During their visit to Russia during the first week of December 2017 in conjunction with celebrations marking the 100th Anniversary of the Election and Enthronement of Saint Tikhon as Patriarch of Moscow and the Restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the Orthodox Church in America’s delegation were received by His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill at the Patriarchal Residence in the Danilov Monastery.
After celebrating a Service of Thanksgiving in the Patriarchal Chapel of All Saints of Russia, Patriarch Kirill extended a warm welcome to Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation, which included His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa; Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk, Rector of Saint Tikhon of Moscow Church, Anchorage, AK; Melanie Ringa OCA Treasurer; Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash. Also present were His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chair of the Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations [DECR]; His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR Deputy Chairman; Archpriest Igor Jakimchuk, DECR Secretary for Inter-Orthodox Relations; and DECR staff member D. I. Petrovsky.
“Your Beatitude, I welcome you to Moscow and thank you for participating in the 100th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Patriarchate,” Patriarch Kirill said in his welcoming remarks. “It is a very important occasion, not only because it brings together Primates and representatives of the Orthodox Churches, but also because it gives us an opportunity to contemplate on the role of Orthodoxy.”
Reflecting on the importance of Saint Tikhon for the Churches of Russia and America, Patriarch Kirill continued by saying, “the election of Patriarch Tikhon to the Patriarchal See has a special relevance [for us]. It marks a special occasion for the American Church, because he was instrumental in its establishment, and for many years he headed the American Church. It was under him that the first seminaries opened in North America, and the people who lived there enjoyed the light of Orthodoxy shed upon them. We can also recall that many of the uniate immigrants came home to Orthodoxy, which was largely due to the work of Saint Tikhon. I am aware that Saint Tikhon is deeply venerated in North America, and I deeply appreciate the fact that you visited Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York, which was established by Saint Tikhon, and celebrated the Divine Liturgy there.
“Your Beatitude, you bear the name Tikhon, which means that this celebration is of special relevance to you and to all those who join their voices in prayer with you, Patriarch Kirill concluded. “Because relations between the US and Russia are difficult, contact between our two Churches gains special relevance because these are the ties that link people who share common beliefs, people who share history, and actually can serve as a connective link and contribute to reconciliation and establishment of true partnership. I very much appreciate this opportunity to meet with you and your delegation.”
Metropolitan Tikhon in turn offered greetings on behalf of the OCA delegation.
“Your Holiness, I extend my heartfelt thanks for the warm hospitality that has been shown to me and to my delegation from the Orthodox Church in America during our time here in Moscow,” Metropolitan Tikhon said. “It has been a great joy to participate in all the celebrations marking the Centennial of the Restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate, an event which remains significant not only for the Russian Orthodox Church, but for world Orthodoxy.
“It is world Orthodoxy that, in large part, is represented here in Moscow this week, and I congratulate Your Holiness on your initiative in gathering representations from thirteen of the Local Orthodox Churches in a spirit of unity and brotherhood,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “This spirit was tangibly felt in our common celebration of the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God and in the many opportunities for dialogue and conversation amongst the brothers.
“The Orthodox Church in America takes particular joy in sharing in this celebration because of the veneration that our bishops, clergy, monastics, and faithful have for the person and holiness of Saint Tikhon, who so nobly and humbly assumed the heavy yoke of the restored Patriarchal throne,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “It has been an honor for our delegation to be accompanied this week by His Grace, Bishop John, of Naro-Fominsk, with whom I had the pleasure of concelebrating a few weeks ago on the occasion of the centennial of Saint Tikhon’s Election, which coincided also with the 115th Anniversary of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York City, for which Saint Tikhon laid the cornerstone. I wish Your Holiness many years on the recent celebration of the First Anniversary of your 70th anniversary and I look forward to our discussions today.”
During the formal meeting that followed the Service of Thanksgiving, Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Tikhon affirmed the positive relations shared by the Churches of Russia and America, exemplified by the respective visits of Bishop Daniel to Russia for the celebration of the 220th Anniversary of the birth of Saint Innocent [Veniaminov] and the visit of Metropolitan Hilarion to the US, at which time he met with Metropolitan Tikhon.
“These mutual visits and meetings and the sharing of experiences and information are of great importance as they help us to better understand what is happening in our Churches,” Patriarch Kirill remarked. “I am satisfied that at the last meeting in Moscow between the leadership of the Church-wide post-graduate and doctoral studies and the Department of Theological Education of the Orthodox Church in America, an agreement was reached to continue student exchanges between theological educational institutions.”
Patriarch Kirill also spoke of initiating summer camps, the exchange of professors between US and Russian theological schools, and opportunities for US Orthodox faithful to make pilgrimages to the Russian Church.
“We have much to show those who are interested in Orthodoxy, especially those Orthodox living in the North American continent,” Patriarch Kirill said, adding that “with joy and love we would welcome pilgrims from the United States.
Various current issues affecting Orthodox Christianity around the world also were discussed, including the situation of the Church in Ukraine.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Patriarch Kirill presented a special edition cross and panagia set designed to mark the 100th Anniversary of Saint Tikhon’s Enthronement—exact copies of a set worn by Saint Tikhon himself—to Metropolitan Tikhon. In turn, Metropolitan Tikhon presented a hand-painted icon of Saint Tikhon to Patriarch Kirill. The unique icon depicts Saint Tikhon with the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral, in which he was enthroned in 1917, and Saint Tikhon’s Monastery, South Canaan, PA, which he founded while serving as Bishop and later Archbishop of North America from 1898 until 1907.
Additional information on the visit of Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation will be posted as it becomes available.