Tuesday, April 24, 2018

WESTERN RITE REPORT — Six Ordinations Last Week, Three New Congregations Received and a New Deanery Erected!

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), First Hierarch (Primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and Ordinary of the Western Rite Communities ordained six candidates last week for service in the ROCOR Western Rite Communities. The men ordained are:

Fr. (Priestmonk) Serafim (Furemalm), Holy Protection — Stockholm, Sweden.

Fr. (Priestmonk) Lazarus (Wilhelmsson), Saints Halvard and Nikolaus — Gothenburg, Sweden.

Fr. Deacon Michael Petrus Catenacci, Holy Protection — Stockholm, Sweden.

Fr. Deacon Andreas Eraybar, Saints Halvard and Nikolaus — Gothenburg, Sweden.

Fr. John (Ron) Longero, St Andrew’s, Reno Nevada.

Fr. Seraphim Byrd, St Thomas’ — Mountain Home, Arkansas.

The three new parishes were received. They are:

Holy Protection of the Mother of God Orthodox Church — Stockholm, Sweden.

Saints Halvard and Nikolaus Orthodox Church — Gothenburg, Sweden.

St. Andrew’s Orthodox Church — Reno, Nevada.

More clergy and congregations in Scandinavia will be received later, with these four ordinations being just the beginning. A Scandinavian Deanery has been erected by Metropolitan Hilarion with Fr. Serafim as Dean. The Scandinavia Deanery includes Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This is historic. The events of last week have restored Western Rite Orthodoxy in Scandinavia after many centuries. 

Fr. Serafim, Dean of the Scandinavian Deanery, had served as a priest in the Church of Sweden for fifteen years. In recent years Catholic-minded clergy in Sweden and Norway left their State Churches and reorganized themselves as the Nordic Catholic Church. Fr. Serafim and other Scandinavian clergymen were re-ordained by Prime Bishop Anthony Mikowsky of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), who travelled to Sweden for the ordinations. The Nordic Catholic Church became an affiliate of the PNCC in the Union of Scranton, and Fr. Serafim was made the bishop’s Vicar for Sweden. 

For many clergy and laity within the Nordic Catholic Church becoming Old Catholics in the PNCC was only a step on their path to Orthodoxy. Having formally embraced the Faith of the Undivided Church they soon wanted to continue their journey to fullness and enter into visible unity with the Orthodox Church. There are other Scandinavian clergy and congregations forthcoming. For logistic reasons the ordinations began with the initial four clergy, so as to lay a solid foundation in both Stockholm and Gothenburg, the two largest cities in Sweden. 

St Andrew’s Orthodox Church in Reno, Nevada and its rector, Fr. John (Ron) Longero were received into the ROCOR Western Rite Communities from the Diocese of San Joaquin, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). An Anglican priest for more than 27 years and a graduate of Nashota House, Fr. John had been the Vocations Director for the Diocese of San Joaquin. 

With the reception of St. Andrew’s there are now two Western Rite Orthodox parishes and a Western Rite church-plant in the State of Nevada. Fr. William Bauer, a popular teacher on Western Rite Radio, is the rector of the other parish — St. Columba in Fernley, Nevada. Fr. William and I go way back as confreres. We served together under both Bishop Donald Davies, first bishop of Fort Worth, and Bishop Patrick Murphy, 1973 winner of the Keble Award from the old American Church Union. Fr. William and the parish of St. Columba were received into the Orthodox Church from the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), a continuing Anglican jurisdiction that had its origin as a missionary diocese of the old Episcopal Synod of America (ESA), the precursor of Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA).

Fr. Seraphim Byrd is a former Baptist pastor and missionary. Having studied himself into Orthodox Christianity he left the 1,200 family Baptist church that he was pastoring to  enter the Orthodox Church as a layman. A member of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, a Western Rite parish in Mountain Home, Arkansas, pastored by former ACNA bishop Fr. Samuel Seamans, he continued his theological education and worked his way up through minor orders and the diaconate, and was ordained to the presbyterate last week. He has been assigned to assist Fr. Samuel Seamans at St. Thomas.

