The 79th Congress of our Archdiocese took place at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, on July 3 to July 6, 2014. The Congress sessions were structured in the same way that was already used before and was appreciated and very efficient in the pastoral work of our Archdiocese. The first part was organized around working groups constituted on the basis of the committees and auxiliary organizations of the Archdiocese; the second part consisted of the plenary working sessions of the Congress.
The Eparchial Council met on Thursday morning, July 3, at 8.30 am and discussed the issues related to the working Agenda of the Congress. After lunch, the AROLA (Association of Romanian Orthodox Ladies Auxiliary) conference had as guest speaker Father Nicolae Tănase from the Pro-Vita Association, in Valea Plopului, Romania. The theme of the conference was: “Abortion: The Last Step in Destroying Love”. This year the AROLA conference was a great success both in the number of those present and also with Father Tanase’s speech. Vice-President Mihaela Țăpuc presented an activity report of the organization from 2012 to 2014. A new AROLA Executive Committee was elected for the 2014-2016 period, the financial report was presented and approved, the budget for 2015-2016, as well as the program of activities for 2014-2016.
For three hours, H.E. Archbishop Nicolae and H.G. Ioan Casian met with the participant priests at the Congress. Father Nicolae Tănase was again guest speaker. The themes of the discussion were those of the 2014 year: The Sacrament of Confession and Eucharist and the challenges that the priests face regarding these Holy Mysteries.
The Congress began on Friday morning with the concelebration of the Divine Liturgy at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral by H.E. Archbishop Nicolae, H.G. Bishop Ioan Casian, and the Deans. A Memorial Service was celebrated for Bishop Policarp, Bishop Andrei, and Archbishop Victorin, the other clergy and founders of our Archdiocese who have fallen asleep in the Lord. A Te Deum Service of Thanksgiving was offered asking our Good and Loving Lord to bless the work of this Congress and for the American Independence Day. Lunch was followed by a talk delivered by Fr. George Bâzgan, from Ss. Constantine and Helen Parish, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with the title: “The Brancoveanu Martyrs – Defenders of the Christian Faith”.
The sessions of the Congress began at 3:00 pm. Archbishop Nicolae opened with words of welcome. After the roll was called (98 delegates were present), the Agenda was approved and various committees formed (for evaluation of Parish Reports, a Nominating Committee, etc.), Secretariat of the Congress was voted. The Minutes of the 2012 Congress were presented and approved.
After this, the reports of our hierarchs were presented. H.E. Archbishop Nicolae shared his thoughts about the times we are living in, showing that our world is one of contradictions and confusion. In this world every Christian must find his way and every priest must fulfill his mission by returning to the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. His Eminence suggested two biblical texts for meditation:
– Ephesians 2, 19-21: Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
– 2 Peter 3, 18: Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
H.E. Archbishop Nicolae presented the main aspects of the pastoral, missionary, catechetical and administrative activities of the Archdiocese for the last two years. There were also mentioned his participation at the Romanian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod sessions, as well as inter-orthodox and ecumenical meetings in North America. His Eminence concluded by sharing some goals for the next two years. H.G. Bishop Ioan Casian read his report about his pastoral activities in the last two years. He spoke of parish visits, deanery meetings, conferences and symposia in which he participated, as well as Pan-Orthodox and ecumenical activities. His Grace then shared his vision for the growth of the Archdiocese, new parishes and missions. The delegates received these reports enthusiastically, not only because of their richness of substance, but also for the care and love shown by Archbishop Nicolae and Bishop Ioan Casian, through their tireless efforts on behalf of the faithful of the Archdiocese.
The final session on Friday was devoted to a discussion of the special report of the Archdiocesan Education Committee. Fr. Daniel Ene and Anca Munteanu highlighted the Committee’s work since its establishment at the end of 2009. The Committee has focused on three major projects: (1) religious education in our parishes and developing strategies for enrichment and support for the parishes working to establish and maintain religious education programs; (2) Religion Olympics, held both at the local (parish) level and in metropolitan centers; and (3) the summer children’s camp.
Fr. Vasile Muresan reported to the delegates on the work of the Department of Communication and Publications. He reminded them that the Archdiocese publishes the Credinţa Almanac, the Credinţa Magazine, in addition to a monthly electronic Bulletin. Between 2012-2014 an important project was finalized: the Archdiocese’s Monograph. He also talked about the new project of our Archdiocese that was launched in November 2012, Radio Credinta, asking for the priests and laymen’s participation in this missionary activity.
The conference of Fr. Milos Vesin, Ph. D, from St. Michael Serbian Church in Lansing, IL opened the next session of the Congress on Saturday morning, July 5th. The title was: “The Mystery of Confession, our Path to Resurrection”. The conference was very well received and provoked a lot of debates.
The main subject on the Congress Agenda was the proposal to establish a North American Romanian Orthodox Metropolia. The 2012 Congress in Montreal voted the creation of a Committee to explore the desire to found a Metropolia. This Committee drafted a proposal that was discussed for a whole year at the Deanery Assemblies and also during the Clergy Conferences of the Archdiocese. The Congress approved the Committee’s activity and authorized it to start the drafting of the Statutes for this purpose. The Congress also approved a special Commission to explore the legal requirements necessary for the founding of a Diocese in Canada. Also the Congress authorized the Eparchial Council to supervise the activities of this Commission and empowered it to approve the necessary measures and actions for the founding of the Metropolia.
The Financial Reports for the 2012-2013 biennium were presented and reviewed along with the Financial Reports for the first 5 months of 2014. The 2015-2016 Budget was also approved.
In the last session of the 79th Congress of the Archdiocese short presentations were given by each of the Deans with regard to their Deanery Assemblies, highlighting the positive impact these meetings have had on creating a homogenous and harmonious environment among our parishes. Father Nicolai Buga presented the parish reports. The AROLA President, Preoteasa Mihaela Țăpuc presented the report of the Women’s Auxiliary. A new executive committee has been elected and the activities for the future were presented.
The youth meeting (ROYA) took place at the summer camp in Emlenton, PA. Some representatives of ROYA were present in Chicago and reported about the activities, future projects and the new structure of the executive committee: Ana Radu – President, Daniel Țăpuc – Vice-President for Canada, Antonio Chirnoagă, Vicepresident for the US, and other responsibles with communication and organization. Spiritual adviser is the same Fr. Nicolae Clempuș from Atlanta.
In the end official messages were read. The Congress sent greeting messages to: His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church; H.E. Demetrios, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and to the Archdiocese’s Congress; H.E. Joseph, newly elected Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; His Excellency, Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States; His Excellency, Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; His Excellency, Mr. David Johnston, General Governor of Canada. Following the recommendations of theNominating Committee, the members of the Eparchial Council and the Eparchial Consistory were elected. Before the close of the Congress, His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae thanked all the delegates for the sacrifices they made in order to participate at the Congress. The working session was adjourned and the delegates prepared for the Vespers Service.
On the holy day of Sunday, July 6, 2014, hierarchs, priests, delegates, and hundreds of faithful gathered together for the Divine Liturgy at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Chicago. The Congress closed with a festive Banquet organized by the wonderful family of the Cathedral parishioners, who labored and served throughout these days for the success of the 79th Archdiocesan Congress. His Excellency George Predescu, Consul General of Romania in Chicago, offered to H.E. Nicolae, on behalf of the President of Romania, the Cultural Merit Diploma (Great Officer), as recognition of the pastoral mission accomplished on the North American continent together with the priests and faithful of the Archdiocese. At the time of our farewells and departure, all of us present during this time together felt the providence and the blessing of our Savior Jesus Christ.