« Clergy pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Athos »

In the sixth week of Great Lent, April 18-22, Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh together with several priests of the diocese made a short pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Athos. The pilgrims stayed at the Monastery of St Panteleimon, now splendidly restored after years of decline, and prayed at the services with the brethren of the monastery. 

On Wednesday Vladyka and the accompanying clergy concelebrated the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which was headed by Archbishop Theophylact of Piatigorsk and Cherkessk. Afterwards they visited the mill where St Silouan the Athonite performed his obedience for many years. 

The next day was devoted to visiting some of the other monasteries and sketes. As this year is the thousandth anniversary of the presence of Russian monks on the Holy Mountain it was appropriate to pray at the two other former great centres of Russian monasticism, the skete of St Andrew and the skete of the Prophet Elijah. The pilgrims also venerated some of the most famous wonderworking icons of the Mother of God: Portaitissa (the Gatekeeper) at Iviron; Pantanassa (Ruler of All) at Vatopedi, where they also venerated the Girdle of the Mother of God; and Skoroposlushnitsa (She who is quick to hear) at Docheiariou. 
Reflecting on the short but intense pilgrimage, Vladyka underlined the need for priests to have some together away from the demanding routine of services and pastoral work in order to pray quietly and also to get to know one another better.