On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and members of the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA met with His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar in Istanbul, Turkey. [See related article.] The meeting is taking place prior to the opening of the sixth annual gathering of the Assembly, which will be held in Chicago, IL September 15-17, 2015.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon made an archpastoral visit to Holy Trinity Church at the parish’s new location in Ashburn, VA on the occasion of the community’s patronal feast day. Metropolitan Tikhon was warmly welcomed by Archpriest Paul Harrilchak and parishioners. After the Divine liturgy, a festal meal was prepared and served by the members of the parish.
Additional information may be found on the parish’s web site.
Archimandrite Sergius and the Brotherhood of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery welcomed pilgrims “from near and far” at the 111th annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage May 22-25, 2015. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, presided at the celebration of the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy in the presence of the Myrrh Streaming Hawaiian Icon of the Iveron Mother of God, which was present throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, May 16, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon presided at the Divine Liturgy marking the 50th anniversary of Archpriest Daniel Donlick’s ordination to the priesthood. The celebration took place at the Monastery Church of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, South Canaan, PA.
Over 30 clergy concelebrated the Divine Liturgy. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, also was present. Also joining Father Daniel, Matushka Dolores and their family for the celebration were numerous former students, parishioners, and friends.
“For almost all of his priestly ministry, Father Daniel served the Saint Tikhon’s Seminary community in one capacity or another, including Academic Dean,” said Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, who was present for the celebration. “He is now almost completely blind, yet he is an example of patience and joy. In 2013 he gave the commencement address at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, during which he told the graduates that they will face many uncertainties in their future lives as servants of Christ. ‘But have no fear. Remember the Lord’s words, I will be with you even unto the close of the age. What a privilege and joy it is to serve the Lord!’”
In thanksgiving and prayerful remembrance, Father Daniel presented a chalice and diskos for use in the monastery’s Saint Nikoloai of Zicha Chapel and a censer to the monastery church. Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, announced the establishmet of a scholarship fund in Father Daniel’s honor.
A 1965 graduate of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, Father Daniel also served as rector of Saint Nicholas Church, Olyphant, PA; Archangel Michael Church, Jermyn, PA; and Holy Trinity Mission—today a well established parish—in Stroudsburg, PA. Among his many other duties, he also served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania.
A festive banquet followed, during which the many attendees offered their personal thanks and expressions of love to Father Daniel on this major milestone in his life and ministry.
On Sunday, May 10, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon spent an evening with parishioners and friends of Saint Barbara Church, Ft. Worth, TX. His visit came at the end of a long weekend of hierarchical services and meetings at Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX.
Archpriest Basil Zebrun, Rector of Saint Barbara Church, and the faithful also were pleased to welcome the following OCA, Diocesan and Deanery clergy: Archimandrite Gerasim, Administrator of the Diocese of the South; Archpriest Marcus Burch, Diocesan Chancellor; Archpriest Thomas Moore, Dean of the Carolinas Deanery; Archpriest John Anderson, Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX; Archpriest Justin Frederick, Saint Maximus Church, Denton, TX; Priest Photius Avant, Saint Sava Church, Plano/Allen, TX; Priest David Bozeman, Saint Nectarios Church, Waxahachie, TX; Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Secretary to the Metropolitan; Deacon Gregory Norris, Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX; and Subdeacon Roman Ostash, Assistant to the Metropolitan.
The evening began at 5:00 p.m. with the arrival of Metropolitan Tikhon, who was greeted in the customary manner with a bouquet of flowers, bread and salt, and the cross while the choir sang “The Angel Cried.” The clergy then retired into the parish library for a meeting with Metropolitan Tikhon, who addressed the priests and deacons as the new diocesan Locum Tenens and answered questions on OCA, diocesan and deanery matters.
Immediately after the clergy meeting, Metropolitan Tikhon blessed the food prepared for the main reception, at which some 115 persons were in attendance—despite the heavy storms that had descended upon the DFW Metroplex. Visitors from neighboring parishes and missions were among the faithful gathered.
