From December 5 - 9, 2019, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon visited the Church of Russia to participate in the celebrations the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Church of Saint Catherine-in-the-Fields as the representation of the Orthodox Church in America to the Church of Russia.
Accompanying Metropolitan Tikhon were His Eminence Archbishop David of Sitka and Alaska, Archimandrite Andrei, Bishop-elect of Cleveland, Auxiliary to His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Episcopate; Protopresbyter Daniel Hubiak, first representative to the Church of Russia, former Chancellor; Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the OCA; and Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak, Secretary to the Metropolitan.
Upon his arrival to Moscow on Thursday, December 5, Metropolitan Tikhon was greeted by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR); Bishop Kliment of Krasnoslobodsk and Temnikov, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR deputy chairman; Igumen Theofan (Lukianov), head of the DECR Protocol section; and Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations.
On Friday, December 6 Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation were received by His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill at the Patriarchal Residence at the Monastery of Saint Daniel. After a Service of Thanksgiving in the Patriarchal Chapel, Patriarch Kirill welcomed Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the OCA delegation.
“I remember our fraternal meetings, as well as the kind words expressed by Your Beatitude on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of my election to the Patriarchal throne last February,” said His Holiness. “Oceans lie between our countries, but our sister churches are very spiritually close because they belong to the same tradition,” Patriarch Kirill continued. “It was Russian missionaries who brought to the Orthodoxy to the American continent, strengthening and nurturing it with their prayers and labors. And today we see the abundant fruits of the Saint Tikhon and Saint Innocent; Saint Herman and many other saints of God who have shone in America. I hope that our unity will be strengthened by their example, and the brotherly love we have for each other will never run dry. ”
His Beatitude responded in turn by expressing his joy to be with His Holiness for the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the representation of the Orthodox Church in America to the Russian Church. In reflecting on the anniversary Metropolitan Tikhon noted that foundational to the long history of friendship between the Church of Russia and the Orthodox Church in America is, “over two centuries of missionary and apostolic work undertaken on the North American continent by the Church of Russia, beginning with the arrival, 225 years ago, of Saint Herman and the members of the Valaam Monastic Mission to Kodiak, Alaska and continuing with Saint Innocent, Saint Tikhon, Saint John Kochurov, and many others saints and laborers for Christ in North America.”
- Read the complete text of Metropolitan Tikhon’s greeting
- Watch a video of the meeting between His Holiness and His Beatitude
- View a photo gallery from the meeting
After their meeting Metropolitan Tikhon presented His Holiness with an icon and relics of Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre. At the presentation, Metropolitan Tikhon noted Saint Alexis of Wilkes-Barre was a co-laborer with Saint Tikhon of Moscow during his years in America and is well known for his staunch defense of Holy Orthodoxy and his guidance of many back to the true faith of our Fathers.
Later that evening, the eve of the Feast of the Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria, Metropolitan Tikhon served the All-Night Vigil at the Church of Saint Catherine. Metropolitan Tikhon was joined by Archbishop David, Bishop Clement, Archimandrite Andrei, Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk, Dean of the Church of Saint Catherine and Representative to the Moscow Patriarchate, and representatives of the Church of Georgia and the Church of Poland, and other guest clergy.
On Saturday, December 7, the Feast of Saint Catherine, and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Orthodox Church in America’s Representation to the Church of Russia, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’ concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Metropolitan Tikhon at the Church of Saint Catherine. The primates were joined by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Metropolitan Dionysius, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; Metropolitan Joseph of Kirovograd and Novomirgordsky, Bishop Thomas of Pavlovo-Posadsky, the head of Moscow Patriarchate administrative secretariat; and Bishop Clement of Krasnoslobodsky and Temnikovsky. Representatives of Local Orthodox Churches Bishop Anthony of Moravich, representative of the Patriarch of Serbia; Archimandrite Feoktist (Dimitrov), representative of the Patriarch of Bulgaria; Archimandrite Seraphim (Shemyatovsky), representative of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia; and Archpriest Kakhaber Gogotishvili, representative of the Georgian Patriarchate also concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy. Also serving were Protopresbyter Vladimir Divakov, secretary to Patriarch Kirill; Archpriest Nikolai Krechetov, district dean; and Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the DECR, together with other local clergy.
Other distinguished guests at the anniversary celebration were Archbishop Celestino Migliore apostolic nuncio to the Russian Federation; Mr. Bartle B. Gorman, deputy head of the mission at the US Embassy in Moscow, Mr. Stéphane Jobin, Charge d’affaires, of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, Russian cosmonaut Igor Kononenko, and Mr. Valery Alekseev, President of the International Fund for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples.
