russiancross.gif (3454 bytes)Russian Byzantine Catholic Churches:
 News and Recent Events






Byzantine Catholic priests, Frs. Sergei Golovanov and Andrei Udovenko, recently participated in the  Eucharistic Congress held in Moscow on May 26-28, 2000. Fr. Udovenko serves our sister parish in Moscow and Fr. Golovanov serves our sister parish in Sargatskoie as well as several other Byzantine Catholic parishes. See below for more on this first ever Congress in Russia.

Eucharist Taken in Procession on Moscow's Streets

ROME, MAY 31 ( "We are already waiting for him," Archbishop
Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz replied to the Italian television channel
"Telepace," when it asked about a possible visit by Pope John Paul II.
The Archbishop was on the program to speak about the First Eucharistic
Congress in Russian history, held in Moscow from May 26-28. This was
also the first Eucharistic procession ever held in the capital.

The Congress' theme was "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Christian
Life." 300 Catholics from all over the Russian Federation came to Moscow
to participate in this historic meeting. They represented all 4
Apostolic Administrations in Russia. Many of them had to travel
thousands of miles to attend.

The faithful from the provinces were welcomed by Moscow Catholics.
Eucharistic adoration took place in the crypt of the Immaculate
Conception Church. On Saturday, May 27, two deacons were ordained
priests. They had studied theology in Rome and Poland. On May 28, a
number of children made their First Communion.

Then the first Eucharistic procession on the streets of Moscow took
place. Many people came to their windows or waited at the doors of their
homes to see the Blessed Sacrament. Some were simply curious, but others
followed the procession with profound devotion. During the Congress, the
consecration of Russia to the Virgin Mary was renewed. Moreover, two
exhibitions were held: one on "Catholic Publications in Russia", and the
other on Caritas' charitable activities in the Federation. Some Orthodox
pastors participated in a few of the activities of the celebration.

The Congress also focused on the topic, "Eucharist and Family." In 1999
there were 5% less marriages in the country, and a 23% growth in
divorces. Some 70% of pregnancies in Russia end in abortions. "We are in
the first country that legalized abortion," explained Joseph Meaney,
vice-director of Human Life International. He added, "Only 21% of
Russian youth think it is important to register their marriage
officially, and only 15% consecrate it in a religious ceremony."

"Everybody in the country is waiting for the Pope," Archbishop
Kondrusiewicz said on "Telepace." "And it is not just Catholics and
believers, but also politicians. People ask me: 'when is he arriving?'
We are waiting for him. It would be a miracle, but the Pope has made us
used to miracles."

At present, Russian Catholics are preparing a Marian Congress in
Irkutsk, Serbia, for September. The Archbishop told the Italian
newspaper "Avvenire," that the papal visit could take place at that
time. "We are praying to the Virgin of Fatima," he added.

6-Apr-2000 -- EWTN Vatican Update 


VATICAN ( -- The Vatican reacted with expressions of sorrow on April 5, after hearing the news that Irina Alberti, a long-time collaborator of the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, had died the previous evening.

Alberti, who was 75 when she died at her new home in Frankfort, Germany, was born and raised in the Russian Orthodox faith. But she entered the Catholic Church later in life, and devoted her last years to the cause of ecumenical dialogue between the two bodies. At the European Synod last year, Alberti-- who was appointed by the Pope as an auditor for that Synod- - rose to defend the Catholic Church in Russia against charges of "proselytism." Such charges, she said, were often an "alibi" raised by Russian Orthodox leaders in an effort to preserve their religious monopoly. 

The former editor of the Paris-based journal "Russian Thought," Alberti was described by Cardinal Paul Poupard as "a woman of faith and hope."

VATICAN CITY, JAN 18 (ZENIT).- A decisive step was taken today on the
road to Christians unity with the ecumenical rite of the opening of the
fourth Jubilee Holy Door in Rome.

The ceremony took place at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls,
where, 40 years ago, John XXIII convoked Vatican Council II.

