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