|The Leadership of the Eastern Deanery|
Every so often, once or twice a year, the clergy of my diocese gather for a meeting. Our Archdiocese is broken down into smaller administrative units called deaneries and ours covers the eastern third of the United States. Not all of the clergy able to attend but yesterday 12 priests gathered with our 2 bishops for a day of meetings.
These meetings are always a great experience for no other reason than it gives us a chance to catch up with one another. We see each other so infrequently it is nice to be able to see how all of the other priests in the Archdiocese are doing.
On the agenda for yesterday’s meeting was updates from our bishops of happenings around the Archdiocese as well as with the Assembly of Bishops. We have 2 young, energetic bishops who put many miles on their cars each year as our Archdiocese covers all of North and South America (we have 3 parishes in South America). They also sit on the Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and that involves several trips to Romania each year. They never seem to stop! I am very thankful God sent 2 Holy, and tireless men to lead our Archdiocese.
Each year the Romanian Patriarch selects a topic as a focus for the year. Last year this topic was the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Matrimony. Around the Archdiocese we held symposia and other gathers around this topic and much of the writing of the clergy centered around these two topics. Yesterday we were presented with draft copies of two booklets that have been prepared that summarizes the teaching of the Orthodox Church on these two subject as well as the practical aspects of performing both Sacraments (for example; when weddings can take place, who can serve as a sponsor for baptism etc.). I say draft copies because our Archdiocese functions in four different languages, Romanian, English, French, and a little Spanish so everything needs to be translated and then edited. We hope to have these booklets completed by the time our Congress meets in July.
This year the topic selected by the Patriarch is the Sacrament of Anointing. I am pleased that this is the topic selected this year as this is an often misunderstood Sacrament in our Church. People believe that this is only used when one is dying. When the priest shows up the undertaker is not far behind. This could not be further from the truth! This is an important ministry in our Church and I am glad to see that it will be taking center stage this year.
Last month the Archdiocese hosted a Symposium at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts and the papers presented will be printed in our Annual Almanac at the end of the year. Yesterday we were treated to a short paper on the subject and a discussion of the practical application of this in the parish. It is a wonderful experience to sit around a room and have this kind of discussion with other clergy. I am planning more study and writing on this subject as the year progresses.
Another very large project of the Archdiocese is the English/Romanian Divine Liturgy book. We have been working on this for several years and it is coming to an end. It is amazing how much work is involved in a book such as this. It seems easy on the surface but, as my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters can attest too, translation is never easy. The biggest problem is we do not have a common English translation of the Liturgy. Some are fine and some are just horrible. Some use the Olde English while others use modern English. So many choices. And if that in not enough just as we finished, actually the day we sent out the final draft for review, the Holy Synod in Romania released a new translation of the Liturgy in Romanian. Back to the drawing board.
It is interesting to note that the Church in Romania has always updated the Liturgical language as the vernacular changes. Languages evolve and change over time and the Church has changed along with this. Some Churches use a “Church Language” like Church Slavonic and I believe that the Greek used in Liturgy is a more formal language then what is spoken on the street so to speak. So we had to change the Romanian version of the Liturgy but we also needed to modify some of the English words to fit the Romanian usage, not many, but it still had to be done. I can say the final draft, we hope, has now been released and we hope to put it in trial usage soon. We are being very practical about this and we are going to give it a test drive for a few months to make sure it works. Because we sing the Liturgy it has to flow and in some sense it needs to be poetry as well as Liturgical.
During an amazing lunch we continued our time to catch up with one another and then a few final presentations on financial matters and other items that will be on the agenda for the upcoming Congress in July.
When the meeting was first announced I was not looking forward to attending. It is a day out of my schedule that I cannot afford to give up and it would be a rather long day. The trip was three and half hours in each direction, but as I sit today and write this I am very happy that I attended and I look forward to the next meeting.