Today, 22 leaders of other Christian Churches, as well as the World
Council of Churches, a community embracing 337 Christian denominations,
accompanied John Paul II during the ceremony. All were united by their
faith in Christ, the one Savior, and by one baptism.

The drama of the event reached its height at instant of the opening of
the bronze Holy Door. As sunlight poured into the basilica, the people
gathered inside could make out three figures in the doorway: the
silhouettes of Pope John Paul II, Orthodox Metropolitan Athanasius of the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople, and George Carey,
Archbishop of Canterbury and president of the Anglican Communion. The
faithful broke out into applause. Everyone seemed aware of the privileged moment they were experiencing on the road of ecumenical

All passed in turn through the Holy Door: representatives of the
Catholic Church and of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Anglicans,
Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals all went up to the place of the
Gospel. The procession symbolized the centuries-old road that Christians
have followed in pursuit of unity, the Word of God, the very source from
which all confessions drink.

The liturgy included three readings: one from St. Paul, one from Russian
theologian Gregor Florovsky, and a third from Lutheran martyr Dietrich
Bonhoffer, who died at the hands of the Nazis. The readings stressed the
need to find unity in the body of the Church through the link of peace.

"We know we are brothers and that we are still divided, but we have
directed ourselves with decisive conviction on the path that leads to
full unity of the Body of Christ," the Pope said during the homily.
"This unity can find vital force in the experience of the Holy Year."

"During this year of grace, the awareness must grow in each one of us of
our own responsibility in the fractures that mark the history of the
Mystical Body of Christ. This awareness is indispensable to progress
toward that goal that the Council call as 'unitatis reintegratio,' that
is, the re-composition of our unity," the Holy Father exhorted.


John Paul II said that the ecumenical commitment must be an imperative
for the Christian conscience in the year 2000. It must be both a
personal as well as collective commitment on which the very future of
evangelization depends. "The wish that comes from my heart becomes a
profound supplication before the throne of the Eternal: that in the not
too distant future, Christians, finally reconciled, can return to walk
together as one people, in obedience to the Father's plan."

At the end of the homily, John Paul II could no longer contain his
emotion. The presence of the Orthodox representatives reminded him of
his May visit to Rumania, the first time that a Bishop of Rome visited
an Orthodox land. Putting his papers aside, he cried in Rumanian,
"Unitade, Unitade! [Unity]" And he explained: 

"This cry that I heard in Bucharest during my visit, I am hearing now as a very strong echo. 'Unitade, Unitade!' the people cried who were gathered for the Eucharistic celebration: all Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and Evangelicals -- all cried together: 'Unitade, Unitade.' Thank you for this cry, for this consoling cry of our brothers and sisters."

After a few moments of silence the Pope concluded: 

"Perhaps we can leave
this Basilica crying like them, 'UnitÓ, Unitad, UnitÚ, Unity!' "

Following the ceremony, John Paul II invited all the participants of the
different Churches to dine with him in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Paul
Outside the Walls. At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father spoke to
thank each of the Churches present individually for their significant
gesture of coming to Rome to participate in the opening of the Holy


Ecumenical Liturgy Presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray

VATICAN CITY, (ZENIT).- Tuesday, once again, Rome was the scene of a significant ecumenical event in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, with the celebration of Vespers presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. The liturgy marked the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, seeking the reunion of the planet's 2 billion baptized Christians into one flock.

The ceremony took place at 5:30 p.m., and was attended by invited Christian and non-Christian communities of Rome. This initiative was personally promoted by John Paul II. Last Sunday, when referring to this event, the Holy Father expressed his desire "to support every effort" that helps to make the aspiration for unity among Christians more "authentic and effective."

The rite this afternoon included the celebration of the Vespers for the feast of St. Paul's conversion, Gregorian chant, a brief biblical reading from the New Testament and Cardinal Etchegaray's homily. The Cardinal is president of the Vatican Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

The Cardinal gave extraordinary encouragement to Christians on the road towards unity. "Everything is possible when we lean on Christ and only on Christ, on the crucified Christ, as the road toward unity inevitably passes by the foot of the Cross, or rather, goes through the pierced heart of the Savior."

