From time to time the Eastern American and New York Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has held its conferences within the walls of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. So it was on October 22-23, on our hallowed grounds, approximately 100 priests and deacons gathered with Metropolitan Hilarion, our First Hierarch and his two vicar bishops, Bishop Nicholas and Bishop Luke, along with Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada and his clergy, and clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate.
For sure, more modern and comfortable quarters could be obtained for such a meeting, however, the venue of the monastery is chosen and quite preferred by many due to his relative isolation and spiritual atmosphere. After all, these conferences are not only informational events, but a sort of spiritual retreat, even if for only a couple of days for our clergy.
The evening of Monday, October 21, was a day for arrival at the monastery. Our hierarchs also arrived along with two of our most venerated and sacred icons, that of the Mother of God of Kursk, our Church’s Odigritia, and that of the Hawaiian Myrrh-streaming Icon of Iveron. The Hawaiian Icon was greeted by the monastery clergy on this evening, whereas the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God was greeted along with Hawaiian Icon formally the following morning as part of the official beginning of the conference with a moleben.
At 10 am, the conference was opened with a lecture by the Very Rev. Seraphim Chemodakov on the topic of the use of Psychology and Psychiatry in the Church for the treatment of mental disorders of the faithful. This topic provided an occasion for much discussion and the question and answer period that followed the speech.
The conferees joined the monastic brotherhood as well as the seminarians for lunch at noon, which was followed by a guided tour by the curator of the museum of Russian History. A new exhibit has been prepared about roll of the arts in the Church. This was followed by a “Question and Answer” round table discussion with the participation of our seminarians. This provided a chance for our students to interchange their inquiries with our respected clergy and to get answers to their most earnest request concerning current topics in Church life.
At 4 pm, the clergy were invited to participate in the monastery Rule for Communion, which is preparation of our clergy for participating in the divine services for an upcoming feast, in this case, the feast of the Optina Elders.
This was followed by supper, and the All-Night Vigil followed. Joining in the services were local neighbors and also pilgrims. Most availed themselves of the mystery of Holy Confession.
The following morning, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion was greeted at the cathedral doors at 9 am by the approximate 100 clergymen. He was then vested, whereas the other bishops had already entered earlier and been vested by servers who had especially prepared for this. The augmented seminary/monastery choir sang the appropriate hymns. During the liturgy, awards were given and a large multitude of both clergy and the faithful partook of the Holy Mysteries from three chalices.
The liturgy finished with a moleben before the Kursk Icon, and all were welcomed to the monastic trapeza meal. All present expressed their gratitude to God for the opportunity to pray with their bishops and brethren clergy, along with the brotherhood and seminarians. All received mutual benefit from this gathering.