The idea of establishing the “Concord of Orthodox Youth” movement was born even before the reunification of the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church, and was incarnated after the Ascension of the Lord in 2007, with the active participation of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This year’s conference is now the fourth of its kind, and was organized with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
The Concord is called upon, in the words of His Holiness, “to foster feelings of unity and integration within the young generation of Orthodox Christians who live in various countries and belong to various Local Churches.” For this end, an international medium is being created for Orthodox youth, and young Orthodox men and women, descendants of Russian émigrés, are given the opportunity to have contact with Russian spiritual traditions and culture. Concord also has a missionary goal—to show the allure and beauty of the Orthodox way of life, to witness a different possible way of life in today’s world.
This fourth Concord meeting includes delegates from various Local Churches, including those of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Australia, the USA, Serbia, Montenegro, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. According to tradition, the participants began their journey from Kursk-Root Hermitage, visiting Voronezh, Murom and Kostroma. After visiting Holy Trinity-St Sergius Labra, they plan to visit Moscow’s St Danilov Monastery and meet with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, then travel to Crimea.
The delegates prayed during Divine Liturgy at the Lavra’s cathedral, venerating the honorable relics of St Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh. After breakfast, the guests went on an excursion through the Lavra and the Ecclesio-Archeological Cabinet of Moscow Theological Academy.
The Academy’s Great Hall hosted a meeting of the delegates with representatives of the Lavra and teachers and students of MTA.
The delegates viewed a movie on the Orthodox icon commissioned by the Ecclesio-Archeological Cabinet of MTA.
The Lavra’s ekonom [steward], Archimandrite Ieremia (Soloviev) greeted the delegates on behalf of its Prior, His Eminence Archbishop Feognost. Fr Ieremia thanked the visitors for their desire to visit Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, the center of Russian Orthodoxy, and for the effort they exerted to manifest this wish.
Speaking for the MTA was its Deputy Rector of Scientific Theology, Protopriest Pavel Velikanov. He spoke about the life of Moscow’s theological schools, their specialties and status today.
Sergei Pavlovich Loktionov greeted everyone on behalf of the Concord movement. He talked about the origins and development of the project, its goals and challenges. His audience learned about the previous conferences, and why the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God is the Concord’s Protectress, and spoke about the pilgrimages, meetings, concerts, balls and other measures held within the framework of the Concord. This year, the first family brought together by the Concord was formed when a couple from Australia and Russia, Veniamin Drozdovsky and Irina Bulgakova, married.
Protopriest Gabriel Makarov of ROCOR’s Australian Diocese shared his impressions and thoughts with the students of the theological schools, talking about the time he spent at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, recalling the guidance he received from Vladyka Laurus, the particularities of pastoral work in various countries that have no Orthodox traditions. Fr Gabriel noted the benefit of conferences for Orthodox youth who were born and reared in the West, which is already the fourth or fifth generation of the émigré community: “They feel that they are not alone, they sense their belonging to a great Russia, the great Russian Church and Holy Rus.”
The following participants also shared their thoughts:
Alexander (Ukraine): “Every year we become better and better friends, like a great big family. The Concord is creating the ideal atmosphere for spiritual and emotional development.”
Mikhail (Poland): “I am grateful for having been able to visit so many holy sites and venerate the relics of so many saints.”
Maria (Ukraine): “At first I had some concerns about how we would interact. But we were welcomed so warmly, that it was easy to open up… It is very nice the young people strive towards faith, to knowing God. Thanks to this conference, youth movements are beginning in our Homeland.”
The event concluded with performances by the Concord’s own choir and that of MTA. The delegates sang religious music, while youth from the Bulgarian and Polish Churches sang folk songs. The MTA choir, under the direction of Hegumen Nikifor (Kirzin) sang both spiritual and folk songs.
The guests and the representatives of the Lavra and MTA then exchanged gifts.
At the end of the event, all the participants of this gathering sang the sticheron for All Russian Saints.
Press Service of the MTA