† Neofit Patriarch of Bulgaria
The Delegates of the 44th Annual Convention of the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia
Brampton, Ontario, Canada | July 19, 20, and 21, 2019
Dearly Beloved Children of our Holy Church,
We greet you with fatherly love on the occasion of the 44th Annual Convention of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the United States, Canada and Australia on July 19, 20 and 21, 2019 in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
We are pleased to know that hosting the Convention for the first time is the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church “Holy Great-Martyr Dimitar,” with parish priest, Rev. Fr. Valery Shumarov, and chairman of the church board, Ms. Kristina Kaneff, daughter of the honorary chairman and founder of the temple, Mr. Ignat Kaneff.
We hope you will be glad to hear that at the consecration of the church in May 2006, at the invitation of Metropolitan Joseph and Mr. Kaneff, we as Metropolitan of Rousse took prayerful participation in the unforgettable celebratory Divine Liturgy. And what an honor for the hosts it is that after 13 years, Father Valeri and the church board with President Ms. Kristina Kaneff, with great joy and boldness and without any hesitation, invited the entire Diocese to see and appreciate the righteous in every respect host-church “Holy Great-Martyr Dimitar.”
We believe that not only the delegates from the other parishes but also the members of the host-parish will again enjoy the completed magnificent appearance of the temple, the church hall, the carefully arranged offices, the huge parking lot and nearby park, always carefully maintained for the enjoyment of millions of drivers on the busy Steeles Avenue, who day and night marvel at the exterior beauty of our house of prayer, with its cross on top and the Bulgarian tricolor on a high pole, alongside the Canadian national flag.
Let the delegates of the 44th Diocesan Convention know that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church “St. Dimitar” is a 30-year dream of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ignat and Didi Kaneff. Maybe that is the reason that, after the long wait, once started, it was built in less than a year. The owner of the property, Mr. Ignat Kaneff, instead of building the planned 23 houses, after receiving permits from the respective authorities, built a church. And because he loves education and children, also built a Bulgarian parish school as part of it.
As Metropolitan of Rousse, we were able to satisfy the keen desire of the Kaneff family to have a parish priest for the new Bulgarian church “St. Dimitar” who is not from just anywhere in Bulgaria but specifically from Rousse, as God also blessed. We are convinced that you will see the moral of the story given to us by the Lord through the host-church, which was completed in a short time in terms of construction and beautification, and in that same spirit of hope draws your attention to what can be achieved by attending to the one thing that is needful and choosing the good part.
The Lord God has endowed you with a majestic diocese and magnificent temples in prosperous and free countries, to grow spiritually and attain salvation in them; to affirm yourselves in our Orthodox faith and virtues, and follow the Lord’s Way; to be diligent in your Theosis and in building of the Lord’s Church, which he has given us as a safe and sound ship amid the storms of life. We exhort you as your Patriarch, stand firmly in this glorious and immaculate Orthodox Church without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:27) and build it up with all your strength, for according to God's promise and assurance in it dwells the Spirit of truth, which abides in us, teaches us all things (John 14:16-17, 26), cleanses us from every iniquity, and saves our souls.
We thank God for all His generosity toward you, for which your Diocesan Prelate and our fellow brother, Metropolitan Joseph, is always praising you, and we rejoice that you are his loyal and beloved spiritual children.
Aided by your ceaseless prayers before God for us, we in Bulgaria gratefully praise His Holy name and are thankful for His boundless grace, which He generously pours out upon us, and with which He sustains all of us in our ministry. At all times and in every hour we magnify the Lord for the love He has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).
Joyfully we thank God for all His goodness that comforts us during our time, praying that He may forgive our voluntary and involuntary transgressions. Giving thanks, we make melody in our hearts to the Lord (Eph. 5:19). In this regard, we are grateful to Him for the fact that, although far from us, you stand firmly in the Orthodox faith, stay true to the Holy Orthodox Church and its unity, observing the tradition of working through love (Gal. 5:6) and living soberly, righteously, and godly (Titus 2:12), calling always in prayer upon the holy name of God (Ps. 79:19).
With pastoral concern for our compatriots in Romania, the Holy Synod made formal representations before His Beatitude the Romanian Patriarch Daniel for the construction of a Bulgarian church in Bucharest, which unites the Bulgarian community for worship and educational activity and to maintain the fraternal relations between our two Holy Churches and Orthodox peoples.
For the realization of a successful and productive church-community and inter-church activity, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church-Bulgarian Patriarchate formed two committees to thoroughly examine and prepare to report on the reasons given by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the possibility of autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, in order to prepare official statements on those topics from the Bulgarian Patriarchate.
In the beginning of May this year, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church-Bulgarian Patriarchate satisfied the wishes of Pope Francis, who visited Bulgaria at the invitation of the State authorities, to attend a friendly meeting at the building of the Synod. During the conversation, we shared that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church; we do not compromise in our faith; both in our lives and in our ministry we rely on the Divine law, which is superior to all human laws; and we strive to observe God’s Law, transforming our minds and hearts, whilst we strive to communicate with each other with mutual love and with a caring and attentive relationship.
We very much want to assure you that our salvation is in hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2). Armed with this hope that God promised us before the world began and with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His blessed providence, we ask that at the 44th Diocesan Convention you will endeavor to dedicate all your God-given strength and talent to the goal of ensuring that all your diocesan churches and parishes, missions and monasteries in America, Canada and Australia walk towards peaceful and blessed days and years, trusting in God and seeking His holy will (Matt. 5:10).
We pray that you always be worthy children of God, diligently offering each day your share of the common human mission, in which God calls you to be His co-laborers. May the grace of God, which strengthens you in infirmity, complete and fulfill that which may be insufficient.
May the Lord of peace and love be with all of you in your laudable works and labors for a rewarding and joyful-in-unity Diocesan Convention. Amen.
With fatherly love in Christ and blessing,
† Neofit, Patriarch of Bulgaria
July 19, 2019