Chicago’s Holy Trinity Cathedral Dean guest of Finnish Orthodox Church
CHICAGO, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — During the last week of February 2016, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and His Eminence, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland, signed an agreement pledging mutual cooperation in five important areas of Church life — including the desire to engage in clergy and monastic exchanges to strengthen the mission and witness of the OCA and the Finnish Church.
As widely reported, Archbishop Leo was a guest of Metropolitan Tikhon at the 19th All-American Council, held in Saint Louis, MO in July 2018, after which the Archbishop and Archpriest Rauno Pietarinen visited Chicago’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral, where they celebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the cathedral’s Priest Alexander Koranda.
“While in Chicago, Archbishop Leo and Father Rauno invited me to visit Finland, and Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky encouraged me to accept the invitation as a part of the 2016 agreement,” said Father Alexander. “I arrived in Helsinki on May 20, 2019, en route to my final destination — the Lapland Parish in the northern city of Rovaniemi.
“I spent the majority of my time in the parish, which maintains five churches served by two priest and two full-time choir directors,” Father Alexander continued. “I was afforded opportunities to visit the elderly and infirm, and even taught a lesson on Orthodox Christianity at a local school. Unlike the Sunday School model with which we are familiar, religious education in Finland for students who are registered as Orthodox Christians occurs during school hours.”
Father Alexander added that it was very beneficial to engage in informative discussions while getting to know the students’ families.
“On Sunday, before returning to Helsinki, I served and delivered the homily at the Divine Liturgy at the parish’s main Church of Saint Andrew,” Father Alexander continued. “On Monday and Tuesday, I was greeted by and met with the Archdiocesan Staff and toured Helsinki’s landmark Uspensky Cathedral and related facilities.”
Father Alexander believes that his visit is a step in “creating strong relationships among the young clergy for the benefit and longevity of relationships between our churches, and I hope to see this continue by hosting Finnish clergy visiting the OCA in the future.
“I want to thank the OCA for allowing me to be a representative for this first clergy exchange, and I look forward to building these relationships and assisting with similar endeavors in the future,” Father Alexander concluded.