Orthodox Church in Canada

Eastern Orthodox Christian faith immigrated to this country along with the Orthodox Eastern Christians who crossed the ocean in search of a prosperous life. The Orthodox Church is relatively new in the cosmopolitan and pluralistic religious landscape of Canada.  It is not a new “cult” New Age or one of the New Religious Movements appeared in the myriad of Canadian religions in the last one hundred years, but has a well-defined, old apostolic and bi-millennial history. There are currently few studies dedicated to this branch of Christianity in Canada and almost nonexistent on the Orthodox missionary work in Canada.

Eastern Orthodox Church in Canada is missionary and offers the Christian Orthodox testimony through the work of its many parishes and monastic settlements in various church jurisdictions. These Churches usually use the liturgical language of the home country, but also English, depending on the context of the service and the origin of the members. An inappropriate understanding of the complexity of the immigration phenomenon, the specificity of the background of each emigrant people and the cultural diversity within the Eastern Church of Canada, makes it perceived most of the time as a fragmented Church, its dogmatic and liturgical unity being completely ignored .

The historical development of the Orthodox Church in Canada demonstrates that its emergence is linked to the phenomenon of the migration of Orthodox Christians from the Old World to the North American continent and the fulfilment of their spiritual needs. The hierarchy of the Church in every Orthodox overseas country responded to the needs and demands of their spiritual sons, sending priests and hierarchs for missionary work. This has given birth to Orthodox Churches in Canada with their ethno-centric character. The names of the Orthodox churches in Canada illustrate this: Greek-Orthodox, Russian-Orthodox, Romanian-Orthodox, Serbian-Orthodox, etc. The phenomenon of “canadization” and adoption of Canadian language and customs has gradually become a reality with the passage of time. Although ethno-centrism is often presented as a distinct mark of the Orthodox Church in Canada, it must be said that it has a parallel both in Catholicism in Quebec (ie, unlike the Irish Catholics, South Koreans, Ukrainians, etc.) and in Canadian Protestantism (eg. the Anglican Church of Canada, the Korean Trinity Presbyterian, the Taiwanese Presbyterian, the Chinese United, etc.). If, in terms of their judicial organisation, the Orthodox Churches in Canada are fragmented, in terms of their doctrinal and liturgical unity, they can be said to provide a common witness with a significant presence in the Canadian religious landscape.  The realisation of the judicial unity towards a full testimony of Christ is a goal in normalising and harmonising the various Orthodox church jurisdictions in Canada.

(excerpt of Contemporary christian orthodox mission and witnessing in Canada,  Fr. Nicolae Lapuste)


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