As of April 2020, Father Silouan has returned from service in the Philippines.
I arrived in the USA early this March on what was meant to be a two-week visit to bury my father. But by the time my return date approached, the airline had canceled my flight — and in short order practically all transpacific flights were suspended and the Philippines went on lockdown. Since I could not return, I have been staying with friends in Washington State to wait out the quarantine. I had hopes of returning to the Philippines in time to celebrate Pascha in Santa Maria. But our state’s Stay At Home order is now extended until the end of April, and in any case there will be no flights to the Philippines for the foreseeable future.
After about two months away from my parish in Mindanao, and since I must certainly be here in the US for some time to come, I have had a conversation with Metropolitan Hilarion, under whose omophor I have been serving in the Philippines. He has blessed me to make my move to the US permanent, and has released me to His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America.
In a way it is not a surprise that I would be back in the US, though this is a year or two earlier than I had envisioned. I went alone to the Philippines beginning in 2013; when the mission began to prosper and multiply, I gratefully worked alongside visiting Russian clergy. Since the mission has gained official recognition, and has become a diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, I have been grateful to be joined by many Orthodox Filipino leaders.
Today the Diocese of the Philippines is served by over a dozen clergy, more than half of whom are Filipinos, under the archpastoral care of Metropolitan Pavel, Bishop of Manila. The thirty parishes and communities of the diocese are linked by a charitable sisterhood, and leadership development programs that are equipping leaders. Translation tasks are being carried out by Filipinos. So by God’s providence I am no longer very central to the mission in the Philippines, and the work is continuing in my absence.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your generous support for the mission! You have literally made this miracle possible, and I pray God will reward you abundantly! Every month, we have been receiving your tax-deductible donation for the mission at Saint John of San Francisco Orthodox Church. This initially was the budget for my own travel and living expenses; lately as more clergy have been ordained, my travel expenses have decreased and your monthly gift has been used increasingly for projects and for charitable relief. Now that I am coming home, it is time to ask you how you would like to proceed with your monthly giving to the mission.
I am to be assigned to a parish in Washington State, and the Philippine Mission bank account will now be managed by the treasurer of Saint John Orthodox Church in Kennewick, Washington; all donations will continue to be forwarded to the Philippine Diocese for use in charitable relief, building projects, and clergy support.
May I ask to hear from you regarding your monthly gift?
If you intend to continue to partner in the work in the Philippines, then glory to God! I will put you in touch with Father David Grubbs, head of the Philippine Diocese’s Department of Charity and Social Ministries, and Father Cornily (Molev), the secretary of the diocese and rector of the parish in Davao City. They will continue putting these donations to work for the poorest members of our mission communities.
But I am no longer in the Philippines, and it would not be right to continue receiving your donations for that purpose without consulting you. You will be able to update or end your monthly giving at any time by signing into your account at PayPal.com — or just let me know what you’d like to do, and I can update or cancel your monthly gift from here.
All our present and past mission partners are in my commemoration list, and you will all always be commemorated on the altar whenever I serve the Divine Liturgy.
I will always continue to be a friend and active supporter of the growing Orthodox Church in the Philippines, and I hope you will as well. If I can answer any questions or help or pray for you in any way, please feel free to contact me at any time.
I am looking forward to what God has in store, both here and in the Philippines!
Priest Silouan Thompson