March 13, 2008
I have read both letters that you have posted since this all this has
started. I am not sure what to call this, but it is a tragedy. I want you to know that I see no shortcomings in you and have not been offended by you.
I have been offended by what the priests and laity have said against you.
I can’t believe this is happening. I pray to God that this will go away soon
and they will see that what they have done is wrong and work to correct it.
With love and respect,
Believe me I have shortcomings and one of them that is necessary for me to
improve is how I am perceived as to strict. One can give the same medication
with honey and it goes down easier than with vinegar.
I don’t read all those letters on the internet and don’t subscribe to any of
those sites but some of them are forwarded to me. None have been sent by the
Metropolitan, however, and that is important for people to know.
Unfortunately, some of the critics have a history that isn’t as unblemished
as they want the reader to believe.
There is a saying that arguing is like mud wrestling. You both get dirty and
the pig loves it.
Love and blessings,
March 13, 2008
James Fisher wrote:Master Bless,
I am very sad to hear of the controversy going on now in the diocese. I am
praying for you and all the clergy there. I hope for reconciliation, and it
seems evident to me that there is love on both sides.
When I was moved to become Orthodox in October of 2001, I was an angry,
vengeful person with very little love in my heart or forgiveness for anyone. I learned these things coming into your church. You and Father Michael, my Godfather Paul and my new friends showed my this as a way of life. I talk to people there, periodically, and it seems that this love is there as always, from all sides.
I pray that God is using this to overcome these issues between people there.
Today I had the opportunity to meet a former colleague–one who treated me
badly and hurt my career a couple of years ago. I was going to avoid her and
shun her this week while she was on temporary duty at my base. But I
remembered what I learned up there, and some guidance I was given by Fr Michael about a similar situation.
I decided to go and meet her, and I did so bearing no grudge (or at least
trying to hide any remaining ill will). I wanted her to feel forgiven
(though she was not the only one at fault by any means).
I know this action was probably crudely applied, and I remain a sinful
person, but it made me think of the Church there, and what becoming and being
Orthodox has meant to me.
Gratefully in Christ,
This is the solution for sure, reconciliation.
Humility will go a long way on both sides, too.
Love and blessings,
March 12, 2008
Terrance Stepetin wrote:
Vladyka, I’m unnerved by the recent allegations brought against you in our
church. My question to you: If you are being asked to take a leave of absence and you feel you are innocent of any wrong-doing, why would you not do so such as
any leader does in today’s society?Dear Terrence,
I am not sure that you or for that matter, most people, realize but I asked for assistance from my brother bishops on March 2nd. No one called, rather, I received a letter stating that I should take a leave of absence and vacate the diocese immediately; more on that later I suspect.
There is a process and the process has to be followed according to the rules of the Orthodox Church. No one should ever nor are they expected to follow rules that are made up in the Church and neither will I.Love and blessings,
March 12, 2008
Rd. Ioannis Fortomas wrote:
Your blessing!I’d just like to begin by wishing you a blessed Lent. I’ve followed with sadness the news from your diocese. I personally believe that you are doing a fine job of running the Diocese of Alaska and that what you are going through right now is a great injustice on the OCA’s behalf. What does the future have in store? To “suspend” or “defrock” you for not leaving the Diocese of which you are the canonical Bishop is silly, stupid, immature, and most definitely uncanonical on behalf of Syosset. Even to utter such threats shows great immaturity. So to my question: is it possible that you would transfer your Diocese to another Jurisdiction? And if that is possible, would many parishes follow?I again wish you, Vladyka, a Blessed Lent and Pascha. I also ask for your holy prayers for me a sinner.Rd. Ioannis
Dear Reader Ioannis,
Thank you for your post and most importantly, your prayers for all of us.
My hope is for us to have reconciliation in whatever is being expressed. The passions are running very high in some and that is sad but now that Lent is here we must keep ourselves girded for the other attacks and not against one another.
We can’t discount the canons as irrelevant and that is an oath I took and will stand firm in that.
