International Orthodox Christian News

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] - Funeral services for Archpriest Eugene Vansuch have been announced. Services will take place at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Bethlehem, PA. The main celebrant will be His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman.

The service schedule is as follows.

Thursday, March 27, 2008: viewing from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with the Funeral Rite for a Priest at 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 28, 2008: viewing from 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., with the Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow at Hellertown Cemetery, Hellertown, PA.


In Memoriam: Archpriest Eugene Vansuch

EASTON, PA [OCA Communications] -- On Sunday, March 23, Archpriest Eugene Vansuch, 66, of Easton, PA, died 2008 at his residence.

Fr. Eugene was born in Campbell, OH the son of the late Michael Vansuch and Mary (Racz) Vansuch of Campbell, OH. He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years Frances (Papaharalambos) Vansuch of Easton.

Fr. Eugene was a 1959 graduate of Memorial High School in Campbell, OH; he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Youngstown University in 1965 and later graduated from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY on June 3, 1967 with a Masters of Divinity Degree. He was also a member of the St. Vladimir's Octet that traveled the country.

He was ordained to the priesthood March 12, 1967. He celebrated 41 years of Priesthood this year. Fr. Eugene was assigned to St. Vladimir Church in Trenton NJ, after many years as the beloved pastor in Madison, IL; he started a parish in the Diocese of the South; He was pastor of St. George in Trumbull, CT; where he also served as Chaplain for the Trumbull Fire Dept.; Pastor of St. John Chrysostom Church in Philadelphia; Pastor of parishes in Nanticoke, Pa and St. Nicholas Church in Bethlehem, PA, before heading the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards.

He served the Orthodox Church in America in many capacities, including Director of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards (FOS). For many years he was the national spiritual advisor for the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs, which later became Fellowship of Orthodox Christians.

Father was a member of St. Herman Seminary Board of Trustees and Secretary for many years. He taught at St. Tikhon Orthodox Seminary in South Canaan, PA as a Senior Professor for many years, instructing Canon Law and Church History.

He also served on Local Brotherhood of Clergy as well as the Lehigh Valley Council of Churches.

Fr. Eugene was very active with clergy on local, Diocesan and national levels. Fr. Vansuch served on many committees such as the Diocesan Council, Metropolitan Council, Administrative Committee, Preconciliar Commissions and Deanery Committees.

He was an avid sports fan, especially of the Cleveland Indians and Browns as well as Youngstown University and Ohio State University athletics. He particularly enjoyed watching his children play sports; following their achievements as they were growing up.

Fr. Vansuch will be lovingly remembered by his family, wife Frances, sons, Basil Vansuch husband of Katherine of Vermont; Reverend Jason Vansuch husband of Katia of Norwich, CT and Damian Vansuch husband of Anastasia of Allentown. He is also survived by his brother Nicholas Vansuch husband of Monica of Howland, OH and four grandchildren and another to be born soon as well as his aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, sister-in-law and brothers-in-law.

Arrangements are under the guidance of Connell Funeral Home, Inc. Bethlehem. A visitation will be held at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church 980 Bridle Path Rd. Bethlehem PA 18017 on Thursday March 27, 2008 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. with a funeral service to follow at 7:00 p.m. officiated by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman and brother clergy from various Deaneries.

Another calling period will be held at the church on Friday March 28, 2008 from 9:00-9:45 a.m., with Pre-Sanctified Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

Burial will be held at Union Cemetery of Hellertown. Memorial contributions may be made to the Vansuch family in care of Connell Funeral Home, Inc 245 E. Broad St. Bethlehem PA 18018 for future distribution to the churches he loved and served.

May Fr. Eugene’s memory be eternal!


Russian Patriarch to visit Vienna in December

Moscow, March 26, Interfax - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II plans to visit Vienna in December 2008."I am planning to consecrate the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Vienna in December," Alexy II told journalists in Moscow on Wednesday."I will also consecrate the St. Vladimir hermitage on Valaam island in August of this year," he added.


Talks between delegations of the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow

Delegations of the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow held talks on 26 March 2008 in Zurich, Switzerland.

With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Constantinople was represented by Metropolitan John of Pergamon, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and Archimandrite Bartholomeos (Samaras), deputy general secretary of the Patriarchate of Constantinople Holy Synod.

The Moscow Patriarchate delegation, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia, included Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, and Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations.

The delegations discussed the church situation in Estonia and prospects for continuation of the Orthodox-Catholic theological dialogue.

The discussion was summed up in a Memorandum.


Message of His Holiness Karekin II
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
On the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, 23 March 2008

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Christ is risen from the dead. He defeated death with death, and through His resurrection, He granted us life."
Armenian Breviary (Book of Hours)

Dear Faithful Sons and Daughters in Armenia and the Diaspora,

We greet you all with a joyful heart and the tiding of the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We lived the prayerful and solemn days of Great Lent with the Almighty; we lived with our petitions, appeals and the emotions of our souls, as well as with the crisis and pain which resulted from the tragic events of March 1. And through the sacred mystery of Holy Week, we communed with our Lord’s acts of salvation during His final days on earth.

