May 14/27, 2008
Martyr Isidore of Chios
Lifting up thanks to the Great Shepherd, our Lord, for His great mercy which He has poured forth on the Russian Church in the last year, we, the clergy of the diocese of Chicago and Mid-America have gathered before the relics of St Sergius in the Cathedral of his name in the city of Cleveland. We pray for our primate and father Metropolitan Laurus’ repose from his hierarchal labors in the Heavenly Mansions and for the success in the endeavors of our newly-elected First Hierarch His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion.
We rejoice that the division within the Russian Church has been healed and that the time has come for common constructive labors in the ecclesiastical field. We hope that all divisions within the historic Russian Church will likewise soon be overcome.
Remembering that “the harvest is great but the laborers are few” we look, on the one hand with joy at our growing flock due to the recent emigration and the multitude of converts, and on the other hand with concern at the aging and dwindling ranks of our clergy. We acknowledge the necessity of attracting our pious youth to clerical vocations but encounter difficulties in this regard.
Regretfully, the repose of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus creates a spiritual void. We entreat our First Hierarch and the Synod of Bishops to give due attention to the essential educational institutions of our Church Abroad. Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) of blessed memory and Dr Nicholas Alexandrov established Holy Trinity Seminary with the goal of continuing the excellence which was inherent in pre-Revolutionary Russian theological schools. May God help to reestablish that tradition today!
Our diocese aspires to fill the void in the teaching of traditional Orthodoxy to English-speaking laity through its Pastoral School, however, an equally vibrant effort needs to exist in a residential seminary program. The graduates should be prepared to meet the unique spiritual challenges of being a pastor in a bilingual church environment. We pray that His Eminence and the Synod of Bishops place Pastoral Education high on their list of priorities.
Asking Your First Hierarchal Blessing,
We remain your faithful servants,
The Clergy of the Northern Deaneries of the