NEWS FROM THE DIOCESES
 

Communique of the Great Lenten Clergy Conference from March 5/18, 2004
(unanimously adopted by all clergy in attendance)

We, the clergy of the Chicago-Detroit Diocese, having gathered at our Annual Pastoral Conference in Chicago, in the presence of the miraculous Kursk Icon of the Mother of God, greet our beloved flock this Lenten season and call upon all to continue this Lent in prayer, fasting and repentance. We give thanks to our Lord for the numerous blessings He has bestowed upon our diocese this past year. Archbishop Alypyís health has been slowly improving, permitting him to participate in the December Sobor of Bishops. Many priests noted an increase in church attendance and membership, an improvement in church singing, and growth in Church schools and youth groups. Several of our older, more established parishes have received a "second wind" from the influx of new parishioners from Russia. Sadly, a few of our parishes are suffering from demographic changes, but our diocese remains committed to the upkeep of these churches. At the same time, a number of our churches which were small missions only ten to fifteen years ago are now growing, self-sustaining parishes. In other places, we still suffer from a shortage of priests, but we are encouraged by the growth of our new missions. We commend the zeal of our faithful, and call upon you to continue your God-pleasing work. Our parishes and missions have particularly benefited from the archpastoral visits of Bishop Peter who this past year has visited 20 parishes. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to guide us in His Holy vineyard.

The past year has also been healthy for our Church as a whole. As we noted in our October 2003 resolution, we rejoice at the possibility of reconciliation between the two parts of the Russian Church. The fulfillment of this desire will spiritually benefit our parishes. We note the several positive events which have transpired since our October conference: the successful visit of our delegation to Russia, the Pastoral conference in Nyack, the warm response of our Sobor of Bishops to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II, and the announcement of the visit of our First Hierarch Metropolitan Laurus to Russia this May. During the past few months some of our faithful have raised questions and fears concerning reconciliation. For many, however, when informed that the issue is neither “union,” nor “subjugation” but rather mutual reconciliation--manifested by Eucharistic concelebration--the fears tend to disappear. We recognize that both the Russian Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate are heirs of the historical Russian Orthodox Church. The events of the past year have given us hope that full reconciliation between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will soon take place and that full liturgical concelebration on all levels will become the norm. Intercommunion among the laity has been the generally accepted de facto practice throughout our Church for many years, and we now hope for concelebration among the clergy as well. We acknowledge that there are obstacles to overcome, but at the same time we consider that many arguments against mutual reconciliation have historically been rooted in sentiment, misunderstanding, or in an imprecise comprehension of our Churchís history and purpose. We pray that the commissions established on both sides will work with mutual sincerity and openness, and resolve the remaining issues in a timely manner. We declare our unequivocal trust in our First Hierarch, Metropolitan Laurus: that He will continue to lead our Church in the spirit of our Churchís founders, its original path. May our Metropolitanís visit to Russia facilitate the long awaited reconciliation of the Russian Church, so that the light of Orthodoxy will shine brightly not only in Russia, but also throughout the entire world.

+Archbishop Alypy
+Bishop Peter
Protopriest Peter Burlakov
Igumen Ioann
Protopriest John Shaw
Protopriest Andrei Alexiev
Protopriest Eugene Grushetsky
Priest Paul Bassett
Priest John Sykaluk
Priest Christopher Stade
Priest Martin Swanson
Priest Jeremiah Loch
Priest Victor Boldewskul
Priest Mark Gilstrap
Priest Thomas Kulp
Priest Gregory Joyce, Secretary