During the reception, Metropolitan Tikhon offered words of greeting and fielded questions on a wide variety of topics.
Following the closing prayer and blessing, many attendees stayed for individual, family and group photos with Metropolitan Tikhon.
“A particularly delightful moment was experienced when His Beatitude took time to explain the meaning of the bishop’s walking staff to three very inquisitive children,” said Father Basil. “They seemed intensely fascinated as the Metropolitan revealed to them the secret of traveling with an Episcopal staff, by unscrewing and thus dividing it into three distinct sections!”
The theme for the evening’s banquet was “A Texas Welcome.” The servers, kitchen crew, greeters and organizers made everyone feel welcome. The western theme decorations, from cowboy boot toothpick holders to the saddle, bluebonnet apron and Lone Star floral arrangements, provided a most appropriate atmosphere. The menu was quite diverse, yet unmistakably “Texan.”
“Despite the weather, spirits were high,” said Father Basil. “It was Pascha all over again!”
For the first time since becoming Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX.
Concelebrating with Metropolitan Tikhon were the diocesan Deans and the cathedral clergy. During the Liturgy, Subdeacon Leo Bearer was ordained to the diaconate. A number of faithful from Holy Apostles Church, Bixby (Tulsa), OK, from which Deacon Leo hails, were in attendance. Metropolitan Tikhon also elevated Priest David Arnold, Dean of the Appalachian Deanery and Rector of Saint Cyprian of Carthage Church, Richmond, VA, to the dignity of Archpriest.
After his arrival in Dallas on Friday, Metropolitan Tikhon met with Archimandrite Gerasim, Diocesan Administrator; Archpriest Marcus Burch, Diocesan Chancellor; and the Deans and other diocesan clergy. Also in attendance were Archpriest John Jillions and Melanie Ringa, Chancellor and Treasurer of the OCA respectively, who addressed the clergy on the funding resolution that will be proposed at the forthcoming 18th All-American Council.
On Sunday, May 10, Metropolitan Tikhon will celebrate the Divine Liturgy once again at Saint Seraphim’s, while on Sunday evening he will attend a reception with the Dallas Deanery Clergy, hosted by the Dean, Archpriest Basil Zebrun, at Saint Barbara Church, Fort Worth, TX.
His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest visited the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church, Madison, IL on the weekend of May 2-3, 2015, marking the parish’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the construction and consecration of their current church building.
On Saturday evening, Bishop Paul, together with area clergy, celebrated Great Vespers. A tea honoring His Grace followed, during which a question-and-answer session was held. On Sunday morning, His Grace celebrated the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy with Priest Nicholas Finley, Rector; Archpriest Timothy Sawchak, Dean of the Kansas City Deanery; and visiting clergy. During the Liturgy, Father Nicholas was awarded a kamilavka and Ruth Tedesco, a member of the parish council at the time the church was constructed, was given a diocesan gramota.
The Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church was founded in 1900 by immigrants from Austro-Hungary, Galacia, the Carpathians and Ukraine. The first church building, constructed in 1902, served the parish until the late 1950s, when significant growth necessitated the building of a larger church. In 1958, a building fund was established, while in the early 1960s, with the assignment of Hieromonk Theodosius [the now retired Metropolitan Theodosius] as Rector. On September 23, 1962, ground was broken and blessed by His Eminence, Archbishop John of Chicago and Minneapolis. The actual construction began on June 21, 1964. On September 20, 1964, Archbishop John returned to the parish to celebrate the Rite of Blessing and Laying of the cornerstone. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 14, 1965, the parish faithful met in their old church for their last service there—a Service of Thanksgiving. As each parishioner came for the blessing, they were given an article to carry to the new church. After a prayer of blessing in front of the new church, the doors were unlocked and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated. The altar table was consecrated on Sunday and the church was dedicated and anointed with Holy Chrism by Archbishop John on June 6, 1965. A holy relic of Saint John the Russian, the New Confessor, was placed in the new marble altar table. Seven years later—on September 23, 1972—the mortgage burning ceremony was held to celebrate the final debt payment.
