Saint Nino, All-American Council, Syrian Patriarch and a devastating fire
It has been a busy few days at the Chancery.
On Monday His Beatitude, Father Leonid Kishkovsky and I met with Gia Kereselidze, an award-winning filmmaker, and producer Lazarus Aliyev who presented their work in progress on a major film about Saint Nino of Georgia, chronicling the spread of Christianity from the Roman Empire to the country of Georgia. The making of the film has the blessing of Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia and has sparked widespread interest there (4,000 women auditioned to play the role of Saint Nino.) An initial $200,000 has been expended on early stages of production but the director and producer are looking for investors to help see the project through to completion. For more about the film see www.georgianews.ge/arts-a-culture/23901-saint-nino—actress-found-for-movie-about-georgian-saint.html. The film also has a website (with trailer), www.stninofilm.com.
Monday and Tuesday the Preconciliar Commission met to continue planning for the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta next summer (July 20-24, 2015), where the main focus will be “How to Expand the Mission,” the same theme as the 1907 Sobor in Mayfield, PA, held under the guidance of Archbishop (later Patriarch) Tikhon. His Beatitude celebrated Presanctified Liturgy on Monday morning in commemoration of Saint Tikhon, his patron saint (April 7 was also the day of His Beatitude’s tonsuring as a monk).
On Saturday, on his way back from New Skete Monastery, His Beatitude stopped in Teaneck, NJ, to celebrate with the Syrian Orthodox community as they welcomed their former archbishop and now patriarch, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II. The atmosphere was electric with emotion and joy as he came in to the church, with singing, shouts and ululation. In his remarks Metropolitan Tikhon drew attention to the courage of the new patriarch’s decision to reside in Damascus. He also noted that the faithful of the OCA are praying for the two captured metropolitans of Aleppo, Antiochian and the Syrian. Other guests from the Orthodox and ecumenical worlds included representatives from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the Coptic, Malankara, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Maronite, Syriac and Melkite Catholic Churches. Anthony Kireopoulos represented the National Council of Churches. The patriarch is currently doing a PhD at the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, which was represented by his faculty advisor and the dean of the school.
I learned earlier today of a terrible fire that destroyed one of the most beautiful Eastern Christian churches in Canada. No one was injured, but Saint Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Ontario, burned to the ground on Saturday. The pastor of Saint Elias Church, Father Roman Galadza, is a friend of mine. His brother is Father Peter Galadza, professor of liturgy and my colleague at the Sheptytsky Institute in Ottawa (his son, Dr Daniel Galadza, was one of my students and sent me a message about the fire.) May our Lord comfort and give strength to all those who are grieving the loss of their temple.