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Diocesan Office Move - 04/11/19

February 26th, 2019

The Diocese of the West Administrative Assistant Office has been enjoying a new location at the DOW's Duboce property in San Francisco these past couple of months! Once His Eminence, Archbishop BENJAMIN realized his father would have to move in with him due to rent hikes in Southern California, Vladyka informed the Diocesan Council and Administrative Assistant Priest Andrew Smith that it would be necessary to find a new place for the office at 1520 Green St. With about a month to move the office with its archives and files, the DOW Council secured funds to hire Birch Circle Movers of San Anselmo, CA to simplify the process.

This still meant a few more days in the Green Street office for Fr Andrew, packing up files and empyting the loft area where archives had been stored. While the work was a bit unexpected, it did turn up various and sundry fascinating relics and souvenirs -- old event posters, portraits of previous diocesan hierarchs, a typewriter (!), and many reminders of people and places accrued over more than 50 years of administrative record-keeping (for many years kept by our Archbishop BENJAMIN, who was diocesan administrative assistant when he worked as Bishop TIKHON (Fitzgerald's) archdeacon).

The day of the move itself was smoother than expected in spite of the rain thanks to Birch Circle's professional and efficient team. St Seraphim Cathedral's intern, Deacon John Joseph Kotalik, helped Fr Andrew re-file all the DOW's documents that day after the movers finished -- thank you Dn J.J.! Fr Andrew was so pleased (and relieved) with the process that he served a Thanksgiving Moleben in the Chapel of the Synaxis of the Theotokos located on the property.

Please note: the 1520 Green St address is STILL the active mailing address for all diocesan mail and parcels -- thank you, and glory to God for all things!

Orthodox 360 Discount Offer - 04/04/19

Orthodox 360 will be conducting 360 Tours for churches in the greater San Francisco and Los Angeles areas in June and July of this year. As this is its first trip to the West Coast, the company is very interested in doing as many churches as possible, and to make that happen it is extending a 25% discount and no travel costs to the parishes and institutions of the Diocese of the West! Archbishop BENJAMIN gives his blessing for parishes to reach out to Orthodox 360 to enlist its services. A flyer for the promotion may be viewed and downloaded here.

Cruise to Alaska with Archbishop Benjamin - 03/30/19

Archbishop Benjamin invites you to join him on a special cruise to Alaska. Socialize with fellow Orthodox while you sail though the USA’s last frontier. Enjoy special services as well as educa-tional talks on the church’s history in this fascinating country. Embark on a convenient roundtrip Seattle adventure, offering spectacular Hubbard Glacier vistas, whale-watching and stops in God-protected Sitka, rough-hewn Ketchikan and Alaska’s capital, Juneau. (Please note: this is different than the Pilgrimage Cruise scheduled for July 2020.)


• 7-day cruise round trip from Seattle
• Daily morning prayers
• All meals onboard
• Daily entertainment

Cabin Options
Suites from $2,199pp
Balconies from $1,809pp
Oceanview from $1,369pp
Inside from $1,369pp
all pricing based on double occupancy. single supplement 200%. triple & quad cabins available. call for pricing. taxes $240pp & gratuities not included

Download flyer here.


Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at Holy Trinity Cathedral - 03/29/19

March 17th, 2019

Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon visited Holy Trinity Cathedral for Vespers on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. From the bell tower, the murmurings of spring daylight made the San Francisco sunset a warm gray. The Blagovest rumbled as the service began and the doors opened just before the hour. A triumphant sight entered the cathedral, His Beatitude with Archbishop Benjamin, Archbishop Kyrill (of ROCOR's Western American Diocese) and Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa. The first intoning of the deacon and response of the choir set the stage for the rest of the evening. Somber and powerful, beautiful and heavenly, these are the moments that originally drew me into Orthodoxy. 

As we finished singing Vespers with our guests, some of us trickled down to the kitchen to set out food for the reception. All afternoon volunteers were pinching piroshki, chopping veggies, and setting the stage for buffet tables. After kissing the cross, we exited the large front steps to enter the small side door on Green Street. There were so many people laughing and greeting each other as our brothers and sisters from parishes in the Bay Area came to celebrate with us. As you entered the room, pockets of people hovered over almonds and hummus.