Over 20 individuals participated in a Colloquium hosted by the recently revived Department of Pastoral Life and Ministry at the OCA Chancery April 28-29, 2015.
His Holiness, Catholicos-Patriach Ilia II and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon concelebrated the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Myrhhbearing Women and the Feast of Saint Tamara, Queen of Georgia, in Tbilisi’s Cathedral of the All Holy Trinity on Sunday, April 26, 2015. Metropolitan Tikhon was accompanied by Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and Roman Ostash, Aide.
“It was the 40th day of the repose of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, and it was moving to hear his name lifted up in prayer during the Liturgy,” said Father John. “At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Tikhon spoke of his gratitude for the many centuries of martyric witness of the Georgian Church and the warm support the Georgian Church has always offered the Orthodox Church in America.”
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia greeted Metropolitan Tikhon and presented him with an icon of the Iveron [Georgian] Mother of God. Metropolitan Tikhon presented Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia several gifts, including a watercolor painting of historic Archangel Michael Cathedral in Sitka, AK. Alaska.
Later in the day, Metropolitan Tikhon and his entourage visited the Samtavro Transfiguration Church, the foundations of which date to the fourth century. At the women’s Monastery of Saint Nino in Mtskheta, Georgia’s ancient capital, they venerated the relics of the recently glorified Georgian monk and “Fool for Christ,” Saint Gabriel [1929-1995], who is widely venerated. Saint Gabriel suffered terribly during the Soviet persecution of the Church and is especially known for his teaching on love.
“Love transcends all rules and laws,” according to Saint Gabriel. “Love everyone; if you can’t, at least show good will. How to love the evil man? Hate the evil, but love those who do evil. Who knows maybe one day they will repent of their sins by the powers of prayer, tears and confession and become like an angel…. In the End Times a man will be saved by love, humility and kindness. Kindness will open the gates of Heaven; humility will lead into Heaven; a man, whose heart is filled with love, will see God.”
On Sunday evening, Patriarch-Catholicos Ilia hosted a concert and dinner at the Patriarchate, at which US Ambassador Richard Norland and his wife were present, together with the ambassadors of Romania, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania. There were about 100 guests representing all sectors of Georgian society—bishops, clergy, politicians, artists, musicians, scientists, academics. This kind of gathering has been a regular feature of His Holiness’ nearly 40 years as Primate of the Georgian Church. In his remarks, Patriarch Ilia said, “In today’s society the Church cannot afford to be a bystander. The Church must take an active role in the social, cultural, intellectual and moral life of society.” He emphasized that the Church has the responsibility of bringing the light of Christ to illumine all aspects of human life. Ambassador Norland said the US has had a strong relationship with Georgia in many spheres, adding that the visit of Metropolitan Tikhon represents an important spiritual connection. He also has had a close bond with Patriarch Ilia and said, “He is an example of being engaged and doing the best thing for his country.” Metropolitan Tikhon thanked His Holiness for inviting him to Georgia and for his support of the OCA for decades. “It is humbling to come to an ancient country in which the culture is influenced by the holiness of the Church,” Metropolitan Tikhon remarked with regard to the diverse gathering of people at the concert and dinner.
Extremely helpful as guides and translators during the visit to Georgia were Archpriests Giorgi Zviadadze, Chancellor and Dean of the Tbilisi Theological School; David Sharashenidze, Press Secretary; and Michael Popkhadze, Dean of Kashveti Saint Giorgi Cathedral, who lived in Washington, DC for many years.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation are slated to return to the US on Tuesday, April 28.
On Saturday, April 25, 2015, the Feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, the faithful of Saint Mary Magdalene Church here were blessed to celebrate the consecration of their church.
Archpriest Paul Jannakos and the parish faithful welcomed His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo, 14 visiting priests and deacons, and 175 faithful from around the mid-Michigan area for the Rite of Consecration and banquet later that evening.
