Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008 Orthodox Conference, Erie, Pennsylvania, Part 4

Fr. John Berzins (now Bishop John), reading his confession of Faith on the eve of his consecration.

At the Vespers on Thursday, the Old Rite clergy from Russia began serving a full cycle of services, with the local Old Rite clergy taking a back seat, so as to observe them. One of the benefits of the Reconciliation between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Church within Russia was that now our Old Rite clergy could serve together. Unlike the parish in Erie, which had been priestless until the 1980's, some of the Old Rite parishes in Russia had been reconciled for two centuries, and so had a living tradition of serving priestly services in the Old Rite that our Old Rite clergy were eager to observe, to see if there were any refinements to their own practice that were needed.

These services were all in Slavonic, though despite the fact that the parish in Erie normally uses English now, their command of Slavonic was still quite good, and their own choirs with the help of some of the folks from Russia were able to chant the services without any noticeable difficulties. I should also note that the Old Rite guests from Russia had been chanting the services in English, in Znamenny chant, and despite the fact that they had never sang in English before, they fit in quite well in English too.

One other thing that was going on this week was that a long time parishioner in Erie had passed away. After the Liturgy on Friday morning, Fr. Pimen conducted the funeral, while the conference attendees went back to Mercyhurst for Lunch. Immediately following Lunch was a talk by Matushka Ann Lardas. With about one minute to spare, Fr. Pimen appeared at the podium, without appearing tired or flustered, to introduce Matushka Ann. He had a cup of coffee in hand, and I suspect that this was the only nourishment he had had after the liturgy. All during the week, it was a sight to behold to see Fr. Pimen's unending energy as he made sure everything went smoothly. The conference itself was more than most priests could have handled. Throw in a funeral, and even the best priests would generally begin to unravel... but Fr. Pimen is the Energizer Bunny of priests.

The Energizer Bunny

Fr. Pimen Simon

Matushka Ann gave her talk on "The Orthodox Woman". She is a great story teller, and tells her stories complete with impressions of the various persons important to the story, and it she was not only entertaining, but provided a lot of practical wisdom about the role of woman in the Church, and the raising of children.

At Friday evening Vespers began the the cycle of services in which Fr. John Berzins was to be consecrated a bishop. During the Vespers, he was taken before Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Daniel, and Bishop Peter, and he was asked questions, and gave responses about his confession of Faith. This was all done in Slavonic. This was followed by a sort of acceptance speech, which Fr. John gave in English (with a definite Aussie twang). You can see a video of it here, though the sound quality is not great:

This is a video taken during the hours, before the beginning of the hierarchical liturgy on Saturday morning, which gives you some idea of the beautiful iconography of the Church:

Here is a video of another part of the rites which lead up to the consecration of a bishop which took place on Saturday morning. Yours truly is seen behind the bishop elect:

This is a video of the actual consecration:

Here is a video of a homily given by Vladika Hilarion at the end of the Liturgy:

I had never been present at the consecration of a bishop before, and this was an especially beautiful occasion, to see Vladika John consecrated in the midst of a parish he has had such a long connection with.

You can read some interesting commentary on Vladika John's consecration by clicking here.

To be continued.