On 28 April 2009, His Beatitude, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada JONAH visited Moscow’s Sretensky Stavropegial Monastery.
The First-Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) was greeted with the singing of “Christ is Risen” by Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, superior of Sretensky Monastery, along with the brotherhood, seminarians of Sretensky Theological Seminary, and well-wishing parishioners.
Archimandrite Tikhon welcomed his Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and noted the close ties between Sretensky Monastery and Bishop Basil Rodzyanko (†1999), a much-loved archpastor of the OCA who contributed greatly to the revival of Orthodoxy in Russia after the period of church persecution. Archimandrite Tikhon described the work of Bishop Basil as an offering of gratitude from the whole of American Orthodoxy, which was planted and nourished by missionaries from Russia such as Saint Herman of Alaska, Saint Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, and Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of All Russia.
In an address to those present, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah underlined the special significance of monasticism as a living witness of true Christian life:
“It is a great joy for me to see you all, monks, novices and seminarians. What happens inside the walls of this monastery is very important for the Church and for you yourselves: to find salvation through the monastic life and to support each other on this path to salvation. Monasticism is the foundation of the Church; without monasticism there is no Orthodoxy. Monasticism is the apostolic way of life, life fully in accord with the Gospel, life in full submission to the teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Monasticism is real Christian life. I cannot describe with words how important this ‘life solely for the sake of Christ’ is for the Church, for all believers, and for all those who have yet to come to the Church. You may not know them, these future Christians; but they see your brotherly love, they see that there is the possibility of living not according to earthly laws but according to the Gospel. And when people see that brothers love each other, support each other, bear with each other, then they understand that there exists another completely different world. And that is your most important missionary activity.
I bless and thank you all.
Just six months ago I myself was the abbot of a monastery and never imagined that I would one day wear a white klobuk. I ask you to pray for me and for us all, because our main mission is to spread the word that the Lord loves everyone, the Lord forgives everyone.
We must preach that through repentance, the Lord forgives our sins, sets us free, heals our infirmities, corrects our relationships with each other, heals not only the church community but also the whole world.
May God save you! Christ is Risen!!”
Archimandrite Tikhon on behalf of the brothers of Sretensky Monastery then presented Metropolitan Jonah with a “Vladimir” icon Mother of God and also books and electronic media published by the monastery.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah later met with the staff of the monastery’s publishing department and the staff of their internet site “Pravoslavie.Ru”, toured Sretensky Seminary and then departed, accompanied by the ringing of the monastery bells.