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US Bishop is Special Guest at Youth Meeting

006A special guest was invited to participate in the regular youth group meting—bishop Theodosy of Seattle, vicar bishop of the Western American Diocese. Vladyka talked about Orthodox life in America.

After an Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos, which was served by hieromonk Gleb, Vladyka Theodosy began with the story of the life of a saint who reposed in the city of Seattle. St. John of Shanghai is deeply venerated not only in the west, but also in his homeland—in Ukraine. He lived comparatively recently, and was familiar with the problem of the wide-spread secularization of society, and with the characteristics of Western cuture.

His example of courage and strong faith is instructive for us. According to bishop Theodosy: “in vigils, action, and diligence in prayer, he resembled the ascetic laborors of the first centuries of Christianity”. The saint stood firmly in the Orthodox faith, regardless of the complicated circumstances of life, and various temptations.

The guest of the meeting then spoke in more detail about the life of contemporary Orthodox faithful in the country where he fulfills his obedience. Listeners heard about Holy Trinity Monastery (ROCOR), which is located on the East Coast of the US, and about the Greek monastery in Arizona, where many Orthodox living in America go on pilgrimages. Vladyka noted that in monasteries, special meaning is given to the Jesus Prayer, and to obedience. In many parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, youth group meetings are held, which help in educating the youth about Orthodoxy, and in giving an understanding of the necessity of continually living a spiritual life in the bosom of the church.  The work done has had a noticeable impact on the moral stature of younger generation of Americans.

Many Orthodox Americans believe that, in order to become more deeply churched, it is especially important to go on pilgrimages to the holy places of our country, where Orthodox Christianity is considered the ancient or native religion.

After this thoughtful talk, participants asked Vladyka Theodosy questions about liturgical life in ROCOR. From his answer, they learned that church services are conducted in two languages—in Church Slavonic, and in English, and also that in official decrees and diocesan documents, ROCOR uses pre-revolutionary orthography in Russian.

Further, speaking about the characteristics and differences of the worldview of American Orthodox youth, bishop Theodosy mentioned an important problem—a lack of spiritual fellowship with Orthodox peers; because of this, he conveyed the desire of his flock to strive to establish communication with Ukrainian Orthodox youth. Vladyka’s idea of conference call meetings over the Internet appealed to everyone. Vladyka passed on the wish to have joint youth conferences at the Kiev Caves Monastery.

It was pleasant for the participants in the youth meeting to learn that Vladyka Theodosy is from Kiev himself, was educated here, and was one of the first monks in the newly opened Lavra. Vladyka recalled how they held church services in open air, how the monks lived in common cells with many people living in each one. In the first years after the Lavra was opened, its first inhabitants lived in very difficult physical circumstances, but as a monk tonsured in the Lavra confirms, “In the Monastery, spiritual work was continually going on, in order to restore the spirit and life of the ancient holy place”.

Vladyka warmly recalled his own mother, who was a schema-nun, and with the blessing of metropolitan Paul, the abbot of the Lavra, had her funeral performed in the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross in the monastery, and was buried on the territory of the Lavra’s skete.

At the end of the meeting, bishop Theodosy gave a blessing, and passed out icons of St. John of Shanghai, as well as cards with his photograph.

Kristina, the assistant of the youth meeting organizer, presented Vladyka, in the name of all those present, with an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Regard my Humility”, the wonderful artistic style of which was especially noted by Vladyka. As it turns out, this icon is especially venerated by Orthodox faithful, both in San Francisco, and in other cities in different dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

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