UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
HISTORICAL VISIT TO THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE
Our Church Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Mt. Sinai departed on their journey early on 17 October 2012. The group of pilgrims was led by His Eminence Metropolitan-Elect Antony and was only a few days into the experience when word came from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I that the Holy Synod would discuss the decision of the Extraordinary Sobor of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA to formally include the name of Archbishop Antony into the Diptychs of the Holy Orthodox Church as successor to Metropolitan Constantine of Blessed Memory during its monthly meeting on 30-31 October.
His Grace Bishop Daniel quickly contacted the individuals who after the Extraordinary Sobor had indicated their interest in making the trip with our hierarchs to Constantinople and made arrangements for a group trip to share with the Metropolitan-Elect the historical importance of the moment. When Metropolitan-Elect, accompanied by fellow pilgrims Metropolitan Council Member Olga Coffey, Janice Meschisen and Subdeacon Seminarian Adrian Mazur, arrived in Constantinople from the Holy Land at the conclusion of his pilgrimage, he was greeted by Bishop Daniel, Metropolitan Council Members V. Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko and Dr. Gayle Woloschak, Rev. Fr. Victor and PM Ivanka Wronskyj, Church Court Member George Demchenko and United Ukrainian Orthodox Sisterhoods President Tamara Parubchenko.
The Patriarchate informed the bishops that the Synod announcement would take place on the second day of the Synod Meetings, which was to be held on Halki, the site of the Patriarchal Seminary and Theological Academy. This was a particular joy for the Metropolitan-Elect because of his love for the island and the monastery and church of the Holy Trinity founded by Patriarch Photius I, nearly a thousand years before the theological school was established there. The school was founded in 1844 by Patriarch Germanos and was closed by the Turkish government in 1971. The other participants in the journey were also thrilled that they would have the unexpected pleasure of visiting the Seminary. They had the opportunity the day before to visit the holy sites of Constantinople – including the Church of St. Sophia, the largest Orthodox Church in the world and the most significant in the history of world Orthodoxy. They would also have the opportunity after the visit to Halki to visit the incredibly beautiful Church of Chora – now a museum, as is St. Sophia, with walls covered in ancient Byzantine mosaic icons that are known throughout the world. Another site of great importance was the Blachernska Church of the Mother of God where the holy event of the Protection of the Mother of God – Pokrova – took place saving the city of Constantinople from a conquering invasion.
The group arrived at Halki on Wednesday, 21 October, and immediately visited the monastery Church and the monastery/school grounds. After a brief reception His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew invited the guests to the refectory for lunch with the members of the Holy Synod and then to the Grand Reception Hall for the official announcement of the Holy Synod’s decision. His All-Holiness asked Metropolitan-Elect Antony to stand before him and addressed him on the bahalf of the Synod:
“Your Eminence Metropolitan-Elect Antony, Your Grace Bishop Daniel, dear friends,
It is with profound pleasure and sincere love that we welcome you to this sacred Center of the Orthodox Church, the courtyard of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We receive you warmly and paternally as beloved children of the Mother Church of Constantinople, as faithful members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a history spanning seventeen centuries, during which it retained its administrative offices in this very city. It constitutes the spiritual center of all the local or independent Orthodox Churches, exercising leadership not by secular administration or external authority, but rather by virtue of its historical primacy and responsibility for the ministry of unity.
Most especially, however, on this occasion, we would like to congratulate you wholeheartedly on the recent election of an experienced and competent successor to Metropolitan Constantine of blessed memory, who so lovingly and devotedly guided your Church for two decades. With the Grace of the Holy Spirit, your Extraordinary Sobor recently convened and deservedly elected Your Eminence Archbishop Antony as new Metropolitan. We warmly congratulate Metropolitan Antony for his elevation and join in the fervent prayer and joyful wish of all members of your Church: Axios!
As you are all aware, in recent years, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has nurtured very close relations and a genuine concern for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in both the United States and Canada, as well as in Ukraine. We recognize the intimate bonds that unite us, whose origins may be traced to the very establishment of Christianity over 1000 years ago at the direct initiative of the Mother Church of Constantinople in the blessed baptism of Kyivan Rus’. Moreover, we recall with vividness and fondness our official visit to Ukraine for the historic celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of that Baptism in July of 2008.
Nonetheless, we also nurture and foster very intimate paternal relations with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, where we paternally encouraged the final and irrevocable unity of the existing Ukrainian jurisdictions, but above all where we personally invited the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to enter the spiritual family and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
We wish all of you a memorable visit to this remarkable and historical “queen of cities”. This entire region is filled with significance for the Christian Church. It is here that St. Andrew passed on the apostolic torch and tradition to the Apostle Stachys; it is here that many of the earliest councils of the Church formulated the doctrine of the Christian Faith; and, finally, it is here that the spiritual treasures of Byzantium – its theological, spiritual and cultural legacy – have been faithfully maintained over the centuries to this day.
May God bless you and your families, as well as your Church and your spiritual leaders. And may you return home enriched and inspired to serve the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” in the beautiful and blessed land of the United States of America.”
In addition to the elevation of Metropolitan Antony, a new bishop was elected this day for the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church – the successor to Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory – in the person of Bishop-Elect Gregory (Tatsis).
The official ceremonies of announcement and acceptance of his election as ruling diocesan bishop of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A. with the title Bishop of Nyssa were held in the monastery chapel of the Holy Trinity.
Following the brief liturgical service and commitment of the newly elected bishop, he was greeted by the members of the Holy Synod and all the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful present.
Historical Visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate! - 11/03/12