Diocesan News

Bishops Maxim and Kirilo visited San Diego parish

         2018 02 04 san diego 001  On the Lord’s Day, the day of Resurrection, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son on February 4, 2018, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. George parish was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Maxim of the Western American diocese and concelebrated by His Grace Bishop Kirilo of Dioclea, administrator of the Buenos Aires and South Central America diocese with local priests, Protopresbyter-stavrofor Velimir Petakovic, retired parish priest, Protopresbyter Bratislav Krsic, parish priest, and deacon Paul Germain.

           Prior to the Liturgy, the Bishops were joyously welcomed by the clergy and faithful in front of the church with flowers and spiritual joy of the Lord’s Day and feast day of the Holy Apostle Timothy and Holy monk-martyr Anastasius, the Persian. After procession inside the church with hymns and after the vesting of bishops, the Liturgy was celebrated with participation of the faithful in singing and partaking of the Holy Communion. The presence of many children, the young church, brought joy to the Hierarchs and faithful.

           During his homily, bishop Maxim reminded everyone that our Lord in His love towards us invites us to return to our Heavenly Fathers embrace. The Church, our true Mother, prepares us for the joyous Lenten ascetic struggle, and with that for the celebration of the Feast of feasts, the Lord’s Pascha.

           Bishop Kirilo, who with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Amfiloje of Montenegro and Coastlands and administrator of the Buenos Aires and South and Central American diocese, oversees the establishment and building up of parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church in South America, also greeted the clergy and the faithful in the joy of the feast day, outlining the Gospel lessons read during the preparatory Sunday of the Great and Holy Lent. Bishop Kirilo reminded everyone that the task of the Church is to prepare her faithful for attaining life’s final goal, which is becoming Christ like.

           After the Liturgy, the Hierarchs, clergy and faithful continued the fellowship during the agape meal (a meal served with love and fellowship) in the social hall where a small program was presented. Protopresbyter Bratislav together with his parishioners presented to His Grace Kirilo a check in amount of five thousand dollars as a gift in support of his missionary work in South America. The San Diego parish called upon parishioners be a part of the Circle of one hundred families who would donate $100 each, thus collecting ten thousand dollars for the diocese in South America. The parish reached half of their goal.

           Protopresbyter-stavrofor Bozidar Draskovic, retired parish priest, was also present with his family.

         2018 02 04 san diego 002 The Orthodox Church is by her nature, a missionary church. Every parish has a dynamic life, in as much as it partakes in missionary work, not only within her geographical boundaries, but also beyond. This activity naturally flows out of the Eucharistic participation of the local community, which points towards the apostolic mission that began in the first century.

           The gathering was concluded with prayer and blessings from the bishops for the continuation of the Gospel witness in the local parish in San Diego of the Western American diocese.  

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Епископи Максим и Кирило посетили парохију сандијешку

На дан Господњи, дан васкрсења, Недеља o блудном сину, 4. фебруара, 2018.г., Архијерејском Светом Литургијом у храму Светог Великомученика Георгија, у најјужнијем граду западне обале САД-а, Сан Дијегу, Калифорнија, началствовао је Његово Преосвештенство Епископ г. Маским уз салужење његовог брата у Христу и госта Његовог Преосвештенства Епископа диоклијског г. Кирила Бојовића и локалног парохијског свештенства, протојереја-ставрофора Велимира Петаковића, умировљеног парохијског свештеника, протојереја Братислава Кршића, старешине храма, и ђакона Павла Џермејна са парохијанима који су испред храма дочекали епископе уз поздраве празника дана Господњег и Светог ап. Тимотеја и Преподобног мученика Анастасија персијског. Окупљена деца, млада жива црква, удови тела Христовог, уручили су цвеће епископима, а потом узели учешћа у Светој Литургији појањем, служењем, и причешћем.

           За време јеванђељске омилије, Епископ (онај који надзире и води живот Цркве на одређеној локалној територији) Максим је поручио да Господ у својој љубави према нама позива нас да се повратимо у загрљај Оца нашег небеског. Црква, наша истинска Мајка, нас припрема за радосни подвиг поста, а самим тиме за прославу Празника над празницима, Пасху Господњу, која ове године пада у недељу 8. априла.         

