SOUTH AMERICAN DIOCESE: December 1, 2009
Chronicle of the South American Diocese
- In November, 2009, the Diocese of South America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia launched its new website: http://www.iglesiarusa.org/
- On Sunday, November 8, 2009, His Grace Bishop John of Caracas and South America, accompanied by Protodeacon Nikolai Radish, visited the parish of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Buenos Aires. In his sermon after Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God, Vladyka John pointed out the close, heartfelt bonds between the Russian and Serbian Churches, the roots of which go deep into history. After the divine services, the local Serbian community met with the Minister of the Serbian Diaspora during a luncheon at the parish hall, along with the Serbian Ambassador to Argentina. Vladyka John participated in this meeting as an honored guest.
- On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, Bishop John attended a performance at the local Greek Embassy organized by the “Argentinian Society of Hellenic Culture,” which coincided with the Greek national holiday “Ochi Day.” The Greek Embassy also hosted a round table in Spanish on the topic “The Actuality of Byzantium.” The Greek Ambassador to Argentina, Michalis Christides and the Greek Consul in Argentina Constantine Constantinou were in attendance. At the beginning of the event, the Russian Center of Science and Culture gave Ambassador Christides a Greek-language copy of the documentary produced by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Prior of Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, titled “The Death of an Empire. The Byzantine Lesson.” A segment of this film was the topic of conversation at the round table.
The cultural and historical legacy of the Byzantine Empire were also discussed, as well as its role in world progress. Many elements of the Byzantine model (the legal character of the state, the separation of the Church and state within mutual symphony, the active role of the government in regulating markets, stable and freely exchanged currency, the policy of public education, etc.) continue to be relevant today, especially after the collapse of the socialist and liberal models. The influence of Byzantium on Russia was also discussed, and the adopted legacies in the areas of jurisprudence, economics and culture. It was particularly noted that Russian culture relies to a great extent on principles developed in Byzantium over many centuries. The spiritual influence of Byzantium on Russia is felt to this day. The round table drew the interest of native Argentinians to the history and culture of Greece and Russia, and to Orthodox Christianity as a spiritual foundation for government in various historical epochs.
- On Saturday, November 21, 2009, the feast day of Archangel Michael, Vladyka John visited the Old Believer community in the Moscow neighborhood of Mikhailovskaya Sloboda at their invitation, to mark its holiday. This year is an anniversary for the community; 320 years ago, the stone church with altar table dedicated to Archangel Michael were constructed, and 20 years ago, the church was returned to the community following a 28-year hiatus, the church having been barred from holding services in 1961. The celebrations began on the evening of November 20, the eve of the celebration of Archangel Michael of God and the Bodiless Heavenly Powers. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and His Eminence Metropolitan Yuvenaly, all-night vigil was headed by Bishop John, who came to Moscow specifically to participate in these jubilee services. The service started at 3 pm and continued until 8:30 pm. The crowd of worshipers in Archangel Michael Church beheld the unforgettable tableau of Bishop John, surrounded by clergymen, ceremoniously emerging from the altar for the litiya and the polyeleos. Bishop John also visited the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, where he was welcomed by His Grace Bishop Mark of Egoriev. During this meeting, they discussed the possibility of sending a priest from Russia to Argentina to help Vladyka John.
- On Sunday, November 22, 2009, after Divine Liturgy at Resurrection Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov and Protodeacon Nikolai Radish served a pannikhida at the Church of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God for the late Patriarch Pavle of Serbia. In his sermon, Fr Yaroslav underscored the holy life of the late Primate and his love for peace. Attending the pannikhida were members of the local Serbian population and representatives of the Serbian, Austrian and Bulgarian Embassies in Buenos Aires.