Metropolitan Jonah, OCA Guests of Georgian Orthodox Church

October 12, 2009

TBILISI, GEORGIA [OCA Communications] — On Sunday evening, October 11, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah left New York for a week-long visit to the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Jonah’s first visit to the Church of Georgia as the guest of His Holiness, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia of All Georgia, coincides with one of the Georgian Church’s most important holy days, the Feast of the Commemoration of the Appearance of the Pillar above the Robe of the Lord, celebrated on October 14.

Metropolitan Jonah, OCA guests of the Orthodox Church of GeorgiaMetropolitan Jonah will also conduct formal discussions with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia. A major issue of these talks will concern pastoral care for the growing number of Georgian Orthodox immigrants in North America, many of whom are attending parishes of the Orthodox Church in America.

Accompanying Metropolitan are the Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, OCA Chancellor; the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations; the Rev. Alexander Tandilashvili; and Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov. Joining the New York delegation from Moscow will be Archimandrite Zacchaeus [Wood], Representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Patriarchate of Moscow.

According to ancient tradition, Christianity in what is now Georgia traces its roots to the evangelistic efforts of the Apostle Andrew. Saint Nino, Enlightener of Georgia and Equal to the Apostles, spearheaded more extensive missionary work in the region in the early 4th century. The Georgian Church was originally part of the ancient see of Antioch, which granted it autocephaly in 466 AD. Christian culture flourished for centuries in the region, and it remains especially known for its large and beautiful monasteries. With annexation of the Eastern Georgian kingdom by the Russian Empire in the early 19th century, the autocephaly of the Patriarchate of Georgia was abolished in 1811, and the Georgian Church was thereafter governed by an exarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. The last Exarch of Georgia in 1915-17 was His Eminence, Metropolitan Platon [Rozhdestvensky], who served as Archbishop of North America from 1907 until 1914 and as Metropolitan of All America and Canada from 1922 until his death in 1934. With Russia in the midst of revolutionary turmoil in 1917, the Church of Georgia once again declared its autocephaly and the patriarchate was reestablished.

Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II has been the Primate of the Georgian Church since 1977. He skillfully guided the Church in Georgia during difficult times under the Soviet Regime. With Georgia’s emergence as an independent nation since the fall of communism, he is perhaps the country’s most visible and respected leader. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia has tirelessly guided efforts for stability and peace throughout the Caucasus while shepherding the Georgian Church in its growth and expansion following decades of oppression under totalitarian rule.

As guest of the Orthodox Church in America, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia visited the US on several occasions. His last visit occurred in 1998.

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