          Епископ Кирило, викарни епископ диоклијски, који по благослову администратора Епархије буеносаирејско-јужноцентрално америчке Митрополита Амфилохија, надзире рад на оснивању и утврђивању парохија Српске Православне Цркве у Јужној Америци, је исто тако поздравио верни народ и свештенство честитајући им празник и скрећући пажњу на одељке јеванђеља који се читају у недеље пред почетак Великог поста. Задатак Цркве је да својим члановима помогне да постигну крајњи циљ живота, који је Христоликост, подсетио је Еп. Кирило.

           2018 02 04 san diego 003После Свете Литургије гости архијереји, свештенство и народ, наставили су заједничарење за време трпезе љубави у парохијској сали где је приређен кратки пригодни програм. Старешина храма, протојереј Братислав, заједно са парохијанима, уручио је чек у износу од пет хиљада долара Епископу Кирилу за његову мисионарску делатност у Јужној Америци. Наиме, парохија сандијешка је одлучила да умоли парохијане да изволе се убројати међу стотину породица које ће даривати прилог од сто долара и тако скупити десет хиљада долара за Епархију буеносаирејско-јужноцентрално америчку. Овом приликом они су стигли до пола пута овог свог трудовања.

           Поред горе поменутог свештенства слављу је био присутан и протојереј-ставрофор Божидар Драшковић, умировљени парохијски свештеник са својом породицом.

           Православна Црква је по природи мисионарска црква. Свака парохија има динамичан живот, само уколико, узима учешће у мирионарском раду, не само унутар својих парохијских територијалних граница, већ и изван њих. Ова активност уствари произилази из Евхаристијског учешћа локалне заједнице које упућује на апостолску мисију започету још у првом веку.

           Сабрање је завршено благодарном молитвом и благословом епископâ за наставак сведочења Јеванђеља у локалној парохији сандијешкој Епархије западноамеричке и широм васељене.

 

 

 

 
 

Bishops Maxim and Kirilo at Monastery Slava in Escondido



2018 02 03 sretenje 21

The Serbian Orthodox faithful from parishes throughout Southern California gathered at the Meeting of the Lord Monastery in Escondido, California just north of San Diego, to take part in the celebration of the Monastery Slava on Saturday, February 3, 2018. The festal celebration began with the arrival of the bishops, His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America and visiting hierarch His Grace Kirilo, Bishop of Dioclea and administrator of the Diocese of Buenos Aires and South America. Concelebrating clergy included V. Rev. Stavrophor Lazar Vasiljevic, V. Rev. Blasko Paraklis, V. Rev. Predrag Bojovic and V. Rev. Milovan Katanic. Also serving were Deacon Vladan Radovanovic and Deacon Paul Germain.

Two Slava kolaches were offered, in honor of the monastery altar feast and St. Maximus the Confessor on whose feastday the liturgy was served, Bishop Maxim's namesday. Bishop Maxim welcomed the special guest to the Diocese of Western America, His Grace Bishop Kirilo. In his homily Bishop Kirilo spoke of the quiet solitute and peaceful setting of this monastery where the faithful can come to pray and in their prayers meet the Lord. He also spoke in more detail of the theology of St. Maximus the Confessor, metioning that oftentimes the church fathers don't have a practical place in our lives. On the contrary, the bishop argued that the saint's defense of the two natures of Christ teaches us that our Christian faith is not an escapism like some eastern religions but involves, first of all, our free will as well as the participation of our whole being in our union with God, our salvation.

An agape meal was served for all clergy and faithful following the Divine Liturgy. Afterward, on their way to San Diego where they would celebrate the Divine Liturgy the next day, Bishop Kirilo visited St. Petka Serbian Orthodox Church in San Marcos where the host priest gave him a short history of the parish and hosted them for a short visit in the parish house.

 

 

Vicar Bishop of South America Visits Phoenix, Arizona

2018 01 28 phoenix 005This year’s annual Patronal Feast Day – Slava Celebration on Sunday, January 28th, 2018 at St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was very special in many ways, but most of all on the account of the visit of their Graces Bishop Maksim and Bishop Kirilo.  Bishop Kirilo was elected as hierarch almost four years ago as a Vicar Bishop to His Eminence Amfilohije of Montenegro, with a special appointment to take care of our Church in South America, for the first time visited Phoenix as a part of his larger North American tour.  

