from the Pastoral Retreat and Conference of the Eastern Canadian Diocese

A Pastoral Retreat and Conference was held at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) from 1/19 until 6/20 March for the clergy of the Eastern Canadian Diocese, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan, the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. Working sessions of the Diocesan Council of the Canadian Diocese and the Directors of the Brotherhood of St. Job of Pochaev, under the same leadership, were also held at St. Nicholas Cathedral.

In his opening address, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus reminded everyone that such pastoral and fraternal meetings during Great Lent, now an annual occurrence in the Canadian Diocese, have as their main goal the purification of souls, so that the Lord grants us to greet blamelessly the Bright Holy Days of the Resurrection of Christ.

His Grace Bishop Gabriel, addressing the Conferees, spoke of the heartening pacification and organization of church life in all the parishes of our Diocese.

The meetings included detailed discussions of parish and diocesan matters. In part, the selfless labors of St. Nicholas Cathedral Parish were noted with joy, where reconstruction of the church building continues under very difficult circumstances, with the number of parishioners growing. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the rectors of the parishes of the Eastern Canadian and Eastern American Dioceses will discuss with their parish councils means of providing financial aid to St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal. The Parish Council of St. Nicholas Cathedral is mailing appeals which will provide details on the present reconstruction of St. Nicholas Cathedral.

The situation concerning Holy Protection Memorial Church in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) was also discussed, where individuals are relentlessly pursuing litigation in an attempt to seize Memorial Church and St. Vladimirís Home for Seniors. Still, the appointment of a new rector is helping Protection Parish gradually gather strength.

During the meetings, questions were posed to His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus on his forthcoming trip to Moscow and other cities of the Fatherland. His Eminence once again stated that our Church Abroad is not intending to “unify” or “reunify” with the Moscow Patriarchate, as is sometimes reported in the antagonistic or misinformed media. The canonical and administrative status of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia remains unchanged. We are only making an effort to iron out good relations with the Church in the Fatherland, which, we hope, will be helped by the forthcoming trip to Russia.

The complicated legal correspondence with the Bureau of Corporations in Quebec, lasting for over six months thus far, was reported at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Brotherhood of St. Job of Pochaev, presided over by its administrator, His Grace Bishop Gabriel, along with the participation of the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. Persons who have left our Church, establishing a new religious corporation calling itself the “Church in Exile,” are pestering the Quebec government was unfounded complaints, demanding that our Brotherhood, since its foundation an inseparable part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (as stated in the By-Laws of the Brotherhood), be re-registered to their benefit. The baseless nature of these demands is heightened by the fact that the named individuals were removed from the Board of Directors of the Brotherhood in 2001 by decree of the retired Metropolitan Vitaly. The complaint filed by the “Church in Exile” drains the already-sparse funds of the Canadian diocese and the Brotherhood.

The participants of the Great Lenten Conference at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal humbly appeal to all the clergymen and laypersons of our Church, who, influenced by the troubles and confusion, left the boundaries of the Church and joined the so-called “Church in Exile” and other such temporal organizations. We implore upon all, in these last days of Great Lent and Passion Week, to carefully and soberly ponder the situation and accept the legacy of our Holy and God-bearing fathers. We pray the Lord to help our dear and beloved brothers and sisters, whom we do not forget for an instant, to come to their senses and recognize the situation in which they now find themselves. We continue to hope that they will all return home, for then all divisions and insults will be forgotten, all suspensions and accusations, and no one will any longer remember the past. We pray to the Lord to grant that we greet the coming Pascha of the Lord together at one table.