71st Episcopate Congress


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Once again the Episcopate Congress was held during the celebration of the United States Independence Day weekend. The host parish workers of Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Dearborn Heights, Michigan, began arriving on Wednesday. Preoteasa Mary Ellen Rosco, President of the Ladies Auxiliary, and her ladies teamed up with Council President, Janey Clarey, to prepare food, set tables, police the grounds, and keep the delegates happy. The ARFORA Coffee Shop was sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of St. George Parish, Canton, Ohio, under the direction of Preoteasa Paula Treff. These good ladies provided the snacks for between Congress Sessions.

Thursday,  3 July 2003


Clergy Conference. His Grace, Bishop Irineu, assisted by Archimandrite Mihail, Hieromonk Nicholas and Hierodeacon Justin, served a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy in the Pioneer Chapel. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel presided from the throne. Responses were led by the Fathers of the Holy Ascension Monastery, Detroit. Priests and deacons gathered together with their hierarchs to commune of the Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord. After breakfast in the Avram Iancu Hall, they met in the auditorium of the Valerian D. Trifa Romanian-American Heritage Center for the Annual Clergy Conference. Clergy present for the first time were introduced. His Grace, Bishop Irineu addressed the assembly for the first time as bishop, sharing his experiences of visiting parishes and missions in the United States.

His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel led a discussion with part of the clergy in the Conference Room of the Episcopate Administration Building, and Very Reverend Archimandrite Mihail (Filimon) delivered a presentation in the Heritage Center’s auditorium concerning the Spiritual Life of the Clergy.

Following lunch, Mr. Alexander Nemoianu, Resident Archivist of the Heritage Center, spoke about a new publication printed in the Romanian language and sponsored by the Center: Pastorale. The book is intended to introduce the spiritual works of Archbishop Valerian (Trifa), the second hierarch of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in North America, to readers in Romania.

The remaining part of the day was dedicated to discussion on the following topics: Care of the Convert and Interfaith Spouse; Programs for the Youth and for Adults; The Priest as Spiritual Father; Weekday and holiday liturgical celebrations; Bible and Religious Education Programs. Chairman of the Department of Religious Education, Rev. Fr. Ian Pac-Urar, Ph.D., discussed the forthcoming Pastoral Excellence ProgramÓ for clergy newly- accepted into the Episcopate.

His Eminence reminded the clergy of the Personal Assistance Program (PAP) of the Orthodox Church in America, the Orthodox Church in America Clergy Retirement Program, and the published Policy on Sexual Abuse. Some discussion was held about clergy responsibilities toward those who want to be or have been cremated, and about conversions to the Faith prior to an Orthodox wedding.

The final point on the agenda was a presentation by His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, concerning his recent trip to Romania. The Archbishop stated that he had spoken with His Holiness, Patriarch Teoctist, informing him that the Episcopate would petition to have the remains of Bishop Policarp (Morusca) returned to the Vatra as per the bishop’s request. A second project concerns the return of the remains of General George (Constantin) Pomutz to the United States and to the Vatra.

After the benediction, hierarchy and clergy proceeded to the chapel to attend Vespers. Serving was Protosinghel Lucian with responses by the Fathers of Ascension Monastery. A sermon in English was given by Archimandrite Mihail in Romanian and Hieromonk Nicolae in English, both of whom also heard confessions. The host committee prepared and served a special supper in honor of the clergy.
Episcopate Council Pre-Congress Meeting. Archbishop Nathaniel presided over the meeting which was hosted by the Heritage Center. The agenda included reviewing:

The Report to the Congress, 2003; Authorization for the St. Mary Parish, Falls Church, Virginia, and Archangels Michael and Gabriel Mission, Orlando, Florida, to purchase properties; petitions for clergy to be accredited to the 2003 Congress, and recognition of the St. Andrew Mission, Brooksville, Florida. Recommendations to be made to the Congress were discussed and passed. His Grace, Bishop Irineu informed the Council of his visits to parishes and missions of the Episcopate; and, His Eminence, Nathaniel informed them of his visit to Nuremberg, Germany and to various cities in Romania.

Friday, 4 July 2003  

Opening of the Congress. The Divine Liturgy was served by Protosinghel Lucian, assisted by Hierodeacon Neonil with responses given by the Fathers of Ascension Monastery. His Grace, Bishop Irineu, presided from the throne. Following the service, Delegates registered and gathered in the Upper Church in preparation for the 71st Congress. His Grace, Irineu, assisted by Hierodeacon Sebastian, celebrated the service of Invocation to the Holy Spirit at the podium in front of the dais on which the Holy Gospel Book was enthroned. The assembly gave the responses, led by V. Rev. Constantin Alecse and Rev. Fr. Traian Stafiuc.

Roll Call was taken of delegates who had mandates and those who had been accredited by the Episcopate Council at its evening session. The Council moved that the names of delegates from parishes which were in arrears with their financial obligations should not be called. At the end of the count, motion was made that the delegates representing parishes in arrears should be seated by vote of this Congress but only for this year. Total number present was 110 Delegates, clergy and laity.

The session was called to order, appointment of Secretaries made, approval of the Agenda, and Minutes of the 2002 Congress and Electoral Congress were read and approved. During the course of the Congress, the Chair read greetings from the Mayor of Jackson, Premier Jean Cretien, Congress of Romanian Americans (CORA), Archbishop Nicolae Condrea, and V. Rev. Mother Christophora.

The names of departed clergy and former delegates were read and the Kontakion for the Dead sung. New Delegates were recognized by the Chair. Members of the Episcopate Council were seated near the podium in recognition of their status as having been elected by the Congress.

The Chair initiated the Reports, introducing the Hierarchal Schedule, Status of the Clergy, Status of the Parishes and Missions, Parish, Monastery and Special Events. His Eminence, brought to the Delegates attention his involvement in parish, diocesan, National Church, Inter-Orthodox and international Orthodox events. He mentioned the fact that hierarchs from many jurisdictions took part in the consecration of His Grace, Bishop Irineu. The Report on the Commission on Religious Art was given by V. Rev. Laurence Lazar, Chair. The Session recessed for lunch in the Tower Pavilion, after which it reconvened for its Second Session.
The Treasurer, Rev. Fr. Leonte Copacia, and Assistant Treasurer, Mr. Mark Chestnut, gave the Report of the Department of Finance. The Finance committee of His Eminence, His Grace, the Treasurer and Assistant Treasurers, meet on a monthly basis. Fr. Copacia praised the work of Mr. Chestnut, Controller and Assistant Treasurer for 16 years. He urged the parish administration to fill out the Annual Internal Questionnaire form as required.
The Congress assented to hear Presidents Louise Gibb for ARFORA and Nicholas Gibb for US Brotherhood give their reports in advance of the place on the agenda.
Further reports were given. The Department of Religious Education was given by Rev. Fr. Ian Pac-Urar who had a Romanian language booklet, Credinta Noastra, distributed for discussion. The Chair introduced the report from the Department of Christian Education Canada.

V. Rev. Constantin Tofan, Chair of the Department of Missions, presented his report, strongly urging the parishes to fulfill their obligation for a budget line-item for the department. St. Dimitrie of Bridgeport continues to fund its $25K Mission Fund Support. V. Rev. Dan Nenson, Dean of Canada, presented the Canadian Mission report.

The Chair introduced the report on the Department of Christian Assistance, stating that the majority of these funds come from individuals and not from the parishes, and that many of the projects funded are in Romania. The Episcopate is a supporter of Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage.

The construction of the Vatra Camp Administration and Health Center has been delayed for a number of reasons, both technical and financial. After having accepted the reports given, the Congress recessed.
On the occasion of the celebration of the United States Independence Day, a Te Deum Service giving thanks to Almighty God for his blessings on the Nation was served by Episcopate Deans: L. Lazar, C. Alecse, C. Fetea, D. Nenson, V. Sasu, P. Stanciu and V. Rev. D. Paun. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel presided. His Grace, Bishop Irineu, clergy and faithful gathered together at the flag plaza. Supper was served in the Tower Pavilion, after which a concert was given by a group of theologians from the Theological School of Alba Iulia, Romania.

