BISHOP AMBROSE ATTACKED, HOSPITALIZED
Unknown criminals beat in an apartment house hall March 22 Bishop Ambrose of Khabarovsk and accompanying Fr. Dimitry. They were attacked after the Liturgy that they served in the apartment of nun Xenia.
When Bishop Ambrose and Fr. Dimitry entered the apartment house that they visit very often, somebody attacked them from behind, starting to beat them with batons. Vladyka immediately lost conscious, but Father Dimitry noticed 2 young men. He remembers only one of these two that looked about 25 years old, his hair was cut short, and he acted with the baton rather professionally. People in the house heard the noise and run out. The guys run away and jumped in a white old Toyota (the most frequent car in Khabarovsk), its numbers were closed. One parishioner tried to stop them, but they slightly hit her by the car and run away on the Toyota.
Bishop Ambrose was without conscious he for several hours. He was hospitalized and put into intensive-care unit,
On March 24 Vladyka Ambrose was discharged from the hospital on his request. His face is beaten, with numerous blue spots, a torn lip, and possibly a brain concussion. Medics say though that his vital organs have not been seriously damaged.
Right before the incident Vladyka Ambrose gave an interview to one Khabarovsk newspaper, discussing church problems. The interview was in a very nice and intelligent style, without condemning anybody.Vladyka Ambrose was rather active he planned to build in Khabarovsk a church of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God and found a convent in the suburbs of the city.
ROAC SYNOD MEETING
On March 2/15, 2001, the day of the appearance of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God, a session of the Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church took place in the Synodal house in Suzdal.
The President of the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Valentine, made the suggestion of glorifying Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), President of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, among the ranks of the saints. His Eminence Theodore, Archbishop of Borisovskoye and Sanino, concurred with this opinion, and also gave the information that "the chancellery had sent out telegrams to their Graces requesting them to come to the session of the Hierarchical Synod and compose their opinion on the question at issue. As regards my relationship to the glorification of Metropolitan Philaret," added Archbishop Theodore, "I consider that our Synod must carry out the will of God and do that which the Synod of the Church Abroad is no longer in a position to do - glorify the holy Hierarch Philaret among the ranks of the saints."
Those present were acquainted with the opinions on the question at issue of all the Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church: his Grace Victor, Archbishop of Laugavpis and Latvia, gave the following reply: "Having acquired a preliminary acquaintance with the given material, and having now received the good news of the intention of the Russian Orthodox Church to glorify Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), who preserved the Church in difficult times - I, humble Victor, archbishop, bow my knees before those who have initiated this holy act. I support and encourage the Glorification of the holy Hierarch Philaret (Voznesensky), whom the Lord Himself has already chosen, by the Orthodox Church."
His Grace Hilarion, Bishop of Smelyan: "Who can and will dare to oppose the holiness and purity of life, faith and service to the Church of Christ of the holy Hierarch Philaret (Voznesensky)? The whole of his life and service, and even his incorrupt body, testify to the holiness of his soul. May God grant that his intercession in prayer before the Most High Creator and his present glorification may be reflected by the manifestation of grace also upon our Russian Autonomous Church. I belief that all of us, in glorifying the holy Hierarch Philaret, will not be deprived of his protection in this and in the coming world.
"I also profoundly believe that the holy Hierarch Philaret is now among the number of the heaven-dwellers and speaks to us as it were in the words of G. Derzhavin: 'I am nothing! But Thou, O Lord, shinest in me, by the majesty of Thy goodness. In me Thou dost form Thyself as the sun in a small drop of water.'
"I profoundly believe that the glorification of the holy Hierarch Philaret will bring grace-filled strengthening also to our Russian Orthodox Church, and, uniting my feeble voice, I beseech: O holy Father and Hierarch Philaret, pray God for the prosperous, peaceful and true stand of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, for her Hierarchs, servers and for all her spiritual children!"
His Grace Bishop Timothy and his Grace Bishop Gerontius also completely supported the glorification of the holy Hierarch Philaret (Voznesensky). The same opinion was supported by all the Hierarchs present. And so the decision was unanimous:
1. Taking into account that fact that the Hierarch Philaret (Voznesensky) was the helmsman of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and led her Orthodox ship amidst the sea of life in accordance with the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church, not entering into compromises with the sergianists and in accordance with the popular veneration of the ever-memorable Metropolitan PHILARET by the members of the Russian Orthodox Church, and also with the incorruption of his relics in Jordanville at their reburial: TO GLORIFY the holy Hierarch PHILARET (Voznesensky), Metropolitan of New York and First Hierarch of the ROCA in the Emperor Constantine cathedral of the God-preserved city of Suzdal after holy Pascha.
