TO THE MOST PIOUS CLERGY AND GOD-LOVING FLOCK OF THE PHILLIPINO – VIETNAMESE DIOCESE.
“… In the manger of the poor, the Only Begotten Son is seen lying down and swaddled in swaddling clothes, the Lord of glory…”.
Beloved of the Lord, servants of the altar of the Lord, dear brothers and sisters! More than 2000 years have passed since the Nativity of Christ, but the Holy Church does not cease to proclaim to the world about the coming of the Savior into the world!The star of Bethlehem is shining again over the world, announcing the saving event of the Incarnation of God. Celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we not only remember a historical event of incomparable importance, but also experience a deeply personal celebration for everyone.The Holy Gospel says that on the holy night of Christmas an Angel appeared from heaven and said to people: “I declare to you great joy, which will be to all people: for today a Savior has been born to you in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord; and here is a sign for you: you will find a baby in a cradle, lying in a manger” (Luke 2: 10-12). The Angel spoke of great joy: God appeared in the flesh – He came to us to show the way to heaven. How not to rejoice in it? The Holy Church calls us to this joy.The Son of God brought grace-filled peace to the earth, and every one can perceive it through faith and repentance. St. Theophan the Recluse teaches us that “the Peace of God is the peace which God made with people by sending His Son, to be reconciled to us; as well as the peace that He is sending to His faithful as the Savior said: “peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” (John 14, 27).” And this gift, peace of God, abides with us not only in the earthly life, but it will continue in eternity. The peace proclaimed by the Angels on the night of the Nativity of Christ is given to us as the greatest heavenly treasure and blessing.My dear ones, for the past two years we have been experiencing a test that has befallen the whole world. The devastating pandemic has touched the lives of many people, it has changed the usual way of our lives. Today we live in unusual conditions, we visit our temples not as it was before. Unfortunately, during all this time, due to the current restrictions, I have not been able to visit you and, as it was before, perform joint services, visit our communities, pray with the flock entrusted to me by the Lord. But I want to assure all of you that every day I offer my prayers for every community, for every clergyman, for the peace and well-being of our countries. As children of the Church, we pray to the Lord daily and offer prayer petitions for the speedy cessation of the harmful plague and the healing of the suffering. Believers perceive events happening in the world as God’s last warning for the sins of the human race. In this period of universal trial, I call on all of you, my dear fathers, dear brothers and sisters, to offer your prayers with gratitude for those who, during this difficult period, show true Christian love for their neighbors, first of all for doctors and medical workers who do their work according to the word of the gospel, “There is no more love, if anyone gives his soul for his friends” (John 15:13).
Dear pastors, pious laity! With gratitude to God, let us enter the coming new year, let us pray to the God-Child Christ that the spirit of His holy love may settle in our hearts, again and again reviving them to a new life of grace. May our hearts become mangers ready to receive Christ, and may our good deeds become precious gifts that we are always ready to bring to Him. And may all those who need it feel our love and receive our help during these Christmas days. I cordially congratulate all of you, beloved brothers and sisters, on the blessed feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year, I call upon you the blessing of God and the generous mercies of the Blessed Child of Christ, born of the Ever-Virgin Mary!
