On Sunday March 17, 2019, when the Church liturgically celebrates the triumph of Orthodoxy over iconoclasm, the Serbian, Russian (ROCOR), and Canadian (OCA) clergy of the Greater Toronto Area, with their flock, prayed at a lenten vespers service at All Serbian Saints Orthodox Church in Mississauga (Western Toronto), Ontario.The vespers service, led by archimandrite German (Bogojevic), of the brotherhood of Holy Transfiguration Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Milton, Ontario, was served in Church-slavonic, English, and Serbian. At the conclusion of the prayer gathering, the entire Synodicon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council was read by Fr. Jovan Marjanac, followed by intoning Many Years to the “holy Orthodox Patriarchs, rightly dividing the Word of God’s Truth”. The responses were sung by St. Sava Choir under the leadership of Jovan Lukich, while the kliros was led by Fr. Michael Doder and Reader Milovan Prelevic.
The clergy, 16 serving, and 7 more present, including His Grace Georgije, retired bishop of Canada, displayed icons of the Lord, the Mother of God, and the Saints for all present to venerate. The Church was filled with several hundred faithful, all of whom received a blessed icon of St. John, the wonderworker of San Francisco.
Following the church service coffee and lenten refreshments were served for over two hundred faithful who remained to hear a widely encompassing lecture on the history of Orthodoxy in Kievan Rus, and of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada, delivered by Very. Rev. Fr. Jovan Marjanac, rector of All Serbian Saints Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. The lecture concluded with reading the Official Position of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the Situation in Ukraine. Further contributions to the discussion were given by panel members Very Rev. Fr Vladimir Malchenko, rector of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Toronto, Very Rev. Peter Schaskoff, rector of Protection of the Theotokos Church in Hamilton, Very Rev. Geoffrey Korz, rector of All Saints Orthodox Church in Hamilton (OCA), as well as archimandrite German (Bogojevic).
Particularly touching was the strong emphasis on closeness of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches, but the underlying theme was our adherence to the canons and norms of the Holy Fathers, regardless of nationality. A highlight of the evening occurred during question period, when a parishioner of a local Greek Orthodox Parish under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, greeted everyone gathered with assurance that the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in the Greek churches see, and acknowledge the mistakes of Patriarch Bartholomew, and his followers.
Fr. German closed with a thought that whatever is not rooted in God, lacks His blessing, and is therefore determined to fail. Recalling the pristine examples of our holy hierarchs of blessed memory Patriarchs Pavle, Aleksei II, Metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Laurus, Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev), as well as Sts. Mardarije, John of Shanghai, Nikolai of Zhicha, the evening ended with prayer, and a parting sentiment, that even though we cannot pray with schismatics, such as the pretenders Denisenko and Dumenko, we have an obligation to pray that the Lord enlighten them and lead them to sincere repentance.