GERMAN DIOCESE: June 4, 2018
Bishop Panteleimon speaks at the 17th Russian Orthodox Youth Conference of the German Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad
On May 31-June 3, 2018, the city of Cologne, Germany, hosted the 17th Russian Orthodox Youth Conference of the German Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The event was titled “Social Service of the Church and the Orthodox Family,” organized by the parish of Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon.
Young men and women from youth organizations of Germany and other nations participated. Clergymen and representatives of social programs spoke. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, His Grace Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevsk, President of the Synodal Department of Charity. He passed on the blessing of the Patriarch to the youth, along with his wish that youth actively participate in Church life and social service.
“We must always remember that we should share with others regardless of our own well-being. There are always those who live better than we do, there are always those whose lot is worse than ours, and they are not only our direct neighbors, but in distant countries,” said Vladyka Panteleimon. “Our sacrifice can take many forms: money, clothing, groceries, but sacrifice we must.”
But social service does not only mean material aid, but the spiritual growth of the person helping and the one who receives help, said the Patriarchal Vicar.
“All the social service that we do must first of all increase love, and the main goal of a person participating is to change one’s soul,” said Bishop Panteleimon. “We must learn to love, open our hearts, empathize with others and take their suffering as one’s own.”
Bishop Panteleimon stressed the importance of prayer and participation in Liturgical life—without it there can be no spiritual growth or full-fledged help to one’s neighbor. Social service helps us fathom the meaning of suffering, he said.
“Sadly, sin has permeated our lives. A result of this is sickness and suffering, and these are not distributed equitably: if everyone suffered to the same degree, no one could help each other,” said Vladyka Panteleimon. “If you are healthy, you can rejoice, but you cannot forget those who do suffer and are in need. The illness and suffering of one’s neighbor is our shared problem, which we need in order to heal from sin.”
One of Vladyka Panteleimon’s talks was devoted to problems in family life.
“We live in a world in which families are crumbling. In Russia, people rarely get married,” he noted. “Many people are used to taking care of their own needs. The family falls apart because many do not wish to have children, or limit the number they have, because often they hurried to wed.”
Many couples, he said, refuse to marry because they doubt their ability to rear a child properly. Still, a childless life is also filled with problems, noted Bishop Panteleimon.
“Without the family, a society cannot exist, and without matrimony, it is impossible to rear happy children,” noted the hierarch. He said that unity is important within the family structure, in spiritual matters, in matters pertaining to rearing children, spending money, the observance of Lenten periods, etc.
“The unity of the family is often put under stress, development always comes through overcoming challenges, and love is not something that is just given once and for all,” noted Vladyka Panteleimon. He then answered questions and called upon them to make a life’s decision on establishing a family, not only based on emotion, but first of all through praying that God’s will is done.
Also speaking at the event were Sister Martha (Wall), on the topic “The Orthodox Bethany School;” Alina Titova, Head of the Orthodox Volunteer Service in Germany, on “Diaconia ‘Good Works’ in Germany,” and Protopriest Ilya Limberger, Protopriest Andrei Jurevich and others.
The event concluded with Divine Liturgy at St Panteleimon Church, celebrated by Bishop Panteleimon, along with clergy participants from Germany, Russia and Ukraine.