† Neofit Patriarch of Bulgaria
The Popadias and Diaconissas in the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, on the occasion of their annual conference in
Brampton, Ontario, Canada, July 18-19, 2019
Beloved in the Lord popadia Junia Tolbert, popadias and diaconisas,
We congratulate you on the occasion of your annual conference in the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church "Holy Great-Martyr Dimitar" in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
It is with gladness we remember that in May 2006, at the invitation of your diocesan prelate Metropolitan Joseph, and the founders of the temple Mr. and Mrs. Ignat and Dimitrinka Kanevi, in our serving as the Metropolitan of Rousse, we took part in the consecration of the church which is now your host and welcomes you for this first visit.
We are convinced that you will be able to enjoy all you see in this temple and around it, and you will have a most useful conference, inspired by the hospitality and kindness of the hosts, who we know will do everything necessary to make your stay pleasant and memorable.
Our prayer at present is this: May the Lord guide you in His way, that you may walk in His truth (Ps. 85:11), praise Him with grateful hearts, for He preserves your life in health and strength that you may to labor for the benefit of our Orthodox faith in your parishes, your homes, and your expansive diocese.
Our fellow brother, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph ceaselessly professes your godly worship and reverence of the Mighty God, and your humble thanksgiving to our loving heavenly Father for all His blessings to your mother-church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church-Bulgarian Patriarchate, and to your diocese as inseparable from her.
We are touched by your vivid letters to us and we thank God that, as the first helpers of our priests and deacons, you are one with them, and with our beloved parishes, jointly laboring around the clock to leave a mark on your spirituality, to heal the unity of our churches, to strive toward the prosperity of your salvific mission.
Never forget that the parishioners are watching you, and many of them expect you to be examples and models of faithful ministry to God and to the people, to keep your hearts clean, and to think and do only “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, virtue, and praiseworthy” (Philip. 4:8).
You have a big influence on whether your parishioners do all things with love and patience, with a sense of Christian duty and devotion to our Holy Orthodox Church and to church unity. You can offer much help to your parishes in their taking care of the Orthodox Christian upbringing and the enlightenment of the children by following with jealousy and godly fear the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “patient with them and pours out his mercy upon them” (Sirach 18:11). Have hope and trust that He is with us “always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20) and work on the diligence of calling always in your prayers upon the Holy Name of the Lord (Ps. 79:19/80:18). Always remember that our life passes in front of God’s face and we strive to follow the God-given bright path into eternal truth and inexpressible joy.
Per the words of Psalmist, a happy and long life will have he who departs from evil and does good; seeks peace and pursues it. (Ps. 33:15). St. John Chrysostom advises us to treat every wound inflicted by sin, despite the pain we will experience because “this sorrow is short-lived but the benefit is enduring.” As for our prayers, which need to be pleasing to God, let us remember that it is imperative that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ with righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit so that we may be acceptable to God and approved by men (Romans 14: 17-18).
Recalling also the Psalmist's words that our times are in God’s hand (Ps. 30:16/31:15), let us entreat the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3) to bless your conference and agenda with His loving-kindness. Let us remember that “God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity” (Wisdom 2:23) and let us not forget our talents, powers and abilities, but diligently let us multiply them and develop them through good and useful deeds.
With fatherly love we greet you as our spiritual children, who reside outside of Bulgaria but retain fervent love for our holy Church, and prayerfully wish you good health, spiritual strength, “a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezek. 18:31), peace, joy in your homes and parishes, works of love and charity, devotion to the Holy Orthodox Faith, and many spiritual accomplishments during the time of your conference and your convention, that after them, you may continue in every piety and purity as good offspring of our church.
May the blessing of the Lord and the mercy of God accompany you all the days of your life. Amen.
With Love in Christ,
† Neofit, Patriarch of Bulgaria
July 18, 2019