Russian Orthodox leader visits Chicago

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As the co-chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, I am already having the opportunity to meet with many people who are involved in U.S.-Russian relations.

On Tuesday, Feb. 22, I was honored by a visit from Archimandrite Zacchaeus, who is the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States to the Moscow Patriarchate.

Father Zacchaeus was visiting Chicago as part of his tour of U.S. parishes, and he met with me at my Russian Pointe office to discuss plans for Moscow Days, an event that Chicago Sister Cities International is organizing for 2012.

I served tea to Father Zaccheus and the other people who attended the meeting, including Ieva Dilyte and Robert Langliois of Chicago Sister Cities International and Khaled Elkhatib, the Deputy Director of International Relations for the Chicago Mayor’s Office.

Moscow Days is scheduled to be a three-day festival that will include visits from Moscow delegates and business people, as well as a full schedule of cultural performances and concerts that would introduce Russian arts to the people of Chicago.

Religious items, such as crosses and other artifacts, are an important part of the cultural identity of Russians, and they are not very well known by the people of the United States. If we can introduce some of these religious symbols to the residents of Chicago, as well, we will be educating them about Russian history and showing them something beautiful about Russian life.

I was truly touched to receive a visit from someone who is so deeply respected and who is focused on giving to others, helping the community and contributing to the world. I believe this meeting was another milestone for Russian-American relations!