By the Grace of God,
PAVEL, METROPOLITAN OF MANILA AND HANOI
On January 6, 2022, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas Eve), Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi celebrated the Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great in the church in honor of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos of Khanty-Mansiysk. During the Liturgy, Metropolitan Pavel ordained deacon Ambrose Sumagaysay, a cleric of the Philippine—Vietnamese diocese, to the rank of priest. At the end of the service, the troparion and the kontakion of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ were sung in front of the Christmas Candle marking the Star of Bethlehem. Then Metropolitan Pavel congratulated the flock on the upcoming holiday: “Dear fathers, brothers and sisters! allow me from the heart to congratulate everyone on Christmas! Today we have already come quite close to this great holiday! There was time for each of us during the Christmas fast to prepare for the holiday, and the main thing is to prepare our soul, cleanse it from sins, change it for the better. Going through the field of the Christmas Fast, we had to rethink, reassess our life values, look at ourselves from the inside and ask: am I doing everything in order to be saved? To become cleaner and celebrate Christmas with dignity is the best gift for this holiday. God grant that His mercy does not leave each of us, because we hope for it. For the Lord loved the world so much that He sent His Son to live with men, to show us the way of salvation. The God-Man, the Son of God, is born, and today we celebrate the day of the coming of Christ the Savior into the world, His Holy Christmas! Thank you all, my dear ones, for the common prayers, congratulations on the holiday, may the mercy and love of God spread to each of us and cover our infirmities, our sins and bring us closer to Him! I would especially like to congratulate the cleric of the Philippine—Vietnamese diocese, Father Ambrose, who took holy orders in this holy church! This is a historic event for him and for us too. It would seem: where is the Philippines and where is Khanty-Mansiysk, but for God everything is close, everything is possible. I would like to ask you to pray for Father Ambrose, so that the Lord will strengthen him in his ministry, and he will pray for us, for the temple in which he received the grace of the priesthood! May God’s blessing be with us all. Amen!” At the end of the Service, Metropolitan Pavel consecrated the Nativity Scene.
Ambrose Sumagaysay was born in the city of Arakan, in a Catholic family and attended the Catholic Church since childhood. Currently works as a carpenter, builder. He married a parishioner of the Aglipai Church (Philippine Independent Church) and became a parishioner of this church. He learned about Orthodoxy after attending seminars on catechesis by Priest Stanislav Rasputin. Subsequently, he was baptized by Priest Kirill Shkarbul in 2015. Since that time, he became the headman of the parish in the village of Little Baguio, at the same time engaged in the construction of the church of St. Helena in this village. The parishioners of this village are former Aglipayans who have converted to Orthodoxy over the past 5 years. In 2020, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi ordained Ambrose Sumagaysay to the rank of deacon.
On January 2, 2022, the Sunday before Christmas, of the Holy Fathers, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Resurrection Cathedral in Khanty-Mansiysk. His Eminence was co-served by the clergy of the Cathedral and the clergy of the Philippine-Vietnamese Diocese: Hierodeacon John (Gondayao), Deacon Nicholas Salgado, Deacon Ambrose Sumagaysay. During the Liturgy, Metropolitan Pavel ordained Deacon Nicholas Salgado to the rank of priest. At the end of the service, Vladyka addressed the audience: “Dear brothers and sisters, allow me from my heart to congratulate everyone on the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! There is no greater glory than to glorify our Heavenly Creator together, and I would like us to always remember that joint prayer at the Divine Liturgy is a special service, higher than which there is no on earth, because during it a person is united with God. And each such service reminds us that the Lord suffered and rose again for the sake of our salvation. When we unite with God, we ask him for forgiveness of our sins committed daily, and some of them have taken root so deeply that we can no longer live without them. Passing the days of the Christmas fast, I would like to wish all of us that everyone would try to reconsider their lives, look at themselves, ask: am I doing everything right for my soul, and at least improve in some way, leave at least something sinful. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by works and we must apply them for the salvation of our soul, the correction of our sinful life. Help us, Lord! May God grant us to pass these remaining days before the Birth of Christ in repentance and correction. God bless everyone! Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you to meet with dignity the greatest holiday — the beginning of the salvation of the human race, the coming of Christ the Savior into the world!”
On January 1, 2022, on the eve of the Sunday before Christmas, of the Holy Fathers, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi held an All-Night Vigil in the Resurrection Cathedral of Khanty-Mansiysk. His Eminence was co-served by the clergy of the cathedral and the clergy of the Philippine–Vietnamese Diocese, Hierodeacon John (Gondayao), Deacon Nicholas Salgado, Deacon Ambrose Sumagaysay.
On December 31, 2021, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi performed a prayer service for the New Year in the Resurrection Cathedral of Khanty-Mansiysk.
His Eminence was co-served by the clergy of Khanty-Mansiysk and the clergy of the Philippine-Vietnamese Diocese: Hierodeacon John (Gondayao), Deacon Nicholas Salgado, Deacon Ambrose Sumagaysay.
