Pastoral Retreat & Assembly Of the Priests & Clergy of the Diocese of Montréal & Canada March, 2014

28 March 2014

The 2014 Lenten Pastoral Conference of the Canadian Diocese

This year the Lenten pastoral conference of the Canadian Diocese was, for the first time, held at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. This monastery was called the “lavra of the Russian Church Abroad” by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anastasy, whose earthly remains rest under the altar of the monastery cathedral. It is not unreasonable to say that the hearts of Orthodox Christians of Russian descent that have found themselves outside of Russia have a special place for Holy Trinity Monastery. The 17th of June, 2015 will mark the 80th anniversary of the first service held at the newly-constructed wooden church at the then recently organized Holy Trinity Monastery.

On the same day of that historic liturgy, a fire began in the newly consecrated church and it appeared that after many labours all was lost, but the Lord judged differently. One of the witnesses of the fire remarked that this baptism by fire did not lead to the destruction, but on the contrary to the flourishing of the monastery, which exists up to our day as the true spiritual centre of the Russian Diaspora, which in recent years has also become better-known in Russia itself.

The Canadian Diocese has a special tie to Holy Trinity Monastery. The first abbot of the monastery, the former archimandrite of the Pochaev Lavra, his Eminence Archbishop Vitaly (Maksimenko), was to become the ruling bishop of the North American and Canadian Diocese. And now the present ruling bishop of the Canadian Diocese, Archbishop Gabriel, is this year marking the 30th anniversary of his graduation from Holy Trinity Seminary, which is located at the monastery in Jordanville.

In his opening remarks Archbishop Gabriel reminded the participants of the clergy conference of the history of the monastery. Vladyka remarked that just a few steps away from the seminary graduation hall, where the conference was taking place, in the monastery cemetery many of the founders and guardians of the Russian Church Abroad are buried. Some of these remarkable hierarchs, pastors and teachers include: the first hierarchs of the Church abroad, Metropolitans Anastasy, Filaret and Laurus, Archbishop Averky (Taushev), Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev), and the great iconographer Archimandrite Cyprian (Pyzhov), who helped to reestablish a traditional style of icon painting in the diaspora. Through his efforts many Orthodox churches in North America with adorned with icon murals, including in the main monastery cathedral, the cemetery church and monastery refectory. Here are also buried other luminaries of the Church Outside of Russia as well as many pious monks who struggled in prayer and fasting and entreated God to show mercy on the much-suffering Russian land, not losing hope that Holy Russia will one day rise up again.

The humble atmosphere of the monastery descends on all who visit and thus the discussions of the diocesan conference were calm and peaceful. Within the last two or three years the situation in the Canadian diocese has improved noticeably. Two new missions, one in Red Deer, Alberta the other in Nanaimo, British Columbia have been formed recently. Soon, with God’s help, a new mission will be opened in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Holy Trinity Parish in Toronto, the largest parish in the Church Abroad, this past year organized and hosted the celebration of the 400-year anniversary of the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty. During these festivities a meeting of the Synod of Bishops was also held in Toronto.

During the diocese meeting, Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), the abbot of the monastery, gave a talk at which he explained the present-day situation in the monastery and seminary. Deacon Andrei Psarev, one of the instructors at Holy Trinity Seminary, read a lecture entitled “The Current Law of the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Archbishop Gabriel commented that the main goal of our lenten meetings is to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Feast of Feasts, the bright day of Christ’s Resurrection. The monastery services, which were attended by all of the participants of the conference, helped tremendously in this task. The hight of the pastoral lenten retreat was the hierarchal Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts served on Wednesday the 26th of March.

Archbishop Gabriel presided at this service and was assisted by the clergy of the Canadian Diocese, Archimandrite Luke and the priestmonks of the monastery as well as archpriest Alexis Duncan from Albany, NY.

Many of the participants of the pastoral conference expressed a hope that this will not be the last time the Canadian Diocese meets in Jordanville.

Below is a photo-report of the conference in Jordanville.

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