MOSCOW: July 8, 2008
The Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Hosts an Introductory Reception
On June 26, 2008, after a regular meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia hosted a reception to mark the first ever participation of the Church Abroad in the Council of Bishops of our Church. The evening was organized by Rostislav Ordovsky-Tanaevsky Blanco. Some one hundred eminent clergymen and representatives of government and social organizations attended. The event was covered by two leading television channels, ORT and "Rossiya."
His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion gave a speech at the dinner, during which he said:
"The faithful flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, our fathers and mothers, and we, their children and grandchildren, always believed that even in the most difficult years of our 'Babylonian captivity,' our suffering Homeland lived on. We prayed fervently, and impatiently awaited the day when we could join the spiritual renewal of Russia, not from a distance, but in person.
"The profound changes in Russia in recent years have led to the momentous day when the historically separated but spiritually united parts of the Russian Orthodox Church joined for the great mission of Orthodox rebirth. The reestablishment of unity in May of last year gives our much-suffering people an opportunity to occupy its deserved place in the family of Christian peoples.
"As far back as 1938, our holy hierarch of the diaspora, St John of Shanghai, wrote that 'Russians abroad are given to shine the light of Orthodoxy throughout the world, that other nations, seeing their good works, would glorify our Father, Who art in Heaven, and thereby bring down for themselves salvation.'
"The parishes of the Russian Church Abroad, its schools and organizations, serve towards the glory of God and represent our historical Homeland in its best light in the West. We are prepared to continue to labor in the harvest-fields of Christ and provide spiritual nourishment for the thousands of our compatriots who for one reason or another find themselves in the emigration.
"In May, 2006, the IV All-Diaspora Council convened in San Francisco. The first point of order for this most important Council was the matter of our relationship with the Church in Russia. The second was the matter of the future of our Church in the diaspora, with special attention paid to our youth and the problems they face in modern society.
"Through the boundless mercy of God and thanks to the spiritual leadership and righteous efforts of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and of our Primate of blessed memory, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the painful division between the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church were, through the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion, finally overcome, and the process of healing wounds began.
"A necessary part of this healing process is working with our youth.
"By decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia held last May, the first Sunday after Pentecost shall henceforth be celebrated as the Day of Youth of the Russian Church Abroad. The goal will be to encompass all three basic socio-cultural groups of youth of our Holy Church: young people born in Russia, those born abroad and those who convert to Orthodoxy from the countries where ROCOR exists. The program of the Day of Youth will be organized with the aim of attracting youth who are on the perimeter of church life, yet who appreciate Russian culture and its legacy, which are infused with the spirit of Holy Russia.
"We must do everything possible to bring together Russian youth in Russia and in the West. I am convinced that the most effective way of preserving the Russianness of our youth in the West is to show them a renascent Russia. For youth in Russia to visit church groups in the diaspora along with their youth can help them love their native culture and the Orthodox faith even more.
"During the opening of the Council of Bishops, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy said that 'the mission of the Church was always difficult. But from the day of the Pentecost to this day, through the power, the force and the coming down of the Holy Spirit, She unfailingly pronounces the truth of the Resurrected Christ even unto the uttermost part of the earth' (Acts 1:8).
"We believe that the Holy Spirit shall not abandon us. We are ready to work, but we need your help."
Protopriest Victor Potapov, Executive Director of the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reported to the guests that in May, 2008, the FfA was granted the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia to continue its work. In his speech, Fr Victor said:
"Our spiritual leaders constantly reminded the emigres, their children and grandchildren the idea proposed by Ivan Ilyin, according to which 'each of us must feel himself a representative of Russia, her ways, her values, her character. Each must remember that other peoples judge all of Russia through us… In this little way, each contributes to the mission of the Russian emigration.'
"Our emigre clergymen in fact would love to say 'we are not in exile, but on a mission.'
"The history of the Russian Church Abroad has shown that this mission has proven fruitful. Ministering to many thousands of faithful scattered throughout the world was and remains the chief goal of our Church; bringing the Orthodox faith to the West is another goal, and this mission has found success, attested to by the fact that among the episcopacy and clergy of our Church are people of many nationalities who adopted our faith.
"For over 80 years of its existence, ROCOR amassed a great deal of invaluable experience for Russian Orthodoxy abroad. This experience is needed not only for the ROCOR flock, but it is needed for Russia and for hundreds of thousands of our compatriots.
"In recent years, there has been a significant influx of new parishioners in our church communities abroad and the level of their religiosity has increased, since the Church is becoming the center where living spiritual communion between people occurs. Many examples illustrate how people who were initially cool to religion, having arrived in the West, became church members.
"In this regard, the canonical communion achieved in 2007 between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Church Abroad can become a very important resource for Russia. Each parish, even where divine services are conducted in another language, witness through their proximity to the Russian Orthodox tradition the rich traditions of the Russian Church and the spiritual grandeur of historical Russia before the heterodox world. But in order to exploit this resource, we must join the forces of clergymen, social and political leaders and sponsors both in Russia and in the diaspora."
Fr Victor further reminded the audience of the main goal of the Fund: "To raise funds in order to provide financial support to initiatives of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia whose sole purpose and aim is to propagate the Holy Orthodox faith, spiritually educate and care for Church members, support clergy and maintain its holiest places and houses of worship."
"The Fund for Assistance to ROCOR is prepared to consider other projects aimed at strengthening Russian spiritual values and to collaborate with church, cultural and educational organizations in Russia to develop and strengthen the unity of our Church and people," concluded Fr Victor.