His Beatitude's Visit to Santa Rosa - 03/28/19

Sunday March 17th, 2019

St Seraphim Cathedral, Santa Rosa, CA

The parishioners of St. Seraphim Cathedral in Santa Rosa, California received an extra measure of grace on the Sunday of Orthodoxy when His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, visited and celebrated Divine Liturgy with them. They counted it a triple blessing because their Diocesan hierarch, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco, and Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, were also present at the Divine Liturgy.

His Beatitude gave the homily that morning, revealing the connections between the Gospel account of Christ penetrating the depths of Nathaniel’s heart as he saw him under the fig tree, and the restoration the veneration of the holy icons: “All this seeing and beholding is not the external capturing of phenomena, but the entering into the reality of the kingdom.” He reminded us that the holy icons are one of the gifts of the Church that “reveal the great mysteries of our Orthodox faith, and which compel us to proclaim today, ‘This is the faith of the Fathers, this is the Orthodox faith, this is the faith that has established the universe.’”

Metropolitan TIKHON's visit to San Anselmo - 03/27/19

Saturday March 16th, 2019

Walking to St Nicholas Church in San Anselmo for Sunday of Orthodoxy vigil, things were the same but different. It would be the same vigil, sung by the same choir in the same way, in the same building, in the same time of year. And yet the same choir would be singing ‘Eis Polla, Eti Despota” for our Primate, our Archbishop, and Diocesan Chancellor and Auxiliary Bishop. And yet yesterday’s drizzle and gloomy skies gave way to the first warm Spring evening of the year. And yet in the middle of this ‘same’ building would be standing not one, not two, but three hierarchs. Much the same, but much different.

Waiting for the bishops to arrive, the same parishioners had a slightly different energy – more flitting about, more excitement than usual. And yet, after the excitement of His Beatitude’s entrance with the blast of the bells, the dual deacons dishing out incense, the veneration of the venerable images, and the Metropolitan claiming his kathedra, this excitable energy distilled itself into a broader, more heightened normal.

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Spruce Island and Alaska - 03/22/19

Join your fellow Orthodox believers in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of St. Herman of Alaska’s glorification and the 50th Anniversary of the OCA’s autocephaly in 2020. There will be weekly trips to Alaska over the summer of 2020 sponsored by each of the dioceses of the OCA. The Diocese of the West will sponsor their trip July 8-14, 2020. This will be a special trip for all Orthodox believers. Sign up early and reserve your space. Final cost to be determined.

Core package includes:

*          7 days/6 nights accommodation

*          Round trip air fare to Kodiak from Anchorage

*          Excursion to Spruce Island

*          Touring and sightseeing as listed in itinerary

For terms and conditions, passports, visas, baggage fees, air, additional taxes and travel insurance information visit email 713-688-6793.

Download the flyer here.



To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Diocese of the West

Dearly beloved,

Each year, we are given ample “warning” that Great Lent is approaching. The Church, for weeks, begins to move our minds to the effort to which we are called. And yet we constantly seem surprised that it is here! Great Lent is so easily understood as seven weeks of “following rules.” Which foods we can eat, how often to come to services, how often to come to confession, which books are better to read? The opposite temptation is to look at our Lenten effort as a bunch of “negatives.” Which foods are we not supposed to eat, what am I supposed to “give up” as my discipline?

But the warning lights that have been flashing in the Church for more than a month now teach us something different. We begin with Zacchaeus, hear about the Publican and Pharisee and the Prodigal Son, are warned about the Great Judgment at the end of time, then are finally reminded by the Lord that if “you cannot forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive yours.” The common lesson is that our faith is the faith of the Other. Zacchaeus sought out the Other, the publican couldn’t even look up to the Other, the Prodigal returned to the Other, the redeemed at the end of time are redeemed because they cared for the Other, and finally we bow down before the Other seeking forgiveness.

