in the Church services, at meals and in conversations about our common monastic life. While recognizing our shared challenges, especially in forming monasticism in North America, we can affirm the general health of monasteries in the OCA. We are committed:
- To struggle to pray unceasingly
- To live the values of the desert in the 21st century
- To be witnesses and missionaries of the kingdom “that is not of this world”
- To intercede for all people, for the Church and especially for the sick, the suffering and the departed
- To be welcoming places of spiritual retreat and hospitality whenever possible, especially for clergy and their families
- To continue the effort to establish a truly indigenous and organic monastic presence in North America
- To encourage the Church at large to celebrate the diversity of monastic communities
During our wide-ranging discussions over the three days, we agreed:
- That the nurturing and encouraging of monastic vocations should be a priority for the entire Church
- That monastic life is a vital part of the mission of the church
- That the formation and training of monastics should be developed more fully within each monastic community
- That spiritual health can and must be in harmony with psychological health. We don’t have to pretend we are professional therapists, but there is value in our virtue of listening and supporting people in prayer
- That families, parishes and monasteries are mutually dependent: healthy parishes with healthy parents produce healthy monastic candidates
- That the monastic “mindset” (phronema) is to be conveyed to the entire Church
- That monastics should have a strong presence at All American Councils
- That parish awareness of monastic life ought to be encouraged, perhaps by setting aside a month or at least a Sunday devoted to connecting with monks, nuns and monasteries
- That the emergence of authentic monasticism in North America can only come with time, effort and the grace of God
Finally, we were grateful for this opportunity to meet and pray together and agreed that such meetings would be helpful on an ongoing basis. We agreed that the next meeting of the Synaxis of monastery superiors will take place next year, October 27-29, 2015, at a monastery location to be confirmed.