Etchegaray narrated a significant legend told to him by an Orthodox priest. "After Easter, when Christ was at the point of going up to heaven, he looked down on earth and saw it submerged in darkness, with the exception of a few small lights that illuminated the city of Jerusalem. In the process of his Ascension, he came across the angel Gabriel, who was accustomed to going on terrestrial missions. The divine messenger asked him: 'What are those little lights?' 'They are the apostles seated around my mother. My plan is that, once I return to heaven, I will send them the
Holy Spirit so that these little fires become a great fire that inflames the whole earth with love.'

The angel replied intrepidly: 'And, what will you do if the plan doesn't work?' After a moment of silence, the Lord replied: 'I don't have any other plans!' "

The Cardinal explain that this is God's only plan: "A plan that gives full power to the Holy Spirit who unites all Christians in one same love before united them in one faith." This is an "exacting adventure for the Church to become fully what it is, the living Body of Jesus Christ, diversified yet one, finally reconciled in truth and in the freedom of Love. Then ecumenism will be filled with hope and will start on the inexhaustible road of love in the heart of an uprooted, errant, blind and violent humanity that, in spite of everything, thirsts for unity."

The Cardinal ended his homily with a prayer written by Lutheran Bishop Nathan Soderblom from Upsala, a pioneer of unity when the ecumenical movement first got underway: "Lord, be before us to guide us, be behind us to push us, be beneath us carry us, be above us to bless us, be around us to protect us, be in us so that in body and soul we serve you for the glory of your Name."

25-Jan-2000 -- ZENIT News Agency 


Dean of Orthodox Institute of Theological Studies in Paris

PARIS, JAN 24 (ZENIT).- The Orthodox Church has lagged behind the Catholic in relating to the modern world and in ecumenism, according to an Orthodox theologian in Paris.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper "Avvenire," Fr. Boris Bolrinskoy asked how the Orthodox could "relate the modern world and its progress with the ecclesial tradition of the Christian East... without sacrificing the essentials."

Fr. Bolrinskoy, Dean of the St. Sergius Theological Institute of Paris, noted that "These problems, which Catholics addressed in Vatican Council II, the Orthodox discuss, perhaps, in less explicit terms within the local Churches." But, he added, "we have a very lively youth organization that is a great element of hope for the future."

"For the Orthodox, as for all Christians during this symbolic year, we celebrate the event that reminds us in a special way of the incarnation of Christ 2,000 years ago, even if the date is not exact. But we also come together to evaluate the past and reflect on the future of Orthodoxy, as well as that of the Church in general. I think this is far more important," Fr. Bolrinskoy said.

As to the ecumenical component that John Paul II has introduced in the celebrations, the Russian Orthodox scholar said that "this is an initiative of notable weight that makes me very happy. Let's hope all Christians will participate in it. The Pope is dedicating all his energy to a new coming together among the Christian Churches, including the Orthodox."

However, the Orthodox see themselves involved in a different way, according to the theologian. "Among the Orthodox, there is no will or impulse to unity. There are some churches that are more determined than others, because of the force of historical and geographical circumstances and the wounds of the past that are difficult to forget. This is a reality that cannot be ignored."

There is much to be done if unity is eventually to be achieved. "To begin with, we must meet and mutually forgive one another for the wounds we have inflicted on one another in the past. The Orthodox often nurse the feeling, whether rightly or wrongly, that Catholics proselytize everywhere. Today the atmosphere is pervaded by negative prejudices, to which are added memories of a very painful past for the Orthodox Church, such as the Crusades, proselytism in the East, parallel hierarchies, and other such things. Given all of this, some Churches are very
rigid. We need to meet without preconceived ideas, leaving our positions to one side, and free of instrumental intentions. But, to carry this out, we must be Christians full of love and determined to be saints," Bolrinskoy concluded. 