When the Teacher was crucified, His disciples and followers had dispersed in uncertainty and grief. Some had disowned Him and were suffering with feelings of guilt. Others had tied great hopes of power and glory to Him and were now experiencing the pain of hopelessness. But the Risen Christ appeared to them and dispelled their sorrow and doubt, reestablished them in true faith and hope, and confirmed them in their mission to proclaim to the world the grace of salvation, to preach the teachings of God’s love and peace, and the Gospel of the heavenly kingdom.

Today, our Lord no longer stands defenseless before Pontus Pilate. He is no longer the accused - abandoned and rejected by men. Neither is He the One tortured, harassed and condemned to ascend Golgotha with the cross on His shoulders. He is not the One buried in the tomb; rather He is the Risen - the Lord of creation and the triumphant Savior of mankind.

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (I Corinthians 15:55)

Death is no longer despair, no longer is it the end of life or existence. The tomb is no longer the end. The "end" was destroyed through the Resurrection of Christ, and on the other side of the grave, we see the path toward eternity. Our savior, addressing His and our Father, says "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (St. John 17:3)

The path to eternal life in this world is the new, resurrected life through Christ Jesus, which He bequeaths to man by His divine power. The renewed life of the reborn soul is free of the power of evil. Our Lord defeated evil, destroyed death and granted humanity the grace to be reborn, to become sons and daughters of God.

God has created the world in which we live. Everything is the work of His hand. Whatever we have belongs to Him. But in this world, since the time of Adam, either willingly or unwillingly, man frequently becomes a tool in the hands of evil, destroys God’s handiwork and darkens the joy of a creative life. In our present day, evil, lack of faith, materialism, falsehood, hatred, and lust for power plant seeds of death and prepare large and small graves in the life of mankind. Today as well, we must regrettably accept that life is not valued to the extent and manner equal to the call of the Lord and His Saving Will. In his quest for peace and justice, man opens doors to conflicts and sows injustice, since it is not the peace and justice granted by the Lord that he seeks; rather individual security and personal interest in the name of those virtues. Truly, actions opposed to the Will of God are ruinous. Christ gave His life for mankind to save us from destruction, and called us to live with faith, hope and love. It is with these values that the spiritual renaissance and moral development of humanity become a reality. It is with these true values that the progress of societal life occurs, that rights are respected and laws actually work, for the welfare of mankind.

Dear Armenian sons and daughters dispersed throughout the world,

Throughout our history, we have frequently been enveloped by the shadow of death, we have been wounded deeply and we have lived in times of darkness; but with a gaze thirsting for light, we have sought the heavenly break of day. We have measured the depth of suffering and pain, and have emerged time and again by soaring high with heroic flight. Today as well, we find ourselves in trying times. The peaceful life of our homeland is troubled and the stability of our state is threatened; the reputation of our country and the good name of our people have certainly been damaged - our greatest achievements are endangered. Intolerance, hatred and confrontation are not ways to eliminate the negative realities from our lives or to determine solutions to problems challenging our nation. These result in new wounds and new difficulties increasing the threats to our lives. We must exercise care, so that every word and deed that is borne of evil and reeks of falsehood is rejected. We are obligated to be vigilant so that true brotherly love, a sense of justice and respect of the law, confidence, faith, and a spirit of reconciliation and peace smoothes the path of our lives. Let us spare nothing in our efforts to strengthen our statehood and the uninterrupted progress of our country, so that we overcome the difficulties afflicting our lives, and our homeland soars with strength - a homeland which is the hope for our united life and our endurance.

Our exhortation to you all - ranks of clergy and laity - is to make goodness, love and benevolence abundant in your lives through the resurrection faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. Heal all wounded hearts. Cast out all evil from our hearts, our souls and the borders of our homeland. Be one flock with one shepherd. Under the protection of the Holy Right Hand of our Father in heaven, with the Holy Sign of the Cross of our Risen Savior, and guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, let us create the future of our dreams - a strong, unshakeable Armenian state and a patriotic, happy Armenian people devoted to God. By caring for our homeland and people, we shall store treasures and store them abundantly for the eternal life proclaimed to us by the feast of the Holy Resurrection.

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." (Colossians 2:6-7)

With the tiding of the glorious resurrection of our Lord, from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Illuminator’s holy throne, we extend greetings with fraternal love in Christ to the incumbents of the hierarchal sees of our Holy Apostolic Church: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Beatitude Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Beatitude Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; and all graceful heads of Sister Churches. We convey our pontifical love and blessings to all diligent servants of our Holy Church and our faithful sons and daughters dispersed throughout the world.

We greet and bless the president of the Republic of Armenia, Robert Kocharian; president-elect and prime minister of Armenia Serzh Sargsian; president of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh Bako Sahakian, all Armenian state officials and leaders and representatives of diplomatic missions accredited to Armenia.

We pray for heavenly peace to be established in our homeland, throughout the world and within the souls of all men.

May the giver and guide of life - our Lord Jesus Christ - bless our lives and illuminate the path of the Armenian nation with the light of His resurrection, and may grace, love, faith, hope and strength be with all our people and the world entire. Amen.


Christ is Risen from the dead.
Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ.


On the morning of 19th March 2008, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa visited the Greek Embassy, “the home of Greece in Cyprus”, accompanied by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of All Cyprus and had the opportunity to meet and discuss with the Ambassador of Greece Mr. Dimitrios Rallis and all the members of the Greek Embassy.

Mr Rallis extensively informed His Beatitude regarding the Cypriot issue and initiatives for the beginning of new talks, the meeting of the leaders of the two communities and the prospects for a solution.His Beatitude on his part then informed the Ambassador about the work of the Patriarchate on the Dark Continent , emphasizing that “the flame, the light given to us by the Apostle Mark, we pass on and spread to the ends of the African Continent”.

“The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has been there for 2000 years and everything reminds us of Greece and Orthodoxy. Praise be to God as Greece and Cyprus assist us in maintaining all that is there, which is not only architectural monuments but also all that is holy in Hellenism”.

His Beatitude also expressed his concern as well as his hope regarding the “ethnic Cypriot issue”. “May God grant that there be a solution to this problem”.

Finally, addressing Mr Rallis, he said: “ Mr Ambassador, we thank you very much for all that Greece gives to my Missionary efforts, to the ancient Patriarchate, to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, to the hospitable nation of Egypt and I pray that both Greece and Cyprus will have health and joy so that we can give a dynamic presence to the current world”.
The Greek Ambassador expressed his joy at the presence of the Patriarch of Alexandria in Cyprus and said that “it is an honour for the Greek Embassy to have him visit. “We thank you for your visit and we will always be there for you”.

The two Primates then went to the Egyptian Embassy and met with HIS Excellency the Ambassador of Egypt, of Alexandrian descent Mr Ahmed Ibrahim Ragheb, with whom they exchanged views regarding the dialogue between different religions, the contribution of the Egyptian government to the struggles and efforts of the Patriarchate of Alexandria as well as the very cordial relations between Cyprus and Egypt.

“His Excellency President Mubarak always assists me with my work and wherever I am in the world, I always express my gratitude to Egypt and its President”, said His Beatitude Theodoros II.

Later, His Beatitude had a private most cordial meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Mr Markos Kyprianou.

Addressing the Minister, His Beatitude said: “Thank you for listening to me with so much love when I mentioned the Cypriots abroad who live throughout Africa , among the many thousands of Greeks. The 80% are from Cyprus and they assist us greatly with our missionary efforts and our humanitarian work”.

“I told our Minister about the huge effort of our Patriarchate in the hospitable land of Egypt over the past 2000 years. It is an effort that spans 54 countries in Africa , with institutions, orphanages, schools, and humanistic help. I leave tomorrow for my Patriarchate, but I leave stronger. I thank Cyprus because as in the past many assisted us so it continues to this day. I thank you, I appreciate you and I pray for all that is good, but above all, I pray for justice and peace for Cyprus ”.

In his report following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Beatitude expressed “gratitude to Mr Kyprianou, who welcomed him with much love”. He wished him strength for his work and his service to Cyprus . He is a young man, full of strength and has much to give and I wish him strength”.

Mr Kyprianou expressed his joy on meeting the Patriarch saying that it was a special honour for him and that they had discussed many interesting issues especially the missionary efforts of the Patriarchate in Africa and the ways in which Cyprus can assist.


Snaps of Good Friday Sermons at Catholicte of Cicilia

Good Friday, marked solemnly by the entire Christian world, has become an annual opportunity for the renewal of our nation’s faith at the St. Gregory Cathedral in Antelias, where His Holiness Catholicos Aram I officiates the mass.

While “Trisagon” was being recited during the service, His Holiness and members of the Cilician Brotherhood knelt before the flower-laden platform, which signified Jesus Christ’s tomb and carried out the Savior’s burial order. Covered with valuable cloths, the tomb was also decorated by a relic of the Holy Cross.

Addressing the faithful, the Pontif conveyed the strength of Jesus Christ’s empty tomb and the breath of resurrection and immortality bursting from it. “This is not a usual burial service; God’s Son went to the grave for humanity, as an expression of love, as a full-fledged commitment to save humanity. Today it is not only the memory of this even that we remember. Jesus Christ’s burial is an invitation to all of us to participate in the salvation that Jesus Christ brought to humanity,” the Pontiff said.At the end of the service, His Holiness blessed the faithful with the relic of the Holy Cross placed on Christ’s tomb. According to an old tradition, people passed from under the empty tomb. The faithful were given the flowers laid on the Holy tomb taking home with them the hope of resurrection and immortality.


Funeral Snaps of Metropolitan Larus

JORDANVILLE, N.Y. - Hundreds of people gathered Friday morning for the funeral of a man who played a key role healing an 80-year-old schism in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Laurus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was found dead Sunday in his residence at the Holy Trinity Monastery in rural Jordanville, N.Y., about 60 miles northwest of Albany. 80-year-old had reported feeling ill for several days. Dozens of priests and bishops packed the candlelit front room of the cathedral at the Holy Trinity Monastery for the divine liturgy and funeral service, dressed in ornate purple vestments to symbolize mourning.Members of clergy read from sacred texts and recited numerous incantations in a nearly four-hour traditional Russian Orthodox ceremony conducted mainly in old church Slavonic, the Eastern Orthodox Church's liturgical language that incorporates singing, chanting and call-and-response. The lavish ceremony on the holy day of Good Friday was held around an open casket in the center of the incense-filled room. Laurus was born Vasily Skurla in Czechoslovakia in 1928. He joined a local monastery at age 11, and in 1946 he emigrated with other monks to New York's Mohawk Valley. He was admitted to the monastic life two years later and was renamed Laurus. In 1954, he was ordained as a priest and consecrated bishop in 1967.

In October 2001, Archbishop Laurus was elected by the Synod of Bishops _ the Orthodox church's ruling body _ to be the fifth Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. He also continued to be the superior of Holy Trinity Monastery. "We lost a remarkable person. This was a living saint with whom we could spend time with. On the other hand, we gained an intercessor in the other world," said Father Serafim Gan, Laurus' personal secretary.

Funeral attendees included Orthodox leaders from around the U.S. and Canada, representatives from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Juvenaly, a leader of the Moscow Patriarchate. Among those who delivered eulogies were Mitred Protopriest George Larin of the Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, N.Y., and Bishop Onufry of Kiev from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. A rift in the Russian Orthodox Church came after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, an offshoot set up abroad, cut off all ties in 1927 after Moscow Patriarch Sergiy declared loyalty to the Communist government. Reunification talks began after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Laurus and Moscow Patriarch Alexy II signed a reunification pact in May 2007 at a televised ceremony attended by President Vladimir Putin and a throng of worshippers in Moscow's vast Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The reunion pact wasn't a merger, according to Laurus, and his branch has maintained administrative control over its more than 400 parishes worldwide. Each church maintains its own council of bishops, but priests can participate and lead Mass in both churches. The New York-based church has 480,000 U.S. members. "He was able to love everyone, and to forgive everyone," said Archpriest Gregory Naumenko of the Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church in Rochester after the funeral. "In our particular parish, he was the spirit behind it for many years and inspired us to build a beautiful new temple." After the funeral, Laurus' casket was carried around the cathedral three times before proceeding to the tomb where he will be buried. He left no immediate survivors. Following a 40-day mourning period, the church's ruling body _ the Synod of Bishops _ will get together to decide who will be the next leader.


Moscow, March 17, Interfax – About 1,000 Orthodox believers of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church participated in the procession with cross in Kiev last Sunday thus protesting against “new anti-Orthodox actions of Ukrainian authorities,” its organizers told Interfax-Religion. “It is also pressing on the canonical Orthodox Church as the street where the Kiev Laura of the Caves is located is now named after Hetman Ivan Mazepa excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church,” their statement reads as it was conveyed to Interfax on Monday. The participants are displeased with President Yushchenko’s recent decree on exemption of Kiev Laura of the Caves from the Church and “forced involvement of Ukraine in NATO coalition alien and hostile to Orthodox people.”

The procession with cross organized by the Union of Orthodox brotherhoods and All-Ukrainian Orthodox brotherhood of Alexander of Neva proceeded from the Laura’s Assumption Cathedral and marched along the central street of the Ukrainian capital to the monument to Prince Vladimir. The clergy proclaimed anathema, among excommunicated was the head of the self-proclaimed Kiev Patriarchate Filaret Denisenko. The statement says that Orthodox people of Ukraine are decided to oppose “anti-Orthodox, anti-church and anti-national plans of present day Ukrainian authorities.” The first step is to organize mass All-Ukrainian processions with cross. The next is to take place on March 20 in Kiev “against intake of Ukraine in NATO.”


Moscow, March 17, Interfax - Russia's Union of Orthodox Citizens (UOC) has suggested naming a street after late Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), and building a cathedral in his honor. "His Eminence Laurus' merits are so great that streets in our cities deserve to be named after him. A majestic cathedral should be build to commemorate this outstanding man and the unification of the [Russian Orthodox] Churches," head of the UOC Moscow Department Kirill Frolov told Interfax-Religion on Monday.

Frolov said he believes this cathedral should be located at a significant site in Moscow, for example, the Moscow City business complex. The UOC regards Metropolitan Laurus as a Russian national hero.

"The unification of the Russian Orthodox Church was a great deed on the part of His Eminence, who performed it despite devilish resistance from opponents of the Church and Russia," Frolov said. The fact that Metropolitan Laurus passed away on the day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy is best proof of that all of the aforesaid is correct. The unification of the Russian church is indeed a great triumph for Orthodoxy," he said. The duty of every Orthodox believer is to follow Metropolitan Laurus' call for strengthening the unity of the Russian Church in the face of modern challenges, Frolov said.


Geneva, March 19, Interfax – The document manifesting Russian Orthodox position on human rights will be adopted this summer at the Bishop’s Council, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad said. The United Nations can provide a platform for discussing human rights conceptions worked out by other Christian confessions and religions, Metropolitan Kirill said speaking in Geneva at the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

He also urged all the countries concerned to back up establishing a consultative religious council at the UN, this idea was first introduced by the participants of the World Summit of Religious Leaders in Moscow in summer 2006. “Thus, we would give a new impulse to the dialogue on human rights at global level,” the Moscow Patriarchate’s representative said. According to Metropolitan Kirill, both international law and national legislation in the field of human rights should develop with due consideration of religion’s role in society.

“Otherwise, alienation and opposition of the major part of humanity to current global processes will only grow,” the metropolitan is convinced.


The burial service for Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York, Chairman of the Bishops’ Synod of the Russian Church Outside Russia, will take place on Friday, March 21, at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Jordanville, New York, USA. With the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, the funeral and burial services for the late First Hierarch will be led by Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna.

Holy Week in Moter See of Etchmiadzin

The Mother See is pleased to announce this year’s schedule of Holy Week and Easter Services. All services will be held in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Sunday, March 16, 2008
Blessing of the Children - 10:00 AM
Divine Liturgy - 11:00 PM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Evening Services - 5:30 PM

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Divine Liturgy - 10:30 AM
Washing of the Feet Service - 4:00 PM
Offered by His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians
Betrayal Service - 7:00 PM

Friday, March 21, 2008
Crucifixion Service - 12:00 Noon
Burial Service - 5:00 PM

Saturday, March 22, 2008
Evening Services - 5:30 PM
"Jrakaluyts" (Lucernarium) Divine Liturgy - 6:00 PM

Sunday, March 23, 2008
Morning Services - 7:30 AM
Pontifical Divine Liturgy - 10:30 AM
Celebrant - His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians

Monday, March 24, 2008
Divine Liturgy - 10:30 AM
Repose of Souls Service - 12:30 PM


Moscow, March 16, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate thinks that the death of First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) Metropolitan Laurus of East America and New York is a huge loss and that it is symbolic that he died on the day of the Feast of Orthodoxy."Metropolitan Laurus managed to complete his lifework: he became a part of the history as the ROCOR first hierarch, who united it with the Russian Orthodox Church. It is remarkable that he died on the day on which the Orthodox Church celebrates its Feast," Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion."Of course this is a huge loss for the whole Russian Orthodox Church," the archpriest said.Metropolitan Laurus visited Moscow last month "and it was clearly seen that he was happy because his lifework had been completed," the priest said."He spoke much about good things that the last year unification of churches has brought to the Russian people abroad," the priest said.Metropolitan Laurus will be buried at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, where the ROCOR administrative center is situated and where previous ROCOR first hierarchs were buried.

Metropolitan Laurus Deceased

New York, March 16, Interfax - First hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York Diocese deceased on Sunday at the age of 80, the ROCOR website has reported. Metropolitan Laurus passed away on the Feast of Orthodoxy. He was born Vassily Mikhailovich Skurla on January 1, 1928, in the village of Ladomirova, present day Slovakia.He was ordained to the diaconate in 1950, and became a hieromonk in 1954.Fr. Laurus graduated from the Holy Trinity Theological Seminary in 1954 and was appointed its inspector in 1960.He was elevated to archimandrite on April 17, 1966. Archimandrite Laurus was consecrated bishop of Manhattan on August 12, 1967, and appointed archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity on October 20, 1981. The same year Laurus was elected First hierarch and Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York. Metropolitan Laurus was actively involved in restoring canonical unity of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and abroad broken after the civil war. Metropolitan Laurus will be buried at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, where the ROCOR administrative center is situated and where previous ROCOR first hierarchs were buried.



The pilgrimage day in Antelias becomes an opportunity for a long-awaited meeting every year between the faithful and the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Our people once again experienced this unique moment on March 9, when the Catholicosate of Cilicia was filled with a large number of the faithful who had come to commemorate the beginning of Saint Gregory the Illuminator’s imprisonment in Khor Virab.

His Holiness Aram I presided over the Holy Mass held in Antelias on the occasion of the Pilgrimage Day. The Prelate of the Western Prelacy of Northern America, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian officiated the mass and delivered the sermon. The Catholicosate’s “Shenorhali” choir sang the hymns under guidance from artistic director Zakar Keshishian. While both the bells of the Mother Church were being tolled during “Havadamk”, the Pontifical procession started marching from the Veharan, led by Cilician Brotherhood members carried the box in which the Holy Relic of Saint Gregory the Illuminator is placed. The silver-coated Relic consists of a bone from the right hand of the Patron Saint of the Armenian Church.

In his Sermon, Archbishop Mardirossian first spoke about the life and dedication of the Greatest Saint of the Armenian nation starting from his years as a young teen when he was rescued from a vengeful Armenian king and taken to Kayseri, where he received Christian education. Recounting the historical chronicles, the Archbishop talked about the great conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity following the efforts of the Saint. Finally, he prayed to God to keep the Catholicosate of Cilicia strong and for peace in our Lebanese homeland.

Following the mass, a large procession of the Cilician Brotherhood members, priests and Seminary students carrying several Holy Relics made a round tour around the Mother Church led by Catholicos Aram I. During the procession, elderly faithful with awful tears and children with innocent smiles kissed the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, presenting their wishes to God and relying on the prayers of the Great Saint. When the procession returned to the Mother Church, the Pontiff and the religious class went up the Altar, where the ceremonious service of water blessing was held with the Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. The Catholicos blessed the faithful with the Holy Right Hand of the Patron Saint.

The Catholicos recited the “Paradya” prayer for curing the ill and a special prayer for the strengthening of faith. It said: “We, your pilgrim sons, oh Saint Gregory, the great pilgrim of God, appeal to you from the Cathedral of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias. Oh Illuminating Pontiff, bless our nation in Armenia and the Diaspora under your Holy Right Hand. Bless in particular, your pilgrim people gathered in the Mother Church in Antelias. Erase our sins, cleanse our spiritual and physical faults; grant health to the sick; enlighten the dark paths of our life; flourish with heavenly goods the life of our nation’s children, our families and our Big Family, the life of your honorable people for the brightness of the Holy Armenian Apostolic and Orthodox Church and for the eternity of the Armenian nation.”

After the water blessing service, the Holy Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator was placed on the main Altar under the watchful eyes of Cilician Brotherhood members. Armenian and foreign faithful visited the Catholicosate until 8:00 OM in the evening to kiss the Relic. After Atchahampouyr, the faithful also visited the Holy Trinity Altar, kneeling before the Relic of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and praying to God in this sacred area.

During this official visit His Beatitude will be accompanied by Their Eminences Elder Metropolitan Paul of Memphis, Elder Metropolitan Petros of Aksum, and Metropolitan George of Zimbabwe, together with His Grace Athanasios Bishop of Cyrene . His Beatitude and his entourage will be met at the Larnaca Airport by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of All Cyprus, the Members of the Holy Synod, His Excellency the Minister of Education and Culture Mr Andreas Dimitriou on behalf of the Cypriot Government, His Excellency the Ambassador of Greece Mr. Dimitri Rallis and other officials.

On Sunday 16th March 2008 the Patriarchal Concelebration will take place at the Holy Church of the Theotokos (Pallouriotissas) in Nicosia . His Beatitude will also visit the Holy Archdiocese of Cyprus, Holy Metropolises and Monasteries. He will also meet with His Excellency the President of the Republic, Mr Dimitri Christofias at the Presidential Palace, on Monday 17th march 2008 at noon. The Venerable Primate of the Second Throne Church of Alexandria will depart from Cyprus on Thursday 20th March 2008.


His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia conferred the Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh, 1st degree, on the chairman of the Russian State Duma Upper House, the Federation Council, Sergei Mironov.

They also had a meeting an discussed, among other themes, the situation with the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija.The global power balance is being changed unilaterally,’ His Holiness said. ‘This may lead to very tragic consequences in many parts of the world where separatism is harbored.’ According to Mironov, Kosovo is the first time after the WW2 they try to violently change the borders of existing nations. This decision nullifies the norms of the international law and makes a very explosive precedent, he added.


Alexy II receives Russia's Person of the Year Award

Moscow, March 6, Interfax - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II has received Russia's Person of the Year Award.

"One can hardly overestimate your service to the fatherland and the Orthodox people," Public Chamber member and President of the Russian Academy of Business and Free Enterprise Irina Verbulina told the Patriarch in Moscow on Thursday.

The unification of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), which occurred on May 17, 2007, with the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion between Patriarch Alexy II and ROCOR head, Metropolitan Laurus, "was a real triumph of the idea of creation and cooperation between Orthodox believers of many states," Verbulina said.


Moscow, March 5, Interfax – First hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Metropolitan Laurus denied predictions of mass exodus from the ROCOR after its re-union with the Moscow Patriarchate.

“Some people have really joint schismatic structures, but they are few. There was no mass exodus,” the metropolitan said in his interview to the Pravoslavnaya Moskva newspaper cited by the Moscow Patriarchate’s website on Wednesday.

According to Metropolitan Laurus, the majority of believers “took the Act of canonical communion calmly or was even inspired by it,” and further developments aren’t “alarming.”

“We communicate in spirit of love and peace: we enjoy the same independence as before and no one lays claims to our property. People see its good fruit and consider it the most important result of our re-union,” the metropolitan stressed.


Moscow, March 5, Interfax – The Moscow Patriarchate says today the lack of priests isn’t so crucial anymore.

“Today we are not in the early or middle 1990s, when the lack of clerics was disastrous and we had to consecrate candidates even though they weren’t prepared enough” chairman of the Russian Church’s Education Committee and rector of the Moscow theological schools Archbishop Yevgeny of Vereya told Interfax-Religion website.

According to him, as the problem is not so topical, the Jubilee Bishop’s Council 2000 of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to “consecrate people only with seminary or correspondent education.” Bishop’s Council 2004 backed up this resolution.

“This is the way we deal the problem today,” the archbishop said.


Moscow, March 5, Interfax - On the day of the 55th anniversary since Stalin's death the Moscow Patriarchate has warned against glorifying Stalin's era and called for a realistic evaluation of the period.

"Present and future Russian citizens should be aware of what Stalin's era really was and should not be painting idealistic pictures of the time," Reverend Georgy Ryabykh, the acting secretary for relations between Church and the public at the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.

Stalin's era is "a lesson of great historical significance for today's Russia and other countries," he said, adding that the era "should never return."Under Stalin the country was able "to recover after the civil war, to preserve its unity, to carry out industrialization, to win the war, and to build its scientific potential," he said.

"But these achievements in social building cannot be justified by the victims of the Soviet regime during the years of Stalin's rule," he said.The example of other nations shows "how the same achievements could have been made otherwise, without sacrificing our own citizens," Fr. Georgy said.


Moscow, March 5, Interfax - Deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin considers it possible for Orthodox believers to pray before common Christian shrines, but advises to refuse joint prayers with Christian of other confessions. “Orthodox people visiting Catholic or Protestant churches, their presence at non-Orthodox service without explicit or inner prayer, Orthodox prayer before common Orthodox shrines - all these things are allowed. While it’s better to refuse joint Orthodox and non-Orthodox public or private prayers,” Fr. Vsevolod said in his interview to the NG-Religii newspaper.

In further talk with an Interfax-Religion correspondent the priest specified that “it’s his private opinion.”

Commenting on the results of the recent Geneva session of the World Council of Churches, Fr. Vsevolod confessed that neither he nor other Russian Orthodox delegates participated in non-Orthodox prayers any more. The priest pointed out that joint prayers were practiced in 1960-1990 when Orthodox hoped it would help unite Christians through coming back to the faith of ancient Church. “Today no one considers the soon unity seriously, almost all Russian Church doesn’t approve of such prayers and I think the church decision is impending,” the Moscow Patriarchate’s representative believes.

According to him, “the WCC was established to unite Christians, but the unity moves away and even grey ecumenical enthusiasts realize it”, though the Russian Orthodox Church “hardly should leave the forum where it can effectively discuss” economic globalization, ecological crisis, worldwide conflicts, social role of religion, etc.


Moscow, March 2, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia has cast his ballot at the Russian presidential election on Sunday afternoon. "It is very important that everyone turn out for today's election and fulfill his civil duty, because Russia's future depends on everyone's contribution," Alexy II told journalists after the vote.

By tradition, the Patriarch voted in his residence in Chisty Pereulok in Moscow.

He also urged to "thank Vladimir Putin who has selflessly served Russia for eight years" and stressed the importance of having the political course launched by Putin continued by the new president. The patriarch has also wished to the future president "success in this responsible service for the benefit of Russia and its people." "Hopefully, the elections will be successful and we will be able to welcome the new president who will assume the great responsibility for our country's future," the Russian patriarch said.


H.G Dr.Thomas Mar Makarios has entered into eternal rest.His Grace departed to heavenly abode at 11 AM(GMT) in Newcastle General hospital most graciously after doing his bounden duty. He was 83. As a priest, and especially as a hierarch, Metropolitan Makarios was distinguished for his ecclesiastical ethos, his work ethic, his adherence to the fundamentals of liturgical life, his commitment to the Orthodox Faith and the traditions of St. Thomas Heritage.
His personality and God given charisma is not easily replaceable. Indian Orthodox Church owe an immense lot to his personality and spiritual leadership. He was a great gift from God to the Church. A light is gone from the Malanakra Church. He was a shining beacon. I was an ardent admirer of him in Christ.

He was the first Bishop of the Diocese of USA, which he served with utmost love and commitment, leaving a shining legacy as a pious hierarch. Beloved by thousands of Indian Orthodox faithful, he will be remembered with everlasting gratitude as a model of benevolence, kindness and reconciliation.


Moscow, February 29, Interfax – Kosovo independence threatens shrines of Ohrid Lake in Macedonia, President of the Historical Prospects Foundation Dr. Natalya Narochnitskaya said.

“Illegitimacy always gives raise to dissident trends both in religion and in politics. It (Kosovo – IF) will be a state that claims for the territories of other countries in compliance with the Great Albania doctrine. It’s not a secret,” the historian said in her interview to the Vesti TV channel.

“Why they (Europe and the USA – IF) pretend not to see it? Don’t they know that the Great Albanian idea aims at adjoining 40% of Macedonia and North-Western part of Greece and to make an Ohrid Lake an internal sea of the Albanian nation? While Christian and Orthodox shrines are located there,” Narochnitskaya noted.

Se reminded that it regards to the relics of Sts Naum and Clement who enriched Slavonic alphabet with grammar materials after Sts Cyril and Methodius.

“Who remembers that all Christian shrines in Kosovo were not only plundered and fired, they were desecrated! I saw authenticated photos of altars with excrements, a bulleted icon of Our Lady with inscriptions in black “UCK” and “Peter’s Europe keeps silence.” It’s strange and inexplicable. So short sighted,” the historian said.

He also considered groundless the USA hope that love of Kosovo Albanians ‘will compensate the hatred of Islamic world to the United States.”

According to Narochnitskaya, Albanian extremists initially aimed at occupying a part of territory.

“The most dangerous kind of terrorism is the one aimed at territorial changes. This terrorism isn’t dangerous for the States as the only thing global terrorism wants from the States is non-interference in others business. But this is exactly what threatens Russia and Europe,” Narochnitskaya noted.

Moscow, February 28, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church stands for the primacy of moral law in private, public and political life of the European continent.

“The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned with the future of Europe. It is our duty to state: lack of centuries-proven models of righteous life suppresses human dignity,” the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations head Metropolitan Kirill said on Wednesday at a round table in Moscow with president of the European People’s Party Wilfried Martens.

According to the metropolitan, only economically profitable things are allowed to public space and profitable is to slave a person to his passions and exploit his instincts.”

“It’s always easier to deprive a person of his money if he is intoxicated with passions and moved by instincts rather than if he strives to live in compliance with moral ideas,” Metropolitan Kirill stressed.

The Russian Church’s representative is convinced that slavery to passions is “the most serious threat for human dignity”, as it makes happiness impossible for Europeans, destroys their freedom and makes public problems insoluble.

“Europeans should revise the role of their spiritual heritage for the continent’s future in order to escape these dangers,” Metropolitan Kirill said. He pointed out that Europe’s moral idea is expressed in traditional Christian values and “civilization will exist so long as humanity manages to tell good from evil, truth from lie, sin from righteousness.”

Representative of the Russian Church to the European Institutions Bishop Hilarion pointed out to another contemporary problem of the Western Europe which is Christianophobia.

The bishop explained that it not only drives Christian values away from social life, but also has external manifestations. For example, it’s impossible to buy a Christmas card in free sale in Great Britain as it is considered politically incorrect. Portugal schools named after saints strive to get rid of saints in their titles.

The bishop is perplexed that European society is more anxious to protect criminal’s life than lives of unborn children. He also said that when homosexual right to adopt children is discussed, they seldom question if children have right not to be adopted by such families.


Moscow, February 28, Interfax - The Commonwealth of Independent States' European countries must not be passive onlookers in the European processes, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia said.

"I am convinced that the Christian heritage and its presence in the life of society can provide a solid foundation for relations between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova on the one hand and the European Union on the other," Alexy II said during talks with President of the European People's Party Wilfred Martens at the St. Daniel's monastery in Moscow.

The patriarch said that the Orthodox peoples of these states "cannot and do not deem it possible to merely remain onlookers in the processes in Europe, but, guided by their own historical and cultural traditions, must play their role in strengthening the Christian values in the European Union."

Alexy II also welcomed the aspiration of the European People's Party, which unites Europe's Christian democratic parties at a pan-European level "to work on the basis of Christian values."

"This approach can only be welcomed by our Church," Alexy II said.


Moscow, February 27, Interfax - Relics of St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, are to visit parishes of the Russian Church in the U.S.A. and Canada, Chairman of the trustees boards of the Russian National Glory Center and the St. Andrew the First Called Foundation Vladimir Yakunin said on Wednesday.

“Today, we together plan to bring St. Tikhon’s relics this time from Russia to America,” Yakunin said addressing the ROCOR first hierarch Metropolitan Laurus in the Pokrovsky Cathedral of Sts. Martha and Maria Convent when the latter was decorated with the order of international Saint Andrew’s prize For Faith and Faithfulness.

St. Tikhon’s relics will be brought to the U.S.A. and Canada in autumn for Orthodox flock abroad to venerate. Earlier Metropolitan Laurus addressed such request to Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and the Foundation’s administration.

Speaking at a briefing in Sts. Martha and Maria Convent, Metropolitan Vladimir of Tashkent and Middle Asia confirmed that Alexy II blessed to bring the shrine to the parishes abroad. The Metropolitan reminded that last autumn the foundation brought relics of St. Alexander of Neva to the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church connected with the saint’s life and deeds.

St. Tikhon was canonized at the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on October 9, 1989. His relics are in the Grand cathedral of Moscow Donskoy Monastery.



Enter your email address:

OBL Feeds | FeedBurner

Copyrighted | Holymonk Studios |