NEWS AND EVENTS - Tuesday, September 5, 2017
DIOCESAN DAYS 2017
September 1-3, 2017 - Saint Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, Alhambra, California
THE CHURCH AS FAMILY & THE FAMILY AS CHURCH
“You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but are fellow citizens with the saints
and members of the household of God..” –Ephesians 2:19
The annual gathering of clergy and laity from throughout the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America, Diocesan Days, began early Friday afternoon, September 1, 2017. As Los Angeles continued to bear through a historic heatwave clergy began slowly, one by one, to arrive to the LA suburb of Alhambra, home of St. Steven's Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and host of this year's diocesan gathering. A festive and joyous fellowship typically ensues when brother clergy meet after being apart for months. This, in fact, is one of the highlights of such events. As is customary in the Orthodox Tradition and in particular in the Western American Diocese, it originates from their bishop's warm welcome, whom the clergy first greet upon arriving - their ruling bishop His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America.
After a hearty Lenten meal the clergy were directed to the small hall where a clergy seminar was led by this year's guest speaker, Fr. Timothy Pavlatos. Besides being a parish priest at the St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon the guest speaker is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and adjunct professor at George Fox University's Graduate School of Counseling. Ironically enough Fr. Timothy's afternoon talk dealt mostly of the importance of clergy to support one another, be their for one another, to rejoice in one another. He made a beautiful point at one point of his talk saying, "there's a reason our Lord sent His disciples out in pairs. There is safety in numbers. There is a reason He said, 'For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst'. Two priests having a dialogue about matters of a personal nature, is far better than a priest who engages in a demonic monologue in his head". He spoke extensively, during both his talk and the question and answer portion that followed, of the need of clergy to support and help one another. Emphasis was also placed on self-care. He cited St. Mark's gospel: "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there". In other words, the need for clergy to make time for themselves. A lively discussion ensued the talk.
Members of the Diocesan Council met in the late afternoon hours which ran into Vespers. Clergy and the faithful were given the great blessing of venerating the relics of St. Sebastian of Jackson and San Francisco, as the relics were brought to the cathedral by Fr. Marko Bojovic from the Jackson parish. Special guests to this year's Diocesan Days event were introduced after dinner which, besides the guest speaker, included: Sister Irina from Gracanica Monastery in Kosovo and Deacon Branislav Kedzic, professor at the Theological Faculty in Belgrade. During the post dinner Question and Answer session, questions were also addressed to Sister Irina of the life of Serbs in Kosovo. She spoke of the many hardships faced by Serbs who remained in Kosovo but also of the great blessings of the life there.