Fr. Dragomir, St Sava Parish Priest, Fr. Stanislav St. Nicholas Parish Priest, and Fr. Jovan Katanic Diocesan Deacon together with numerous children and faithful welcomed their Graces at the gate of the St. Sava Church property with a festive procession proceeding to the Church for the spiritually uplifting Holy Hierarchical Liturgy.  St Sava’s “Stevan Hristic” Church Choir was especially inspiring by their beautiful liturgical responses.     

At the end of Divine Liturgy, following the traditional Slava Procession around the Church, the Slava Kolac was blessed at the entrance doors of the Church surrounded by hundreds of people. Honored 2018 Slava Kumovi were Dr. Petar and Mrs. Milica Novakovic along with their children Nina, Natasa and Aleksandar.  

Following the Blessing of the Kolac, His Grace Bishop Maksim had a very special presentation.  He honored Parish Priest Fr. Dragomir by elevating him to the Rank of Protopresbyter-stavrophor.  Fr. Dragomir humbly thanked His Grace and asked all the faithful to proceed to the hall for the festive banquet prepared for all guests.

St. Sava Children prepared a wonderful program under the direction of Church School Teacher and St. Sava Program Director, Katarina Stanisic.  Besides reciting traditional poems, the children sang exceptionally beautifully accompanied by pianist Miss Isidora Jovanovic, Arizona State University doctoral candidate.  All four ensembles of KUD Gavrilo Prinicip performed for the program finale.

The next morning, on Monday January 29th, His Grace Bishop Kirilo first visited St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery near Phoenix accompanied with Fr. Dragomir.  He briefly met with Elder and Monastery Founder Fr. Ephrem, and afterwards he was received by Abott Paisus when many gifts were exchanged.  

In the evening of that same day, many faithful from St Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix had a chance to welcome their Graces Bishop Maksim and Kirilo at their Church.  An elegant dinner was prepared at the St. Nicholas hall in their honor, followed by a special evening talk with the Hierarchs.  His Grace Bishop Kirilo beautifully talked about many aspects of our faith and also about the life and struggles of the Serbian Church in South America.  

 

 

Прослава Светог Саве у Лос Анђелесу

      2018 01 28 san gabriel slava 129    Освануо је диван сунчан дан 27. јануара 2018. године када се Црква Божија литургијски сећа највећег просветитеља и првог Архиепископа српског Саве. У светосавској Парохији лосанђелеској, створеној апостолским трудовима Светог Севастијана Дабовића давне 1909. године, ужурбано су текле последње припреме за прослављање онога који вековима учи и инспирише Србе широм васељене како да остану на “путу који води у Живот” (као што и певамо у његовом тропару), Светог Саве Српског и Свеправославног.

           Свети Сава, као истински “Homo Universalis”, или можемо  са правом рећи и  “свечовек” (како je Свети Ава Јустин називао Достојевског), пројавио је изнова ту своју васељенску димензију, када је у храму посвећеном њему, у Сан Габријелу крај Лос Анђелеса, сабрао у красоти, благољепију и љубави (Пс.132:1) браћу и сестре различитих националности као и свештенослужитеље из различитих јурисдикција. Ова његова универзалност последица је, свакако, његовог целоживотног уподобљавања Богочовеку Христу, отварања себе за Духа Светога, радосном потчињавању вољи Његовој као и смиреном и пожртвованом служењу Цркви Божијој.

          Литургијским Сабрањем председавао је наш отац и Епископ западноамерички Максим уз саслуживање веома драгог и почасног госта, Његовог Преосвештенства Епископа диоклијског Кирила Бојовића, који је дан раније допутовао из Аргентине где, по благослову администратора Епархије буеносаирејско-јужноцентрално америчке Митрополита Амфилохија, надзире рад на оснивању и утврђивању парохијско-литургијски Заједница у саставу СПЦ. Цењеним Архијерејима салуживали су и представници локалног презвитеријума: Протојереј-ставрофор Никола Чеко архијерејски заменик, Протојереј-ставрофор Лазар Васиљевић, Протојереј Блашко Параклис, Протојереј Норман Косановић, Јереј Јован Мафуз (Антиохијска Патријаршија), Јереј ЈованТомаси (Православна Црква Америке), јереј Јосиф Расам (Православна Црква Америке), јереј Василе Илие (Румунска Парохија при Православној Цркви Америке), Протојереј Предраг Бојовић (старешина храма), Ђакон Владан Радовановић и Ђакон Јован Катанић. Сабрању је присуствовала и игуманија Силуана са својим сестринством (већином египатског порекла), из оближњег Манастира Светог Макарија Египатског, који је у саставу Православне Цркве у Америци, као и игуманија Параскева из Епархије банатске.