Love and blessings,
March 12, 2008
Popadija Tatiana wrote:
Blagoslovite, preosveceni!Your Grace,I have never met you, but my husband and I subscribe to the North Star and
are always impressed when we meet the Orthodox faithful from your diocese. We met some wonderful monks who came here with the Sitka Icon of the Theotokos and know others who live there.As an Orthodox Christian and a fellow Serb, I am appalled at the way the OCA
Is treating such a staunch defender of the faith! It reminds me of the hateful, ignorant mistreatment of such holy men as St. Nektarios, St. John of Shanghai and even our own St. Nikolaj (Velimirovic)!Please be assured that even the lowest, most humble servants are praying for you. May God grant you the strength to continue this fight! (A fight that seems to conveniently take the pressure off of Met. Herman, who must surely welcome some breathing room within the mess he’s created.)
The Serbian Church surely has more than their share of problems at present, but the OCA is a sinking ship. Forgive me, but from how I understand the history, and with the recent reconciliation of the MP and ROCOR, it seems the OCA would be better off reunited with either body.
I am not writing this private email to debate you on this, only to let you know that we support you and are praying for you.
The season’s izkusenije have begun!
Dear Popadija Tatiana,
Thank you for the words of encouragement.
By no means am I a saint but I try very hard to uphold Orthodoxy in my diocese as well as in my own personal life and this is what I want for my people.
Of course, I think that there are many who would agree that this is a nice distraction from the real problems in our Church. You know there were over 1200 signatures calling for Metropolitan Herman to resign. And do you know there was never mention of an investigation?
We must stand firm for Orthodoxy. Our lives in America are too easy and we have been taught that we don’t have to do anything unless we want to. Our faith is not a buffet table where we choose what we want and put aside what we don’t want or like. We must struggle to meet the standard.
I truly believe my clergy want this kind of Orthodoxy.
A bishop friend from another Church last week said there was no practical reason for the OCA to exist now that ROCOR and MP have united. Have you read that the Romanians are planning to unite? That is another major body leaving the OCA and I am sure the Bulgarian Church will demand their parishes be returned, too.
Love and blessings,
March 11, 2008
Dear Fr. Isidore,
Did my Deanery take some type of action that has led to this situation?Please know that my family is steadfast in its love and support of His
Grace. I truly think there are several things that are at the heart
of what is going on:1. I believe that there was resentment from some in Kodiak from the
very beginning because the physical seat of the Diocese was moved to
Anchorage, practically speaking. But, from my point of view it made absolute sense.
The Diocese was made accessible to the whole state by doing so.2. I think the dissenting priests’ primary motive is economic.
Instead of being focused on conducting church services first and
foremost, it seems that their own incomes may have been prime
concerns. Father Oleksa has his successful consulting business that he travels all over the State for.
Father Victor Nick purchased an expensive commercial salmon permit in
Bristol Bay. While in Dillingham, he was at least able to make money
fishing between liturgy services, but last season he had to send his
son over by himself. Father Victor simply cannot fish the permit
himself while being stationed in Mountain Village without essentially
shutting down church from June until August.
3. Before His Grace came to Alaska, no one paid attention to the
rural areas of the Diocese. I think the parishes got comfortable
operating as they saw fit. It was probably a shock that His Grace
tried to move them closer to what is correct. I would venture that
most of the priests made a habit, as did the ones that I am most
familiar with, of pretty much shutting down their church from the end
of May until late August in order to do subsistence. They want no
responsibilities except to put up fish, berrypicking and moose hunting for the whole period.
4. I am guessing that those who held down full-time jobs deeply
resented the loss of personal income when His Grace made requests to
focus more time on services instead.
I really think the timing of their combined requests to the OCA is in
the hope that it can all be resolved to their satisfaction so they can
go back to having Summer and Fall off again to pursue commercial and
Until His Grace came to Alaska, I had never in my life participated in
the Apostle Fast and Services. No one was ever around to conduct
these services for us until His Grace came to Alaska.
My entire family has grown stronger in their Faith under His Grace.
We earnestly pray for God’s blessing upon his efforts.
A humble parishioner,
Thank you for your insightful words. I know that Vladyka appreciates your prayers and concern.
