But as I've said before, it's almost impossible to define "canonical territory" in any way that puts me more in his than in that of at least half a dozen other bishops. My earliest visit to an Orthodox parish was to the closest geographically, which happened to be in the OCA. Another early visit was to a Ukrainian parish that's also closer than where I currently attend. I used to visit with some regularity a small ROCOR parish that could just about as easily have ended up my permanent home. And once we move to Elkridge, I'll be closest geographically to a parish of the Moscow Patriarchate. Any number of different circumstances could have put me under a different bishop.
So if I'm going to pray for unity, it makes sense to pray for all the bishops in my territory. Here's the list:
- His Grace, Bp. THOMAS (Antiochian)
- His Grace, Bp. JOB (Russian)
- His Beatitude, Met. JONAH (OCA)
- His Eminence, Met. HILARION (ROCOR)
- His Eminence, Abp. ANTONY (Ukrainian)
- His Eminence, Met. EVANGELOS (Greek)
- His Eminence, Met. NICHOLAS (Carpatho-Russian)
- His Grace, Bp. MITROPHAN (Serbian)
I should say something about the order. I list Bp. THOMAS first, because--as I said--he's most precisely my bishop. Holy Cross uses part of Holy Trinity's cemetery and holds picnics there; I'll live so close that I suspect I'll end up visiting services now and then, so it will become something of a second parish home. St. Matthew's is currently the closest parish and will continue to be near the top of the list; there are other OCA parishes close by, and Met. JONAH's position as abbot of St. Tikhon's monastery makes it likely that I will participate in his services with some regularity. I used to visit a ROCOR parish, and there will still be parishes close by; if Holy Trinity takes second place, I ought to be prepared for developing ties between the Moscow and ROCOR parishes. There will continue to be Ukrainian parishes in reasonable proximity, and it seems like visits between Holy Cross and Four Evangelists in Bel Air are common. Greeks are, of course, ubiquitous; and although I haven't had much interaction with Greek parishes so far, I I expect that closer proximity to Baltimore will start to change that. As for the Carpatho-Russian and Serbian bishops, I'm going mostly by location.
I've commented already on my general thoughts about Orthodox unity in America. Although I have no clear sense of how we should get there, or what it should look like, I do think it should be a high priority. As a lowly catechumen, it doesn't seem like there's much I can contribute at this point, but I do plan to pray--for Orthodox Americans as a whole and especially for these bishops.
And on a vaguely related note, I wish those following the Old Calendar a Merry Christmas! May Lent come quickly, when we shall all be together again, and may we one day put this two-calendars nonsense behind us. In the meantime, you enjoy your feast (Christmas), and we'll enjoy ours (Theophany).