My beloved spiritual children in Christ,
Christ is in our midst!
ISOLATIONISM IS DETRIMENTAL
The practice of showing interest only in our local parish and not being involved in our Holy Archdiocese and Metropolis, its programs, national ministries, clergy-laity congresses and other activities, is called isolationism. Isolationism has been and continues to be, detrimental to our church.
Through the existing isolationism, the parish of Saint Andrew has been deprived of the necessary exposure to the greater Orthodox Church in America. The parish, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, has willingly cut itself off, but not entirely, from the Mother Church. Her only connection has been the priest who is assigned to the parish by the Metropolis of Chicago, and, also, the annual pastoral visit from His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago and, of course, His Grace Bishop Demetrios.
It is true, however, that the parish of Saint Andrew is not the only parish to practice this kind of isolationism. The parishes which are a hundred miles or more from the Metropolis tend to think, feel and act independently from the Metropolis. There is no question in my mind that many of our parishes are in different stages of evolution and tend to even isolate themselves from one another for various reasons, i.e., our parish has no contact with our sister parishes such as, Saints Peter and Paul Serbian in South Bend, SS. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Merrillville, Saint George parish in Schererville, Saint Iakovos parish in Valparaiso, St. Demetrios parish in Hammond.
According to a few of our parishioners there was some contact in years past among the youth groups from, I believe, our Merrillville Cathedral, which was wonderful and memorable for our children and theirs. And speaking about children, they are the ones who suffer and are deprived of that needed friendship, fellowship, and personal contact. Those children are now adults with their own families but, nevertheless, cherish those great memories.
Our Metropolis of Chicago is a very active Metropolis with all kinds of opportunities for all the children to come together. Our Metropolis offers such things as: Saint Iakovos Retreat Center in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, which is an ideal pastoral setting for youth ministries, Fanari camps and gathering of our youth organizations like YAL, and GOYA. The Center provides a safe yet stimulating environment for our children to meet, to gain greater understanding of our Orthodox Christian faith and its traditions, and to build the spiritual foundation that will serve them throughout their lives. Other programs of our Metropolis of Chicago include the following: Junior Olympics, Spiritual Retreats, Sport activities, Acolyte programs.
It is very sad that the children of our parish are growing up without knowing that there is so much more to our Metropolis. Our Metropolis of Chicago loves, cares, and constantly plans activities geared for all ages. Your sons and daughters, if they want to participate in the Metropolis programs, would meet hundreds of boys and girls with the same faith, traditions, values, interests, and aspirations. They would make lifelong friends and, who knows, may possibly find a person to share their lives with in the future.
Our Holy Orthodox Church, our Archdiocese, Our Chicago Metropolis, does not condone any form of isolationism. No Greek Orthodox parish should ever practice isolationism. We are a family of churches! There are however, elements within the local parishes that want it and even encourage it. The reasons are usually politically motivated. There are those who always desire to keep the Metropolis as far as possible from the parish. The objective is to have total control over the parish and to run it as their own business. Anything coming from the Metropolis they consider as intrusions, as invasion, as interference. 'This is our parish' they say, 'and we will run it the way we want to'.
Our parish of Saint Andrew must destroy any remaining tendency to maintain a distance from our Metropolis. The way to do it is a) to become involved with the ministries of our Metropolis, b) to begin having interaction with our sister Orthodox parishes in Indiana, etc., c) to participate in the Clergy-Laity Congresses of our Metropolis and the National Church, d) for our Philoptochos, our Choir, our Acolytes, our Youth, our Church School Advisers and Teachers, Family Synaxis, etc. to become deeply involved with the greater Church.
By embracing our Archdiocese and Metropolis and the National and Local Metropolis Ministries and programs, we will be a much more progressive, successful, and a healthier parish.
A hundred miles is really not that far. But we must turn to an old saying, 'Wherever there is a will, there is a way.'
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,