Enthronement of His Grace, Bishop Alejo (2009-01-18)

Archbishop Seraphim : Report
Enthronement of His Grace,
the Right Reverend Alejo (Pacheco-Vera)
as Bishop of Mexico City,
and the Diocese of the United States of Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico
18 January, 2009

During the week of 14-21 January, most of the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops travelled to Mexico City for the purpose of participating in the Enthronement of His Grace, Alejo (Pacheco-Vera) to be the Bishop of Mexico City and the Diocese of the United States of Mexico. This enthronement, accomplished by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, at the end of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, 18 January, 2009 in the Cathedral of the Ascension of Christ in Mexico City (adjacent to the aeroport), established the Exarchate of Mexico as a full diocese of The Orthodox Church in America. This is a major step for this exarchate, which has existed as an Auxiliary Episcopate under the Metropolitan for more than 30 years. Bishop Alejo is now no longer an Auxuliary Bishop, but a Diocesan (ruling) Bishop. The enthronement was particularly moving, in that His Eminence, Dmitri, Archbishop of Dallas and the South was a major participant on this occasion. It was he who, for 50 years now, has been regularly visiting Mexico, and encouraging and supporting the development of the Church there. The cathedral was very full on this day. The singing was very strong, and the bishops made their attempts to use Spanish in the Liturgy. Although there were (very exceptionally for this time of year) some days with rain, Sunday was warm and sunny. The whole event was filled with joy and warm emotion. Also present for the enthronement itself, at the request of Bishop Alejo, was our Chancellor, the Archpriest Dennis Pihach.

During the week that most of the bishops were present in Mexico City, there were naturally some opportunities to see important places in and near this city of 20 million inhabitants. These included the Metropolitan Cathedral in the main square, the Basilica of the Mother of God of Guadelupe, and the Aztec Pyramids. I was the only one of the bishops who had been in Mexico City before (last year in May). We also visited the Antiochian Metropolitan Antonio (Chedraui) in his home on the occasion of his 77th birthday. Every day, also, the bishops met in synodal sessions. We discussed, primarily, the background factors that are leading towards a Strategic Plan (as expected by the Church at this time). We also dealt with some other pressing matters. Resulting from these deliberations, I came to the end of about 19 years of serving as Secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops. His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania was given the responsibility, beginning 14 January. There are various photos available on the web-sites of the OCA, and of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania.

On the last day of my own visit, together with Bishop Alejo, I visited two missions in the northern part of the city. Both the Mission of the Holy Trinity, and the Mission of the Holy Cross are the first churches of any sort in their areas. In one case, there are already about 300 families adhering to the mission, and in both cases, the neighbourhoods are very poor. Even so, the faithful parishioners are pressing on steadily with building and improving their facilities. In both missions, there were many of the faithful present to welcome us warmly (in each mission there were many children). Included in this visit was an opportunity for the Missionary Hieromonk Seraphim to show me a telephone-recorded-video of recent services in villages in the State of Vera Cruz (True Cross), where also hundreds of poor villagers are part of the missionary endeavours. It was clear that there are many practical needs that we Canadians can help to meet without great costs. Please contact our Chancellor, Archpriest Dennis Pihach to organise any financial, and/or practical support you may wish to offer. Besides money to help in the purchasing of construction materials, ecclesiastical articles of all sorts are very useful, including icons, of course. Here, more than ever, we Canadians can be of support to a diocese which has many similarities to our own.

I commend to your loving prayers the now-maturing Diocese of Mexico, the fruit of the missionary labours of Archbishop Dmitri, the reposed Bishop José, Bishop Alejo, and the priests, deacons, and monks who are labouring with love in this mission-field.