2. To establish the day of the celebration of the holy Hierarch PHILARET on the day of his death, November 8/21, the feast of the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the other bodiless Heavenly Powers.
Further, the President of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC, Archbishop Valentine, informed that recently a series of petitions to the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church has come from clergy and believers of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, requesting that they be received under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church.
The clergy and believers gave as the reason for their exit the fact that the hierarchs of the Church Abroad have departed from the truth and adopted a course bringing them closer to the Moscow Patriarchate and other ecumenists.
The participants in the session expressed the opinion that it was necessary to receive the clergy without a canonical release, since they were leaving their bishop because of his coming closer to the heretics and ecumenists. The basis for this is laid by the 15th canon of the First-and-Second Council of Constantinople: "Those who depart from communion with their President for the sake of some heresy condemned by the Councils or Fathers, when, that is, he preaches heresy publicly, and teaches it openly in the Church, even if such people separate themselves from communion with the so-called Bishop before conciliar examination, not only are not subject to the epitimia laid down by the canons, but are worthy of the honour befitting the Orthodox. For they have condemned, not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers, and have not divided the unity of the Church by schism, but have tried to preserve the Church from schisms and divisions."
Passing to the second question on the agenda, his Grace Archbishop Theodore read out the addresses and suggestions of the Hierarchs presented by them at the Session of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC. In their addresses, for the good of the Church, their Graces suggested examining the question of the future leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church by a Hierarch in the rank of Metropolitan. In connection with this they simultaneously suggested raising Archbishop Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir to the rank of METROPOLITAN. "My opinion," said Archbishop Theodore, "is the following: the President of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC, Archbishop Valentine, has already led the Suzdal Diocese for ten years, keeping the tiller of Church administration on the course bequeathed by the First Hierarchs of the Church Abroad. For this he deserves this high rank, and being raised to the dignity of Metropolitan and being named First Hierarch of the ROAC."
A similar opinion was expressed by Bishop HILARION of Smelyan: "From the time of its last council, the ROCA has ceased to exist as a true bearer of Orthodoxy. Her hierarchs have signed up to a secret aggiornamento - that is, they have transferred to the path of the Moscow Patriarchate. Therefore the Russian Orthodox Church [autonomous] is in urgent need of a First Hierarch - Metropolitan, for the restoration of the fullness of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. I write to you as a cleric of our Church that the Providence of God has from the beginning chosen Vladyka Valentine as the instrument for the restoration in Rus' of the True Orthodox Church of Christ, and he has suffered much in the carrying out of this providential act. His Grace Bishop Hilarion went on to write: "I, as a feeble, unworthy and sinful Hierarch of the Church wish to see and commemorate in my ecclesiastical service Archbishop Valentine in the rank of Metropolitan of the ROAC, and I raise my hierarchical voice and with joy and for all to hear I cry: AXIOS, AXIOS, AXIOS!"
His Grace Bishop Ambrose added to this that the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was worthy to be a Metropolitan having the right of wearing two panagias. And the eldest Hierarchs after the First Hierarch - Archbishop Theodore, Archbishop Seraphim and Archbishop Victor - were worthy of the right to wear a cross on their klobuks. This corresponded to the situation of the Russian Church and would serve for the strengthening of her authority.
The participants in the session decreed:
1. Taking into account the suggestions of their Graces the Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, for the good of the Church of God, from now on the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is to be led by a Hierarch in the rank of METROPOLITAN.
2. Taking into account the labours of Archbishop Valentine for the glory of the Church of God, and taking into account the desires of their Graces, the Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, TO RAISE TO THE RANK OF METROPOLITAN with the right of wearing two panagias his Eminence Archbishop VALENTINE of Suzdal and Vladimir.
3. To count their Graces Archbishop Theodore, Archbishop Seraphim and Archbishop Victor worthy of the right to wear a cross on their klobuks. Further, questions relating to the internal life of the Russian Orthodox Church were examined. His Grace Bishop Ambrose voiced the opinion that the time had come for the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to issue a decree on the gracelessness of the sacraments of the Moscow Patriarchate. The members of the Hierarchical Synod agreed with this and decreed: to begin work on the given problem, in order to examine this question in more detail at the next sessions of the Hierarchical Synod, having asked the opinions of all the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church.