Saturday, 5 July 2003  

The Divine Liturgy was served by Hieromonk Joseph (Morris) assisted by Rev. Deacon John Schmidt with responses led by Rev. Deacon David Wey. The Delegates then came together in the Upper Church and sang the tropar to the Holy Spirit. The Congress reconvened with an initial roll call of 102.
The first report given was on Vatra Property Maintenance and Capital Improvements. Discussion followed which centered on the renovation of the Episcopal Residence.
His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, read his Address of the Archbishop to the 71st Episcopate Congress, which was distributed in the English and Romanian languages to the delegates.
The Archbishop presented His Grace, Bishop Irineu, a diploma offered by the Senate of the University of Oradea, making him an honorary member of the Senate. The assembly stood and applauded the bishop for this honor.
Rev. Fr. Remus Grama gave his report on External Affairs. Fr. Grama stated that the External Affairs of the Episcopate is a direct manifestation of the Church in the outside world. The Archbishop read his statement on Our Relationships with The Romanian Orthodox Church in Romania and with The Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada. Following these reports, the assembly paused for lunch.
Prior to eating lunch, Delegates and guests met at the chivot in the Policarp Cemetery Section where His Eminence, assisted by Protodeacon David Oancea, served a Parastas for those buried in St. Mary of the Vatra Cemetery. Responses were led by Rev. Frs. A. Frunza, G. Oanca, C. Mitescu, T. Petrescu, T. Stafiuc, G. Treff. The name of each person resting in the cemetery was read. R. Frs. G. Oanca. R. Rosco and A. Webster went to each of the three sections of the cemetery to bless the graves with Holy Water.

In the final session of the Congress, 108 delegates heard the remaining reports. Seven deanery reports were noted and passed. John E. Lazar presented the AROY report, urging support of the youth from the parishes. The Chair introduced the Orthodox Brotherhood of Canada report and Dr. Eleanor Bujea, first president of ARCOLA, the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary, gave her report which was acknowledged with a standing ovation.

New Business included: accepting and promulgating the Orthodox Church in America Policy on Sexual Misconduct; seeking the return of the remains of Bishop Policarp Morusca; seeking the return of the remains of General George Pomutz to the Vatra; supporting the U.S. Federal Government Museum for The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; and, issuing a resolution honoring the 100th Anniversary of the Farsarotul Society, which resolved to appeal to the Balkan governments to honor the obligations and responsibilities (commitments) assumed at the conferences in Helsinki and Madrid, in order to protect the cultural rights of the Vlachs-Aromanians in the Balkan Peninsula. These resolutions were accepted and passed.

The Council brought again to the Delegates attention that: all parishes and missions should have an independent financial audit; all parishes and missions should seek out new members, not neglecting to begin with those 18 years old; and Parish Council members should all be bonded for theft.
The proposed budgets were passed: Administration, $490,500.00; Department of Publications, $154,600.00; Department of Missions, $53,000.00; Department of Religious Education, $34,000.00.

A new Episcopate Council was elected: Clergy - Rev. Frs. A. Fetea, A. Frunza, L. Lazar, T. Petrescu, T. Stafiuc and alternate, Ian Pac-Urar; and Laity - C. Brenta, T. Hutoi, M. Klein, L. Fogorosh, C. Merchant, C. Philips, A. Srbu, E. Stefureac, E. Teisanu, W. Wright, and alternates S. Miroy and M. Tipa. Two members of the Tribunal were elected: V. Dinu and J. Stanitz and alternates Dr. E. Chiaburu and Dr. N. David.

The Chair noted that this year is the 65th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Vatra in 1938. The Chair thanked: host parish, Sts. Peter and Paul, Dearborn Heights, Michigan; St. George, Canton, Ohio Ladies for the ARFORA Coffee Shop; the local Synaxis men’s choir and a group of theological students from Alba Iulia for giving the responses at the Sunday Hierarchal Divine Liturgy.

