Annual Lenten Pastoral Retreat of the Canadian Diocese

This year, the Annual Lenten Pastoral Retreat of the Canadian Diocese took place from April 8 to 10 at the Church of Blessed St Xenia of Petersburg. The ruling Hierarch, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, presided over the retreat. It should be noted that our Vladyaka has been instrumental in organizing these sessions for more than two decades.

During his opening remarks, His Eminence spoke about the history of the Canadian Diocese, which has had to endure many difficulties in the 21st Century. Despite this, the number of parishes and communities has been increasing, with new communities springing up in Vancouver, Alberta, and, Quebec City since 2023. This Fall, the 75th anniversary of the largest parish in the Canadian Diocese, the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto will be celebrated. At the same time, the 50th anniversary of the ministry of its Rector, Archpriest Fr. Vladimir Malchenko and the Archpriest for Eastern Canada, will be celebrated.

It is hoped that a group visit by interested parishioners from St Xenia parish could be organized if there is interest.

“I thank all those who were able to arrive today to feel each other’s shoulder, even if only once a year,” the Ruling Hierarch concluded his greeting. He also reminded us that during the days of the Pastoral Retreat, we were visited by the Holy Relics of the Venerable Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth and Her chaplainess, Nun Barbara.

On the second day, April 9, the meeting began with a report by Archpriest Seraphim Gan, who came from the USA. Fr. Seraphim’s report was devoted to the life, sufferings and instructive history of the finding of the relics of the Venerable Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth and her chaplainess, Nun Barbara. The report was based on archival documents, and most of the listeners learned about it for the first time.

Regarding the Holy Relics of the Venerable Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth, we were reminded that in mid-summer 1996 Metropolitan Vitaly presided over the service of the blessing of the foundation stone (zakladka), during which the Metropolitan placed the relics of the Holy New-Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth into the stone. So, in some mystical ways, New Martyr Grand Elizabeth has been with our parish all along.

Next, the Diocesan Treasurer, Fr. Mark Lumes, Rector at Our Lady of Pochaev Mission in Niagara, presented a report, followed by remarks regarding the progress of parish affairs. The day concluded with matins and confession.

On Wednesday, April 10, His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel presided over the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts with the Archdiocesan rank in the company of the diocesan clergy. The service was held with special solemnity and reverence. Although the Presanctified Liturgy was in the middle of the work week, it was very heartening that many parishioners and other faithful made an effort to attend. Moreover, choir conductor Pavel Pomnikow assembled a good number of his singers which further helped to beautify the service.

Our parish was further strengthened and inspired during Great Lent by our Archbishop’s choice to hold his annual retreat with a growing number of clergy for which Fr. Oleg and all of the parish are thankful.

A special thanks to the St. Xenia Sisterhood under the direction of Matushka Sarah Kambites for their talented efforts in preparing excellent Lenten meals throughout the Retreat.

Thank God for everything.