This session of the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church ended with the chanting of the prayer "It is very meet to bless thee".
JOURNEY OF ARCHBISHOP VALENTINE AND ARCHBISHOP THEODORE TO THE UKRAINE
In January-February 2001 Archbishop Valentine and Archbishop Theodore visited parishes of ROAC at the Ukraine. They were met there by Bishop Hilarion of Sukhodolsk. Bishop Hilarion was made a bishop of Smeli according to Synoday decision of January 8/21. On January 22 / February 4 2001 in the church of Our Lady Joy of All Who Sorrow in the city of Smely (Cherkassk region, Ukraine) Higumen Geronty (Ryndenko) was named a bishop of Sukhodolsk. On January 24 / February 6 2001 in the St. Xenia church in the city if Sukhodolsk, Archbishop Valentine, together with Archbishops Theodore and Bishop Hilarion carried out the hierarchical consecration of Archimandrite Geronty.
Also on January 23 / February 3, 2001, priest Alexander Smitchenko was tonsured into monasticism with the name of Artemii in honour of St. Martyr Artemii. A number of clergy and laymen participated the servises: Protopriest George Novakovski (he came from the nearby Rostov region), hegumen Yakov (Antonov), priest Appolon (Antonov), protodeacon Constantine (Kuzminih) and others.
A NEW MONASTIC COMMUNITY AND
DIOCESAN HOUSE IN SUZDAL
Suzdal Diocesan News N 10, 2000
In the course of many years, the Suzdal Diocesan Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church has turned to everyone, beginning with the local Suzdal administration up to the Vladimir provincial and the Presidential Administration asking that a part of the monastery of the Deposition of the Robe in Suzdal be handed over. However, all petitions have been rejected. Finally the monastery of the Deposition of the Robe was handed over, but not to the Suzdal diocese, but to the Vladimir diocese of the MP. This was done with demonstrative contempt for the believers who live in Suzdal, and also for the deputies of the city council, who unanimously petitioned for the handover of some buildings of the monastery of the Deposition of the Robe to the Suzdal diocese led by Archbishop Valentine. Moreover, a formal illegality was committed, since the Statute of the monastery of the Deposition of the Robe was registered by the department of justice attached to the Vladimir provincial Administration as belonging to the Suzdal diocese of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Orthodox Church.
Nothing remained to be done except acquire a half-collapsed building and reconstruct it as the monastery of the Deposition of the Robe. Work continued for almost a year to re-equip the building, which had once housed workshops of a combine of household services.
On November 6, on the feast of the icon of the Mother of God, the Joy of All Who Sorrow, after the Divine Liturgy, the parishioners of the St. Constantine cathedral, and the clergy headed by Bishop Theodore of Borisovskoye and Sanino, carried out a triumphant consecration of the new monastery.
In this building refuge was given to the nuns of the women's monastery of the Deposition of the Robe who had for a long time wandered from house to house in the town. The monastery includes 24 cells, a church and a dining-room (trapeznaya). On the second floor are the Offices of the Suzdal diocesan house, classrooms and the the Museum of the White warrior. On the third floor there is a hall for congresses that accomodates 200 people.
In accordance with an order of the Adminstrator of the Diocese, Archbishop Valentine, Schema-Nun Euthymia was moved from the community of St. John Maximovich into the community in honour of the Deposition of the Robe of the Most Pure Theotokos.
Abbess Alexandra was appointed abbess of the community of St. John Maximovich. She was raised to rank of Abbess by Archbishop Valentine during the Divine Liturgy on the day of the celebration of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God. While handing the staff to the newly ordained abbess, Vladyka gave her some paternal instruction on the importance of the duties which were being laid upon her.
THE RENEWAL OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY RIGHT-BELIEVING GREAT PRINCE ALEXANDER NEVSKY IN THE VILLAGE OF VES
Suzdal Diocesan New
On September 11 and 12, 2000, in the village of Ves, Suzdal region, Vladimir province, there took place the opening and consecration of the church dedicated to the holy right-believing Great Prince Alexander Nevsky which had been restored from a ruined state. The church is situated in the village cemetery and has an almost one-and-a-half century history. First there was a stone burial-vault here which was covered with iron. This was built through the zeal of the parishioners in 1865. In 1867, with the blessing of the diocesan authorities, the burial-vault was rebuilt into a cemetery church dedicated to the holy right-believing Great Prince Alexander Nevsky in memory of the miraculous salvation of Emperor Alexander II from death on April 4, 1866, when the revolutionary Karakozov made an attempt on the life of the Emperor. On that day the Kostroma peasant Osip Ivanovich Komissarov saved the life of his Majesty at the very moment when the evil-doer had already raised his hand to shoot.
