With the blessing of His Eminence KYRILL Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America and under the Protection of the Wonderworking Myrrh-streaming “Iveron-Hawaiian” Icon of the Mother of God the clergy of the Western American Diocese held a pastors’ retreat at Saint Paisius Monastery in Safford, Arizona, from March 13-15, 2023.
The registrants of bishops, priests, and deacons numbered a record 43 indicating that the retreat had been met with great enthusiasm by the clergy of our Diocese — in part because such a gathering had not been held since the fall of 2019, and partially due to the fact that the venue was being held at Saint Paisius Monastery situated in the high Sonoran Desert at the base of Mount Graham. Of course, the presence of our Lady the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary through Her miraculous myrrh-streaming “Iveron-Hawaiian” Icon was seen as an immeasurable consolation as well.
The pastor’s retreat was capably hosted by Reverend Abbess Michaila and her devoted synodia. His Grace Theodosy Bishop of Seattle presided over the meetings and over the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts which culminated the event. The fathers were able to pray during the well-ordered Divine Services and fast on the monastic fare at the refectory’s table. In the evenings after the Great Compline the clergy were able to socialize in the monastery guest house, rekindling old friendships, while establishing new ones, as there are many new clergymen in our broad diocese, and old and new were able to meet face-to-face.
Four presentations were offered to the fathers of the Diocese: 1) “Orthodoxy in the Public Square” by Deacon Basil Hinkle (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese) 2) “Clergy Abuse: What is it? How to Avoid it. Treating it” by Archpriest David Moser and Priest Steven Clark, 3) “The Liturgy of St. James Brother of the Lord” by Archpriest James Baglien and 4) a “Report on the Opening of the Orthodox Mission in the Philippines with the Blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR)” by Priest Silouan Thompson.
There was also time scheduled for open discussion and questions on pastoral issues. Archpriest Peter Perekrestov underlined for the gathering the basic, but nonetheless important, guidelines of dress and decorum for clergy, the form in which correspondence should be properly written, and other edifying reminders.