"Dear Brothers in Christ,
"It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that the Archdiocese of New York of The Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of America, the Former Exarchate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria has petitioned The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia to be received into its fold.
"This is the culmination of a long journey, many prayers, and great patience. It will also require the humility of our bishops, priests and deacons to bow their heads for ordination in the Russian Church which we do with great joy for the sake of the unity of the Church. We have accepted the use of the Julian Calendar as we were already on it for the Paschalion and most of us have been greatly disturbed by the commercialization of Christmas. We will also be able to keep our Liturgy which is based on the Dom Augustine Liturgy. We will also be able to continue our practice of gathering each year in the Fall for a Conference/Retreat and now open it up to other Western Rite Clergy. The 2011 Conference will be held at St Mary's Villa, Sloatsburg NY, Tuesday October 25th to Friday October 28th.
"So that we are clear, the parishes being received were non-canonical Orthodox, not Anglican. Most of us come from the Roman Church though some of us have spent time in the Anglican Church, Episcopal, Continuing, or Charismatic Episcopal. We all became Western Rite Orthodox.
"Archbishop Anthony and Bishop Michael will resign the episcopacy and be ordained and elevated to be Archimandrites and His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion has asked former Archbishop Anthony to be Vicar/Dean of his group of Western Rite parishes. The historic significance of this is that the Orthodox Western Rite will have almost ten new parishes and, when all are received about 18 more clergy. We will have an informal group called The Fraternity of St Gregory.
"Those clergy who have already been received into the Russian Church have experienced the warm welcome and generous kindness of Metropolitan Hilarion and Vladyka Jerome who have been paragons of patience in doing all of the required ordinations for us. The Russian clergy surrounding them have been most welcoming to their new Orthodox brothers who will be using the Western Rite.
"Some have commented on the humility that it has taken for me and Bishop Michael to give up the episcopacy. Anyone who knows our history also knows that we did what we had to do to keep our group together and to offer a place for those who wanted to be Orthodox Western Rite as we awaited the time God would appoint for our entrance into the Russian Church.
"Conversations were being held with Moscow through Fr Daniil Sosoyev (RIP) who through his martyric death has accomplish what he could not finish in this life.
"We wish to thank Father James of Christminster who urged us for years constantly to hope and pray, Fr Ambrose (NZ) who continued to fast and pray for us all and who encouraged us, Fr Michael for his encouragement, Fr David (FL) and Fr Ambrose (GOA) for their prayers. We wish also to acknowledge the ongoing novena to St John of Shanghai and San Francisco for the past years and the maternal graces secured for us by the Holy Mother of God.
"Finally, we remember the words of the old Western prayer: "O Lord Jesus Christ, who for the accomplishment of Thy greatest works, has chosen the weak vessel of the world that no flesh may glory in Thy sight...." may we who have been called to the work of bringing the West to Orthodoxy have the strength and grace to perform it by your prayers.
Very Rev. Fr. Anthony (Bondi)
Regarding this new development, Fr. Hieromonk Ambrose of New Zealand had this to say on Nov. 10, 2010: "Half of the 18 priests and deacons have already been ordained by Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Jerome over the last few weeks. It is planned to have the remaining clergy ordained before mid December. This is a glorious thing for the Russian Church, since it gives us 10 viable Western Rite parishes in the States. Here is a photo of one parish church, in Pennsylvania.
Fr. Ambrose also had this to report on Nov. 11: "A major Western Rite monastery complex is being created in the United States by hieromonk Michael of Saint Petroc monastery Tasmania, Australia. Construction will commence in two to three months. The news has been released by the group Forward in Orthodox Faith.
above: Fr. Anthony Bryant of St. Katherine Church, Pelion, South Carolina
To those alarmed that the new communities might practice forms of devotion which originated in the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, Abp. Anthony wrote the following clarification: "For the record, my church [in Putnam Valley, NY --Ed.] has no organ music, we sing Gregorian Chant, we do not have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, stations of the cross, sacred heart devotions, pews, or kneelers."
Picture of the clergy, in a meeting prior to their reception into the Russian Church.
We welcome our new brothers and sisters into our midst with love, prayer, and the deepest respect. Please pray for us, and we shall pray for you. May the prayers of the Most Holy and Blameless Mother of God protect you all. - Fr. Hieromonk Aidan+