So much has happened in recent months, in the Western Rite of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, that I will attempt only the briefest update.
Following the synodal decree which invalidated the controversial ordinations at Beacon, New York, a number of those who were ordained on that fateful day have now received a canonical ordination in the Russian Orthodox Church. Some are serving in the Western Rite. At least one has gone over to the Eastern Rite (Spanish-speaking Fr. Benigno Pardo of Houston, Texas).
There was, at the time the synodal decree came out, the departure of one clergyman from our church.
Within the past two weeks, one or two more clergy have departed, which is cause for prayer and is a loss to our Church.
On a brighter note, on Sunday, November 17, 2013, retired OCA Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Jerome (ROCOR), together with some seminarians from our Jordanville seminary, visited the W. Rite parish of Christ the King in Tullytown, Pennsylvania. There, Fr. Bernard Andracchio was awarded the dignity of Archpriest. Pictures are available at http://rwrv.org/news.html. Axios!
The 2014 Western Rite Conference was canceled, and we still await word about the scheduling of a future conference.
The Commission established by the synodal "Beacon" decree has not produced so far any specific instructions for WR clergy. The Metropolitan is deciding matters from day to day, when issues come up. An internet discussion group was set up for the W. Rite clergy and there clergy may ask questions of two of the Commission members, Archpriest David Straut and Archpriest Anthony Nelson. A group was also established for the wives of WR clergy.
The W. Rite continues to flourish in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and continues to operate under the omophor of the first hierarch, Metropolitan Hilarion, who issued a comforting clarification soon after the synodal decree, which clarification remains the last official word on the W. Rite. More and more, our W. Rite clergy are coming to realize that the E. Rite clergy and people of our Church are going to be a source of support, encouragement, and blessing, and that suspicions about the motives and humanity of E. Rite brethren have been, in many cases, excessively pessimistic. W. Rite clergy have been concelebrating with E. Rite clergy more and more, including on the territory of the Chicago diocese (e.g., at my own parish on the edge of Austin, Texas), even as concerns regarding how W. Rite clergy were vetted under the former vicariate structure, are allayed. Our Church Abroad still has at least one bishop (His Grace Jerome) who has celebrated in W. Rite in the recent past and could do so in the future.
In sum, the W. Rite of the Russian Church continues. What of its vitality and viability? These will be determined by none other than the fruits of its own activity, whether missionary, parochial, or monastic. After the passage of two or three decades, there may be sufficient information to allow one to hazard a guess at how well our W. Rite is doing. May God be with our W. Rite clergy and faithful every step of the way, and may He guard and keep them by His Grace, through the prayers of the most holy and most pure Mother of God and of all the Western Saints.
Dear W. Rite brothers and sisters, we love you, we respect you, and we hold you up constantly and steadfastly in our prayers.
Hieromonk Aidan, cell 512 696 6890
on loan to Holy Protection E. Rite parish, Austin, Texas
www.orthodoxaustin.org and www.facebook.com/groups/HolyProtection