Dormition at the Chancery began yesterday morning with the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Tikhon. Jessica Linke as usual directed the chapel choir, but it was her last weekday liturgy and her last day of work in Syosset. She will direct the choir this weekend for Saturday Great Vespers and Sunday Divine Liturgy, but later that afternoon she is getting married to Matt. God willing, the two of them will move to Saint Tikhon’s Seminary where Matt will be a full time student preparing for military chaplaincy (he is currently on active duty in the military). Jessica will continue to work part-time for the Chancery posting news, articles and photos on the OCA web site. May God grant them many blessed years!
On Wednesday His Beatitude met with Father Peter West, a Roman Catholic priest who is representing a joint Orthodox and Roman Catholic pro-life venture. An icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was specially written to go on pilgrimage to Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches throughout the world. The purpose of the project is to encourage prayers to the Mother of God for human life and for an end to abortion. It is also a public symbol of support by both Catholic and Orthodox for the cause of human life. The project has a very extensive website in English: http://www.fromoceantoocean.org/ as well as websites in eight other languages including Russian.
This program is the brain-child of an Orthodox pro-life demographer in Moscow, Dr. Igor Beloborodov. He had previously organized various pro-life car rallies in Moscow and Russia. He then came up with the idea of taking an icon of the Mother of God by vehicle from Vladivostok to Fatima. He personally made the decision that it should be the Czestochowa icon because it is revered by both Orthodox and Catholics. He then contacted Ewa H. Kowalewska of Human Life International – Poland, and the two worked together to form a multi-national organizing committee which met at Czestochowa.
The project has exceeded everyone’s expectations. At the present time, the icon has now completed its trip from Vladivostok to Portugal. The icon has traveled 65,000 kilometers and visited 24 countries. Because of the great success of this effort to promote human life, a decision was made to continue the pergrination of the icon in the United States and then Mexico. From there, it will probably visit the rest of Latin America. The icon will be in the United States from Aug. 20, 2013 (arriving in Maryland) and will leave for Mexico on Nov. 1, 2014 (probably from Phoenix). As in Russia and Europe, it will be taken by van from church to church in the US during that 14-month period. The nature of the services will be generally decided by the individual parish (within the restraints imposed by the schedule). Further details will be forthcoming.
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I will be on my way late this afternoon to Ottawa for a wedding on Sunday and then the Assembly of the Archdiocese of Canada. Father Thomas Hopko will be the main speaker, but Father Ian Pac-Urar will also be conducting a continuing education workshop on healthy boundaries and preventing abuse. This past week the Holy Synod’s Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee—SMPAC—met for our monthly teleconference and approved the long-awaited revision of the Policies Standards and Procedures (the PSP’s). These have now been sent to the Holy Synod for final review and approval.