Communiqué Nº 15-06 of the Council of the Archdiocese

Meeting of 22 June 2006

The Council of the Archdiocese met on 22 June 2006, under the presidency of Archbishop Gabriel. Among the questions touched upon :

Pastoral assembly and diocesan pilgrimage : A pastoral assembly on the theme of ‘The sacrament of repentance and the pastoral practice of confession’ took place on Thursday 25 May, at the St Sergius Institute, Paris (cf. the account on the Internet www.exarchat.org). General impressions were very positive. The talks and discussions enabled several theological and pastoral questions about the practice of confession to be highlighted. A collection of recommendations in reply to these questions is currently being studied with a view to eventual publication, and all the talks given on the day should be published too. Next day, a diocesan pilgrimage enabled a group of about forty people, clergy and laity, to visit the monastery of the All-Protecting Veil at Bussy-en-Othe. A thanksgiving service with the singing of the Akathist took place in the presence of the relics of Saint Alexis of Ugine. The hospitality was exemplary and allowed many people to become better acquainted with the monastery, which is commemorating this year the 60th anniversary of its founding.

Visit of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel to the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople : This visit took place from 19 to 21 May last (cf. Communiqué 11-06). Archbishop Gabriel emphasised that he had been received with a great deal of affection and respect by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and the members of the Holy Synod who were present. The conversations made clear the Patriarch’s wish to see the Exarchate develop and strengthen its unity. Contacts between the Exarchate and the Patriarchate had to be broadened. With a view to this, a delegation of teachers and students from the St Sergius Institute, led by its dean, Archimandrite Job, made a pilgrimage to Constantinople from 16 to 22 June.

Visit of a delegation from the British Isles : His Grace Bishop Basil of Amphipolis said he was very pleased with the welcome he had received during his stay in Paris, from 16 to 18 June (cf. Communiqué 14-06), with the liturgical celebrations in the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky and St Sergius’ Church, the discussions he had had with diocesan heads and the receptions given in his honour. These encounters brought to light a deeply shared spiritual mindset and a common vision of the Church in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual trust. A proposed set of special regulations defining the relations between the Archdiocese and its Vicariate of Great Britain and Ireland is being drawn up (cf. Communiqué 12-06). The Vicariate will have to prepare its own internal statutes taking into account the statutes of the Archdiocese and these special regulations. A general meeting of clergy and laity of the Vicariate is planned for 8 July in London, under the presidency of his Grace Bishop Basil.

Situation in the parishes :

- Nice. The heads of diocesan administration, MM. M. Sollogoub and I. Cheret, will go to Nice on 24 and 25 June to take an audit of the parish, meet members of the clergy and parishioners and participate in the Annual General Meeting. A report will then be presented to his Eminence the Archbishop. On the way, the administrative heads will stop at Toulon on 23 June to meet the members of the local parish there too.

- Biarritz. The Annual General Meeting of the parish was held on 18 June and proceeded to the election of some new members of the Parish Council as provided for in the statutes. Liturgical celebrations are held regularly in the church. Father Romain Michine is expected to take up permanent residence there during the summer.

- Montgeron. The Association which owned the site of the Moulin de Senlis at Montgeron (Essonne) has been wound up and its property is shortly to be sold at auction. The Council of the Archdiocese has expressed grave concern about the future of the Church of Saints Sergius, German of Valaam and Seraphim of Sarov, which is in one wing of the property and constitutes an important witness both to the artistic heritage of Orthodoxy in France and to the history of Russian emigration in the country. The Archdiocese wishes to support a project to take over the buildings and thereby enable the regular celebration of Orthodox liturgical services in this church, which, since its founding and consecration by Metropolitan Vladimir, in the 1950’s, has always been under the spiritual authority of different church leaders.

- The first trip by the Diocesan Animation Team to parishes should take place in the autumn to the Toulouse parish. A small team of young people - theologians, catechetes and singers - will be sent to parishes outside the capital for a weekend, to participate in liturgical celebrations and organise small conferences on biblical, theological and spiritual themes.

Diocesan catechesis for new immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe : This diocesan initiative, instituted for the first time this year in Paris, has met with great success. About sixty people attended a series of talks on the Christian faith. It has been decided to continue and broaden the offer of training for the year 2006/2007 under the guidance of Archpriest Vladimir Yagello, rector of the Church of Our Lady of the Sign in Paris, who has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the whole training scheme.

Commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the death of Metropolitan Evlogy : Liturgies and panikhidas will be celebrated on Tuesday, 8 August, the day of Metropolitan Evlogy’s death, in the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky and in the Church of the Dormition at the Cemetery of Sainte Geneviève des Bois, where the late Metropolitan of blessed memory is buried. The solemn commemoration of Metropolitan Evlogy’s memory will take place on Saturday, 7 October, in the presence of official delegations. In the morning a solemn panikhida will be celebrated in the Church of the Dormition at the Cemetery of Sainte Geneviève des Bois. In the afternoon a commemorative meeting with talks and exhibition of photographs and historic documents will be organised on the premises of St Sergius’ Theological Institute in Paris, beginning at 3.00 p.m. During the months of October through December 2006 other meetings will be held on parish premises in Paris, Nice and Brussels as well, concentrating on different aspects of Metropolitan Evlogy’s ecclesial work. The final programme will be communicated after the summer.

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