Dearly beloved Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, It is with great emotion that I come before you today, on the feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First Called, the day of my ordination to the episcopate by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and the bishops who concelebrated the service, as was once the custom among the Metropolitans of the Russian Church. Our Mother Church has entrusted me with a weighty responsibility, which will demand ceaseless work, effort and commitment on my part, and I hope that you will all give me the support and assistance I need for the task. To that end, I ask you to pray for me, that I may be a worthy successor to those who have gone before me: Metropolitans Evlogii and Vladimir and Archbishops George, George, Sergius and Gabriel.
As directed in the holy canons, my name should be commemorated in all liturgical celebrations in all of the churches in our exarchate, starting this evening. A few days from now, I will be enthroned in Paris, in the cathedral of Saint Alexander of the Neva, where I had the joy of serving as a deacon for seven years with the late Archbishop Sergius and later of being ordained a priest by the late Archbishop Gabriel. My years spent serving the Exarchate gave me the opportunity to personally get to know many of its clergy and faithful, and I will be very glad to see you again, and to meet those of you I don’t yet know, during my pastoral visits.
In years past, our Exarchate has played a key role among the Orthodox diaspora in Western Europe. While it was initially founded to serve the Russian community, from its very beginnings under Metropolitan Evlogii it has borne witness to the Orthodox faith in Western Europe and has been open to other Christian churches, partaking in a dialogue of truth. Today, we must remain faithful to that heritage, and continue to promote the unity of the Orthodox diaspora. While we fall under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, our pastoral work requires close cooperation with the other Orthodox dioceses in Western Europe, through the Assemblies of Bishops and in the spirit of the decisions of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference. In order to promote unity within the Orthodox Church, we must first be united among ourselves, thus fulfilling our Lord’s will as He expressed in His prayer “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)
My greatest responsibility and care is to shepherd the flock that has been entrusted to my care and to encourage its spiritual development. Our Saviour tells us that the salvation of a single human soul is more precious than the whole world (cf. Matthew 16:26). The spiritual duty of the Church and its pastors is to bring the spiritual lives of the faithful to fruition by strengthening them in the unshakeable truth of Christ. It is therefore particularly important to tend to the life of our parishes, where through the experience of the liturgy and the sacraments, men and women of different backgrounds and opinions gather around the Altar and are united in Christ, forming a single Body through their common faith and prayer, as the Holy Apostle Paul teaches us: “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) The bishop, the clergy, the monastics and the faithful must therefore work hand in hand to fulfil our vocation and to overcome the challenges of contemporary life.
“The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:13)
+ Job, Archbishop of Telmessos
Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Phanar, 30 November 2013.