DIOCESE OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND: February 9, 2008
Archbishop Hilarion Continues His Visit to the Orthodox Parishes of Chile
Day Two, February 6, 2008
The next day Archbishop Hilarion, Fr Michael, Fr Alexei and other representatives of the Russian Orthodox community went to meet with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Chile, His Excellency Yuri Anatolievich Filatov.
The Embassy of the Russian Federation is located in one of the wealthier suburbs of Santiago. Though grand and new on the outside, the embassy moreover sparkles with the Russian spirit on the inside.
One of the staff of the embassy, Roman Zaureyevich, met the Archbishop and his suite of representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and accompanied them to a large assembly room where they were to meet with the Ambassador.
His Excellency the ambassador entered the hall soon after and acquainted himself with Vladyka, Fr Michael, Fr Alexei and the other members of the group.
In his address, His Excellency Mr Filatov accorded His Eminence a warm welcome and commented that the restored unity of the Russian Orthodox Church was an important event in the life of all of the Russian people. He then said a few words about the life of the Russian community in Chile and about his contact with the Orthodox compatriots in the country. An important event was held last year, through the initiative of the Embassy, which organised the first Conference of Russian Compatriots in Chile.
In his reply, Vladyka thanked His Excellency for his words of welcome and informed him of the recent events in the life of the whole Russian Church and in particular about the reasons for his visit to Chile and other countries of South America.
Having thus become acquainted with the situation of the Russian Orthodox community in Chile, His Excellency gave an undertaking to assist where possible. Further, His Excellency announced the future visit to South America of the choir of the Sretensky Monastery and a delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church. He spoke with the Archbishop and the members of his group about other contemporary issues.
Vladyka Hilarion passed on greetings from His Excellency the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Australia, AV Blokhin, and presented Mr Filatov with a special medal, struck on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the landing of the first Russian ship Neva, which was issued by the Russian Historical Society of the Australian Diocese with the assistance of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Australia.
Next, Vladyka Hilarion, Fr Michael, Fr Alexei, Roberto Leon and Dr Elizabeth Jurlow visited the Russian cemetery in order to serve a pannikhida at the grave of the ever-memorable Archbishop Leonty (Filippovich + February 7, 1971), the first ruling bishop of the Diocese of Chile of ROCOR and a close friend of St John, Bishop of Shanghai.
After the memorial service, Vladyka went around the cemetery and prayerfully remembered all of his acquaintances of the clergy and monastics who passed from this life of the Chilean diocese.
Fr Alexei invited everyone to lunch at the restaurant of his friend, an Orthodox Arab, where with deep respect and attentiveness a sumptuous lunch was offered.
Following the meal, the Chilean friends took their guests on a tour of the Andes and conversed extensively about their needs and hopes for the future. Vladyka Hilarion and Fr Michael replied to their questions and inspired them with hope for the improvement of the religious situation.
Day Three, February 6, 2008
On Wednesday morning, His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion, Protopriest Michael Boikov, Priest Alexei Aedo and Roberto Leon visited the eldest clergyman in Chile, Archimandrite Veniamin (Vozniuk). There was uncertainty as to what the meeting would bring, for even before the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Fr Veniamin ceased to commemorate his lawful Hierarchy. Still, Fr Veniamin greeted His Eminence and his fellow travelers warmly and respectfully. He spoke with Vladyka and Fr Michael regarding his attitude towards the question of church unity. He shared his concerns with Vladyka Hilarion and drew many historical examples which, in his opinion, supported his point of view. During the conversation, Abbess Juliania arrived, who attentively listened to everything Vladyka Hilarion, Fr Veniamin and Fr Michael said. Despite the fact that no consensus was reached on the matter of church unity, and that Fr Veniamin and Mother Juliania did not change their opinion, they nevertheless bade a cordial farewell to Vladyka. Their ultimate attitude towards events will depend upon their willingness to accept as the will of God the conciliar decision of the entire Russian Orthodox Church and submit themselves to their lawful Hierarchy.
Archbishop Hilarion and Fr Michael then headed for the residence of His Eminence Metropolitan Sergius of the Antiochian Church, the sole Orthodox bishop in chile, to present themselves and pay him his due respect. With the help of a translator, a junior member of the Russian Embassy in Chile by the name of Dionisy, the two hierarchs were able to hold a conversation on various topics. At the end of their visit, they exchanged gifts.
Fr Alexei then took Vladyka Hilarion and Fr Michael, to the home of Dr Elizabeth Jurlow for a traditional Chilean lunch. An Antiochian priest, Fr Eugenio Santiago, a native Chilean, joined them. Since Holy Trinity-Mother of God of Kazan Church lay on the way to Dr Jurlow's home, the travelers stopped to view the church complex. The rector of this church is Fr Veniamin, who at the present time refuses to commemorate the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad. The church was built in the Pskovian style and is very well maintained. The complex includes a large church hall.
After lunch, Vladyka and Fr Michael returned to their hotel to rest and prepare for their trip to Concepcion.
Day Four, February 7, 2008
Early that morning, Archbishop Hilarion and Fr Michael flew to Concepcion, which is some 300 miles south of Santiago. They were met by Fr Alexei and a group of Orthodox Arabs and taken to Hotel El Dorado, owned by an Orthodox Arab named Antonio, where they were given rooms. The first scheduled meeting was with the mayor (Alcaldesa) of the city, Jaqueline Van Rysselberghe, who was interested in the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the life of Russian emigres in her city and the Orthodox faith. After lunch at the home of Fr Alexei, during which the visitors became acquainted with his family, the delegates met with the administration of the local university, a branch of Santiago University, where Fr Alexei teaches. Joining them then was Reader Dionisius Lvov, who returned from the USA, where he graduated from Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY. Reader Dionisius met Archbishop Hilarion a year ago, and Vladyka invited him to join him during his archpastoral visit through South America. During his conversation with the Rector of Central University, Eduardo Aedo Inostroza, the possibility of opening a branch of the University in Australia was discussed. Fr Michael was asked to investigate this possibility and report to Mr Inostroza.
That evening, the guests were honored at a splendid Arabic dinner at the hotel, during which the owner entertained the guests with his vocal talents. He then asked the visitors to sing Russian songs, and they complied. The following day, the delegates were told that after their departure, the remaining dinner guests decided to help Fr Alexei build an Orthodox church in the city of Concepcion.
Day Five, February 8, 2008
Several Orthodox Arabs arrived in the morning to share breakfast with the delegates, and told them how they enjoyed the previous evening's dinner. They also told of their plans to help Fr Alexei. Vladyka Hilarion thanked them and blessed this good work.
At noon, Vladyka Hilarion spoke at a press conference for the local newspaper, El Sur, and the local television channel. At 5 pm, they met with clergymen of other faiths who were interested in Orthodox Christianity.
That evening, Vladyka Hilarion, Fr Michael and Fr Alexei served a pannikhida for the reposed friends and relatives of those in attendance at the Arabic Cultural Center. Dinner was offered to the guests at the hotel.
Protopriest Michael Boikov and Reader Dionisius Lvov