After the Divine Liturgy, His Holiness and His Beatitude exchanged greetings. Patriarch Kirill congratulated the faithful on the patronal feast and shared some of his memories of the establishment of the representational church, “I well remember the events associated with the establishment of Saint Catherine as the representation of the Orthodox Church in America, the joy we experienced in creating it. Then, in the 1990s, our country was experiencing an economic crisis, but at the same time, it was a time of church revival, the universal restoration of ruined shrines. Among the churches returned to the Church was also this church beloved by those who bear the name of the Great Martyr Catherine in which the holy Patriarch-Confessor Tikhon once served. During the years of persecution, the temple was closed, desecrated and disfigured.” His Holiness went on to say that, “In the current splendor of the temple, one can see the image of the Church’s victory, and in spite of persecution and other mournful circumstances of life, this seed of the Christian faith flourishes in the life of people.”
Metropolitan Tikhon also congratulated the faithful on the patronal feast, and in reflecting on the life of Saint Catherine noted that the martyrdom of Saint Catherine by those who rejected Christ, had, “ an incredible effect: The philosophers and teachers she disputed with turned to Christ, as did hundreds of other pagans, including Empress Augusta and her loyal bodyguards. For in her death for the sake of the Truth, they realized the truth that Jesus Christ died for us so that we might rise with Him.” Metropolitan Tikhon continued, “Today, we remember that Jesus Christ has overcome the world and that it is through our common witness, our witness as his followers, that the secular world continues to be overcome. In our days, scientific knowledge is increasing rapidly, and as our knowledge increases, both our abilities to do good and our abilities to do evil increase. Our Church, following the example of Saint Catherine, must find ways to convince the world to turn to Christ, through our words and deeds, so that the world might be united by His Grace, instead of being divided by the Evil One. It is with this unity in Christ in mind that we are gathered here today, for this Church represents the unity of faith and communion that the Orthodox Church in America shares with our brothers and sisters of the Church of Russia.”
Following the exchange of greetings, Metropolitan Tikhon awarded Mr. Stéphane Jobin, Charge d’affaires, of the Canadian Embassy, the Order of Saint Innocent for his friendship and support for the Church of Saint Catherine and the representation of the Orthodox Church in America to the Moscow Patriarchate.
Addressing Mr. Jobin, Metropolitan Tikhon said, “For many years, you have been a friend of St Catherine’s Church which is our Representation Church to the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church in America has a large Canadian Archdiocese, and we are grateful for the establishment and continuation of the strong bond of friendship that has been maintained with the Canadian Embassy and we are grateful to you for your tremendous assistance to our current Dean and Representative Fr. Daniel Andrejuk. Not only have you been a great assistance in the restoration project that is taking place at St Catherine’s, but you have personally visited and prayed here at St Catherine’s and offered your friendship to Fr. Daniel and to the Orthodox Church in America.”
On Saturday evening Metropolitan Tikhon prayed at the All-Night Vigil Service at the Church of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow.
On Sunday, December 8, Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Church of Saint Clement of Rome. Metropolitan Tikhon was hosted by the Dean of the parish, Archpriest Leonid Kalinin. Father Kalinin is the chairman of the Russian Churches Council on Church Art, Architecture and Restoration. View a photo gallery from the Divine Liturgy.
On Sunday evening the Orthodox Church in America, in conjunction with Saint Tikhon University in Moscow, hosted a symposium on the life of the Orthodox Church in America at the historic Diocesan House. Metropolitan Tikhon gave a key-note address titled “The Apostolic Work of the Church in North America”. Metropolitan Tikhon’s address was responded to by Archimandrite Andrei, Bishop-elect of Cleveland, and Igumen Joseph (Kryukov), Abbot of the Representation Church in Moscow of the Holy Transfiguration Valaam Monastery. Read more, and view a photo gallery of the Symposium.
On Monday, December 9, Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation visited Moscow’s Donskoy Monastery where they were received by His Grace Bishop Thomas of Bronnitsy and venerated the relics of His Beatitude’s heavenly patron, Saint Tikhon the Confessor of Moscow that are enshrined in the monastery’s Cathedral of the Don Icon of the Mother of God.
During his stay in Moscow, Metropolitan Tikhon was hosted by Mother Theophania and the monastic community at the Monastery of the Protection of the Mother of God. The Monastery is the home to the relics of Saint Matrona of Moscow. On the final evening of Metropolitan Tikhon’s visit, the children of the monastery school presented His Beatitude and the OCA delegation a concert of spiritual and folk songs and dance.
Metropolitan Tikhon and his delegation departed from Moscow on Tuesday, December 10. Accompanying Metropolitan Tikhon to the airport were His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, and Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk. Metropolitan Hilarion used the opportunity to express gratitude to Archpriest Daniel Hubiak, on behalf of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, for Fr Daniel’s work in establishing the representation of the Orthodox Church in America to the Church of Russia. In recognition for his accomplishments, Fr. Daniel was awarded the Saint Mark of Ephesus Medal (I Degree).