Diocese of Chicago and Detroit: March 19, 2004

The 2004 Lenten Clergy Retreat of the Diocese of Chicago and Detroit

The 2004 Lenten Clergy Retreat of the Diocese of Chicago and Detroit. (ROCOR) was held, in the presence of the miraculous Protectress, the Kursk Icon of the Mother of God, under the leadership of Archbishop Alypy and Bishop Peter, at the cathedral in Des Plaines, IL, from Wednesday, March 4/17 through Friday, March 6/19.

On Tuesday afternoon, March 3/16, there was a meeting of the Diocesan Council, and supper in the parish hall of the cathedral.

On Wednesday, March 4/17, the conference began with the pre-sanctified liturgy at 7:30 a.m., celebrated by Fr. John R. Shaw and Fr. Valery Vovkovsky, with singing by the cathedral chanters and the assembled clergy, followed by breakfast and the morning and afternoon discussions of church affairs.

The clergy prepared and adopted a statement of support for Metropolitan Laurus' initiatives on overcoming the divisions in the Russian Church, and expressed prayerful hope that agreement and full concelebration may soon be achieved. A statement of support for the suffering Serbian Church, in response to the news of the burning of the monastery, seminary and bishop's house in Prizren, was also addressed to Metropolitan Christofor of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The cathedral sisterhood prepared simple but excellent Lenten meals for the clergy. On Wednesday evening, there was an unction service in the cathedral, attended by a huge crowd of worshippers.

On Thursday, the morning's keynote speaker was Fr. Constantine Botsis of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago (EP), concerning the need for pastoral counseling of couples preparing for holy matrimony in the Orthodox Church, and he shared his experience and the programs that are now being tried in the Greek Church to prepare couples for marriage. Fr. Constantine also attended a moleben before the Kursk Icon in the Cathedral.

The afternoon presentation on the same day was by a Greek Orthodox layman, Dr. Ari Christoforides, who is a psychiatrist specializing in marriage counseling, for couples who are experiencing matrimonial problems. Dr. Christoforides gave his insights on how divorces might be avoided.

These presentations were well received by all, and it was felt that the day's talks had been quite helpful and positive.

The day's activities concluded with a Lenten evening service in the Cathedral and an akathist before the Kursk-Root Icon, celebrated by Bishop Peter with eight of the diocesan priests.

On Friday morning, the services began at 7:30 with matins celebrated by Fr. Valery Vovkovsky, and the pre-sanctified liturgy was celebrated by Bishop Peter with all of the assembled clergy: fifteen priests, the Cathedralís deacon, Fr. Julian, and numerous servers. During the minor entrance, Fr. Martin Swanson was awarded the gold pectoral cross, and Fr. Thomas Kulp was awarded the nabedrennik. Following lunch, the Kursk Icon continued with visitations of parish churches as the conference concluded.

After pre-sanctified liturgy and trapeza on Friday, March 19, Bishop Peter, Fr. Martin Swanson and Fr. Jeremiah Loch went with the Kursk Root Icon to St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, IL.

Vladyka Peter had offered to bring the icon to visit that church, with approximately one hour's notice.

As the icon arrived, the church bells began to ring, and two vested priests with censers waited at the entrance to the church. Inside the church there were some 200-250 parishioners.

The Greek parish priests celebrated a Paraklesis to the Mother of God, and Vladyka Peter spoke about the icon.

All the adults and many children in attendance venerated the icon and were anointed. An hour and a half later, the bells again rang and the icon was censed by the clergy of the Greek Church as it departed.