The Church, constructed in 2008, was originally designed with elements common to churches built in Alaska, photos of which were found on-line at the Smithsonian Museum web site, Washington DC. In 2011, a tornado touched down on the parish’s six-acre lot, uprooting four large maple trees, which were subsequently milled, cured and used by Father Paul to carve the iconostasis with the help of parish faithful. The new altar table was constructed from the same wood by Mr. Dave Messick. The 52 new icons on the Iconostasis are the work of Mr. Dmitri Sholnik, San Jose, CA.
Father Paul and the faithful of Saint Mary’s are grateful for all with which the Lord has blessed them since the parish was planted in July 2002.
After driving through the mountains of Armenia from Yerevan, the nation’s capital, on April 25, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, Archpriest John Jillions and Roman Ostash were offered a warm welcome at the Georgian border by His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasime, accompanied by bishops, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, after which they were received at the guest house of Holy Trinity Monastery in Tbilisi, the Republic’s capital. In the afternoon, they met with His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia and Archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi.
On Saturday evening, Metropolitan Tikhon presided at the celebration of the Vigil at the recently completed Cathedral of the All Holy Trinity—a superb example of classic Georgian ecclesiastical architecture. After the service, Metropolitan Gerasime accompanied the OCA delegation on a walk through the center of Tbilisi’s old city and across the Mtekhi bridge, where 100,000 Georgians were martyred for their faith in Christ in the 13th century.
The Orthodox Churches of Georgia and America have always maintained a close relationship, and the former was one of the first churches to recognize the autocephaly of the OCA. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia had visited the OCA on numerous occasions in years past.
The Church of Georgia—the sixth of the world’s autocephalous Orthodox Churches—traces its origin to the early fourth century evangelistic mission of Saint Nino, Equal to the Apostles, in the region of what is today the Republic of Georgia. The Church faced numerous challenges during its 1700 year history due to a variety of issues. Though an ancient Church, it became an exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church when the Russian Empire absorbed the Kingdom of Georgia. After the Russian Revolution, however, it regained its autocephaly and was recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1940s. The Georgian Church experienced persecution during the Soviet era and has experienced a revival after the fall of communism.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, joined the heads of Church delegations, the diplomatic community and representatives of many foreign governments for the ceremony led by Armenian President Serzh Sargasyan and Catholicos Karekin II. Among the heads of state were Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Francois Hollande of France. A survivor of the Rwandan massacres read a declaration calling for the recognition, reparation and prevention of genocide.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the heads of delegations then met for lunch with the Armenian President. Later, Metropolitan Tikhon, Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, and Roman Ostash met with His Holiness, Catholicos Karekin II at his residence in Etchmiadzin for official photos and the exchange of gifts and to speak about ways that relations between the OCA and the Armenian Church might be strengthened. It was noted that Armenian students have been studying at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY for decades.
Thanks to a generous grant to the Orthodox Church in America, earmarked for mission and evangelization, the OCA’s first “Mission School” brought together two dozen representatives from across the US and Canada at Detroit’s Saint Andrew House for Orthodox Christian Studies April 20-24, 2015.
On Thursday, April 23, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and members of the OCA delegation attended the Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan, the Armenian capital. Services were celebrated outdoors on the grounds of Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
“Projected video streams from Armenian communities around the world brought them into the service as well,” said Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor. “If the focus in the past had been on darkness and suffering, this moving event marked a powerful witness to the indesctructible light of the Resurrection. With the martyrdom of Christians today being so visible, and with so many representatives of global Christian churches present for the Canonization, the service far transcended the limits of Armenia.”
Earlier in the day, Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation visited two important cultural and historical landmarks in Yerevan. The Saint Mesrob Mashdots Matenadaran (National Library of Ancient Manuscripts) is and impressive display of ancient documents related to the history of Armenia and especially to Armenian scriptures, displaying manuscripts as from the fifth century onward. Saint Mesrob (c 360-440) was a monk, theologian and linguist who originated the Armenian alphabet. The Archimandrite Komitas Museum is devoted to the life and work of Vartapet Komitas (1869-1935), who was a priest, musicologist, composer, arranger, singer and choirmaster. He is considered the founder of the Armenian National School of Music. Much of the singing in the Armenian Church today is based on his work.
