Western Rite Orthodox Information


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Western Rite Conference in August 2016

The biennial conference of the Western Rite Vicariate will be held Tuesday, August 9 through Friday, August 12, 2016 at St. Patrick Orthodox Church in Bealeton, Virginia. The theme for this year’s conference will be based on these words from the Canon of the Mass:

Remember, O Lord, … all here present, whose faith and devotion are known and manifest unto thee: for whom we offer, or who them­selves offer to thee, this sacrifice of praise.

Presentations will focus on participating in and assisting at the Mass.

Bishop John (Abdalah), Vicar Bishop for the Western Rite Vicariate, will preside at all liturgical services, and will be one of the presenters. He will also address the clergy and laity on various Vicariate matters. Other presenters will include the V. Rev. Michael Keiser, the V. Rev. John Mangels, the V. Rev. John W. Fenton, and V. Rev. Edward Hughes, Vicar General for the Vicariate.

Mass will be celebrated daily, together with Vespers and Lauds (or Morning Prayer).

The conference begins with Vespers at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, 9 August, followed by a formal welcome by His Grace, Bishop John. Presentations will be given on Wednesday and Thursday, and will include the Bishop’s address to participants. The final presentation, by Fr Hughes, will be on Friday morning. The Conference concludes at noon on Friday, 12 August.

More details: https://westernriteconference2016.wordpress.com/

Switzerland: Western Rite Paschal Night broadcast on national radio

CHRISTUS SURREXIT! CHRIST IS RISEN! CHRIST EST RESSUSCITE!

After visiting a few Orthodox parishes, the religion department of the French-speaking section of Swiss National Radio (Radio Télévision Suisse, RTS) chose to broadcast the Paschal Night live from the Parish Saint-Maire, in Lausanne (under the Serbian Orthodox Church). This is currently the only (small) canonical Orthodox parish in Switzerland using the Orthodox Western rite, along with the Byzantine rite. More specifically, the parish uses the Gallican rite, as restored in the 20th century within the Orthodox Church of France (ECOF).

The broadcast is currently available online - in French. Since it may not remain available on a permanent basis, those interested in preserving it as sound archive are advised to copy it . Here is the link:
http://www.rts.ch/espace-2/programmes/paques-orthodoxes/5781271-paques-orthodoxes-du-19-04-2014.html
Click on Ecouter (listen), and a pop-up window will appear. (If you click on the picture, you will be able to see a few photographs of the small church and its rector.)

Before the Paschal celebration, there is a 70 minute long discussion led by journalist Fabien Hünenberger with:
- Father Pierre-François Méan, who is the rector of the parish (and a retired medical doctor);
- Matthieu Malinine, an expert in Orthodox liturgical music, who used to be during a few years choir director of the ROCOR cathedral in Geneva, and has helped recently in training the choir of parish Saint-Maire; he also teaches at the Institut de Théologie Orthodox Saint-Serge (Paris) and at the Conservatoire Russe de Paris Serge Rachmaninoff;
- Jean-François Mayer, Orthodox layman (ROCOR); an historian and researcher on contemporary religion (see his webpage and his biography in English), he is the co-editor of the forthcoming book Orthodox Identities in Western Europe (scheduled for publication in August 2014).

The discussion places a special emphasis on the musical contribution of Maxime Kovalevksy (1903-1988). It includes several musical illustrations.

The celebration follows the discussion and is divided into three parts:
- Paschal Fire, Blessing of the Candle, Exultet (Western liturgical tradition);
- Matins (three Nocturns, including the reading of St. John Chrysostom's Homily, since it incorporates several enrichments borrowed from the Byzantine tradition);
- Liturgy.

Journalist Fabien Hünenberger and Jean-François Mayer comment the celebration: but they have let mostly the liturgical texts speak for themselves, with comments provided at appropriate times. Upon request of the rector, the Eucharistic Canon was not broadcast, and comments were inserted during that period. Otherwise, this is an opportunity to listen to a full Paschal Night celebration in the Gallican rite in French language-

Decisions of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia regarding the Western Rite

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was held, presided over by its First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York. Participating in the meeting were permanent members of the Synod of Bishops: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America; His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America.

