October 26, 2012

[NOTE: In the original version of this article, it inadvertently referred to Fr. Pianovich as deceased. This has been corrected in this revised text, with apologies.]

Greatmartyr Demetrius

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses (martyron), commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

St Demetrios Church, Greece
Saint Demetrius Church, Thessaloniki, Greece

I lived in Thessaloniki for a year and went back there regularly during my graduate studies, so I often went to the huge stone church of Saint Demetrius where his relics are housed. I even had the privilege to serve there on a few occasions. It’s a civic holiday today and there will be a constant stream of thousands of people coming in to venerate his relics and light candles. Isn’t it remarkable that a fourth-century historical figure still has this effect? Saint Paul likes to talk about the faith as an athletic contest. The best image is that of a relay race, as one takes the baton from someone else, runs and passes it along to the next runner. Our task in 21st century North America is no different from that of Christians in Roman-occupied Thessaloniki in the 4th century: be faithful to Christ, commit that faith to others and be willing to stand up for it when called upon to do so. 

New England Diocesan Assembly;
OCA Archivist Returns from Moscow

I’m in Salem, Massachusetts today and tomorrow for the New England Diocesan Assembly. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the diocese, because I lived in northern Connecticut as a teenager (1968-71) and my family attended Saints Peter and Paul Church in Springfield, MA, where Father Eugene Pianovich, now retired, served as long-time rector.  On my way up from Syosset yesterday, after Barbara Bonomi’s deeply moving funeral, past Hartford I went off the main road to drive through Somers, CT, the town we lived in. It’s still pretty rural, going by farms and New England colonial white houses and steepled churches and stone walls that recall Robert Frost. 

Archbishop Nikon, the deans, department heads and treasurer will report today (I’ll speak as well). Saturday will start with Divine Liturgy and brunch, followed by youth protection training presented by Father John Bacon, who does this training for the Boy Scouts. Since the late 1990’s he has served the Orthodox Church in America as a Scouting Outreach coordinator and representative to the Assembly of Bishops Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting.

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Alexis Liberovsky at St Catherine’s Church, Moscow

OCA Archivist Alexis Liberovsky returned from Russia early this week after ten days at the first-ever advanced course in archival work at the Moscow Patriarchate’s Church Graduate School. Most of the twenty participants came from newly created dioceses in Russia (in the last two years about fifty new dioceses have started), and the only other foreign student was a nun from Latvia. Experts from the Russian State University for the Humanities and the Archives of the Russian Federation joined in teaching the course. Among the speakers was also the archivist of the Federal Security Services (FSB), better known in the past as the KGB. In addition to the courses, Alexis also lectured on the history and archives of the Orthodox Church in America at several churches and the history department of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University.  He found tremendous interest there in this Russian-American connection.

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Today is my one-year anniversary of being in the chancellor’s job. It has been a tumultuous year with huge changes for our little church, but through God’s grace and the steadfast faith and work of many people—beginning with our bishops—we will get through it and learn from it. As a book title I once saw put it, “The Family: Stronger After Crisis.” Or Barbara Bonomi’s motto, as I learned at her funeral, “Life isn’t waiting for the storm to pass, it’s going out and dancing in the rain.”