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NEW YORK: October 23, 2007
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Sends a Greeting To the XI Conference of Patriarchal Parishes in the USA

To His Grace Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk,
Vicar of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II for the
Parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA

And To All the Participants of the XI Conference of
Patriarchal Parishes in the USA

Your Grace!
Dear in the Lord Fathers and Brothers!

" And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not;
from henceforth thou shalt catch men " (Luke 5:10).

With these few words, our Lord Jesus Christ called simple fishermen to the apostolic service. Let us note that Christ saw a similarity between the fisherman's trade and apostolic service: henceforth thou shalt catch men . Indeed, the world lay before the apostles as a great, expansive sea, filled with mystery and tumultuousness. And they were weak and unarmed, like small rowboats, setting out into this dangerous world, fraught with troubles and misunderstandings; could they succeed in converting human souls? And what they did endure, what they did suffer, these simple, but glorious and brave, fishermen! They bore great labors and pains in their holy work of spreading the Gospel: they crossed entire nations, catching souls for the Church of Christ; they suffered to witness Christ, but even until their deaths they did not hesitate to seek the salvation of souls. It is not surprising that the Apostles needed to reel souls in to the faith in those days of ignorance: "at that time ye were without Christ… and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). But what of those who already believe in Christ, the members of His Church—we also need to be caught, reeled in to God and His Church! Unfortunately, we do not always succeed. Show me the sinner who would correct his ways; the wayward one who must find the right path again; the one who succumbs to passions and sinful habits who must be healed! There are clearly factors today which hinder the work of the Church; we have our own problems which prevent the success of the good pastor; we have our own circumstances which lure people away into the world of commotion and bother.

But glory and thanks to God, on May 17 of this year, with the reestablishment of the fullness of brotherly communion within the one Local Russian Orthodox Church, "the Lord gave strength unto His people; the Lord blessed His people with peace;" the same peace of which Christ spoke to His Apostles, that he would "leave them His peace," that is, the heavenly peace, the eternal peace. This peace strengthens us in carrying out the work of God towards which we are called here in America. This will bolster us in the preservation of the ideals of Holy Russia amid the difficult environment abroad, in the dissemination of the great legacy of the Russian Orthodox Church amidst the local populace which seeks the truth. This peace will help us rear our children in Orthodoxy and in Russianness.

For this reason I hope that the unity we have achieved with God's help will not change a whit as time goes by, that it does not weaken us, but that it matures, that it solidifies. That is what we must do: we must serve together, we must pray for each other, we must support each other in preaching and missionary work, we must organize brotherly meetings, joint pastoral conferences, gatherings of the laity, etc. If we do this, then our mutual amity shall remain forever unchanged; the more contact we have with each other, the more good will we will have for each other; then ill will shall not sow discord among us: with prayers like arrows, and with brotherly love we will guard against it. I hope that this Conference of Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, sanctified by joint prayer and brotherly contact, will bring everyone the remission of sins and renewal, and the holy love of Christ, and the perpetual readiness to support one another, making the foundation of further edification and blossoming of our joint labors in America. May the God of peace and love abide among us forever, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With love in the Lord,

+ Metropolitan Laurus
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

October 11/24, 2007