The October Visit of the Two Archimandrites

In connection with a conference concerning the Martyrs and Confessors of
Christ among the Marian Fathers in this century, held in Washington, DC, in early
October, the community of St. Michael's was blessed with a joint visit from
Fr. Archimandrite George Branch (Brianchaninov) from St. Nicholas Russian
Catholic Center in Melbourne, Australia, and Fr. Archimandrite Sergiusz Gajek, the
Apostolic Visitator for the Belarussian Greek Catholics in Belarus, and a
professor at KUL in Lublin, Poland. 

The two Archimandrites joined us for Vespers on Saturday evening, October 9, and concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Fr. John on Sunday, October 10. Their visit enabled us to share with them our respective experiences of parish growth and renewal, especially in light of the new immigrations from Russia and Belarus, and the reflowering of our
sister communities in Belarus. We also learned of the progress of the causes of
the Marian Fathers, especially that of the Servant of God Fr. Archimandrite
Fabian Abrantovic, M.I.C., who had been one of Fr. Archimandrite George's mentors.

Archimandrites George and Sergius with Fr. John and Fr. Deacon Christopher at the Great Entrance, Oct. 10, 1999

Archimandrite George at the Great Entrance, Oct.10, 1999

Archimandrite George blessing Jennifer and Anastasia Stadnik, Oct. 10, 1999

Archimandrites George and Sergius with Fr. John and members of St. Michael's at the coffee hour, Oct. 10, 1999

Double Deacons for Our Patronal Feast in November

Fr. Archdeacon Lawrence Cross of the St. Nicholas Russian Catholic Center
in Melbourne, Australia, en route to the conference of Eastern Catholic
bishops of the Americas and Oceania in Boston, MA, November 7-12, 1999, blessed us
with a visit at St. Michael's from November 5th to 7th. His presence, a delight
in itself under any circumstances, further enhanced our joyous celebration of
our Patronal Feast for our 63rd year. A uncommon treat was that our community
was able to witness the special beauty of the Divine Liturgy celebrated with
the service of two deacons, Fr. Archdeacon Lawrence and our own Fr. Deacon
Christopher. Fr. Archdeacon Lawrence was able to join us at the St.
Michael's Chapel Association, Inc.'s fund-raising dinner held on Sunday afternoon
after the Divine Liturgy, before heading off to Boston.

Fr. Archdeacon Lawrence Cross censing, Nov. 7, 1999

Fr Deacon Lawrence proclaiming the Gospel, Nov. 7, 1999

Moleben on our Patronal Feast of St Michael the Archangel, Nov. 7, 1999. Fr. John assisted by Fr. Deacon Christopher and Fr. Archdeacon Lawrence Cross of Melbourne

Scene from St. Michael Association Dinner, Nov. 7, 1999

Scene from St. Michael Association Dinner, Nov. 7, 1999

The November Visit of Fr. Archimandrite Serge Keleher

Two weeks after Fr. Archdeacon Lawrence's visit we were blessed with a
visit from our old friend, Fr. Archmandrite Serge Keleher, and Acolyte Paul O'Brady
from the Greek Catholic Community of St. John Chrysostom in Dublin, Ireland.
Fr. Archimandrite Serge shared with us news and some photos of his vist during
the preceding week with His Grace, Archbishop Joseph Raya and the community of
Madonnna House, in Combermere, Ontario, Canada. He also shared with us
news of their community's pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock and of the
several Russian Catholics who are part of this community in Dublin. Fr
Archimandrite Serge and Acolyte Paul assisted us at Vespers on Saturday,
November 16th, and celebrated the Divine Liturgy with us on November 17th.

Exterior view Byzantine Chapel of Madonna House, Oct. 1999

Interior of Byzantine Chapel of Madonna House, Oct. 1999

Archbishop Joseph Raya, Archimandrite Serge Keleher and Acolyte Paul O'Brady, Madonna House, Oct. 1999

Divine Liturgy at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock (Ireland), Feast of the Dormition (O.C.), 1999

Byzantine Chapel at St. Kevin's Pro-Cathedral, Dublin

Divine Liturgy at Byzantine Chapel, St Kevin's, Dublin




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