Deliberating on the matter of Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, the Synod of Bishops made a decision as follows:

“During a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, presided over by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, A DECISION WAS MADE: on the activities of Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar of the President for the Administration of Western Rite Parishes.

After exhaustive deliberation, IT WAS DECREED:

1) To halt the ordination of new clergymen for parishes adhering to the Western Rite.

2) To censure Bishop Jerome for his willfulness in administering the parishes adhering to the Western Rite, and in performing various ecclesial services not approved by the Synod of Bishops, and for criticizing his brethren in letters to clergy and laity.

3) To deny recognition of the ordination of a group of individuals by Bishop Jerome during a single divine service, and to regularize them following a thorough examination of the candidates.

4) To release Bishop Jerome from all duties, including those of Vicar of the President in administering Western Rite parishes, designating him as retired without the right to serve in the Synodal Cathedral “of the Sign” in New York, or to perform ordinations or award clergymen, and designating his place of residence at St Vladimir Memorial Church of the 1000th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia in Jackson, NJ.

5) To bless Bishop Jerome to perform divine services within the confines of the Eastern American Diocese with the consent of its Ruling Bishop.

6) To release Monk Anthony (Bondi) from all of his administrative duties and from the spiritual ministry to the Vicariate of Western Rite Parishes.

7) To establish a commission to examine the means of integrating clergymen and communities of the Western Rite into the liturgical life of the Russian Orthodox Church, consisting of: Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, President; Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese; Protopriest David Straut of the Eastern American Diocese, and Protopriest Anthony Nelson of the Mid-American Diocese.

8) To address an epistle to the clergymen and communities of the Western Rite regarding the need for them to adopt the order of divine services of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, while preserving, when necessary, certain particularities of the Western Rite.

9) To emphasize our adherence to the rules and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in general and of the Russian Orthodox Church in particular.

10) To deem this decree immediately valid and to submit it to the members of the Council of Bishops in the form of a questionnaire for confirmation. ”

The meeting concluded with the singing of “It is Truly Meet. ”


As soon as it was published on 12th July 2013, the decree of the Synod of Bishops gave rise to many discussions, especially online. Beside personal opinions of various people, the key question is how to understand the decision (especially #8). Some comment that this marks the beginning of the end for the Western Rite in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Others think that the Western Rite itself will continue within ROCOR, but managed in a different way. "I do not take this document to signal the end of the Western Rite in the ROCOR, but rather the inauguration of a cautious period in which the boundaries for the Western Rite will be determined", writes Father Aidan. The document is significant, but it is too early to assess what its long-term impact will be. Probably the announced epistle to the clergymen and communities of the Western Rite will shed more light.

Calendar and liturgical resources for 2013

As a new civil year will start soon: it is time to be aware of some available resources that the faithful will use throughout the year.

The Western Rite Vicariate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) makes its annual wall calendar available for the 2013 calendar year. It can be downloaded from the following webpage:
www.theorthodoxchurch.org/calendar.html
An important precision: "All of our Western Rite communities in ROCOR are on the old (Julian) calendar for liturgical purposes."

The Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in America has published its Ordo 2013. "This booklet is the official liturgical guide for all Western Rite parishes in the Vicariate. It contains directions for reciting the Divine Office and celebrating the Mass according to the calendar and use of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. It contains rubrics for both the Rite of St. Gregory with the Monastic Diurnal, and the Rite of St. Tikhon with The English Office." It is a 124 page long volume. It can be ordered in print ($ 13 + postage) or downloaded in PDF format ($ 4) through Lulu Press:
www.lulu.com/spotlight/frfenton
A daily calendar can be found online on the website of St. Luke's Priory. And a print 2013 calendar can be ordered from Lancelot Andrewes Press.

In order to become familiar with the lives of the saints of the Orthodox Church, the faithful will also greatly benefit from reading the Synaxarion, i.e. the collections of lives of saints. Especially recommended is The Synaxarion; the Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra (7 volumes). It can be ordered from Orthodox bookstores (as a set, or as individual volumes), such as St. Vladimir's Seminary Press and Bookstore in the United States or Alexander Press in Canada (download descriptive brochure).

