CHICAGO — The Eastern Catholic bishops of Canada and the United States of America, along with the general superiors of religious foundations, and eparchial priests and deacons, monastic priests, nuns and brothers and laity gathered in the Marriott O’Hare Hotel from Oct. 30-Nov. 3 for an Encounter of the Eastern Catholic Churches in Canada and the United States of America. The 125 participants, gathered from Australia, Belgium, Italy, Ukraine, Canada and the United States of America, focused on the theme “Evangelization through the Celebration of the Mysteries [Sacraments].” This gathering was a direct result of the recommendations of the 1999 Encounter in Boston, convoked by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, in which the participants asked for more involvement of clergy, religious and laity in future encounters of the Eastern churches in North America.

Bishop Nicholas Samra, retired auxiliary bishop of the Eparchy of Newton and chair of the Encounter Coordinating Committee, emphasized that the Encounter participants gathered first to pray together in order to share the wealth of Eastern traditions and secondly to encounter each other in charity in order to deepen that experience and recognize the common mission of proclaiming the Good News.

In attendance at the Encounter was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Ignace Moussa I. Daoud, who in his welcoming message indicated his pleasure that the Eastern Catholic churches emphasize the particular identity, integrity and dignity of each respective church and promote dialogue to further enable the “coherence and harmony” among those same traditions.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Kyiv, commented in his keynote address that in this endeavor of evangelization there was much work to be done and that no one else but the Eastern Catholics themselves will be able to accomplish such a work.

Many distinguished national and international speakers contributed their thoughts and practical solutions to the evangelistic efforts of the Eastern churches in these two North American countries. Mitred Archpriest Andriy Chirovsky, in speaking on the sacraments of initiation, offered that initial evangelization efforts in the homelands of many of the Eastern Catholic churches were so effective that when these traditions set roots in North America, it was hard to re-establish the faith on foreign soil. He proposed that evangelization through the celebration of baptism, chrismation and Eucharist be realized through a renewal of beauty and reverence in these rites. Father Charles Joanides addressed the need to assist the Christian faithful to embrace a full and rich Christian perspective on marriage. Conventual Franciscan Father Jobe Abbass spoke on the common priesthood and lay ministry. Father Deacon John Chryssavgis offered a reflection on repentance and the change of heart as a means of evangelization. Benedictine Archimandrite Michel Van Parys, former abbot of the famous Chevetogne monastery, and Basilian Sister Alphonsa Donavich presented ideas for evangelization through the living of the monastic and religious life. Archpriest David Petras spoke of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy as representative of the stages of spiritual development. Trinitarian Father Damon Geiger addressed the role of the clergy in evangelization efforts and spoke of the need for clergy to rouse all baptized members to collaborative ministry – as the clergy evangelize the faithful, so the faithful evangelize the world.

Divine Liturgies were celebrated according to three traditions: Byzantine at St. Joseph Ukrainian Catholic Church, Chicago; Syro-Malabar at Mar Thoma Sleeha Cathedral, Bellwood; and the closing Liturgy of the Encounter in Syro-Maronite tradition. During the closing Liturgy, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, preached the homily re-enforcing the commitment to evangelize. Morning prayers each day were celebrated in various traditions: Syriac, Chaldean and Armenian.

This Encounter also provided opportunity for participants to offer support for those churches experiencing oppression, persecution and suffering throughout the world. The Encounter assembly specifically directed that support to the Eastern Catholic churches in Iran, Iraq and the Holy Land.

Participants of the Encounter were from the following Eastern Catholic traditions: Armenian, Chaldean, Maronite, Melkite, Romanian, Ruthenian, Slovak, Syriac, Syro-Malabar and Ukrainian. A future Encounter of the Eastern Catholic Churches is already being considered.


Teachings of Christ

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

Transfiguration

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, * showing Your glory to Your Disciples as far as they were able to bear it. * Through the prayers of the Mother of God, * let Your everlasting Light shine also upon us sinners. * O Giver of Light, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 7)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Upon the mountain You were transfigured, O Christ God, * and Your Disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could receive it, * so that when they would see You crucified, * they would understand that You suffered willingly; * and they would preach to the world * that You are truly the radiance of the Father. (Kontakion, Tone 7)

Random Proverb

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Proverbs 11:24 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). 

St. Gregory the Great