Visit of Metropolitan Elijah and Orthodox Believers from Finland

Over the past few days, we have had the great joy of hosting a group of about thirty young Orthodox Christians from distant Finland at our monasteries. These Christ-loving souls were led by His Eminence Metropolitan Elijah of Oulu from the Church of Finland. Accompanying him were Hierodeacon and diocesan secretary Mr. Artturi Hirvonen and church music teacher and choir director, Protopsaltis Mr. Markus Haenninen, and his wife Lydia Cederstrom-Haenninen, who is an educator in the Tampere parish. The young pilgrims came from various parts of the Metropolitan’s diocese, located in the northern part of Finland. They chose the Bigorski Monastery to familiarize themselves with the monastic way of life. During their stay, they had the opportunity to learn about the mission and daily life of our brotherhood, recognizing the authentic, active Orthodox spirit of our Elder and Abbot, Bishop Partenij, and the monastic communities under his spiritual guidance.

The meeting of the group with our beloved Elder was particularly impressive and touching. They discussed the history of the monastery and monastic life with him. In fact, their desire to meet and speak with him was the main reason they traveled so far. Responding with parental love to their good wish, the Elder spoke to them from the heart about the grace-filled life in Christ, sharing examples from his personal experience. He also conveyed beautiful insights and experiences about monastic living. The young visitors listened attentively, asking questions and visibly moved by his warm and wise words.

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The Autonomous Church of Finland has approximately 56,000 Orthodox Christians. It is composed of three dioceses, led by Archbishop Leo. Notably, the Church is united despite its members speaking different languages, with services conducted in various languages including Finnish, Russian, Swedish, Greek, Romanian, and Skolt Sámi. Last summer, the Church of Finland celebrated 100 years since receiving the Tomos of autonomy from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1923. The celebration was attended by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself.