April 17, 2013
Wednesday, March 21/April 3, 2013
Venerable James the Confessor
We, the clergy of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America, having gathered at the Cathedral of the Protection of the Holy Virgin in Des Plaines, Illinois, give thanks to Almighty God that He has allowed us to come together in fellowship as brother clergy. Representing our various parishes under the leadership and spiritual guidance of His Eminence Archbishop Alypy and His Grace Bishop Peter, we wish to bring to the attention of the faithful the topics of note which have been given to us to examine. First, we find ourselves greatly encouraged by Bishop Peter’s report of the missionary growth within the Diocese and in particular the recent ordination and reception of new clergy to extend and support that growth. This strengthening of our life as the Body of Christ is also reflected in our Diocese’s ability to speak with clarity to the issues of the day.
With respect to such issues, we recognize and appreciate the clear and powerful statement on marriage provided by the Diocese which proclaims the Church’s teaching and stance on the issue of homosexual relationships. It is available on the diocesan website (http://chicagodiocese.org/news_130329_1.html) and we commend it to all for study and application.
The pressures and trends of secular society seem to make continual inroads on our Christian way of life. For this reason, the clergy have received great benefit from informative lectures and discussions surrounding the conduct of Orthodox funerals and Christian burial. The pastoral issue of primary concern was the rise in the use of cremation which is becoming ever more common among those outside the Church. As it is more frequent in our time to see families with both Orthodox and non-Orthodox members, the aberrance of cremation as a funerary practice needs to be clearly articulated. We must also offer guidance in advance of death to insure that the wishes of Orthodox family members are respected and executed. This topic was very well explained by Bishop John of Caracas whose statement was shared with the gathered clergy.
We noted several upcoming activities in the Diocese to which we wish to draw the attention of all. First, a retreat for young adults is to be held from April 19-21, 2013, at St Herman of Alaska Church in Odessa, MI. Adults from college age to very early thirties are encouraged to attend. Second, there will be a choir conference from June 14-16 at St Sergius of Radonezh Church in Cleveland, OH. This conference is specifically designed for English-language congregations wishing to learn and avail themselves of the fullness of the church’s liturgical music tradition. Besides these, we especially commend and encourage enrollment in the three-year Summer Music School at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY where students have the opportunity to receive world-class instruction leading mastery of the skills necessary for certification as a choir director in the Church Abroad.
In this season in which the giving of alms is particularly emphasized as a transformative spiritual practice, we also recommend to all consideration of membership in the Society of St John Kochurov. The Society’s ongoing benevolent work currently emphasizes support of youth ministry and monastic life in the Diocese, two areas of special concern and importance for the continued growth of Orthodoxy.
Finally, we wish to express our thanks to Fr. Christopher Metropoulos of the Orthodox Christian Network for his insightful presentation on the media outreach of that network as well as its introduction of multilingual ministry. We strongly encourage all the faithful to begin taking advantage of all of the Network’s many resources at www.myocn.net.
Trusting in the mercy of God, we humbly ask forgiveness and the prayers of all. Amen.
Unanimously accepted by the participants of the Clergy Retreat.