On Tuesday, April 22, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation of the Orthodox Church in America participated in the “Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide,” which brought together scholars, government/NGO officials and Church leaders to consider how ways to address and prevent genocide. The forum opened with a presentation by the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargasyan, and a panel that included Patriarch Catholicos Karekin II. The Church delegations had a separate session as well, and a number of Church leaders—including Metropolitan Tikhon—gave brief messages. Delegates then toured the Genocide Memorial and Museum in Yerevan, which features historical documents, photos and films of the heartbreaking history of the Genocide and its aftermath. The plight of hundreds of thousands of children whose parents were massacred was especially disturbing, with ripple effects that continue to be felt across the generations. With this experience freshly in mind, it was all the more powerful to witness in the evening a concert by children at the Cathedral complex in Etchmiadzin. To see and hear the gifted and passionate young musicians was truly a demonstration of resurrection in the Armenian Church and nation. The day ended with the celebration of Vigil in the crowded cathedral for the Glorification of the New Armenian Martyrs.
On the evening of Tuesday, April 22, 2015, Metropolitan Tikhon and his entourage, along with members of the numerous other Church delegations, visited a Church-run youth center in Yerevan, Armenia, where specialized after-school tutoring in some 180 subjects covering humanities, science, arts, national crafts, music, technology and a wide range of sports is offered. His Holiness, Armenian Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II, led the tour, pointing out that the church in Armenia has experienced a major rebirth since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, the room now used to teach weaving had once been the classroom in which courses in atheism had been taught. The tour ended with an extraordinary display of talent as the students sang, danced, juggled, and performed artistic feats of gymnastics.
Among the heads of Church delegations who attended the event were His Holiness, Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church; His Holiness, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syriac Orthodox Church; His Eminence, Metropolitan Rastislav of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia; His Eminence, Metropolitan Naum of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; and Anglican Bishop Richard Chartres of London, who is responsible for relations with the Orthodox Churches.
Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation are in Armenia at the invitation of Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II in conjunction with the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, accompanied by Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor and Subdeacon Roman Ostash, were officially greeted upon their arrival in Yerevan, the Armenian Capital, by His Grace, Bishop Vartan, Archimandrite Mesrob Barsamian, and other clergy of the Armenian Church. The Canadian Ambassador to Armenia, John Kur—who is also Ambassador to Russia and who attended Paschal services at the OCA’s Representation Church of Saint Catherine in Moscow—also was on hand to welcome the delegation. James Winkler, President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the USA, arrived on the same flight. Metropolitan Tikhon was interviewed for Armenian television upon his arrival at the airport.
Metropolitan Tikhon also had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with Serj Tankian of the rock group “System of A Down,” whose members are all Americans of Armenian descent and who have championed raising awareness worldwide of the Armenian genocide. The group will perform in concert in Yerevan’s Republic Square on April 23 as part of the program commemorating the Armenian Genocide. This will be the first time the band has played in Armenia and marks the end of their world tour.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is Risen!
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, celebrated Paschal services at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC.
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America held its spring session at the Chancery March 17-20, 2015.
The session was chaired by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, who in his opening remarks thanked the members of the Holy Synod, the Chancery staff, and those who facilitate the Church’s boards, committees, commissions and departments for their work and ministry.
US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft visited the OCA Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine, Moscow, on Thursday, March 5, 2015. He was received by Archimandrite Alexander [Pihach], Dean, who shared with the Ambassador the history and current life of the community. During the visit, Archimandrite Alexander and Ambassador Tefft rang the parish’s memorial bell for the victims of 9/11, after which a luncheon was hosted by the parish.
On Saturday, January 24, 2015, clergy and faithful from parishes across the west coast and beyond gathered at historic Holy Trinity Cathedral here for the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, during which Bishop-Elect Daniel [Brum] was consecrated to the Episcopacy as Bishop of Santa Rosa, Auxiliary to His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West.
