OCA Monastic Synaxis looks to ‘Creative Methods’ to Nurture Vocations

Key Points of Convergence show how the Thebaid Project resonates with the Monastic Mission of the OCA.

The timing and topics of the Orthodox Church in America’s 2015 Monastic Synaxis could not have been more significant.

2015-1031-synaxis1

While His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of the Diocese of the West, and fourteen superiors from among the more than two-dozen monastic communities in the US, Canada and Mexico were meeting at the Monastery of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Manton CA, many of the foundational components of The North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project were being finalized, including the budget, funding proposals, and itinerary.

At its core, the Synaxis affirmed the message which Metropolitan Tikhon delivered at his address to the AAC in July, that “the monastic life is a vital part of the mission of the church.”

But how to enhance and expand this “vital part of the mission?”

I believe it will take vision, hard work, sacrifice, and not a little creativity. As with any good work in Christ’s Church, it will also require what Elder Joseph the Hesychast would call patient endurance in suffering,” and, as St. Paisios of Mount Athos would say, philotimo. There will be challenges, setbacks, disappointments. Anyone who seeks to follow Christ, whatever his or her labors, will be taking up a cross in order to do so.

Most significant for the Thebaid Project are these three points of convergence with the Monastic Synaxis:

  • the nurturing and encouraging of monastic vocations is a priority for the entire Church,
  • there is a need for creative methods by which the clergy and faithful might be introduced more fully into the richness of the monastic life,
  • the affirmation that parish awareness of monastic life ought to be encouraged…

As you will readily see if you read my posts on the Project itself, on my Theology of Photography, and on Fr. Archimandrite Sergius Bowyer’s address ‘Monasticism and the Church’, The North American Thebaid Project already resonates with the monastic mission of the OCA. These three key points of convergence with the discussions held at the recent Monastic Synaxis serve as a tuning fork by which we can assess the harmony with which the Thebaid Project seeks to creatively promote parish awareness of the richness of monastic life, while nurturing and encouraging monastic vocations.

Key excerpts from the OCA announcement following the conclusion of the Synaxis follow:

Monastic superiors conclude Synaxis at St. John Monastery, Manton, CA

MANTON, CA [OCA] His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon presided at the Synaxis of Superiors of Monasteries of the Orthodox Church in America at Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco Monastery here October 27-29, 2015.  With the blessings of their diocesan bishops, the superiors participated in the Synaxis—the second in what is expected to become an annual event—for the purpose of strengthening the monastic life within the OCA and in an effort to identify areas of concern for the monastic communities that could be better addressed on a wider level within the Church or by means of stronger inter-monastery cooperation.

In addition to Metropolitan Tikhon, who oversees the stavropegial monasteries, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, in whose diocese the Monastery of Saint John is located, was present for this year’s meeting.  The OCA counts some 25 men’s and women’s monastic communities in the US, Canada and Mexico.  Fourteen of those communities were represented at this year’s Synaxis by their respective superiors…

…During their wide-ranging discussions over the Synaxis’ three days, the superiors:

  • discussed the nurturing and encouraging of monastic vocations as a priority for the entire Church…
  • emphasized the monastic life as a vital part of the mission of the church
  • proposed creative methods by which the clergy and faithful might be introduced more fully into the richness of the monastic life.
  • suggested that parish awareness of monastic life ought to be encouraged…

Read the full article, with photos, on the OCA website.

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