He thanked the department heads for their volunteer work in behalf of the Episcopate: Rev. Fr. Leonte Copacia for his four years as Treasurer; Chancery staff - Mr. Mark Chestnut, Protodeacon David Oancea, Subdeacon Tom Rosco, and occasional assistance from Hierodeacon Sebastian and Dan Hoarste. His Eminence thanked Bishop Irineu for his dedication and assistance.

The Congress closed with the singing of the Hierarchal Anthem. Members of the newly-elected Episcopate Council came forward to recite the Oath of Office, and then elected Very Reverend Fr. Laurence Lazar to be Episcopate Council Secretary and Ms. Marsha Klein, Episcopate Treasurer.

Vespers of the Resurrection were sung in the Pioneer Chapel served by V. Rev. Archimandrite Teofan (Koja), with responses by the Fathers of the Holy Ascension Monastery, Detroit. A sermon was preached in Romanian by Rev. Fr. A. Balescu, and in English by Rev. Fr. J. Mancantelli. Clergy were present to hear confessions of the faithful in anticipation of the Eucharist the next morning.

After supper, delegates and guests were entertained by two outstanding dance ensembles: Ciprian Porumbescu Folklore Ensemble of Suceava, from St. Philothea of Arges Mission, Hagerstown, Maryland and Junii Sibiului Folklore Ensemble from Sts. Constantine & Helen Mission, Lilburn, Georgia, which performed dances from Moldova, Ardeal, Banat, Oltenea and Dobrogea.

Sunday, 6 July 2003  

Matins of the Resurrection were served by Rev. Frs. S. Pavel and I. Cudritescu; responses were given by the Mothers of the Holy Dormition Monastery, Rives Junction, MI. Clergy were present to hear confessions. Delegates and guests, including a group bussed in from St. George Cathedral, filled the church.
At 9:30, the Procession of the clergy, escorting the hierarchs, left the Episcopal Residence and proceeded to the main church, Nativity of the Holy Mother of God. Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop Irineu concelebrated the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy assisted by Episcopate priests, deacons and subdeacons. Responses were given by the Synaxis Chorale and theological students from Alba Iulia. His Eminence gave a homily based on the Gospel reading of Christ healing the Centurion’s servant. His Grace, Bishop Irineu, spoke on the significance and importance of the Holy Chrism. The archbishop introduced those serving the altar, and called forward the parish priests who had requested Holy Chrism to receive it. The clergy then formed a recession to escort the hierarchs to the Bishop’s Residence.

The traditional Banquet was held in the Tower Pavilion. Traditional national anthems were sung and the blessings over the food offered. Seated on the upper dais were: His Eminence, His Grace, V. R. Mother Gabriella, Drs. Eleanor and John Bujea, V. R. L. Lazar as Master of Ceremony. On the lower dais were members of the Chancery staff: M. Chestnut, Assistant Treasurer; Protodeacon D. & Psa. Nicoleta Oancea, T. Rosco; guests, Olivia Dickerman and friend, Alex & Larissa Nemoianu.

With the singing of the Hierarchal Anthem, the formal activities of the 71st Congress came to a close. Friends embraced, the host parish put finishing touches on the Vatra buildings before departing, and the Vatra anticipated the first group of campers of the 2003 season.

The Department of Publications Bookstore Tent gave attendees the opportunity to purchase books and church goods.

Between 40-50 clergy attended the Annual Clergy Conference at the Valerian D. Trifa Heritage Center.

Psa. Mary Ellen Rosco and Veturia Nicula prepare one of the the many meals during the weekend with the help of parishioners from Sts. Peter & Paul Parish, Dearborn Heights, MI.

His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel and His Grace, Bishop Irineu with members of the Synaxis Chorale which gave responses at the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy.

Archbishop Nathaniel leads the singing of With the saints give rest, O Lord, to the souls of your servants during the memorial service in the Cemetery Pavilion on Saturday.

Saturday night entertainment in the Tower Pavilion by faithful from Hagerstown, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia.

Our hierarchs, Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop Irineu in front of the Bishop’s Residence following the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy which closed the 2003 Church Congress.


Original -  “Solia”, August 2003