DIOCESE OF SOUTH AMERICA: March 4, 2008
The Archpastoral Visit of the Chief Deputy of the President of the Synod of Bishops To the Parishes of South America Concludes
Day Seven, 10 February, 2008
The next morning, with the help of a pious Chilean family, Juan and Carla and their baby son Uriel, His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion arrived at St Nektarios Church. Awaiting him there were a group of parishioners, who by nationality were mainly Chilean, together with the Jurlow sisters. This was the first time the episcopal Divine Liturgy was held in this church. This unusual nature of this event was underlined even more with the tonsure of two readers, Roberto Leon and Jorge Cortes Reyes, and the awarding of the kamilavka to Fr Alexei. In his sermon concerning the struggle of the New Martyrs of Russia, Vladyka quoted the memorable words of an ancient Church writer who said: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of faith” and called all to imitate their staunch faith and the self-sacrifice of the Russian martyrs.
After the service everyone proceeded to the neighboring University Hall, where lunch took place. During the luncheon the church warden (also the newly-tonsured reader) Roberto Leon, the secretary of the parish, Dr Elizabeth Jurlow and her sister Ekaterina, gave speeches in which they thanked, through Vladyka, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus for sending them the delegation of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and that the uniqueness of this event would forever in their memory. Beginning with Vladyka Hilarion all of the delegates were given thank-you gifts. The people remained in the hall for a long time, warmly enjoying the fellowship.
After several hours Vladyka, Fr Michael and Reader Dionisiy left for their apartment.
In the evening His Eminence invited the main activists of the St Nectarios parish to an Italian restaurant, among whom were the newly-tonsured readers who, for the first time were appearing in public in their cassocks. After the meal the delegates were escorted to their apartment by Enrique Patzke and Nicholas Jurlow, the son of the parish secretary. They continued their discussions long into the early hours of the morning, viewing photographs diocesan life in Australia, asking many different questions and receiving from Vladyka and Fr Michael the pertinent answers.
Day Eight, 11 February, 2008
Even considering Chilean time, Monday began quite late. One has to understand that daily life begins quite late, around 10 to 11, but ends quite early: 1 to 2 a.m!
At 12 noon Fr Alexei and several of his parishioners drove Vladyka and his party to the seaside cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. These beautiful cities which are surrounded by picturesque landscapes—mountains, valleys and the ocean—are located about 1-1 ? hours drive north of Santiago. A tour of the city of Valparaiso was organized for the delegates. Everywhere, just like in Santiago, the locals and foreign tourists stopped the unfamiliar Orthodox group, asking to be photographed with them and inquiring about Orthodoxy. The group indeed resembled a mobile missionary church which was comprised of an archbishop, an archpriest, priest, three readers and laity. On the way home Fr Michael and the readers sang a short vespers service.
Day Nine, 12 February, 2008
This was the last day in Chile. Early in the morning the Divine Liturgy in honor of the Three Hierarchs began about 8 am. It was celebrated mainly in Slavonic by Fr Michael. During the sixth hour, Archbishop Hilarion tonsured Edgardo Oyarzo as a reader. Reader Edgardo, a talented woodcarver, traveled especially from the distant southern city of Valdivia to meet with Vladyka and take his first steps towards clerical for the good of the Holy Church.
In his sermon Fr Michael noted the triple characteristic nature of the lives of the great hierarchs, SS Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. Firstly, they were great ascetics; secondly, their struggles gave them the opportunity to become inspirational and authoritative Teachers and Fathers of the Church. Thirdly, through their deep devotion to Christ's Church, they became her most zealous defenders, defending her against enemies both within and without. “Our bishops strive to imitate them. But those who neglect their lawful hierarchy ‘tread dangerously',” Fr Michael concluded.
At the end of the service all who were present prayerfully congratulated His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, and all the teachers and students of the Holy Trinity Seminary with the school's patron feast day. This feast day has always had and always will have, God willing, an important meaning for Vladyka and his co-travelers since they are all graduates of this theological school of the Church Abroad.
It was very difficult and teary to say goodbye to the Chilean friends. They are people who live humbly, but are ready to give the shirt on their back to their guests. This surprised and humbled the delegates. Unfortunately, the separation was inevitable and at 2.30 pm that afternoon Vladyka and his helpers left for Brazil. At the airport in San Paulo they were met by Protopriest George Petrenko.
Day 10, 13 February, 2008
In the morning Vladyka met with the clergymen who, since May 2007, have aligned themselves with Bishop Agathangel of Odessa (of the so-called THCA ROCA), though previously they had been subject to the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, under the chairmanship of the First Hierarch of ROCOR, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus.
The meeting, which was held at the hotel where the ROCOR delegates were staying, went calmly and peacefully. Besides Vladyka and his co-travelers those who were present included: Protopriest George Petrenko, Protopriest Constantine Bussygin, Priest Vladimir Petrenko and Deacon Eugeny Braga. Though the discussion proceeded for over an hour, the result was similar to the meeting in Chile with Fr Benjamin (see Days 3-5 in South America ) and the friends and alumni of the Holy Trinity Seminary remained steadfast in their opinions with the hope that with God's help the disorder in the Church may be overcome.
After the meeting, Fr George and his son, Fr Vladimir, had lunch with the ROCOR delegates. Immediately following, they gave the delegates a tour of their churches and introduced them to their families. While at Holy Trinity Church, Vladyka served a brief moleben for the health of Matushka Valentina Petrenko and the servant of God Lydia.
In the evening, Fr Vladimir took Vladyka and his companions to the apartment of Vladimir and Natalia Shigaev for dinner. The well-organized dinner was conducted in a friendly manner. Late in the evening, Vladyka Hilarion returned to his hotel.