With love in the Lord,
March 4, 2008
Why did Fr. Isidore and Minadora Jacobs resign from the Metropolitan Council? Did Your Grace tell them to, or was it their own decision?Dear Christos,A number of people have asked why my two Metropolitan Council Representatives resigned. Some conjecture if I ‘told them to’ or compelled them to so so in one way or another when, in reality, I even tried to talk them both out of it.Both Fr. Isidore and Mina Jacobs sent me letters in late January asking to resign and both of them had very different reasons for doing so. Fr. Isidore expressed a general dissatisfaction with the tone of the Metropolitan Council and questioned its right to exist canonically. He was also disgusted in the vindictive approach some members of the Metropolitan Council have taken with regard to the Protopresbyter Kondractick in internal Metropolitan Council correspondence. Mina Jacobs cited a need to devote her valuable time to something more positive and conducive to building up the Body of Christ, the Church. Both Fr. Isidore and Mina Jacobs clearly indicated that their time was better spent in Alaska.
January 22, 2007
Vasily Gardecki wrote:Christ is Born! Glorify Him!Master Bless!
I am shocked about the allegations against you. I do not believe any of it and
follow your website regularly whenever I have a chance. You have done so much
good in Alaska, following your predescessor,who did nothing. I knew you on
visits to St Paul’s Church in Las Vegas and find you to be “a true and
dedicated servant” of Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church. Please keep doing the
good work. The Lord watches and knows that you are a “true ” worker in the
Vineyard of Christ”. I will always hold great respect for you .Respectfully,
Mayfield PaThank you for your prayers and love for us.Love and blessings,
January 2, 2007
Protodeacon Nazari Polataiko wrote:
Bless Me Master!It was God’s Great Mercy on me and my family to meet Your Grace and all of
us pray for You and the great work that Your Grace is doing in God’s beloved
land of Alaska. God help You Dear Vladyka in this difficult time. You are in
our prayers and we hope all of your Alaskan God-fearing flock also pray for
their spiritual father and realise how blessed they are to have You.Bless us Most Rev. Master and pray for us siners.Fr. Nazari Polataiko
December 26, 2006
Sheila Smith wrote:
I could only sense something so heartfelt and sincere in your recent letter to
all the people that, even though I remain clueless of the issues, I am
compelled to pray earnestly for you and this unfortunate situation. Oddly, I do
not feel this same sincere honesty in the OCA Orthodox Church Magazine. In my
ignorant opinion, they should let you alone to do as you see best rather than
all this hovering and puppeteering. God protect you in these persecutions and
reward you rightly and the prayers of Saint Herman help you. God is
Erica robinson wrote:
We had the honor of meeting you in Dallas at your bishop ceremony years ago.
You are very loved by our family and are in our prayers. May God bless you and the good work you are doing.
“having done all to stand. Stand firm…”
erica (eirene) robinson
Julianna Pletnikoff wrote:
I don’t have a question. Just would like to thank Vladyka for writing this
letter and clarifying. It is hard enough trying to be a good Orthodox Christian
and then worrying about the politics involved. Nonetheless we are blessed to
have a Bishop who has done so much for the parishes in Alaska.
Elizabeth Sturgill wrote:
Master Bless!The divider devil never sleeps. His endless efforts to destroy us all
become tiresome and heart-breaking, especially when they are effective.
Thank you for your directness, I only pray that it does not add fuel to the
fire. It seems in these days, both inside and outside the Church, those
whom we have entrusted with great responsibilities are put under a constant
barrage of accusation and second-guessing. We are fools, pointing fingers
and shouting at those God has appointed - not realizing we criticize God
Himself. No man, however wise and good, can imagine all the possible
consequences or please all the people. It can not be done. We must humble
ourselves and give thanks that there are still those willing to stand in
such positions of responsibility, when the work is so difficult, honors are
so few and love grown so cold.I, myself, have only heard encouraging words regarding the many changes in
the Alaskan Diocese since your election. I hope one day to be able to visit
there and venerate the relics of St Herman.The life of St Nektarios gives us good warning of the damage a few
ill-placed words can do. If I have ever wronged you in anything, please
forgive me. My prayers,unworthy as they are, for your protection and those
who serve the Church will be on my lips for all my life.
Walla Walla, WA