Archive for the ‘Special Events’ Category

Feast of Saint Andrew

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

November 30 is the feast of Saint Andrew, the first-called apostle. He is also the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who by tradition traveled to the ancient city of Byzantium and founded the Church there. In some years over the last 20, I have been privileged to travel to Constantinople and be present for the celebrations, and especially the visit of the delegation from Rome that come to celebrate with the Orthodox. The most significant was in 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI himself led the delegation and was present for the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Patriarch Bartholomew.

But this year, since the OL Conference took place there, I stayed home for the special Divine Liturgy held at Mt. St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Father Lee Gross is Professor of Liturgy and Dean of Students, and has organized and hosted a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy for the seminarians and students of the university on the same campus. The seminary choir has learned to sing the response according to the Carpathian chant tradition, and in four-part harmony.

So, this year, I was able to attend and serve as Lector for the Liturgy. The university chapel was filled almost to capacity with 200 persons, and Bishop William Skurla came to be the main celebrant.

As usual, it was a great event, and provided a wonderful opportunity for seminarians and students alike to learn about the Christian East by experiencing the Divine Liturgy. Congratulations to Father Lee for organizing this event, and to the seminarians who work to serve and sing according to the “eastern lung” of the Church.

International Dialogue Meets

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

During the week of September 20-27, the twelfth Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met in Vienna, Austria. This group officially consists of 2 representatives from each of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and 28 representatives from a wide range of jurisdictions within the Catholic Church. Bishop Florentin Crihalmeanu of Cluj-Gherla is one of several Eastern Catholics who are members of the Catholic delegation. The group totals 56 bishops and theologians.

When this official dialogue group resumed its work in Belgrade in 2006, after a long period of difficult relations, they undertook the most pressing issue for Catholic-Orthodox unity—the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church. The group has met often since then, both in formal plenary session and in working subcommittees, and has produced a three-part plan:

1) study and agree on what the role of the Pope was during the first millennium of Christianity (up through the “schism” of 1054),

2) study and agree on the role of the Pope during the second millennium, and then

3) discuss and agree on the role of the Pope into the third millennium of Christianity.

The Ravenna Agreed Statement, issued at the plenary session in 2007, outlines a three-tier structure of authority in the Church—local diocese, regional or patriarchal, and universal. The acknowledgment of the existence of regional or patriarchal authority by the Catholics and universal authority by the Orthodox, are both major breakthroughs. You can find more information on the Ravenna Statement on the Vatican website and elsewhere on the internet, and video commentary by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) and Msgr. Paul McPartlan (Catholic University) on the OLTV website:

We all pray that this foundation of understanding will continue to improve, and will serve to not only improve relations in the short term, but perhaps one day lead to full Church unity that Christ desired when He said: “that they all may be one!”

A Weekend in Rochester

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1976.  I have only had a chance to visit a few times since then, the last visit being about 4 years ago to help the Catholic Newman Community (Catholic parish on campus for students) with strategic planning and fund raising to support their growing student population.

As a student, I was quite active in the Newman Community (or “club” as it was sometimes known back then) writing and typing and printing the weekly bulletin (I was involved in “publishing” even 35 years ago!), frequent attendance at Mass (in those days, every Sunday liturgy was a “Folk Mass” with guitars, etc.), and lots of other activities.  During my sophomore year, I attended Mass every day, which was an informal gathering of the chaplains (we had a full-time priest and nun assigned by the Diocese of Rochester) and a few students, at noon on M-W-F and 7:30 pm on T-R, much like a class schedule!

Even in my freshman year, I organized “Jack Figel’s Dixieland Band” to play dance music, including polkas, for the annual campus Mardi Gras that we held as a party on the Sunday before Lent.  I was a member of the parish council, a group of volunteers students who did most of the work running the parish, and in my junior year was elected to the five-member Executive Committee to help the chaplains even more extensively.  One year, I also organized a Byzantine Catholic priest from Harrisburg, PA (the closest parish of my Church at the time) to come and celebrate a Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in English and expose all my Roman Catholic student friends to who I was as a Byzantine Catholic.  So, I did an awful lot back then, and wonder how I ever completed my engineering degree!

Early in January of this year, Father Brian Cool, the current chaplain, emailed me an invitation to visit the last weekend of February and participate in a panel discussion about Catholic-Orthodox relations today.  I was quite surprised that such an event was going to happen at my alma mater, and even more pleased to be invited to participate.  It was organized by the Newman Community and a newly formed (since my day there) Orthodox Christian Fellowship of students.  The other panelists were Father Curt Cadorette, a professor of Religious Studies at the university, and Father Patrick Cowles, a local Greek Orthodox parish priest.

So I flew up on Saturday morning and had lunch with the chaplains that I knew back during my years there, Father Jim Lawlor and Sister Joan Sobala.  It was great to see them both after so many years.  Father Jim is retired about two years, but still serving in his last parish, and Sister Joan is parochial administrator of a parish cluster where a priest comes to celebrate the sacraments, but she is the administrator.  Saturday evening, I drove out to Newark, NY about 50 miles east of Rochester and had a lovely dinner with Gail and Bruce Chambes.  Gail was assistant to the dean of engineering when I was a student, and we have kept in touch all these years.

On Sunday morning, Father Brian invited me to serve as Lector for the Mass and in my Byzantine style sticharion, chanted the Epistle in Carpathian style and gave a short reflection on myself as a Byzantine Catholic.  After Mass, the students held a pancake breakfast and I had the opportunity to chat with a number of students.  I did the same at the Sunday evening Mass.

The panel discussion was held at 5 pm Sunday with about 25 students and others attending.  We also shared various Lenten foods that the Orthodox students brought for the event — vegetables, fruit, chips, hummus, dips, etc.  I started the discussion laying out the early history of the Church and how the current dialogue was trying to heal the separation of 1000 years.  The three of us spoke briefly on our own background, and then responded to questions.  After a two-hour session, all seemed quite happy to with the discussion and we then went to the second Catholic Mass for the day.

It was a great weekend and I was very pleased to participate and see the interest among the students, and visit with old friends.


Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The reception and Lecture by Metropolitan Kallistos at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church that was originally scheduled for Thursday, February 11, has been postponed until Sunday, February 14 because of weather conditions in Washington, DC.  The same times — reception at 6:30, lecture at 7:30 — will be maintained, following Forgiveness Vespers which will begin as normally scheduled at 5:00 pm.

Please pass the word to anyone who was planning to attend.