SYDNEY: March 24, 2008
Archbishop Hilarion’s Epistle to the Pastoral Conference of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand
“O Creator, in the depth of Your wisdom You lovingly govern all men,
and distribute to each what is for good” (Burial troparion Tone 8)
Beloved brethren, dear fathers!
The blessed end of our lord and father, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, has served as the reason for our involuntary separation today. I am sorry that I cannot attend and participate in the Pastoral Conference of our Diocese. Yet who could have foreseen that our dear Abba, Vladyka Laurus, would leave us and this world so suddenly? It would seem that this spiritually-strong person would have long led the ship of the Church Abroad, which he had recently brought to the calm and peaceful harbor of the fullness of Eucharistic and brotherly communion within the Local Russian Orthodox Church.
But God’s will be done! For one can verily say in the wonderful words of the Apostle that “nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ” (and consequently from the love of ones neighbor), because we shall overcome all through the power of Him Who loves us. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
I greet you in this epistle, my dear concelebrants and helpers in the harvest-fields of Christ! As I bless you, I humbly ask your holy prayers for me, the sinner, because by the same will of God, I am temporarily fated to lead our orphaned Russian Church Abroad until the forthcoming Council of Bishops, which shall convene after the Bright Pascha of the Lord this year. I prayerfully wish you to conduct the Pastoral Conference in the spirit of oneness, brotherly love and piety.
In conclusion, it is worth remembering the inspiring words of the kontakion on the Ascension of the Lord to His disciples: “I am with you and no one is against you!”
Archbishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand
Deputy President of the Synod of Bishops of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Great Lent 2008