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Letter from Antonina Kemilev Dunn

Antonina Kemilev Dunn
Toronto Ontario


Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada


Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada

Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada

In the days after the Feast of the Protection of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever- Virgin Mary, I greet You my Master, Your Metropolitan Beatitude Jonah, and also the Most Holy Hierarchs of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America and Father Alexander. On this day we sing to Her: “Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, apostles and prophets rejoice together, Since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God.”

The writer of this letter is Antonina Kemilev Dunn, a graduate of the St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York (M. Div. 1984). At St. Vladimir’s I met His Eminence, Vladyka Seraphim in January 1981. During this period I have met some of you: Bishop Benjamin and Bishop Melchisedek, and now, as well as His Beatitude Jonah, our current Metropolitan. We all were students and spiritual children of some of the greatest Orthodox Theologians in the late 20th century. As all of you, I have been serving the Orthodox community (in Toronto since 1973) by teaching, writing and other community involvement, and care about Orthodoxy in general and particular about the OCA.

The purpose of this letter is twofold:
1) To express my love and support for His Eminence Archbishop Seraphim;
2) To express my concerns for His Eminence Archbishop Seraphim and especially about the way he has been treated. He has been accused of allegations which have not been proven in the court of law.

I have maintained since 1981 contact with Archbishop Seraphim throughout all years by prayer, letters and meetings when Vladyka visited Toronto. For me, he is a holy man, who has acquired the wisdom of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. He is truly a “staretz”, an elder in our contemporary Orthodox Church. All the time, he shows love for God, love for people, and that is expressed mostly in his inclusiveness of everyone. For example, he will always show the same love for the new immigrants, as well as to the old immigrants. He will deal with the same love also towards the seekers in the Orthodox faith. Vladyka Seraphim deals with people with grace and love. I have personally witnessed these acts throughout my close to 20 years as a teacher of religious education at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Toronto, and a member of the parish council for over 14 years. The children, students, teachers, and altar servers at Christ the Saviour Cathedral enjoyed His visits to our parish. The laity love his Eminence Archbishop Seraphim, his Sermons, and writings. They appreciate his interest in each person, his guidance and words.

I believe each parish community in the Canadian Archdiocese has experienced the same joy when Archbishop Seraphim visits. He is deeply loved by the elderly and the young, by established Canadians and by newly arrived immigrants; by cradle Orthodox and by inquirers in the Faith. People freely express their love and support for Vlaldyka Seraphim, and are ready to wait for the legal process to take place and to vindicate him from any allegations.

It has been almost one year since Vladyka Seraphim was suspended on allegations which still have to be proven in the court of law. It is clear that the due process could be lengthy in time. In reality, during this period there has been an absence of clear and effective communication from the Holy Synod regarding Archbishop Seraphim. His name and information was removed from the website of the OCA as well as from the Archdiocese of Canada without explanation such as “suspended” or “currently under investigation”. The clergy were forbidden to respond to any inquiries of the laity about Vladyka Seraphim. Efforts by individuals to help raise funds for the legal defence of His Eminence Seraphim were made difficult and were loudly distinguished from the activities of the Church. His three decades of dedicated work to Orthodox Church and people in North America was deleted with a click of a mouse...

The Special Investigation Committee was established to investigate Archbishop Seraphim. There has been no report on the progress of their work; it is even hard to locate its posting on the website of OCA. In the world of the internet one can easily read on other/ various Orthodox websites that two of the members of this commission have resigned. What were the reasons for their resignation? Were they replaced? Is the Commission still functioning? What are their findings? ... Letters of individuals in support of Vladyka Seraphim addressed to the Holy Synod of the OCA have not been answered.

Recently I met Father David Belden (a classmate of Vladyka who lives nearby). He left the OCA in late 1980 and joined a non-canonical Orthodox jurisdiction somewhere. He told me that he was asked by the Holy Synod of the OCA for information about the case, as well as to evaluate the current proceedings. I find it strange that he was approached. It is true that a Commission should try to consult anyone who might know something useful, but why ask such a person to evaluate the proceedings?

These actions, delays and lack of communication, send a confusing message to the members of the Church and to the community / world at large: “the Holy Synod of the OCA has already judged and condemned His Eminence Seraphim.” I am concerned that such actions (unclear message) or any passive response will only allow ill informed perceptions to linger and spread, thus creating a distorted reality of not only the current situation with Archbishop
Seraphim, in addition to that of the Orthodox Faith, Church and the leadership of the OCA and it interferes with a fair investigation by both the Commission and the Court.

The Holy Fathers of the various Ecumenical Councils are celebrated throughout the Liturgical calendar. They fought false opinions and heresies, clarified the Orthodox Teachings, instructing the faithful. At His consecration each Bishop promises to be a protector of the true Faith, to dispel false opinions, to exert great efforts towards the strengthening of Church discipline. In these difficult times both for the OCA and Archbishop Seraphim, I ask humbly for Your forgiveness and prayers, and pray for You, My Master, and Holy Hierarchs. On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the defence and assistance of the Queen of Heaven: “Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and venerating the Feast of your Protection, we magnify you.”

Humbly asking for Your forgiveness and blessings, I remain Yours in Christ,
Antonina Kemilev Dunn

cc. Investigation Commissio
Mr. J. Gindin 3