           “Биће једно стадо и један Пастир” (Јн. 10:16) су речи са којима се завршава јеванђелско читање за овај дан али и речи са којима је Владика Максим започео своје надахнуто обраћање Богом повереној му пастви.

           Након Свете Евхаристије, кaо Иконe Царства “будућих добара”, али и његовог живог оприсутњења “овде и сада”, у којој је учествовало мноштво деце и верних,  уследила је литија предвођена најмлађим светосавчићима а затим и славски банкет за око 350 присутних учесника овог небо-земног славља. На почетку банкета Владика Кирило је благословио славски колач и жито, преломивши га, окружен раздраганом дечицом, са овогодишњим кумовима славе Дејаном и Љиљаном Мишковић. На одушевљење свих присутних уследио је затим и пригодан програм, у којем су деца ове Парохије која похађају верску наставу, својим талентима принели њихово скромно уздарје и благодарност Светом Сави, али и богата славска трпеза, коју су припремиле чланице локалног огранка КСС-а.

            Заблагодаривши Владики Максиму што је предводио овај двиг ка Царству, као и свим учесницима ове светковине, о. Предраг Бојовић  је бираним речима најавио обраћање Владике Кирила Бојовића, подсетивши све присутне на чињеницу да је Српска Црква већ имала једног угледног епископа из племена Бојовића  у лику блажене успомене Јефрема Бојовића, Епископа жичког и рођеног брата прослављеног Војводе Петра Бојовића. Владика Кирило је затим, у свом поздравном слову, говорећи о Светом Сави и нашој немоћи да и “споменемо сва његова добра дела” (по тексту вечерње стихире), све јако смислено повезао са мисијом Цркве на јужноамеричком континенту, будући да је та мисија у суштини наставак Савиног богоугодног дела и бриге за духовно добробитије свога народа али и сведочење Васкрслог Господа међу инославнима.         

           “Појте му Срби песму и утројте” су стихови који су у потпуности остварени ове године поводом парохијске славе у Лос Анђелесу, будући да је, након једногласно и једносрдачно отпеване светосавске химне, уследила песма и игра подстакнута радошћу молитвеног и благодарно сећања на Светог Саву Српског и Свеправославног.

Доставља Предраг Бојовић, Протопрезвитер

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Patronal Celebration of Saint Sava in Los Angeles

A brisk sunny morning has dawned on Januuary 27th, 2018, when the Serbian Church liturgically commemorates the greatest enlightener and the First Archbishop of Serbia, Saint Sava. In Saint Sava’s Parish of Los Angeles, created through equal to the apostolic efforts of Saint Sebastian Dabovic in 1909, final preparations for the celebration of the one who, for centuries, has been teaching and inspiring Serbs all around the globe how to remain on “the path that leads to Life” (according to his troparion), were being executed in haste.

Saint Sava of Serbia and all Orthodoxy, as the true “Homo Univesalis” (Universal Man), or we can rightfully use the term “The All-Man” (St. Justin of Celije used this term when speaking of Dostojevski), has once again manifested his universality and all-inclusiveness, gathering together in the temple dedicated to him in San Gabriel near Los Angeles, in love, beauty and majesty (Ps. 132:1) brothers and sisters of various nationalities and clergy representatives from different Orthodox jurisdictions. This all-inclusiveness and universality of his, comes as a result of his lifelong efforts to emulate The God-Man Christ, opening himself for the Holy Spirit, joyfully submitting himself the His Holy Will, as well as from his humble and sacrificial service to the Church of God.


