DIOCESE OF CHICAGO AND DETROIT: November 2, 2006
Archpastoral Epistle from Archbishop Alypy of Chicago and Detroit to the Participants of the Diocesan Conference in Oklahoma City
Your Grace Bishop Peter! Dear in the Lord Reverend Rectors of the Parishes of the Diocese of Chicago and Detroit!
I greet all of you who are gathered here to discuss the often challenging circumstances of both parish and diocesan life.
Such a gathering of clergy occurs with common prayer, and culminates in the Divine Liturgy, so that the Grace of God will accompany our work, and so that its outcome will be peaceful and successful.
Unfortunately I cannot be with you because of my physical ailments, but in spirit I am with you.
The common prayer of the Church has a great significance in the lives of our flock because in it both the saints of the Church Triumphant and the Lord Himself are present, as He Himself promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I will be.” This is why it is imperative that our pastors conduct the Divine Services with utmost care.
For over 70 years in the churches of the diaspora we have prayed that God deliver our country from the godless authority and our Orthodox Church from cruel persecution. After the glorification of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian land, the Soviet regime finally began to crumble and fell apart several years later. This happened without any bloodshed, and in this we see the hand of God.
The newly-liberated Russian Church began to heal the many wounds inflicted by decades of persecutions and the interference of the atheist government in the inner life of the Church. Tens of thousands of churches and hundreds of monasteries have either been rebuilt or are being restored upon their old foundations or from semi-demolished church buildings.
This reconstruction effort has been going on for the past 16 years. Many monasteries have started from nothing. Let us take Optina Monastery as an example. People began to flock there in the 1990s seeking monastic life or simply to labor for the glory of God. The monastery was sanctified by the blood of martyrs. A satanist killed three monks: Hieromonk Basil, monk Therapont, and monk Trofim. This happened on Pascha after the service and the festal meal. God received this sacrifice as shown by the multitude of miracles and healings which have occurred after prayers at their graves.
The time has come to unite our labors in Christ's vineyard for the salvation of the Russian people. Our First Hierarch, Metropolitan Laurus, understood this several years ago. Along with our other hierarchs, he laid the groundwork for the healing of the ecclesiastical division. Several commissions were formed during this time. I find their work very satisfactory, since they laid the groundwork for the successful work of the IV All-Diaspora Council and the subsequent Council of Bishops. Both these Councils have affirmed that the time has come for reconciliation in the Russian Church.
I call upon you, dear fathers and brothers, to support our Metropolitan and all our hierarchy in the holy task of healing the wounds of division on the body of our Russian Church. I wish you every success in your labors under the guidance of His Grace Bishop Peter at the conference to address issues of local church life in your parishes, as well as on the diocesan level.
May the Lord bless your pastoral work.
13/26 October, 2006
Icon of The Mother of God “Iveron”