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646[orthodox-synod] Men in Blcak a Reality Check

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  • Timothy Tadros
    Aug 31, 1999
      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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