The Diocesan Council of the Eastern American Diocese met on June 9 at St. Sava Cathedral in Cleveland, its first meeting since its election at the last Diocesan Assembly in February. Chaired by His Grace Bishop Irinej, the Council considered a number of questions of importance to the life of the Diocese, its parishes and faithful.
At the beginning of the meeting His Grace read a proclamation by the Mayor of Pittsburgh declaring June to be “Rudley J. Mrvos Month” in the city. Rudley Mrvos, a member of the Council and past Vice President of the Diocese, was honored upon his retirement for his many years of exemplary and visionary leadership as both teacher and administrator in the field of education for special needs students in the Pittsburgh school system. His Grace and the entire Council gave Rudley an ovation and thanked him for his Christian service to those in need and for reflecting great credit upon the Serbian Orthodox Church and faithful
His Grace advised the Council that the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church at its recent meeting reaffirmed its original decision that the Diocesan residence should be relocated to New York from New Jersey. The Diocese is in the process of looking for a suitable property in the New York City area, specifically in the city of Yonkers.
The financial state of the Diocese was examined, and the Council decided to remind congregations of the importance of paying their monthly diocesan assessments on a regular basis to ensure an adequate cash flow for the Diocese.
Specific questions or requests from a number of congregations concerning finances, administration, or specific difficulties were addressed as appropriate. Special attention was given to St. Sava Cathedral in New York City as it plans for the reconstruction of the Cathedral after last year's disastrous fire. The formation of an Expert Building Committee was approved to aid in the planning and construction. Besides reconstruction of the Cathedral itself within the existing walls, refurbishment is also envisioned for the adjacent parish hall and apartment building.
Newly-appointed full-time Diocesan Director of Religious Education Deacon Jovan Anicic made a presentation to the Council on his vision and plans. He has begun meeting with clergy of the deaneries to get an overview of the educational situation and challenges in their parishes. He hopes to begin teacher training seminars, introduce supplemental teaching materials and foster a close working relationship between the clergy and teachers. He will be visiting and working with the summer camp program this summer. He also hopes to aid and foster Serbian schools where possible. The Council welcomed him warmly and has high hopes for improvement of the educational mission of the parishes and Diocese.
Rudley Mrvos gave an overview of the physical needs and conditions at St. Sava Monastery and Camp at Shadeland, PA. An ecologically responsible harvesting of trees has begun there, which will bring some much-needed revenue. An emergency generator will be installed, and plans for remodeling the present central administration building or building a new building were discussed.
Plans for the upcoming annual Diocesan Day at Shadeland were discussed. Diocese day will take place on Saturday, August 5 and will begin with the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at 10 AM at the monastery church, with a traditional Serbian picnic to follow. Main entertainment will be the campers from the camp's Folklore Week, who always put on an amazing show. All parishes are asked to make the information available to parishioners and encourage them to attend.
The Diocese has entered into an agreement with Insurance Systems Group, Inc. to offer Orthodox Church-specific property and liability insurance to congregations. Under this program congregations will have the option to obtain customized quotes on their insurance needs, optimized for their artistic and liturgical valuables by agents who are Orthodox Christians and who know the specialized needs of Orthodox churches. More information on this program will be sent to congregations in the near future.
The Council also heard a report on the upcoming canonization of St. Bishop Mardarije of Libertyville on July 15-16 and made a donation towards the event. Donations were approved to St. Sava Seminary in Belgrade, Orthodox Prison Ministries and ZOE for Life, an Orthodox agency which aids single mothers and mothers to be in keeping and caring for their children.
Following the meeting, a number of the Council members attended the Greater Cleveland Orthodox Christian Charities 25th Anniversary Banquet, where His Grace Bishop IRINEJ was honored for his long service and involvement with IOCC and its many humanitarian missions throughout the world.
His Grace and the entire Council extend their sincerest thanks and appreciation to the St. Sava Cathedral community, which provided truly remarkable hospitality for the meeting.