CANADIAN DIOCESE: 30 November 2002



APPEAL of the Diocesan Conference of Canada

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord!

We, the clergy of the Canadian Diocese, gathering on the days of the Holy Elders of Optina, 10/23 October, at the Church of the Holy Trinity in the God-preserved city of Toronto, for our Diocesan Conference under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, appeal to the flock entrusted to us by the Lord with words of lvoe and consolation.

Through our sinfulness, this past year has truly been difficult for all of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. We must say, also, that these difficulties have taken an especially heavy toll on the Canadian Diocese. Under the presidency of the First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, with His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan, the President of the Diocesan Council of Canada, we, to the best of our abilities, have tried not to succumb to fruitless arguments and complaints. Times of trouble often serve more beneficial for the work of the Church, and so we tried to invoke God's help, tried to find the paths of the speediest resolution of our problems. A half a year has elapsed since our last Diocesan Conference, held in Kanata (Ontario), at St. Xenia of St. Petersburg Church. We deign to say with joy that many of the troubles of the Diocese have been alleviated. This is first of all seen in the noticeable calming of church life, as well as in the administrative organization of the diocese.

Still, we are far from saying that the Diocese's problems have all been resolved. Divisions have not yet been eliminated, and our financial situation is particularly difficult. The rebuilding of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal, damaged by fire, upon which enormous sums have been spent, is not yet finished. The parish and diocesan treasuries are practically empty. We are also alarmed by the fate of the Millennial Memorial Protection Church in Ottawa; a great debt has been laid upon it, in connection with an extended legal battle with those who, in their blindness, attempted to tear the church away from those who built it, from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

Raising fervent prayers to the Most-Holy Mother of God and the Ever-Virgin Mary, the participants of the Diocesan Conference discussed the means at our Church's disposal which could help these two especially-suffering parishes. The urgent needs of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Montreal were examined. Its parish is selflessly seeking a way out of the situation and is trying to find funding for the resumption of the project. But they cannot do so without the help of their brethren in other dioceses, and from the Synod of Bishops.

The Cathedral city of the Diocese, its spiritual capital, cannot be abandoned in its time of need. The participants of the Diocesan Conference made the decision to support St. Nicholas Cathedral in every way possible. Some parishes of the Diocese, on the initiative of their rectors, are conducting special collections for Montreal. The problems of St. Nicholas Cathedral were discussed at the session of the Synod of Bishops in San Fransisco. The decision was made to assist the Cathedral from Synodal funds. The Conference in Toronto adopted the decision to take all necessary steps to reestablish parish life in Protection Church in Ottawa, the flock of which is in need of pastoral guidance. An appeal for support for the Ottawa Church is being sent to our kind brethren, whose selfless support has more than once aided a storm-tossed ship. The participants of the Diocesan Conference know and believe that now our appeal will be heard.

To our sorrow, divisions have not all been overcome. Those who have departed from us, unfortunately, stubbornly continue in their errant ways. We do not condemn them, but suffer over them and call them to come to their senses and return to the bosom of the Church, where they will be met with brotherly love.

The participants of the Diocesan Conference pray over the health and salvation of Metropolitan Vitaly, who led our Diocese for many years, and we grieve over the sufferings he has been forced to endure. The Conferees express the desire that as soon as conditions permit, the possibility will present itself to calmly and in good faith to discuss various plans to resolve the trying and spiritually-harmful disagreements over property.
The Conference once again touched upon the question of our relationship with the Moscow Patriarchate and church life in the Homeland. In response to these questions, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and His Grace Bishop Gabriel cleary reiterated that the course of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia remains unchanged, as it had been determined by our First Hierarchs of blessed memory: Metropolitans Anthony, Anastassy and Philaret. This means that the more difficult ecclesiastical questions are left to final resolution by a future All-Russian Church Council. But it follows also to attentively, soberly, and more than anything, with love, to observe church life in our Fatherland, in which one cannot but see good changes--but also to do everything necessary for our voice to be heard by all of Orthodox Russia.

The Conference meetings coincided with the day of the election of our First Hierarch. On this occasion, the Conferees expressed their wishes for his good health and strength from the Lord to continue to steer our Church ship in the direction prepared for her by his predecessors, in the spirit of peace and Divine love.

Let us remember also, dear brothers and sisters, the words of the Apostle: "I...beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. IV:6).

November 2002

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