On Friday, April 20, the newly ordained Fr. Serafim and Fr. Deacon Michael celebrated Holy Mass at St Joseph's Orthodox Church in Sarasota, Florida in the presence of Metropolitan Hilarion.  They served primarily in Swedish, with some English. The Vicar General, Fr. Mark Rowe writes, “It was a beautiful service, and Fr. Serafim mentioned it was a great honor as he had never served with a Metropolitan on the throne.”

Orthodox clergy who were present for the ordinations include, Vicar General Fr. Mark Rowe, Hieromonk Ezekiel and Fathers John Cook, George Fuchs, Andrew Gomez and Brendan Dougherty. Fathers Mark Rowe, John Cook, George Fuchs, Andrew Gomez and Brendan Dougherty are all former Anglican priests. Fr. Mark Rowe is a former Anglican Archdeacon, and Fr. John Cook was a priest of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, ACNA.

This is the third series of Western Rite ordinations so far this year, and it is only April.  Among those ordained to the priesthood earlier this year are three men that I have gotten to know well:

Fr. Germain Hoernschemeyer, St. Genevieve of Paris — St. Louis, Missouri.

Fr. Thomas Janikowski, St. Athanasius — Davenport, Iowa.

Fr. Mark Grant, St. Tikhon — Richmond, Virginia.

Fr. Germain Hoernschemeyer comes to the ROCOR Western Rite Communities from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a traditional Roman Catholic priestly society that uses the traditional Latin Mass exclusively. Fr. Thomas Janikowski is a Nashota House graduate and had been a Dean in the Diocese of Quincy, ACNA, and the director of Quad Cities Anglican Radio before his reception into the Orthodox Church. Fr. Mark Grant is also a Nashota House alumni and was a priest at the largest diocesan cathedral in the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) before being received into Orthodoxy in February.

The ROCOR Western Rite Communities are growing rapidly in numbers of clergy, congregations and faithful, both in America and Abroad. What began as a trickle is becoming a flood. In addition to the ordinations so far this year, we have also seen the development of Western Rite Radio, and are preparing for our first annual Western Rite Orthodox youth camp this summer. Western Rite Radio can be heard on-line here: https://wroradio.blogspot.com; and the St. Gabriel Youth Camp will be held from July 23 through 27 in Resaca, Georgia. More information on the Orthodox Western Rite Communities can be found here: https://www.rocor-wr.org

The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt and the post-Christian West is being re-evangelized. Whether Eastern Rite or Western Rite, we are all united in the 330 million-member Orthodox Church, are brethren, and are coworkers in the Lord’s harvest field. The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world, with a continuous and unbroken history going back some 2,000 years to Jerusalem — to our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles; and the Orthodox Church remains firmly rooted in Jerusalem and the Middle East to this day. Unchanged and unchanging in Faith and Morals after 2,000 years, the Orthodox Church continues to firmly hold the Orthodox Catholic Faith that has been believed “everywhere, always and by all” (Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins). 

With the fall of Soviet communism and the Iron Curtain, a New Springtime has begun for the Orthodox Church, a New Pentecost. As Tertullian said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. The Work of the Great Commission is advancing world-wide and the restoration of the Western Rite and the rebuilding of the Western Church has begun. These are exciting times for Orthodox Christians. The Church is on the move and Church history is being written. 

Every Western Christian, whether Roman Catholic, Anglican or Protestant, has ancestors who were Orthodox Christians. Becoming Orthodox is nothing more than coming home to your family Church. You can come home again, and you are wanted. You will be welcomed with love and open arms. I know, because at Holy Cross parish we were. This month we celebrated our sixth Pascha (Easter) as a Western Rite Orthodox parish, and we have never been happier. We love being Orthodox and you will too. We can help. Let us hear from you!