News From Around the OCA
• Washington, DC
Fr. Ray Velencia, a key figure in the Koumentakos affair (read that story here) has been instructed by the Metropolitan to step away from all involvement of St. Matthew's House, a parish ministry, effective immediately. In a September 23rd letter to the priest, Metropolitan Jonah also placed Fr. Velencia on a two month Leave of Absence from St. Matthew's parish, effective September 25th, pending a "diocesan review". Fr. Gregory Safchuk, the Diocesan Chancellor, was appointed "priest in charge" of St. Matthew's in the interim. Among the matters of concern expressed in the Metropolitan's letter was the removal - or rather, the failure to remove - a website attacking Ms. Koumentakos even after the resolution of Ms. Koumentako's lawsuit several months ago.
• Minneapolis, MN
The Extraordinary Diocesan Assembly to nominate a candidate for the episcopal See of Chicago and the Midwest will take place October 5 at St. Mary's Cathedral. Late last week DVD's of interviews with the three candidates were mailed to all parishes in the Diocese. Since the beginning of the week they have begun to appear on YouTube. You may find the answers of Frs. Gassios, Mahaffey and Moriak at www. YouTube/Midwestdiocese.
• Cleveland, OH
The 78th EPISCOPATE CONGRESS of the OCA's Romanian Episcopate will be held Friday, October 1 through Saturday, October 2, 2010 in Cleveland. This is the first time in decades the Congress was not held over the 4th of July weekend at the Vatra in Grass Lake, MI. The agenda was not made public, but it was reported that it will include
• Official Reports to the Congress;
• Reports from the Episcopate Auxiliaries;
• New Business as submitted by the Episcopate Council
There is no mention of any discussion or votes concerning the unity proposal offered by the Romanian Patriarchate two years ago, which envisioned the Episcopate leaving the OCA, uniting with the smaller, Patriarchal Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas and forming a new jurisdiction, the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate with "maximal autonomy" under Bucharest.
In their annual meeting, held last July, the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, described their discussions concerning unity as follows: "....Fr. Nicholas Apostola presented the situation regarding the dialogue with the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate from Vatra. Since the last Congress in 2008, the Dialog Commission has completed the proposal for creation of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate, as was requested by ROEA Congress. ROEA questions on the due diligence process were also answered. Concerning this aspect a meeting was held at Vatra on December 2009. A very constructive meeting of the two Archdiocesan Councils was held in Cleveland, in March, 2009. Unfortunately, later on, little progress towards the unity was achieved, stated Fr. Apostola. Our Archdiocese believes that only through frequent meetings with a wide participation, faithful and priests from both dioceses will be able to make significant steps towards unity."
• Pec, Kosovo/Serbia
Bishop Melchizedek of Pittsburgh is representing the OCA at next week's installation of the new Serbian Patriarch. The UN-sponsored KFOR will provide security for the event which will be held at the historic Cathedral in Pec, the former seat of the Serbian Patriarch, who, since 1302 has been styled the "Archbishop of Pec". Pec is located in the western region of the new state of Kosovo, a state which is not recognized by the Serbian government.
- Mark Stokoe