Pastoral Trip to Edmonton, Canada

On July 14/27, 2017 His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius, accompanied by Hierodeacon Sergius, arrived in Edmonton, Canada for a one week pastoral visit. They were met at the Airport in the late afternoon by Reverend Father Andrew Kencis, his Matushka, and Monk Seraphim.

That evening the All-night Vigil, with Metropolitan Demetrius presiding, was served at the Cathedral Parish of St. Vladimir’s, which was founded by Archbishop Ioasaph of Blessed Memory. The following morning a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy and was followed by a festive trapeza where there was an extended question and answer talk given by the Metropolitan. The major themes discussed by the Metropolitan was the urge to cultivate the spiritual life, to remember always that we must both confess the Holy Orthodox faith, but never forget to so in a loving manner. The metropolitan, continuing the theme from the Clergy Conference in July, warned against the temptations of “the right” which according to the Holy Fathers can be much more subtle and dangerous than obvious coarse sins and passions.

The Metropolitan and Hierodeacon Sergius then were taken to the historic Holy Protection Convent in the company of Abbess Ambrossia and one of the lay-sisters of the convent which is 1 ½ hours outside Edmonton. The metropolitan was received with the ringing of bells and chanting. There was outdoor meal served in the long summer evening of the North. In the morning after matins there was breakfast with a short reading and the remaining time was spent answering written questions from the sisterhood on the spiritual life and monasticism. A pannahida was served in the very historic cemetery where Bishop Savvas is buried along with many Hieromonks, priests, and faithful. The original chapel and holy gates built by Archbishop Ioasaph still stand and are functional. After another open air trapeza in the mid-afternoon the All-night Sunday vigil served for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers in the convent house chapel dedicated to St. John Maximovitch. After the vigil the Metropolitan returned to Edmonton to St. Vladimir’s to prepare for another Hierarchal Liturgy Sunday morning. After the Liturgy there was a parish trapeza and a talk was given, followed by the Metropolitan speaking privately to whomever needed to see him.

On Sunday afternoon Fr. Andrew and Matushka took the Metropolitan to their home which is at the historic Skete of the Dormition which is also 1 1//2 hours outside Edmonton. This skete was founded by Metropolitan Vitaly and three bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia came out of the brotherhood, Metropolitan Vitaly, Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco, and Archbishop Paul of Australia. The original brotherhood church, alas, has fallen into ruin, but a parish church was moved to the property which was built in 1941.

Vigils were served for both St. Seraphim of Sarov and Prophet Elias. The Metropolitan served the Divine Liturgy as a priest on St. Seraphim’s Feast and a Hierarchal Liturgy was served on the feast of Prophet Elias. Several families took Holy Communion for the first time in the GOC after speaking with the Metropolitan and ascertaining that they could do so in good conscience with no compromise of their Orthodoxy. There were informal talks at breakfast after the two liturgies with a small number of faithful present and also in the evening during the evening meal and later around a pleasant bonfire in the splendid Northern Landscape.

The Metropolitan also visited the local cemeteries where many faithful are buried and served pannahidas.

The landscape is very similar to Russia and Ukraine and one can see why immigrants settled in Alberta by the tens of thousands from those places. There were at one time an estimated 800 Orthodox Churches serving Russian and Ukrainian immigrants in those parts. Alas, most of the churches are empty now becaue the congregations have died off and the children moved away, either being maintained as state monuments or are falling apart due the ravages of the harsh northern climate.

Early Thursday morning the Metropolitan left for New York City to be present for the celebration of Great Vespers for the Feast of St. Markella.

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