Archpastoral Letter of The Right Reverend DANIEL
to Christ’s Holy Flock in the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest
on the eve of his Enthronement
Friday, September 30, 2022
Hieromartyr Gregory, Illuminator of Armenia
Beloved Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Tomorrow morning, I will formally take my place on the cathedra of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the mother church of our diocese. The cathedra, a word which means chair and from which the word cathedral is derived, is a symbol of the bishop’s authority and of his role of leading, teaching, governing, and guiding the diocese which has been entrusted to his care. In addition to these functions of the bishop, there are many other titles, words, and images which reflect his role and his relationship with his diocese.
As Orthodox Christians, we maintain and uphold the ancient tradition of the Church and understand the importance that the office and the role of bishop has in the Church’s life and mission. The bishop is shepherd, teacher, high priest, bearer of the apostolic grace, overseer, chief pastor, father, celebrant, steward, administrator, unifier, and servant. These are but some of the roles ascribed to the bishop in his exercise of the archpastoral ministry. The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America (Article VIII, Section 2) also mentions some of these very same roles and functions. In reading through and reflecting upon the various roles of the bishop, I recognize that my most important and highest calling as your bishop is to reflect the image of Christ the Servant, the one who came “not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). It is clear to me that my ministry as your bishop is to be founded and based upon the image of Christ the Servant.
And how was Christ a servant? The Apostle Paul provides us with the foundational insight into the nature of Christ’s servanthood:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
Our Lord and Savior was the servant who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Can I serve in this way? Is any one of us capable to such service? Can anyone imitate this type of servanthood? Yes, but only by God’s grace and mercy and strength. In aspiring to serve in the image of Christ, I am keenly aware of my faults and weaknesses. I am aware that I cannot serve without your assistance and support. I will need your help if I am to serve you and all the clergy and faithful of our diocese in the image of Christ.
And so, as I enter formally upon my service as your bishop, I ask each one of the clergy, monastics, and faithful of our diocese for the support of your prayers. Our work is a common work. Let us, as Saint Paul exhorts, “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
May the Most Holy Theotokos, invoked in her Tikhvin icon, protect us and intercede for us. May Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America, the Hieromartyr John of Chicago, Saint Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre, and all the saints who have served in this diocese before us, both known and unknown to us, pray for us all.
With love in Christ,
Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest