Thanks for sharing your experience!
From: Timothy Tadros <tadros@...
Date: Tuesday, August 31, 1999 6:45 PM
Subject: [orthodox-synod] Men in Blcak a Reality Check
>My priest Fr. Elias Warnke recounted an incident which happened to him
>this past weekend.
> Reader Timothy Tadros
> I thought I would relay this story, partly for humor value and
>partly to display how little respect for clergy exists. Last weekend
>I was invited to bring the Icon of St. Nicholas to our
>parish in London Canada for the Fortieth Anniversary of their temple
>building. Since I was already in Detroit for the Feast of the Dormition
>at our cathedral there it was just a short two hour drive into Canada. I
>should state that I have traveled with the Icon to Canada before,
> but only by air, and have never had any problem at all.
> I drove through the tunnel from Detroit to Windsor, at the guard
>booth I was asked my citizenship (USA) and my reason for travel, which I
> stated as: Visiting our parish in London for it's anniversary and would
>only be there for two days. The guard asked why I would want to do that
>and I informed him I was a priest. After a few minutes he told me to
>pull into the immigration area. Once there I was instructed by another
>guard to unlock my doors and trunk and to step to the side while they
>searched my car. Five guards tore my car and luggage apart asking
>questions about everything. What intrigued them the most was the
>packets of cotton with myrrh that I was bringing to the parish. I
>informed them that the cotton was soaked with holy oil and was a gift
>to the people I was to visit. The I was asked why I had so many
>pictures of "this man". I informed them that they were pictures of the
>Icon of the saint, Saint Nicholas.
> I noticed no recognition of that name or the fact that these were
>religious items. Then they opened my suitcase with the vestments in them
>and they all gathered around poking and picking at them. The person
> who seemed to be in charged asked, "What's this stuff for?. I told her
> that they were my vestments and were used for serving Divine Liturgy,
>or mass, if they understood that better. With a look of disbelief on
>her face she said, "But what are they for?". I told her again they are
>part of the religious practice of which I am a priest. This continued
>for about forty five minutes until one of them began to take the case
>from the Icon. At that I protested that they should not touch it, I
>would be happy to show it to them, but it would be a violation of my
>faith for them to touch it. The woman in charge saw that I was not going
>to budge on this and she said for me to remove the case. Upon removing
>the case she and two others witnessed the Icon, which was streaming.
>They said nothing for a few seconds and finally the woman said; "Thank
>you." I put the Icon back into the case. The woman asked me to accompany
>her to a nearby bench, there she asked if I had ever been to Canada
>before. I said yes, many times. She asked if I had ever been searched
>before. I said no. She then said I would have to go to the
>administration office. I asked if I could lock my car to protect the
>Icon and she agreed.
> In the office a woman began to interrogate me for about half and hour.
>She started by saying that they had found many strange things in my car
>and were concerned about what I really was going to do in Canada. I told
> her I was just a priest and asked why that was so strange. She replied:
>"Well its because you are dressed so weird.?" At this I must admit I
> lost a little of my composure and said that I was a priest and
>dressed as one, and certainly did not appreciate her calling my attire
>weird. Her comment was that she had seen priests before and none of them
> looked like me. At that point I asked what exactly they wanted of me
> and if I am not welcome in her country, then since I have violated no
>law, I should either be admitted or allowed to leave, but I would no
>longer subject myself and my faith to her observations or opinions. She
>said that in her opinion I was entering Canada for the purpose of making
>money. I told her that I was not. She said: "Your going to preach in
>Canada and that was work" I told her that I was not going to preach
>and if I did not receive compensation for serving in a religious service
>it could not bee seen as work. Once again in a somewhat loader voice I
>told her either to allow me to pass or return to the US, but I was done
>talking to her and wanted to see a supervisor.
>Just then a man walked in, from the look on the girls face he was a
>supervisor. He looked at me and smiled saying; "Hello Father." He
>turned to the girl and said; "Is there a problem?" She remarked; "This
>man is trying to enter Canada for the purpose of working without a
>permit." He looked at me and said; " Is this true Father?" I said, "As
>I told the man at the gate, I am going to celebrate the anniversary of
>our temple in London and would be returning to the US tomorrow." He
>smiled again and took the piece of paper from the girl's hand and
>stamped it, much to her dismay, handed it to me and said; "Enjoy your
>stay in Canada Father."
>I returned to my car amid the stares and smirks of the guards and went
>on my way. I am sure this was an incident inspired by the evil one's
>minions to detour the Icon from coming to the faithful in London, but
>the reaction of the guards made me feel as if being a Christian and a
>priest made me a stranger in a strange land. I guess I have to keep in
>mind this is the country that forced an Orthodox Church to allow a dog
>inside the temple, fining the priest.
> In Christ
> Fr. Elias
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