At the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon will make an official visit the Orthodox Church of Poland August 17-22, 2018. The occasion marks the first time Metropolitan Tikhon has visited the Polish Church since his election as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America in November 2012.
Members of the delegation accompanying Metrooplitan Tikhon include His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West; Archpriests Alexander Rentel and Daniel Andrejuk; Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa will welcome Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation upon their arrival at Warsaw’s Chopin International Airport on Friday, August 17, after which they will visit the capital’s landmark Cathedral of Saint Mary Magdalene and engage in discussions on a wide variety of topics. The following day, Metropolitan Tikhon will travel to the Monastery of Saints Mary and Martha, Grabarka, Poland for the annual pilgrimage marking the Great Feast of the Transfiguration. The monastery, located on what is known locally as the “Holy Mountain,” is especially popular with pilgrims, many of whom arrive at its gates after walking several days from their home towns. On Sunday, August 19, Metropolitans Sawa and Tikhon will concelebrate the festal Divine Liturgy with the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Church of Poland, delegation members, and clergy from across the country.
During the following week, Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation will visit Church-related sites in northeastern Poland, including Holy Trinity Cathedral, Hajnowka, where they will be welcomed by His Grace, Bishop Paul of Hajnowka; Saint Nicholas Church, Bialowieza, a village on the border with Belarus that boasts Europe’s only strictly preserved forest and had served as the site of a hunting compound enjoyed by Tsar Nicholas II; the Church of the Dormition, Bielsk Podlaski, where they will be greeted by His Grace, Bishop Gregory; the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the village of Zwerki, where they will pray before the relics of Holy Child Martyr Gabriel of Zabludow, who is especially venerated throughout the region; and the Churches of the Holy Resurrection, the Holy Spirit and Holy Wisdom in Bialystok, where they will meet with His Eminence, Archbishop Jacob of Bialystok and Gdansk. His Grace, Bishop Andrew of Suprasl will welcome Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation at the 600-year-old Monastery of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, Suprasl.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation also will visit southeastern Poland, where they will be hosted by His Eminence, Archbishop Abel of Lublin and Chelm as they visit Lublin’s Church of the Transfiguration and Holy Trinity Chapel.
Prior to World War II, the Orthodox Church in Poland numbered some several million members. After the war, however, much of Poland’s territory was incorporated into what is today Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, greatly reducing the Church’s geographical and numerical size. Today, the Church of Poland numbers over 700,000 faithful in more than 300 parishes and missions throughout the country. In addition to the Archdiocese of Warsaw, the Church maintains dioceses in Bialystok, Lublin, Lodz, Wroclaw, and Przymysl. It maintains a graduate theological faculty and undergraduate seminary in Warsaw, a growing number of monasteries, and a very active national youth fellowship.
The Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Church of Poland have enjoyed a long and especially close relationship. Saint Patriarch Tikhon served as rector of the seminary in Chelm for 5 years and then as Bishop of Lublin for a year before his arrival in America in 1898, while the OCA’s late Metropolitan Ireney, the late Archbishop Kiprian and many other clergy served the Polish Church prior to their arrival in the United States after World War II. In recent decades, the two Churches have cooperated closely in such areas as youth ministry and religious and theological education. A number of hierarchs and clergy of the Church of Poland are amongst the alumni of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation will leave Poland to return to the US on Wednesday, August 22.