In Soviet times the church was robbed, desecrated and half destroyed by the hands of the atheists (at the beginning of the 1990s it was a three-storeyed building without a roof or altar). Like the majority of village churches in the Suzdalian land, it was closed during the years of collectivisation. The last warden of the parish was Blessed Glikeria, a locally venerated saint, who is venerated not only by the inhabitants of the village of Ves, but also by many Orthodox who do not accept the Moscow Patriarchate. Her tomb is here, some metres from the church. The parishioners, led by their superior, Fr. Andronicus, made fitting preparations for the renewal of the church. Today there stands before us a beautiful church, which, if not shining with gold, has been ennobled and made cosy and homely. The main decorations of the church are new. The new iconostasis, decorated with flowers, was lovingly constructed by the local reader Victor.
In the morning, long before the service, the parishioners gathered at the church so as to prepare for the meeting with the Hierarch, Bishop Theodore. By the beginning of the Divine service the church was full, and some of the pilgrims who came from Suzdal were not able to fit into the church.
There came the triumphant moment the beginning of the consecration. Everything was sprinkled with holy water, the altar and holy table were consecrated. Then the church was anointed with chrism, after which the hierarch was given a candle which he lit from the censer, and from this candle all the candles and lampadas in the church were lit.
The cross process began, at the end of which his Grace Theodore gave a sermon on the significance of the consecration of a church. The service ended with many years to Archbishop Valentine, the Hierarchical Synod of the Russian Church, the superior and the parishioners, the contributors and benefactors of the holy church. The celebration ended with a festive meal provided by the hospitable owners.
THE VIIIth CONGRESS OF THE CLERGY, MONASTICS AND LAITY OF THE SUZDAL DIOCESE OF THE ROAC: THE GLORIFICATION OF THE HOLY WOMEN OF DIVEYEVO, CONSECRATIONS OF NEW BISHOPS AND AN APPEAL TO THE CHILDREN OF THE ROCA
(The News of the Day from Blagovest Vertograd-Inform, Suzdal)
The ecclesiastical celebrations timed for the VIIIth Congress of the clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal diocese of the Russian [Rossijskoj] Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) took place in Suzdal (Vladimir province) from the 22nd to the 26th of November. On the eve and after the completion of the celebrations, on November 21st and 27th, there took place sessions of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC in the Synodal house in Suzdal.
On November 22nd, after the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in Suzdals cathedral church of the holy Emperor Constantine the Great in Suzdal, the VIIIth Congress of clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC was opened in the new building of the Suzdal diocesan administration. Archbishop Valentine (Rusantsov) of Suzdal and Vladimir welcomed the participants. He spoke about his archpastoral activities in the past year, and also about the problems connected with his health. The archbishop drew the attention of the participants of the Congress to the most important points of the ecclesiastical celebrations: the canonisation of the Sobor of the Holy Nuns of Diveyevo and the consecration of a new church in a distant micro-region of Suzdal in the name of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
The Chancellor of the ROAC Synod, Bishop Theodore (Gineyevsky) of Borisovskoye and Sanino, read out the Synodal Epistle in connection with the canonisation of the Sobor of the Holy Nuns of Diveyevo, which is the first act of the glorification of saints undertaken by the ROAC on its own. In the epistle it was pointed out that the quarrels in connection with the canonisation of the holy Royal Martyrs had distracted the Orthodox believing people from honouring many ascetics of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Hierarchical Synod recalled that a beginning to the veneration of the Holy Nuns of Diveyevo had been laid by the very founder of the Diveyevo monastery, St. Seraphim of Sarov, who had turned in prayer to the first abbess of this community, Mother Alexandra. A cleric of the St. Petersburg community of the ROAC in the name of Holy Nun-Martyr Great Princess Elizabeth, Fyodorovna, Hierodeacon Theophanes (Areskin), read a report on the life and exploits of the Holy Nuns of Diveyevo. At the first session of the VIIIth Congress of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC reports were also read by Protopriest Michael Ardov on the upshot of the Hierarchical council of the MP and by Hieromonk Gregory (Lurye) on the upshot of the Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
In the evening of November 22, in Suzdals cathedral church of the holy Emperor Constantine the Great, Archbishop Valentine (Rusantsov) of Suzdal and Vladimir, Bishop Theodore (Gineyevsky) of Borisovskoye and Sanino, Bishop Seraphim (Zinchenko) of Sukhumi and Abkhazia, Bishop Victor (Kontuzorov) of Daugavpils and Latvia and Bishop Anthony of Yaransk celebrated the All-Night Vigil, during which the rite of the canonisation of the Sobor of the Holy Nuns of Diveyevo took place. On the following day the same hierarchs celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the cathedral church of St. Constantine the Great, during which a series of clerics of the Suzdal diocese given ecclesiastical awards. At the end of the Liturgy there was a cross procession around the church of St. Constantine and also round the neighbouring church dedicated to the Joy of All Who Sorrow icon of the Mother of God. In the session of the VIIIth Congress of the Suzdal diocese which took place on November 23rd, Bishop Victor (Kontuzorov) of Daugavpils and Latvia spoke about the history and contemporary situation of the Latvian Orthodox Autonomous Church in the jurisdiction of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC, as did the secretary of the Suzdal diocesan administration of the ROAC, Archimandrite Irinarch, and the secretary of the Hierarchical Synod of the ROAC, Protopriest Andrew Osetrov.