The Other, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ, and Great Lent is our journey towards His Passion, Death and Resurrection. But it is also obvious from the lessons the Church has given us that our faith is exercised by seeing the Other in each other. The rules of Great Lent mean nothing if they are not ultimately manifested in the way we treat each other as the Other. St. John Chrysostom asks “Why do you fast from fish and fowl when you devour each other?” Perhaps our greatest Lenten effort isn’t how much we fast, pray, come to church, confess our sins and give to the poor, but rather our greatest effort is to begin all those by seeking the Other, transfiguring our meager efforts into spiritual feats as great as the Saints because they are infused with the presence of Christ Himself and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I ask each of you, my spiritual children, to forgive me as we enter into the holy tithe of the year. I wish for all my faithful parishes and each and every one of you a most fruitful and joyous Fast. May we all rejoice in the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at the end of these most holy days.

With love in Christ,

Archbishop of San Francisco

Winter Feasts and Jubilees - 02/08/19

On December 19th (New Style), the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Parish celebrated Divine Liturgy for St Nicholas Day. This is, of course, always a much revered occasion for any Orthodox parish, but all the more so in our strong Slavic immigrant community. But this St Nicholas Day had an added jubilant atmosphere, as on that very day our longtime Sisterhood President, Tatiana Dimitrievna Diedovitch (known lovingly by all as ‘Tata’), turned 90 years young.

Tata, like so many ethnic Russians whose families fled the country after the Bolshevik revolution, came to America (by way of Brazil) from Harbin, China. She still taps into her Chinese background from time to time, speaking Mandarin with the Chinese inspector from the San Mateo County Environmental Health Services department who comes during our annual Christmas Bazaar to ensure health codes are being enforced (which of, course, they are, under Tata’s watchful eye).

Successful Bay Area Walk for Life - 02/03/19

Another year of praying for an end to abortion and another peaceful, prayerful and successful West Coast Walk for Life! It was a joy to see so many Orthodox Christian clergy, monastics and faithful of so many jurisdictions.  Special thanks to Father Serge Kotar for leading the service to end abortion; to Father Josiah Trenham, with the assistance of Emily Wilkinson, for organizing attendance by Southern Californians; and to Father Aris Metrakos of Holy Trinity Church and the wonderful staff at the Christopher Center for hosting them. We hope all are inspired and energized to incorporate sanctity of life prayer, service and education throughout the coming year.

You can download the PDF for the text of the service to end abortion here. You can also download the Encyclical of Metropolitan Evangelos, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, on the recent New York abortion law here. While this encyclical responds to a recent event, it is also a concise statement on the Church's teaching on abortion. Its issuance is timely and greatly appreciated.

Rocky Mountain Deanery Winter Activities - 01/28/19

Rocky Mountain Deanery Heads North for Meeting and to Honor Bozeman Church

It’s funny how business sometimes gets done in Orthodox churches, and the results are often unexpected. Like most deaneries, the clergy of the Rocky Mountain Deanery of the Diocese of the West like to support their sister church communities by attending one another’s Altar Feasts. Last November, these brother-priests found themselves talking business while enjoying a festive meal at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Pueblo, CO. The question at hand: where and when should they meet for their more official meeting in early 2019? “Let’s go up to Bozeman (Montana) for their St. Anthony parish feast day!”

St. Anthony the Great Church up the northern clime of Montana is a wonderful account of God blessing a small group of Orthodox Christians who persevere, often against the common wisdom of church planting experts and wisdom. Under the pastoral care of Fr. David Morrison, St. Anthony’s recently “graduated” from mission status to that of a parish. As such, this fledgling Orthodox church was transferred from the diocesan-wide Mission Deanery to the Rocky Mountain Deanery. One of the great challenges of Orthodox churches in areas like Montana is tremendous isolation. The closest Orthodox Church to Bozeman is a 2 hour drive. In fact, it has been an ordeal for the Montana clergy to participate in the Deanery’s meetings, requiring an expensive flight or arduous drive down to Colorado. The Colorado members of the Deanery decided it was time to change that pattern; it was their turn to make the effort.

Diocese of the West Video Now Available - 07/30/18

A video highlighting the work going on in the Diocese of the West, prepared for and debuted at the 19th All-American Council held July 23-27 in St. Louis is now available online. If you wish to view the video, click


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