(OCA) - The 81st Annual Episcopate Congress of the Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America took place at the Diocesan Center “Vatra Romaneasca” (“Romanian Hearth”) here September 5-7, 2013.
This year marked the 75th Anniversary of the inaugural events that had taken place at the Vatra in 1938, when services were held and the property blessed by His Grace, Bishop Policarp [Morusca], the Episcopate’s first ruling bishop, and His Eminence, Archbishop Athenagoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
As customary, the Congress is hosted by a parish or mission of the Episcopate. Saint Elias Mission, Anjou, Quebec, Canada was this year’s host mission.
Congress participants were blessed by the presence of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, who attended all meetings and other Congress sessions.
The three-day event began at the Valerian D. Trifa Romanian-American Heritage Center with the Clergy Conference on Thursday September 5, after which the Akathistos Hymn was chanted. Later that evening, the Episcopate Council met to review the Report to Congress and other matters related to the Congress sessions.
On Friday, September 6, the first session of the Congress opened with the Invocation of the Holy Spirit. Over 120 Clergy and Lay delegates were in attendance, including Metropolitan Tikhon; His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel; and His Grace, Bishop Irineu. The meetings proceeded throughout the day.
A highlight at the end of the sessions was a moving presentation by Priest George Oanca, Chaplain (Captain, US Army). The meeting was followed by a dinner and musical performance in the Vatra Pavilion Hall.
The final day of the Congress opened with a procession of clergy to the Nativity of the Ever-Virgin Mary Hierarchal Chapel, where the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy was concelebrated by Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop Nathaniel, and Bishop Irineu, some 35 priests and three deacons. The liturgical responses were sung by a group of clergy and laypeople, while sermons were given by Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Nathaniel. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, an icon and holy relics of Saint Andrei Saguna, Metropolitan of Transylvania, were presented to Metropolitan Tikhon.
A photo gallery of the Congress may be found on the OCA web site and Facebook page.