NEW YORK: May 11, 2009
Metropolitan Hilarion Talks About His trip to Australia and His Recent Trip to Central America
His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York arrived at the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand during this joyous Paschal period, where he also heads the Russian Orthodox parishes on the Green Continent. Not long before his trip, correspondent Tatiana Veselkina of Edineniye [Unification], Australia’s Russian-language weekly, interviewed Vladyka Hilarion.
— Your Eminence, your visit to your Diocese promises to be busy, as always. Where do you plan on serving your first few days in Australia, and whom do you plan to meet?
— Upon arriving in Australia, I wish first of all to thank the Lord God for the opportunity to once again be with the parishioners of this diocese, where I was fortunate to serve for some unforgettable years before my election to the post of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. During this visit, I wish to visit as many church and monasteries as I can and meet with clergymen and parishioners.
On Saturday, May 9, I will serve at the Archbishop’s Chapel in Croydon, and on Sunday, May 10, the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Sydney. In the next few days we will also have our quarterly Diocesan Council.
— Vladyka, what news is there from the Diocese from recent months?
— The Orthodox Church in America transferred Annunciation parish in Brisbane to the Russian Church Abroad. The first service there will be held on May 24. Priest John Weir, an Australian, will lead that flock.
A great deal of youth ministry work is being done. In my absence, priests who work with youth held a special meeting where they adopted a program aimed at sparking the participation of youth in church life. This is crucial for their spiritual benefit and for our Church as a whole, for the strength of our Church is in its continuity from generation to generation. I would like to thank Protopriest Gabriel Makarov and Protopriest George Lapardin and all our clergymen who work with young people and adolescents.
— As I understand, you also plan to make an archpastoral visit to Korea.
— We have a small mission working in South Korea. Its founder is a wonderful batiushka by the name of Protopriest Justin Kang, who has borne the difficult apostolic and missionary task for many years; he translates divine services and spiritual books into Korean, lectures on Orthodoxy. He and his matushka, Elena, decided to devote their lives to monasticism. Fr Justin now lives at the Church of St Anna, and his matushka lives in a convent. One of the goals of my visit to Korea is to perform the monastic tonsure, and also to ordain their son, Deacon Paul Kang, to the priesthood, so that he can head the Orthodox Mission in Korea.
— Your Eminence just returned from an archpastoral trip to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Our readers would be interested to learn about Orthodox parishes in Latin America.
— Archimandrite Andrew (Vujisic) is the spiritual leader of an Orthodox community dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God in Puerto Rico. Fr Andrew is an educated priests, one could say he is continuing the work of the late Bishop Alexaner (Mileant). He writes textbooks and does translations. For those striving to serve the Church, and for those simply interested in Orthodoxy, he is establishing pastoral courses in Spanish with my blessing. Those who wish may study via the internet. For the Spanish-speaking population of Latin America who wish to serve Orthodoxy, this is important missionary work.
During my visit to Puerto Rico, I ordained a regular parishioner to the deaconate to help him, an American by birth.
There are two communities of the Russian Church Abroad in the Dominican Republic. The first is in the resort city of Puerto Plata, where our sole priest, Fr Rafael Martinez Gonzalez, lives. He received his higher education in Russia and speaks Russian. But Russian parishioners, mostly Russian women married to Latinos, and also a great many tourists (some 4,000 every week), are mostly in the city of Santo Domingo. We need to have an Orthodox church there.
I gave my blessing for the organization of a community dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, because the name of the city means “Holy Sunday.” The husbands of the Russian women, many of whom are graduates of universities in the old Soviet Union, mostly engineers, architects and builders, took up the idea enthusiastically. While the matter of seeking out and preparing a parcel of land is being worked on, Fr Rafael serves in a house chapel twice a month.
— A few days ago, a regular session of the Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad was held. Among the questions discussed was the possible return of the miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” to Russia…
— Yes, if God grants, the icon will be brought to Russia for the first time since 1920, when it left the country permanently.
There is a preliminary agreement that the icon will spend three weeks in Russia, this time only in Moscow, in Christ the Savior Cathedral, and in Kursk. The “pilgrimage” of the “Hodigitria of the Russian Diaspora” will coincide with the conclusion of restoration work on the Kursk-Root Hermitage Cathedral.
The icon will then return to its home, and will continue to travel throughout the countries of the Russian diaspora, where it will bring consolation to the flock, as it has for decades. The icon will continue to be the “Hodigitria” of the Russian Diaspora, and the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Russia understands this.
— Vladyka, what would like to say to the parishioners of Australia and New Zealand?
— I wish everyone health, strength, patience and Paschal joy. May this bright happiness not abandon us, and may participation in divine services give us spiritual strength.
Tatiana Veselkin, New York