A Diocesan Conference and Pastoral Retreat of the
Western American Diocese Held at the San Francisco Cathedral

On Sunday, March 27, the Western American Diocesan Conference began. It was held at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow."

The meetings began with a moleben at the incorruptible relics of St John (Maximovich +1966) followed by a pannikhida for the former ruling bishops of the Diocese: Archbishop Tikhon, Archbishop Athony and Bishop Nektarii, and also the recently-reposed Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff and Protodeacon Anataly Wawiluk.

The assembled clergy then proceeded to the parish hall, where His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America declared the Conference in session. Vladyka Kyrill then read his report on Diocesan life over the last three years.

In his report, Archbishop Kyrill noted that the Diocese now has 36 active parishes, served by 39 priests and 19 deacons.

Over 500 students study at the Diocese's schools, from ages 4-18.

Vladyka pointed out that among the most visible events of the period since the last Diocesan Conference were the 100th anniversary of the glorification of St Seraphim of Sarov, the 17th Church Music Conference and the 21st All-Diaspora Youth Conference. Upon the Diocese also lies the responsibility of hosting of the 4th All-Diaspora Council, scheduled to be held at the Cathedral in San Francisco in May 2006.

Archbishop Kyrill drew attention to the negative aspects of Diocesan life as well, mostly the dearth of personal contact between the pastors of the Diocese. The ruling bishop therefore proposed the establishment of four committees: Charitable, Educational, Church Law and Finance.

After our Ruling Bishop's address, the Diocesan Treasurer, Protopriest Sergei Kotar, and the Chairman of the Auditing Committee spoke on the Diocese's financial situation.

Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Secretary of the Pre-Council Committee, spoke on the preparations being made for the 4th All-Diaspora Council and our duty to prepare the logistical aspects of the Council.

The Diocesan Conference then proceeded to elect the members of the Diocesan Council. All the previous members of the Council, the Secretary and Treasurer, and also the members of the Spiritual Court and Auditing Committee, were reelected to their posts.

Then, the parish rectors commenced reporting on the lives of their flock. These reports ended on the second day of the Diocesan Conference, after which the lay members departed.

After a mid-day break, Archbishop Kyrill reported to the remaining pastors on the creation of several committees for improving the Diocese's work as a single family unit.

On Tuesday, the Pastoral Conference commenced. Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff reported on some details of the discussions being held with the Moscow Patriarchate, which have not yet been published since they have not been approved by the Synod of Bishops.

The pastors drafted a letter of greeting to the First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, in which we expressed our support in his archpastoral efforts, wishing him spiritual peace and physical health in his difficult service as First Hierarch.

After a lunch break, more proposals were made and decisions reached with regard to closer contact between parishes. An internet forum for the Diocesan clergy will be established, in which general and local news will be reported relating to parish life and general church matters.

The Rule of prayer for Communion was read before vespers, and during matins, the clergymen made their confessions.

On Wednesday, March 30, Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts was performed. Archbishop Kyrill was joined by 19 priests and deacons in the service. Hieromonk Tryphon, Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Savior in Washington, was awarded the gold pectoral cross, and Priest Anatole Lyovin, Rector of the Church of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God in Honolulu, Hawaii, was awarded the right to wear the skufia.

At the end of divine service, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff congratulated Archbishop Kyrill on his recent 50th birthday and presented His Eminence with a gift from the Diocesan clergy, initiated by their Deans, a complete set of red bishops' vestments.

After a moleben of gratitude was served, the pastors dispersed, feeling renewed and full of spiritual energy for meeting the Feast of Feasts and further fruitful labors within the flock of Christ.

Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov
Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," San Francisco