The spiritual retreat of the
ROEA Episcopate clergy (West Coast)
This year the Romanian Episcopate organized
the first annual clergy spiritual retreat. This retreat was made possible by
the generous support of "Cristina Christia's Estates" in Southern
California. This project will continue in the following years. Given the large
distances between our parishes and missions in North America, His Eminence
Archbishop Nathaniel decided to organize this retreat in two sessions on the
East coast and on the West coast. In the future these retreats will become an
integral part of the continuous education of the ROEA clergy, complementing the
annual clergy conference (at Vatra) and the special educational programs of the
St. Andrew Center in Detroit, Michigan.
The first session of the retreat took place from 10 to 12 June 2003 at the Holy Ascension Monastery in Detroit. Besides our two hierarchs and retreat leaders H.E. Archbishop Nathaniel and H.G. Bishop Irineu 30 more clergy attended.
The West Coast session took place from 4 to 6 November 2004 at the retreat center of the Sacred Heart monastery in Alhambra CA. Besides the retreat leader, H.E. Archbishop Nathaniel, 17 members of the clergy participated: the archpriests Simion Pavel (Chicago, IL), Constantin Alecse (Los Angeles, CA), and Dumitru Paun (Dallas, TX), the priests Cornel Avramescu (Anaheim, CA), dr. Catalin Mitescu (Pomona, CA), Andrew Lesko (Pomona, CA), Ioan Andrisoaia (Vancouver, BC-Canada), Ioan Catana (Seattle, WA), Constantin Lapustea (San Jose, CA), Eugene Rosu (Warren, OH), William John Clark (Los Angeles, CA), Cosmin Vint (Anaheim, CA), the deacon Vasile Simonca (Los Angeles, CA), and the subdeacons Narcis Stoica (Pomona, CA), dr. Iosif Razvan Bena (Los Angeles, CA), and Liviu George Constantinescu (Los Angeles, CA).
The retreat theme Serving our True God and Savior, the Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, in the 21'st century was chosen because of the beginning of Advent. The discussion focused on the recently published book Clergy Killers, by the Lutheran Pastor G. Lloyd Rediger. This book discusses the usually benign conflicts inside a parish, which can sometime become abnormal and abusive. The book claims that some parish members can become clergy killers, by always amplifying whatever conflict arises against the priest.
The following paragraph summarizes the content of the book, which is already considered a bestseller: Some conflict is normal, even in the church, but Lloyd Rediger argues that there are some conflicts which are not normal, and are in fact abusive. Some churches have "clergy killer" congregations, energized by evil and mentally ill personalities in their midst. Even the clergy may become "killer clergy" if their status or interactions encourage them to act abusively toward church staff, or to be exempt from justice. Clergy Killers presents research to substantiate the alarming rate of abused and fired pastors. It indicates why these conflicts occur while also presenting methods for resolving them. Strategies to prevent abuse, to bring support to clergy, and to build healthier congregations are also included.
During the three days of the retreat, each participant had the opportunity to present himself, and his church activity. We also discussed problems which arise in church administration, and the relations between the priests and laity. Two of the participants (Fr. Andrew Lesko and Bill Clark) who have special ministries, shared their experience in mission work towards English speakers. Their presentations were well received, and generated lively discussions about the opportunities to bring America to Orthodoxy.
Fr. Andrew Lesko, who over the previous two weeks had helped those affected by the San Bernadino (CA) fires, shared some of his experience in this work. He also discussed his work as chaplain in the San Bernadino Sheriff Department, and explained how this involvement in helping others enhances our Orthodox witness in this country.
We also discussed the implications of our deeper involvement in pan-Orthodox activities, the role of our Episcopate in promoting Orthodox unity in North America, and the continuous work of Orthodox laity groups (like OCL) towards achieving this unity. Our Archbishop shared with us his vision of a united American Orthodoxy, and of an American Orthodox Patriarchate. We also discussed the relations between the two Romanian Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, the many positive developments which took place since 1989, and the few remaining obstacles before achieving unity between these two Episcopates.
During the three days of spiritual activities, the clergy served Vespers and the Divine Liturgy. Fr. Simion Pavel was designated as the spiritual father of the retreat, and many of the clergy had the possibility to open their soul to him in the sacrament of confession.
Every day the nuns of the Sacred Heart monastery prepared and served delicious meals. In one of the nights the entire monastery sisterhood inspired us with two very beautiful spiritual songs. As guests, we returned this gift by singing the Hymn to the Birthgiver of God It is truly meet. At the end of the retreat it was decided to have a similar retreat in 2004, at the same retreat house.
Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at the Saint Mary church in Anaheim, CA.
On Sat. Nov 8 2003, Archbishop Nathaniel celebrated the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel at the Saint Mary Orthodox Church in Anaheim, CA (pastor Fr. Cornel Avramescu). Even if it was not a Sunday, the faithful filled the Church, and participated in a very uplifting spiritual service.
(More details about this visit can be found in the Saint Mary parish bulletin)
Memorial service for MIHAI PATRICHI, the founder of the MOLDOVITA foundation.
On Sat. Nov 8, H.E. Archbishop Nathaniel delegated Constantin Alecse to serve the memorial service for Mihai Patrichi (the founder of the MOLDOVITA foundation), on his name day, at the Holywood Forever cemetery.
Hierarchal Liturgy at Holy Trinity (click here for details)
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