CANADIAN DIOCESE: October 24, 2008
Pastoral Meeting in Ruskoka
On October 19-21, 2008, a regular Pastoral Meeting of the clergymen of the Canadian Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held at the youth camp "Ruskoka," on the banks of the Muskoka River in Ontario. (The word "Ruskoka" is an amalgamation of "Rus" and "Muskoka.")
These pastoral meetings began in 2005 through the efforts of His Grace Bishop Gabriel, who at the time was the Administrator of the Eastern portion of the Diocese of Montreal and Canada. Bishop Gabriel consecrated a large chapel in Ruskoka dedicated to Holy Royal Martyr Tsarevich Alexei, built in the traditional Russian style in a wooded clearing amid ancient trees.
This year, after the decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia appointing Bishop Gabriel to the Montreal cathedra, the Ruskoka meeting marked the long-awaited unity of the Canadian Diocese, joyfully welcomed by every single member of the clergy and flock of both the Eastern and Western Canadian parts of the Diocese. For the first time, clergymen from the West arrived in Ruskoka; Hegumen Raphael (Vereschak) of Winnipeg and Protopriest George Primak of Calgary.
During the fraternal meetings, which began late Sunday evening at a campfire and continued at dinner, a great variety of matters were discussed: daily pastoral life, including matters of divine services, and ministry to the flock under new conditions outside of Russia. A good deal of time was devoted to discussing diocesan matters. It was generally determined that church life in the parishes of the diocese, which had suffered greatly since the troubles of 2001, over the last five years, through the mercies of God, is now peaceful and in good order. The time has indeed come to focus attention on the management of the entire diocese, which at one time was renowned throughout the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
On Monday morning at 9 am, Divine Liturgy began, after which the participants engaged in a lively exchange of opinions. In particular, principles of interrelationships between the pastors and their flocks were discussed, especially youth ministry. Bishop Gabriel gave detailed answers to all questions and told of the more important and noteworthy events stemming from recent Council and Synod decisions.
The visitors to Ruskoka were greeted by the late Canadian autumn, which so remind one of the middle regions of Russia. At first the weather was mild and the winds calm, but at dawn on Tuesday, snow began to fall, and Ruskoka whitened in minutes, transformed into the image of a Christmas card.
We offer our readers photographs of the event taken by Reader Alexander Pushchin of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Toronto.