The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America
Episcopia Ortodoxa Romana din America
CONFERENCE AND SPIRITUAL RETREAT OF ROEA’S CLERGY
7-10 NOVEMBER 2005
Continuing in the established annual tradition, at the beginning of each November, Southern California hosts the spiritual retreat of the clergy belonging to Vatra Romaneasca Episcopate. This year, the gathering took place between 7-10 of November 2005, at “Sacred Heart” Catholic Monastery, in Alhambra.
Clergy’s Conference/Spiritual Retreat 2005 was convened by the Diocesan Center in early August. Thus the hierarchs, clergy and the deacons of our eparchy were able to arrange their schedules to be present for the event.
The two hierarchs of the Eparchy, His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel and His Grace Bishop Irineu, along with 30 active clergy in our Episcopate’ s parishes and missions from USA and Canada, spent four days together in spiritual living, daily prayer, and attendance to theological lectures and pastoral matters. Each day, morning and evening, we took part in divine religious services in the chapel where the clergy confessed to one another, benefiting from the valuable time for personal reflection, meditation, etc.
From the theological presentations, we mention the following:
I The priest, husband, father and shepherd, a presentation by P. Cuv. Archimandrite Joseph Morris, was highly praised by the participants. Divided into four groups, the clergy thought over the three essential points of the conference:
a. The hindrances faced in our efforts to preserve the pure image of the holy matrimony.
b. What changes should we make in our family life as a result of this conference.
specific actions should we take in our daily conduct, immediately and in the
II The tithe – biblical concept, a presentation by P.C. Deacon and John Bujea. Dr. Bujea brought arguments from the Bible supporting “tithing”, the way it was applied in The Old Testament, and in what way it should be universally applied and practiced as in The New Testament. Topics largely discussed were membership and pledge as currently practiced in the Episcopate’s parishes and missions, resulting in a financial diagram showing the local profit of the parishes and at the national level – the Episcopate’s profit, if the tithe system would be applied in our Episcopate’s parishes.
III Foresight: Episcopate and parishes in the immediate and the remote future, by P.C. Ian Pacurar
The debates carried by the 4 groups on this subject, reached 2 essential aspects:
a. Continuous development of clergy’s activities among the parishes;
b. Actions connected with youth programs, locally and nationally.
Representatives of the 4 groups offered summaries of group debates along with the conclusions as reached by the group regarding the future of ROEA Episcopate. It was as analyzed from the following angles: Parish membership, serving clergy, laymen’s participation and serving (old and young) in divine public Worship, in Episcopate’s parishes, in what language do we hold the service, parish management, financial status, mission and evangelization, foreign relations, youth programs and religious education on local and national level, Christian assistance and Episcopate’s auxiliaries (ARFORA, AROY, Orthodox Fraternity). In this frame recommendations were made regarding practical changes inside each parish, all aiming at the spiritual and material/pecuniary progress of ROEA’s missions and parishes.
IV Foresight: Episcopate and parishes in the immediate and the remote future, by P.C. Ian Pacurar
Each group together with The Committee of continuous development of clergy’s activities in their parishes and The Committee for projects regarding youth programs, discussed and presented their conclusions on various aspects of parishes and missions’ administrative life.
1. The present necessities at parochial and at Diocesan level; current evaluation of the faithful and of clergy’s status (of the adults in general and of the youth in particular);
2. Current status at Diocesan and parochial level, regarding SWOTS analysis:
a. Strengths (Durability/Permanency)
b. Weaknesses (Sensitivity/Frailness)
c. Opportunities (Opportunities/Timeliness)
d. Threats (Vulnerability/External Threats)
3. Enumeration of some critically strategic problems that should be analyzed and solved by competent authorities to ensure the success of activities developed by ROEA’s parishes and missions.
4. Assignment of the main objectives for 2005-2008, to ensure a clear vision and trajectory of Episcopate’s works at Diocesan and parochial level.
5. Enumeration of several major changes that should be implemented during 2005-2008 timeline with the purpose of achieving the objectives recommended at #4.
6. Resources needed to implement the strategies mentioned at #5.
7. Recommendations regarding ROEA Congress from 2006.
V Reappraisal of AROY’s Curricula. An impressive visual presentation was given by Hierodeacon Calinic
(Kevin Burger), the AROY’s spiritual advisor. The lecture reached every key aspect regarding the complete success of the recommended programs for youth at Diocesan and parochial level:
a. Objectives enumeration (VISION of success; NOW as a starting point.
b. Upbringing of our youth (faith in God, The Holy Bible, service attendance, unconditional love, introduction to an alternative culture)
c. Strategy enumeration (Christian education, enthusiasm, character, working with the clergy, the necessity of working with AROY’s national counselor)
d. Hierarchy, Coordination: ROEA, parish council, the teachers and Sunday school
e. Present Analysis and Planning for the Future in close co-operation with missions and parishes’ clergy
f. The Present: preparation, experience assimilation, and resources analysis
g. Three projects: 2 spiritual retreats for the youth, and a visit to “Mexico Project”
h. Religious Symposiums for the youth
i. Details regarding “Project Mexico” orphanage
j. Sunday Schools (current problems analysis)
k. Sunday Schools (efforts regarding solving the enumerated problems)
l. Sunday Schools: ROEA’s cooperation with the deaneries (pecuniary and material resources)
m. The imperative involvement of the clergy, parents, teachers and other volunteers in the religious upbringing process of the youth of ROEA Episcopate.
n. AROY Conventions (parents involvement, promotion solely of positive activities, etc.)
o. Determine and accomplish long term objectives (each deanery’s spiritual retreats, cooperation with OCF, annual visits to “Mexico Project”, annual Symposiums, “shaping” suitable teachers for Sunday schools, etc.
p. NOW-on parochial level (propagation of spiritual retreats, persuasion of parental/volunteers involvement, setting up local activities for the youth, etc.)
VI Church unity from historical, theological, and practical point of view. Reverend Father Remus Grama gave an extensive presentation regarding the church’s unity throughout Christian history, viewed from theological and pragmatic side, mentioning Orthodoxy in America in general and the two Romanian dioceses from the North-American continent in particular. Benefiting from the presence of 4 of the 5 members ROEA’s Committee for bi-lateral dialogue of the 2 dioceses from America and Canada (Rev. Fathers Grama, Lazar, Mitescu, and Pac-Urar), participants to the spiritual retreat were given an open, detailed and convincing report on the present status and the prospective of this dialogue regarding the reconstruction of the unity of the 2 Romanian dioceses from the North American Continent.
VII Visit to Holy Trinity Church and “Mexico Project”. In the eve of the last day of the conference, a group of 18 clergymen, lead by HE Archbishop Nathaniel, paid a visit to the Sunland new property of Holy Trinity Church, and afterwards performed the Vespers Service at Holy Trinity Church in Verdugo Rd. – Los Angeles, followed by a fraternal agapae offered by the hosting church.
On the last day of the retreat, Thursday, November 10th, after the morning session of the conference, 16 clergyman visited “Mexico Project” in Mexico. The project was founded in 1988 as a pan-orthodox action that involved young people in housing development for the poor with the purpose of improving their lives. Since 1996, the project extended its mission by opening “St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage in Tijuana”, sheltering young orphans that were abandoned or runaway children. Founder of this project is Mr. Greg Yova, son of departed deacon Paul Yova, pillar of ROEA Episcopate.
On November 11th, with their spiritual batteries recharged, most of the attending clergymen went back to their parishes. It is there where they too will share with their faithful their unique spiritual experiences over the 4 days in Southern California.
Fr. Constantin Alecse, dean
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