On January 22, 2015, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and numerous representatives from the OCA Chancery, seminaries, and parishes gathered in the US Capital for the 42nd Annual March for Life, the 33rd Annual Rose Dinner, and related events.
Parishes across the Orthodox Church in America celebrated the Great Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord by blessing water—outdoors as well as indoors—in commemoration of the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Clergy and faithful from parishes across the Midwest gathered at historic Holy Trinity Cathedral on the morning of Saturday, December 27, 2014 for the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, during which Bishop-Elect Paul [Gassios] was consecrated to the Episcopacy as Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest.
At the celebration of Vespers at Chicago’s historic Holy Trinity Cathedral on Friday, December 26, 2014 — the eve of his consecration to the Episcopate — Bishop-Elect Paul [Gassios] delivered an address to the bishops, clergy and faithful.
At invitation of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a delegation representing Saint Vladimir’s Seminary visited the historic Holy Theological School of Halki December 16-19, 2014.
On Sunday, December 14, 2014, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East at Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, Potomac, MD. Also concelebrating were His Eminence, Metropolitan Sabba and His Eminence, Metropolitan Vasileios.
On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation of the Orthodox Church in America that visited the Russian Orthodox Church at the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’, returned to New York. They had spent their final days abroad in Saint Petersburg, where they were warmly welcomed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Varsonofy of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga, at the city’s historic Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God [“Kazansky” Cathedral]. Metropolitan Tikhon presented an icon and relics of Saint Innocent to Metropolitan Varsonofy. Many clerics from throughout the Saint Petersburg Diocese were in attendance, as were His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Vitebsk; His Grace, Bishop Kliment of Mordovia, and His Grace, Bishop Nazari of Kronstadt; Alexander Nikolaivich Govoronoff, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Smolny Governorship; and others.
Closed during the Soviet era, the Kazansky Cathedral was used as a Museum of Atheism. In 2001, it was returned to the Church. Architecturally, it is well known for its close resemblance to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, after which it was modeled. Its outdoor colonnade and statuary are immediately recognizable for their striking similarity to that gracing Rome’s Saint Peter’s Square. Restoration of the church, initiated in 2006, is still in progress.
While in Saint Petersburg, Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the OCA delegation were received and prayed at the Novodevichy Monastery; the Lavra of Saint Alexander Nevsky and its monumental Holy Trinity Cathedral; the Saint John of Rila Women’s Monastery, site of the grave of Saint John of Kronstadt; and the Chapel marking the grave of the Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg in the city’s Smolensk Cemetery. During the Soviet era, the chapel had been surrounded by a tall wooden barrier to prevent the faithful from entering therein and had been slated for destruction during the 1980s. After the fall of communism, the barrier was removed, providing access to the chapel. In the same cemetery, they visited the original burial grave of the renown Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko. In accordance with his wishes, expressed in his poem Zapovit [Testament], Shevchenko’s remains were later reinterred on Chernecha Hill [today Taras Hill] in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where they remain to this day. They also visited the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in the city’s Fortress, wherein many members of the Imperial Family are interred. The church, the first built by Peter the Great in the city, reflects his passion for western architectural forms and style—interior as well as exterior—and reflects his calculated and striking departure from earlier ecclesiastical design.
In the nearby city of Kronstadt, Metropolitan Tikhon and the delegation were received at the Saint Nicholas Naval Cathedral and visited the apartment of Saint John of Kronstadt. The cathedral, modeled after Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia, was rebuilt after the fall of communism and stands as a prime example of the “Neo-Byzantine” movement that emerged in the late 19th century.
“We have much to learn from the Russian Church’s past, her suffering, struggles and rebuilding,” Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, reflected upon the delegation’s return. “It is also a colossal Church on a scale difficult for us to imagine—just in terms of clergy, the Russian Orthodox Church has a staggering 37,000 bishops, priests and deacons! But we have our own path and struggles, and by the grace of God I think we can be proud of how our Church was represented!”
[See related article.]
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, presided at the celebration of the Vigil and Divine Liturgy marking the Patronal Feast of the Orthodox Church in America’s Representation Church of Saint Catherine December 6-7, 2014.