Saturday, September 28, 2013

The life of an Orthodox priest in Jerusalem

(OCMC) - Fr. Alexander Winogradsky and his work in Jerusalem have been supported by the OCMC since 2007. The work he is doing there is both complex and consuming. Below, he shares about some of his work.

My participation in the presence of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem consists of many activities. First, I participate in regular celebrations and Holy Confession at the Holy Sepulchre while my church of Saint Nicholas is under repair and should be finished for his name day on December 19th, God-willing.

My participation in the nighttime Divine Liturgies enabled me to introduce Hebrew as a "usual language” of prayer, which is new. I serve in different churches through the country, which is quite difficult because of the lack of substantial funding and the absence of churches in the south; there I have to serve in hotels or at homes.

I participate in the meetings of the Municipality of Jerusalem as consultant for ameliorating and strengthening the contact between Israeli Eastern Orthodox and the Israeli society. I also participate in the Ecumenical gatherings of the two main inter-faith groups: the "Circle of the Friends" and "The Ecumenical Fraternity", in which I act as a member of the Steering Committee.

Every year, in January, I organize and participate in the Ecumenical Week of Christian Prayer and act as the official representative of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. Over the past nine years, I slowly but steadily insisted that the week begin at Golgotha, with the presence of the various denominations at the "Greek Orthodox Compline" with the participation of a Bishop of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

I continue to visit the sick. It is often not that evident in many hospitals. I try to strengthen the contacts with the Israeli Hospital staff and usually have no problem; often I am even invited to some local think-tanks on diseases and the meaning of suffering.

As a priest, I often have to bury the Eastern Orthodox faithful. The special event this year was that I buried a Ukrainian female pilgrim who had been helping the International Hadassah Hospital at the Mount Zion Orthodox cemetery. It was the very first time that such a funeral took place at the Mount Zion Orthodox cemetery, in Hebrew, Ukrainian, and Russian at the request of His Beatitude Theophilos of Jerusalem and the Israeli authorities.

Israel is a fully international place; thus, I spend a lot of time in Holy Confession or spiritual guidance to both the Israeli Eastern Orthodox and to the visitors from the former USSR. At the moment, we have a lot of people from China, Brazil, South Africa, and India that work in Israel. Many are Eastern Orthodox, and the Church of Jerusalem has not been prepared to assist those who readily grew up in the country in the course of the ten past years.

On September 6, 2013, I signed an agreement to publish two books: one in French on "A Year in Jerusalem", describing the actions I have been developing in the country and showing what is going on throughout a year; the account is based on parallel explanations of the Orthodox and Jewish texts read each week by each denomination. The Editions du Cerf in Paris' American parent publishing house will publish a "one year summary" of my blogs as they had been published over three years in the "Jerusalem Post".

This is and will be long work. However, the present situation of the Church locally implies enhanced and strengthened positive contacts between the Church and Judaism, the local Churches, Hebraism and Israeli culture and reality, at all levels and vice versa.

Fr. Alexander Winogradsky has an online blog where he records the work he is doing in Jerusalem. To read more about the work he is doing and to follow his work, you can find him here or on Facebook here.

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