Canonical Orthodox Western Rites Conference - Official announcement and registration

This Conference is sponsored by the Fraternity of St Gregory the Great of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. It will be held at Mt Alvernia Retreat Center. It is located in the village of Wappinger Falls, New York, on 204 acres overlooking the Hudson Valley in Dutchess County.

The Antiochian Western Rite Clergy will be invited to be with the ROCOR-WR clergy in this historic event which we pray will be the first of many. There will also be a gathering of Benedictines and possibly their Oblates at the same time.

The conference is open to clergy and laity.

Please, click here to download the document with all details and registration form.

Precisions regarding the October 2011 Western Rite conference

Since a number of people interested in the Western Rite (WR) would like to know more about the conference that is scheduled to take place next October near New York City, Father Deacon Robert Sherwood has kindly provided us with precisions regarding the categories of participants expected to come:

The primary attendees at the Conference would be WR Clergy (ROCOR [Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia] and AWRV [Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate]); some will have their wives with them. Monastics and oblates are urged to come as well. Secondarily would be clergy who are seeking to enter the WR of Orthodoxy. But it is open, as space permits, for others who would have an interest and would be in a position to make positive contributions. The site we will be using this year can accommodate about 60 people and is not that large. Future Conferences, which by agreement will be held jointly with the AWRV, would probably be larger and if the setting were near a large parish might have an open session which would draw a broad local participation. That was the case at the AWRV Conference at St. Peter’s at Fort Worth a few years ago. Essentially the Conference will be first come first served but prioritized for clergy. There will be an official announcement soon that would provide precise details and contact information.

ROCOR Western Rite Vicariate established

The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) gathered from 10 to 17 May 2011. In addition to various other decisions, there is one of great significance for the future of Western Rite parishes and groups within ROCOR: "At the proposal of the President of the Synod of Bishops, a Western Rite Vicariate was established. His Grace Bishop Jerome of Manhattan was appointed assistant to the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad in ministering to these communities."

Cooperation between Western Rite groups — and a conference this year

There are very positive signs of cooperation between the different canonical Orthodox groups using the Western Rite in their liturgical life.

First, a meeting between Antiochian and ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) representatives took place in New York. On 14 February 2011, Father Edward Hughes, Vicar General of the Western Rite Vicariate of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and his duly appointed assistant, Father John W. Fenton, met at the Russian Synod chancery with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR); His Grace Bishop Jerome (Shaw), Bishop of Manhattan and vicar of the Eastern-American diocese (ROCOR); and the V. Reverend Anthony Bondi, Pastoral Vicar for the Western Rite (ROCOR). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the present situation, and to compare visions in order to foster cooperation in furthering Western Rite Orthodoxy in America.

Second, the wish to hold a Pan-Western Rite Conference should soon become a reality, God willing. According to Father Aidan’s blog Oremus (4 April 2011), a Pan-Western Rite Conference will take place “from Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. to the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 7, 2011. The conference will take place at the Mt. Alvernia Retreat Center, Wappinger Falls, New York. There will be a Pontifical Mass celebrated at this retreat by Bishop Jerome of the Russian Orthodox Church.” (Once more details about the conference will be sent to us, they will be published on this website.)

Several ROCOR parishes using the Western Rite in North America

Under the guidance of Metropolitan Hilarion and Bishop Jerome, there is currently a revival of Western Rite Orthodox presence under the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in the United States. They enjoy stavropegial status: this means they stand directly under the omophorion of the Primate of ROCOR, Metropolitan Hilarion.

The Fraternity of St Gregory the Great gathers several of those parishes. Their website offers information on their background and a directory of parishes (they are also listed in the directory of ROCOR, with the mention “Western Rite”). The same website makes some interesting liturgical material available for download in PDF format.

There are additional ROCOR parishes in the United States where the Western Rite is in use: for instance, Saint Benedict Russian Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City is a bi-ritual parish: that means that the services of the parish are offered both in the universal Byzantine Rite according to the Typicon of the Russian Orthodox Church - but also according to the Western Rite as authorized by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow in 1872.