Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Be custodians of Byzantine tradition, Pope tells Slovak pilgrims

On Friday past Pope Francis met with 1300 pilgrimages and their archbishop on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Prešov Eparchy.

The Prešov Eparchy was born from the Eparchy of Mukačevo. In the span of 200 years (short in historical terms) Prešov has been elevated to a Metropolia sui iuris and to form other eparchies, e.g., Canada. Now we would refer to Prešov as the Archeparchy. The eparchial bishop is Jesuit John Babjak, 64.

One of the key points of the meeting was Pope’s exhortation to the gathered pilgrims is to be custodians of their Byzantine tradition. You may want to read a primer on Eastern Christianity –here is a monograph, “Eastern Christians and Their Churches” by Fr. Steven Hawkes-Teeples, SJ.

Pope Francis quoted his predecessor St John Paul in describing the Greek-Catholic Church in Slovakia as exemplifying “the beauty and goodness of the Creator.” He invited local Church to work as guides and fathers of the people of God who have been entrusted to them by working to “spread goodness, peace, generosity and meekness, with profound humility and simplicity.”

As you know, Eastern Catholic churches (not referred as mere Rites) have their own liturgical, spiritual, canonical and theological traditions, who live in communion with the Pope of Rome. At the same time, the Eastern Catholics share a received tradition with the Orthodox churches in a common Christian heritage given by the Apostles and developed by Fathers and Mothers of the Church.

The Eastern Catholic tradition continues a married priesthood (which was recently restored in the USA). On this point, the Pope was key in overturning a wrong of years ago. In his words, Pope Francis said that, “the families of priests live a particular mission today, when the very ideal of the family is questioned if not explicitly attacked: you bear witness to a healthy and exemplary life.” Francis also said, “you too can draw from the examples present in the history of your Church during the decades of persecution in the second half of the last century, in deportations and deprivations of all kinds.” Today, “it is up to your generation to show the same loyalty, perhaps not in the face of direct and violent persecution, but in the presence of difficulties and dangers of another kind”, that of secularism, and sterile clericalism.

Of concern to this Pope, as with previous ones, is Europe’s Christian foundations and its current challenges. He apparently directed his comments to the laity by saying, “the continent of Europe, in the East as in the West, needs to rediscover its roots and vocation; and from Christian roots they can only grow solid trees, which bear fruits of full respect for the dignity of man, in every condition and in every phase of life.”

Vespers and dinner with Melkite Patriarch Joseph Absi

Tonight I was at Great Vespers then dinner at St Ann Melkite Church (Danbury, CT) presided over by His Beatitude, Patriarch Joseph (Absi) with Bishop Nicholas Samra, Archbishop Nicolas Antiba and Fr Michael Skrocki.

About 125 people were in attendance. Several from the Latin Church but others from Eastern Churches including the Ruthenian and Maronite.

The Patriarch spoke of the universality of the Melkite Church. After all, it was in Syria that the followers of Jesus were called Christian.

It was a beautiful evening!

Armenians restore female diaconate

The female diaconate has been restored with the ordination of Ani-Kristi Manvelian, 24, in Tehran as a deacon for parish life who is not a nun.

It is understood as a “restoring” rather than “reinstating” of the Order of Deacon for women. This act is see as a precedent. The ordination happened  at St. Sarkis Church on 25 September 2017 by Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, the Primate of the Diocese of Tehran (Catholicosate of Cilicia).

Archbishop Sarkissian said:

“Today, our Church is confronting the imperative of self-examination and self-critique. It is imperative to rejuvenate the participation of the people in the social, educational and service spheres of the Church. It is our deep conviction that the active participation of women in the life of our Church would allow Armenian women to be involved more enthusiastically and vigorously, and would allow them to be connected and engaged. They would provide dedicated and loving service [to the people]. The deaconess, no doubt, would also be a spiritual and church-dedicated mother, educator, and why not, a model woman through her example. It is with this deep conviction that we are performing this ordination, with the hope that we are neither the first nor the last to do it.”

The narrative of the event was communicated by Hratch Tchilingirian on his blog.

The Armenians have had a tradition of female deacons serving, like the male deacons, at the Altar.

Deaconess  Ani-Kristi Manvelian served the Christmas Eve Liturgy on January 5th. For the Archbishop his act as the head of diocese is “to revitalise the participation of women also in our church’s liturgical life,” adding, “do not be surprised, a woman could also become a servant of the Holy Altar.”

Milan Lach appointed to Parma Eparchy

Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, as Apostolic Administrator for the Eparchy of Parma (OH). He is currently auxiliary bishop of Prešov of the Byzantines, Slovakia.
 
Bishop Milan Lach, S.J. 44, was educated at the Greek Catholic Theological Faculty of Prešov and then in 1995 he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Trnava. As a Jesuit scholastic he earned a degree in theology which led to his being ordained priest in 2001 in Košice.
 
From 2001 to 2003 Lach studied at the Center of Spirituality East-West of Michal Lacko in Košice and later (2009-2011) he was Superior of the same center; he also studied at Rome’s Pontifical Oriental Institute. Among the other ministries he engaged he was the spiritual father at the Pontifical Collegium Russicum and also as spiritual assistant of the Federation of Scouts of Europe in Rome.
On 19 April 2013, Pope Francis appointed Lach as auxiliary bishop of the archieparchy of Prešov of the Byzantines, Slovakia. Since 2016 he has been visitor of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches of the Seminaries and Oriental Colleges in Rome.
The Eparchy of Parma has been vacant since Bishop John Kudrick resigned in 2016. The Eparchy cover 12 US states.
Bishop Milan said,
“It’s interesting that my grandfather on my mother’s side, John Zavacky, was born near Chicago, on the territory of the present-day Parma Eparchy, and at age 4 returned with his parents and siblings back to Osturnja in Austria-Hungary, today in Kežmarok district. And so you see, history repeats itself. Just as my great-grandfather went off to the U.S. to find work more than 100 years ago, so will I go there now, so with God’s help I can guide these faithful and be a father to them.”
May Our Lady and St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for Bishop Milan, and us.

Some Patriarchs meet for first time

Today, the first time in history that the Patriarchs of Rome, Constantinople, & Alexandria (Greek & Coptic) have been in the same place, same time.‬

St Peter, St Mark and St Paul, pray for us.

May the Theotokos guide us to her Son.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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