† Neofit Patriarch of Bulgaria
Participants in the 43rd Annual Convention of the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of the United States, Canada and Australia
Detroit, Michigan, USA | July 20-22, 2018
Beloved in the Lord spiritual children,
We greet you with fatherly love once again on the occasion of your 43rd Diocesan Annual Convention held in the Macedono-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church "St. Clement Ohridski" in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Organizers and hosts are: our young parish priest Fr. Antonie Poposki; the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. George Rochette; the President of the Church Committee, Mr. Robert Kondoff; and all the parishioners.
We are glad that all the activities of the Convention and of the Popadias and Diaconissas Conference are this year to be held under the protection of your patron saint—St. Clement Ohridski—Equal-to-the-Apostles, enlightener of our people and first bishop in our native language.
We praise all participants in the Convention for keeping the established tradition, according to your bylaws, and gathering for the 43rd time, despite the great distances involved, to report good results from your spiritual and material diligence; and in accordance with the will of God, to plan new achievements with the good intention of succeeding in everything ahead of you.
We in Bulgaria also give thanks to the Lord for everything (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18), which happened last year. We are conscious that all the difficulties, the sorrows, and the sufferings are trials allowed by God, so that our faith may be proven to be more precious than that which perishes (1 Peter 1:7).
Therefore, we do very much wish to thank Him on your behalf—as Orthodox Christians who not only want to believe in God but also to know Him personally—for extending the days of your earthly life, for giving you time for repentance and correction, for knowing the good, for participating in the sacraments of our Holy Church, for enabling you to reveal the image of God in your souls, all so that you may live in such a way that at any moment you are ready to stand before the Throne of the Most High.
Indeed, each of us has our own way of life, our own sphere of action, to which we give our spiritual and bodily powers. But the good thing about you is that you gather annually with diligence to be a united eparchy, putting away “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1).
Our prayerful wish is similar: May the power of good, connecting all of us as Orthodox people, not diminish, but overflow; and may the peaceful accord among us be strengthened to sustain our Orthodox faith in every heart. Without these values, we will not be able to find the real meaning of life.
In the spirit of St. Clement’s 10th-century ministry to our ancestors, we want to turn your attention to the spiritual inclinations of our modern society, which are almost the same for us and for you.
Of course, first of all, we consider your interest and desire to study the inheritance of the Holy Fathers of Christ’s Church.
Orthodox theology is not only a science but also a practical concern for the healing of mankind. Orthodox spirituality should be your main concern. Among the topics you absolutely must work on to educate your parishioners are: euthanasia, abortion, contemporary funeral practices, drug addiction, mixed marriages, youth ministries, the third gender, and same-sex unions. Keep in mind that you serve the people of God in large countries—the United States, Canada and Australia—where the problems in personal relationships and in communication are likewise large.
The ministry you all serve in the Church must even “force” you to answer the pastoral needs of our people. It is useful that you organize a diocesan clergy govenie and other spiritual gatherings for lay men and women dedicated to addressing contemporary themes.
The tenor of contemporary social issues requires you to deal with a variety of important questions.
It is no secret for any of us that our parish communities live with their own rhythm and consist of different people, each with their characteristics and issues.
Our church communities are sensitive. They live in godliness and in purity, and they seek truth and its fullness.
Keeping in mind that today’s society—the one in which we live, move, and exist—is predominantly amoral, individualistic, and hedonistic, our pastoral word must in fact have the character of intervention: seeking to incite, to provoke, to discern, to wake up, to orient all toward the truth of Christ.
Naturally, in order for this intervention to be a real contribution to society, our ministry must be inspired by the theology of our Church; that is, to be ecclesiastical and theological. We are not merely to mouth our own opinions about God, but to let the word of God itself proceed from our mouths.
Our Diocese must manifest a particular care for our young people.
Metropolitan Joseph has many times in recent history shared with us that in several parishes you are having a “baby boom.” This obliges us to help these children, not only by giving them material and psychological support, but also by inspiring them with confidence, joy and salvation through our Orthodox way of life.
A specific emphasis must be placed on the Eucharist and to revealing to the children and youth the blessings and benefits for them of participation in the weekly Divine Liturgy celebrated within the parish community. In this way, we will prevent their turning to religious practices learned from the non-Christian East.
We assure you from our personal experience, that the development of the parishes brought about through living our Orthodox faith in our ecclesial communities can solve many problems.
Through the prayers of St. Clement Ohridski, we wish you a successful 43rd Annual Diocesan Convention. Strive with the “good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
God be with you and bless you to live in faith, to persevere in hope, and to abide in love.
† Neofit, Patriarch of Bulgaria