Before the beginning of the service, Metropolitan Pavel addressed the audience:
“Dear fathers, brothers and sisters, allow me to greet you from my heart, with the beginning of the new year of the goodness of the Lord. Our country lives according to this calendar, and today I would like to express my gratitude to the Almighty, our Lord, Who keeps us and peace on the earth, gives us the strength to carry obediences to which the Lord has set us. Regardless of church or state positions, each of us works, glorifying his Heavenly Creator, thanking for every day he has lived. Thank God for everything, for sorrow and for joy, for both are for salvation. And God grant that everything is for the salvation of our souls, that we do everything in order to save our soul. Help us, Lord, to be Your followers, to walk on the saving path, may our Lord bless the year of the Lord’s goodness, into which we are entering, so that the mercy and help of God will help and accompany each of us. We pray to God, Who is peace and all-embracing love, and ask for blessings for the new year.”
A litia for the departed was also performed for the newly deceased Archpriest Nikolai Gundyaev, honorary rector of the Transfiguration Cathedral of St. Petersburg.
At the end , the bishop noted:
“God, give rest to the newly reposed Archpriest Nicholas. Modest and quiet, so you can characterize him. He taught the teachings of the holy fathers to many people at the academy and seminary. And, of course, his preaching was simply unique. When he preached, everyone came out of the altar and listened very attentively, the silence was complete in the cathedral. No one spoke like that. Eternal memory.”
Today, His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi met with deacons Nicholas Salgado and Ambrose Sumagaysay, who arrived from the Philippines, at the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. After prayers at the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh, the Bishop said a parting word to the guests of Russia. After the meeting, the deacons headed to the airport for departure to Khanty-Mansiysk.
TO HIS HOLINESS THE PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA Kirill
YOUR HOLINESS! DEAR OUR PRIMATE AND FATHER! On this momentous and joyful day for all those who love you, on behalf of the clergy and flock of the Khanty–Mansiysk Metropolia, and the Philippine–Vietnamese Diocese entrusted to my care, accept sincere congratulations and heartfelt good wishes on the occasion of your 75th birthday. Your whole life is an amazing example of loyalty to God, the Church, fortitude of spirit, courageous standing for the Orthodox faith, convincing evidence of the all-conquering love of Christ, so visibly manifested in your whole appearance and sacrificial Primatial ministry. Your fatherly concern for the Russian Orthodox Church, for its many-million flock, is a special example of service for us. Your living word that leaves no one indifferent, your care and defense of church unity and canons, your sacrificial service – all this is at the “head of the corner” (Ps. 117:22) of your life. We often hear the words of an ancient preacher: “There is a time for every thing under heaven… a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather stones” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5). The Lord has vouchsafed us to be witnesses and participants in the comprehensive revival of Orthodoxy under your wise Patriarchal leadership. New dioceses have been established, the episcopate of our Church has increased, new churches and monasteries have been opened, the missionary service of the Russian Orthodox Church is developing in distant countries – the Philippines and Vietnam and throughout its historical and canonical space. All this testifies to the mercy and help which the Lord pours out on your Primatial ministry.
Your Holiness! Let me sincerely wish you that the strength, the joy, the love that you give to all of us with your sacrificial and inspired service will increase a hundredfold in you, strengthening your patriarchal feat, possible only with the help and grace of God. Let me wish you that the Lord will strengthen you in health, salvation for the service of the Holy Church and keep you for many and good years.
With filial love for Christ,
Pavel, METROPOLITAN OF KHANTY-MANSIYSK AND SURGUT
October 8, 2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the monastic tonsure of Metropolitan Pavel of Khanty-Mansiysk and Surgut. The monastic tonsure of the priest Pavel Fokin, named in honor of the Monk Pavel Obnorsky, the miracle worker of Komel, was performed on October 8, 1996 in the Epiphany-Anastasian Cathedral of Kostroma by Archbishop Alexander of Kostroma and Galich. We wish the dear Vladyka God’s permanent help, the intercession and protection of the heavenly patron Saint Pavel, health and strength in his episcopal labors in the blessed Yugra land and Philippines!
“I plan to invite Russian Orthodox missionaries to come to the Philippines so that we can find a place where we can build an Orthodox Church. It was built in Manila many years ago by the Russians, in 1922.” – President R. Duterte, October, 3, 2019.