The Liturgical Synaxis was presided by our father and the Bishop of the Western American Diocese, His Grace Maxim, with concelebration of the most dear and esteemed guest, His Grace Kirilo Bojovic, Bishop of Dioclea, who, day before, arrived from Argentina. His Grace Bishop Kirilo is a Vicar Bishop to Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and Littoral, with whose blessing he oversees the institution and development of new parishes in the Diocese of the Central and South America of the Serbian Orthodox Church.These two esteemed Hierarchs were assisted by the representatives of the local presbyterium: Fr. Nikola Ceko (Episcopal Chancellor),Fr. Lazar Vasiljevic, Fr. BlaskoParaklis, Fr. Norman Kosanovich, Fr. John Mahfouz (Antiochian OC), Fr, John Tomassi (OCA), Fr.JosephRassam (OCA), Fr. VasileIlie (Romanian Parish OCA), Predrag Bojovic (Parish Rector), Deacon Vladan Radovanovic and Deacon Jovan Katanic.This Liturgical Celebration was also attended by Abbes Silouana with her sisters from a nearby Monastery of St. Macariusthe Great of Egypt (OCA) as well as by Abbess Parasceva from the Diocese of Banat of the SOC.

“There shall be one fold and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) are the concluding words of the Gospel reading for this day but also the words with which His Grace Bishop Maxim began his inspiring Hierarchical Sermon to the flock of the faithful God has entrusted him with.

Following the Holy Eucharist as an Icon of the Kingdom of the “Things to Come”, but alsoit’s foretaste and realization “here and now”, in which many children and adults partook, a procession around the church led by children and a festal banquet, for approximately 350 attendees, took place. At the beginning of the banquet His Grace Bishop Kirilo blessed the Slava Bread and Wheat, breaking it, in accordance with the “slava” tradition, with this year’s slava hosts Dejan and Ljiljana Miskovic, encircled by the joyful youth of this Parish.

At everyone’s joy and pleasure a wonderful recital and program was performed by the Sunday School children of this Parish. It was their humble offering to Saint Sava, from their talents and time, and a token of appreciation for all the blessings he bestowed upon us. Immediately following the program, a festal banquet, prepared by the local KS Sisters, was served and enjoyed by everyone.          


After expressing gratitude to Bishop Maxim for leading us in our joint movement toward The Kingdom, as well as to all the participants, Fr. Predrag Bojovic announced, with a few well-chosen words, the central address of Bishop Kirilo Bojovic, reminding everyone of the fact that Serbian Church has already had, almost a century ago, an esteemed Bishop from the Bojovic Family. It was Bishop Jeferm Bojovic of Zicha of blessed memory, a sibling of the well renowned General and Vojvoda Petar Bojovic. In his address, speaking of Saint Sava and our inabilities even to begin “to proclaim all his good deeds” (according to the words of the vesperal hymn), Bishop Kirilo meaningfully tied it in with a Mission of the Church in South and Central America, since that mission is, in fact, only the continuation of the St. Sava’s God-pleasing works in cares for the spiritual well-being of the Serbian people, but also a living testimony of the Resurected Lord amongst the heterodox.           

“Let us praise him, o Serbs, let us sing his hymn trice”, are the lyrics that were entirely fulfilled this year during the Patronal Celebration in Los Angeles. After singing in one voice and one heart the Saint Sava Hymn, the festivities, motivated by the prayerful and grateful remembrance of Saint  Sava, were continued into the late afternoon.  
       
Submitted by Predrag Bojovic, Protopresbyter

 

 

 

Bishop Maxim visited Portland, Oregon



2017 01 14 portland 024Епископ Максим у посети Портланду, ОР

У Суботу 13. и Недељу 14. Јануара је Његово Преосвештенство, Епископ др. Максим посетио своју верну паству у парохији Св. Архиђакона Стефана у Портланду, савезна држава Орегон.

Прелепо сунчано време је красило оба дане ове канонске посете. После дочека на аеородрому су овогодишњи угледни кумови Храмовне Славе Момчило и Ружица Ђурђевић дочекали Преосвећеног Владику у своме дому , где је у пријатној атмосфери и срдачном разговору обедовао.

У вечерњим сатима су  верници дочекали драгог Владику у парохијском Храму где је надлежни парох Видослав Вујасин, арх. Намесник Бјутски служио празнично вечерње богослужење.

