ROCOR’s Bishop Luke leads OCA-Alaska clergy retreat

Anchorage, Alaska, March 25, 2024

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Hierarchical representatives of two great monastic traditions came together earlier this month to lead the annual clergy retreat for the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Sitka and Alaska.

Held March 8 to 10 in Anchorage, the retreat was hosted by the local hierarch His Grace Bishop Alexei of Sitka, who spent decades as an Athonite monk, with presentations offered by His Grace Bishop Luke of Syracuse, the abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, which represents the monastic tradition of the great Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra in Western Ukraine.

The theme of the retreat was “Confessing Holy Orthodoxy,” the Diocese of Alaska reports.

The gathering began with the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy at St. Tikhon’s Church in south Anchorage, with prayers and koliva for all the Orthodox departed. Following the Vigil, the parish treated all the guests to a feast, “including many Alaskan delicacies like smoked salmon and moose meat.”

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On Saturday morning, Bp. Luke offered a presentation on the dogma of the Church. The diocese writes:

Vladyka Luke first presented the heroic life and work of St. Job of Pochaev, who was responsible for defending and confessing the faith in Carpatho-Russia, a region much like Alaska flooded by well-funded missionaries and sects trying to proselytize Orthodox faithful. Vladyka Luke also highlighted the teachings of St. Hilarion Troitsky, whose writings delineate the boundaries of the Church and emphasize that one must be a member of the Orthodox Church to practice Christianity. Vladyka Luke also debunked “branch theory” ecclesiology and highlighted some of the excesses found in the ecumenical movement. His presentation encouraged the clergy to “fight the good fight” and continue their pastoral and missionary labors in the face of challenges brought by sects well-funded from outside sources.

That evening, the clergy attended the All-Night Vigil and the Sunday-morning Liturgy at St. Innocent of Irkutsk Cathedral. Following the service, Bp. Alexei’s third anniversary as a bishop was celebrated.

On Monday, Bishops Alexei and Luke traveled to Kodiak Island to speak with the students of St. Herman’s Seminary. “During his Tuesday talks Vladyka Luke emphasized the need for seminarians to become true pastors and hold fast to the deposit of Faith. He also recounted stories about the Russian Royal Martyrs Nicholas and Alexandra, in order to inspire piety and Christ-centered family life.”

The hierarchs then traveled to Monk’s Lagoon, “which our Venerable Father Herman sanctified by his holy prayers and ascetic struggles.” The hierarchs offered prayers at the holy sites and “returned to Kodiak strengthened for the upcoming Great Fast.”

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