Diocese of Chicago and Detroit Fall Diocesan Clergy Retreat

The annual fall Clergy Retreat of the Diocese of Chicago and Detroit was held this year in Houghton, MI, at the northernmost parish of the diocese, named in honor of SS Sergius and Herman of Valaam.

The clergy began gathering for the Retreat on the evening of the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God. Many of the fathers served early liturgies that morning in their parishes and began their travels to Houghton immediately afterwards. The Retreat began with the appointed moleben “Before Every Good Work” on September 22 at the parish church. The clergy then gathered for the opening of the Retreat. At this time, the Diocesan Treasurer’s report was presented followed by discussions of topical interest to the clergy. After recess, a barbecue was held at the summer home of local parishioners Dr and Mrs Patrick Joyce. Due to travel problems, His Grace Bishop Peter was unable to arrive until the time of the evening barbecue. The gathered clergy and their families had the opportunity to interact with each other in this informal setting as the sun set beautifully over Lake Superior. Following the meal and a bonfire, the clergy returned to their lodgings for the evening.

The second day of the retreat began with Divine Liturgy served by several clergymen of the Diocese. It is our tradition to begin each full day of our clerical retreats with the Divine Liturgy. Following Liturgy, the clergy gathered in the rectory for a delicious breakfast prepared by the sisterhood, and to continue their official business. Bishop Peter led the clergy this day, informing them of the upcoming All-Diaspora Council in San Francisco, as well as soliciting their input on the best ways to choose lay and clerical representatives to attend the Council. Bishop Peter also discussed liturgical issues and practices that he has come across in his extensive travels throughout our large Diocese, and suggested ways to standardize some of these practices. Priest Martin Swanson, Protopriest Paul Bassett and Priest Anthony Nelson provided the final report of the Clergy Compensation Committee. It is believed that this is the first comprehensive study of clergy salaries with recommendations to be completed in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The report was unanimously approved, and is to be sent to all diocesan Rectors to share with their Parish Councils. This study will also be available on the diocesan web site in the near future. Fr Martin also presented a detailed report on the Diocesan Pastoral School that he administers. This marks the first year of the School’s operation and it has enrolled 18 students from almost every diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The final resolution of the Retreat was also approved unanimously at this session. It will be circulated to all diocesan Rectors, and will be available soon on the Diocesan web site.

Following the official portion of this day’s activities a tour of the Houghton, MI, area was provided for the clergy and their families. Almost all those in attendance participated in this fall color tour. Upon return, an evening meal was hosted by the sisterhood and then followed by a vigil served by Bishop Peter to SS Sergius and Herman. Reader A Petrovsky from St Sergius Parish in Parma, OH, led a mixed choir consisting of clergy, as well as visiting and local singers, who sang beautifully.

The next morning on the feast day of SS Sergius and Herman, the clergy and the Warden of the parish, Mrs Barbara Manninen, met Bishop Peter for the beginning of the Hierarchical Liturgy. Again, the choir sang beautifully. A moleben to SS Sergius and Herman was sung as the clergy, guests, and parishioners went on a procession around the parish church. Concluding the retreat was a festive meal served in the parish rectory, after which the clergy and guests returned to their own parishes, thanking God for His mercy in allowing such a gathering at which the clergy had the opportunity to strengthen their personal and spiritual ties. As Bishop Peter stated during the retreat, "Our strength as a diocese is in our unity…" Most certainly, this gathering provided wonderful opportunities to strengthen the gathered clergy in that unity, providing them with the motivation to return to their parishes and carry on their difficult tasks of shepherding the spiritual flock which has been entrusted to them.

Priest Gregory Joyce
Diocesan Secretary