Abbot Damascene Visits Montana Mission Communities

36From December 11 to 19, 2017, Abbot Damascene of the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California, in the capacity of Episcopal Assistant of Missions, visited the mission communities of the Western American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montana. He was accompanied on his trip by Alexey Selishchev, a postulant at the St. Herman Monastery.

Fr. Damascene and Alexey flew into Butte, Montana, where they were greeted by Fr. Russell Radoicich, rector of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Butte. Fr. Russell also ministers to mission communities in Anaconda and Dillon. 

On the first leg of the the trip, Fr. Damascene and Alexey were hosted by the mission community in Anaconda, which lies a half-hour west of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Butte. They stayed at the home of Gary and Sarah Otteson, who were received into the Church at Holy Trinity by His Grace Bishop Maxim on its Slava last year. They are enthusiastic converts, who, being retired, are able to devote much time to both the church and their local community. Since they have a great desire to learn more about Orthodoxy and share it with others, Fr. Damascene had several interesting and fruitful discussions with them.

On Tuesday, December 12, Fr. Damascene met Fr. Russell at the Holy Trinity Church, where together they gave a talk on Orthodoxy--especially its iconography--to an art class from a local Roman Catholic high school. The icons covering the walls of the church served as the illustrations. Painted by master iconographer Ugljesa Mileta and a team of iconographers from Serbia, these wall-paintings have made Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church one of the most beautiful sites to see in Montana. The church therefore receives a good number of visitors seeking guided tours, which gives Fr. Russell or one of his appointed parishioners an opportunity to witness the Orthodox Faith.

The next day, Fr. Russell, Fr. Damascene, and Alexey drove to St. Peter's Monastery near Harrison, Montana, about an hour's drive southeast of Butte. Located on a beautiful, thousand-acre ranch in "Big Sky country," the site of the monastery complex overlooks a lake, amidst clear streams and rolling hills, with mountains in the distance. The monastery is part of the Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the West, with the Monastery of St. John in Manton, California, overseeing the construction of the monastic buildings. However, the effort to build the monastery has been multi-jurisdictional. Brothers from the St. Herman Monastery have accompanied brothers from St. John's on trips to construct the monastery buildings, and clergy and parishioners from various jurisdictions have helped out as well. The owners of the ranch have pledged their land in a church trust as soon as the monastery is established. So far, the walls of the main monastery building are over half completed.

It was snowing when Fr. Russell, Fr. Damascene, and Alexey arrived. They were greeted by the caretaker of the property, Brad Buescher, who is living in the boathouse. Brad is a convert to the Orthodox Faith who is connected with the mission community in Anaconda and attends Liturgy at Holy Trinity in Butte. He gave the visitors a tour around the property, showing them the monastery building, the cemetery, etc. Since the snow was continuing to fall heavily, Brad then had to drive his three guests to their next destination in his 4-wheel drive truck.

The travelers arrived that evening at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, where Fr. Damascene was scheduled to give a lecture for the mission community there. Besides the converts, catechumens, and inquirers who are already part of the Dillon community, some people had come from the mission community in Anaconda. John Xanthopoulis, a founding member of the Dillon community, had introduced many other members to the Orthodox Faith. Ever the missionary, he had brought four new people to the lecture that night, including a student of the University of Montana Western and her husband. 

At the prior request of the Dillon community, Fr. Damascene gave his talk on the subject of Sin, focusing on the difference between Western view of Original Sin and the Orthodox view of Ancestral Sin. The group was quite responsive and eager to learn, even when this meant going deeper and not accepting over-simplified formulations. Accordingly, Fr. Damascene was able to explain subtle differences between East and West. The talk generated much discussion.

Dillon is located about an hour south of Butte. Members of both the Dillon and Anaconda communities travel to Butte for Liturgies on Sundays and feast-days. On a typical Sunday, the faithful from these outlying communities make up a large portion of the congregation. Fr. Russell gives weekly classes in Dillon and Anaconda, which is a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration for the believers there.

Fr. Damascene and Alexey spent much of the next day, Thursday, talking with Gary, Sarah, and Brad, and later with Tristan, another member of the Anaconda community. Tristan is a medical doctor who works as a general practitioner at the local prison.

In the evening, Fr. Damascene gave a talk to the Anaconda mission community. Everyone, including Fr. Russell, met at the home of Todd and Tracy, a couple who are catechumens and live in Anaconda. Again, it was thecommunity that chose the title of the talk in advance. This time the theme was Confession and Repentance. The group went at an unhurried pace, with spiritual conversation interspersed in the talk. This seemed well suited to small, close-knit group, as well as to the topic at hand, which was of a very personal nature. Everyone contributed something valuable to the discussion, while a sense of Christian unity and fellowship prevailed throughout.

The next day Fr. Russell drove Fr. Damascene and Alexey to Missoula, where we met for coffee with Fr. Daniel Kirk (priest of St. Herman's Serbian Orthodox Mission Parish in Kalispell, Montana), Fr. Rob (Haralambos) Spliatsos (priest of the Holy Annunciation Greek Orthododox Church in Missoula, Montana), and Vesna, Fr. Russell's oldest daughter, who is now attending the University of Montana in Missoula. Fr. Daniel then drove us to Kalispell, about four hours northwest of Butte, where we had dinner.

The following day, Saturday, Fr. Daniel showed us St. Herman's Church, located in downtown Kalispell. It's a nicely renovated former Protestant church, with graceful woodwork -- all done by parishioners. A sizeable church hall is located downstairs. Still, the parish community is outgrowing the location. A few acres of land have been donated for a new church: larger, built as an Orthodox church, with Orthodox architecture. Fr. Daniel showed us the land, located in a rural area, close to downtown. A cemetery is planned near the site of the future church. A house for Fr. Daniel's family, situated next to the church land, is almost finished. A church building fund has been been established, and architectural plans for the church are underway.

Fr. Damascene and Fr. Daniel met with a catechumen in the parish who is to be received into the Church on Theophany. They then went to St. Herman's Church for a "meet and greet" with the parish before Vespers. 

Many people, as is usual, had come from the outlying towns of Eureka and Polson, about an hour north and south of Kalispell, respectively. Some years earlier, Fr. Russell had made missionary journeys to these towns, as well as to Kalispell. When Fr. Daniel, a former parishioner of Fr. Russell, was ordained a priest, he decided, together with the faithful from the three communities, that they would establish a church in Kalispell, which is centrally located. 

At the "meet and greet," Fr. Damascene had a question-and-answer session with the parishioners. He began by talking about St. Herman of Alaska, since he's the common patron saint of the church in Kalispell and the monastery in Platina. He then went on to answer questions on a variety of topics, with Fr. Daniel participating. Vespers was then celebrated, after which there was another opportunity to visit with the faithful. On both this evening and the day following, Alexey had opportunities to converse in Russian with several Russian speakers, which was a consolation for them.

On Sunday morning, Fr. Damascene served the Divine Liturgy and gave the sermon, with Fr. Daniel concelebrating. Since it was Fr. Damascene's nameday (along with St. Barbara's day), Fr. Daniel led everyone in singing "Many Years!"

After the Agape meal, Fr. Damascene gave a talk entitled "Creation, Redemption, Deification." In it, he spoke of man and the world before the fall, the fall and its consequences, our redemption by Christ, and the state beyond the general resurrection. The talk was in two parts, with a break. As in Dillon and Anaconda, the parishioners in Kalispell were fervent in the longing to go deeper into their Faith. With all the thoughtful questions and discussion that the two-part lecture generated, it lasted over four hours. 

The following day Fr. Damascene and Alexey attended Vespers and spent more time with the parishioners and Fr. Daniel.

Fr. Damascene returned home very pleased and impressed with the state of our Montana mission communities. As noted above, there is much enthusiasm in each place, including the towns like Polson and Eureka that he wasn't able to visit. Clearly, there is much potential for growth. Everywhere Fr. Damascene went in Montana, this is what he heard: if the Orthodox Faith becomes more known, many will embrace it. The time especially becomes ripe as Roman Catholicism reaches a crisis, and the deficiencies of Protestantism become more apparent.

Fr. Russell and Fr. Daniel are doing exemplary work in bringing Orthodoxy to the people of Montana. In addition, something must be said for the people of Montana themselves: they are good solid ground on which to plant the seeds of the Orthodox Faith. Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest (John 4:35).

 

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