SYOSSET, NY [OCA]
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, together with Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Eric Tosi, OCA Secretary; and Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, met recently with the Rev. Peter J. West, a Roman Catholic priest and Vice President for Missions of Human Life International, who oversees the “From Ocean to Ocean” Pilgrimage to encourage and promote ongoing prayer and awareness of the Sanctity of Life.
Metropolitan Tikhon offered his support to the project, noting that OCA parishes interested in arranging a visit of the icon or to participate in related events are encouraged to contact Missions for Human Life International (http://www.hli.org/about/mission), with which they may make arrangements directly.
“From Ocean to Ocean” aims at encouraging the faithful to offer prayers to the Mother of God for human life and for an end to abortion. It also serves as a public symbol of support by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians for the cause of human life. The project has a very extensive web-site in English http://www.fromoceantoocean.org/ as well as web sites in eight other languages, including Russian.
The program was initiated by an Orthodox Christian pro-life demographer from Moscow, Dr. Igor Beloborodov. (See http://demographia.ru/). Having organized numerous pro-life rallies in Moscow and in other Russians venues, he decided to travel by car from Vladivostok, Russia to Fatima, Portugal, with a copy of the Czestachowa Icon of the Mother of God, which for centuries has been revered by Orthodox Christians and Catholics alike. He then contacted Ewa H. Kowalewska of Human Life International – Poland, and the two collaborated on forming a multi-national organizing committee which met in Czestachowa, Poland. The project has exceeded everyone’s expectations—at the present time, the icon has completed its trip from Vladivostok to Portugal, traveling 65,000 kilometers through 24 countries.
Due to the unprecedented success of this effort to promote human life, it was decided to bring the icon and program to the US and Mexico, and possibly Latin America.
The icon will begin its US journey in Maryland on August 20, 2013 and continue on to Mexico on November 1, 2014, most likely from Phoenix, AZ. As in Europe, it will be carried by van from church to church in the US during that 14-month period. The nature of the services will be generally decided by the host parishes, within the restraints imposed by the schedule. However, the prime object will be pray to the Mother of God for human life and the end of abortion. Local pastors will be provided with an excellent opportunity to speak about the importance of human life to their parishioners.
Among those endorsing the program is His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev] of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Numerous internet links offer accounts of the icon’s visit across Europe, including the reception of the icon at the London cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at http://www.fromoceantoocean.org/node/365 and at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Bialystok, Poland at http://www.fromoceantoocean.org/node/108