During the All-Night Vigil in the evening of November 23, in the St. Constantine church, there took place the naming of Archimandrite Timothy (Sharov) as Bishop of Orenburg, a vicariate of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC. The next day during the Divine Liturgy in the same church, Archbishop Valentine, together with Bishops Theodore, Seraphim, Victor and Antony, carried out the hierarchical consecration of Archimandrite Timothy. After the Divine service, in the concluding session of the VIIIth Congress of the clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC, a summarising Address was approved together with a series of other documents.
In their summarising Address the participants in the Congress called on the zealots of Orthodoxy from among the Russian clergy and laity of the ROAC to come under the omophoria of the ROAC. The results of the last Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) vividly witness to the intention of the hierarchs of the Church Abroad to unite with World Orthodoxy, they said in the Address.
The authors of the document recalled that the present year was precisely the 10th anniversary of the departure of the St. Constantine parish of the city of Suzdal from the Moscow Patriarchate. This, they said in the Address, has become an important event in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, since there appeared in Russia for the first time a legal Orthodox community that was not part of the structure of the sergianist hierarchy.
Calling on the Russian followers of the ROCA to unite with the ROAC, the Congress especially underlined the fact that the hierarchs of the ROAC were far from trying to lord it over anyone. We want to help those who need to acquire a canonical ground for their ecclesiastical existence.
The participants in the Congress declared that the ROAC is not striving to close in upon itself. On the contrary, it wants communion with the True Orthodox Christians of all countries and peoples. The clergy, monastics and laity of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC have witnessed to their intention to take practical measures to establish full canonical communion with their brothers, the True Orthodox Local Churches.
The evening service on November 24 was celebrated in the newly constructed church in the name of the holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in the new micro-region of Suzdal. The rite for the consecration of the church and the first Divine Liturgy in it were celebrated on November 25 by Archbishop Valentine together with Bishops Theodore, Seraphim, Victor, Anthony and Timothy.
The diocesan celebrations in Suzdal came to an end on November 26, when in the cathedral church of St. Constantine during the Divine Liturgy there took place the consecration of Archimandrite Ambrose (Epiphanov) as Bishop of Khabarovsk, a vicariate of the Suzdal diocese of the ROAC. In his speech at his naming as bishop, Fr. Ambrose said, among other things: I bow the knees of my heart before the All-Merciful Master and Bridegroom of the Heavenly and earthly Church, Who has made my feet dead to, against the current of, and away from the way of sinners and the counsel of the ungodly who remain in the dead antichristian ecumenist false-church. I bow my head before the Supreme Pastor of pastors, Christ the Saviour, Who has made my ears dead to, and against the hearing of those soul-harming words that implant the disgusting latin-papist heresy of sergianism. I tremble before the Lord of my heart, Who has made my tongue dead to, and against the speaking of foul, slanderous and lying words that affirm that not our Holy Persecuted Church, but some other red community is the successor of the Church of Russia which existed until the time of the holy martyric death of her First-Hierarchs Tikhon and Peter. With trembling of soul and heart I perceive the will of God that I should become an archpastor of the faithful flock that has preserved Holy Orthodoxy in the woods and the wilds, in the houses and the basements, in the mountains and the deserts, in the dens and caves of the earth, in prison and exile, holding out in the midst of many sorrows and persecutions.
Addressing the hierarchs of the ROAC, Archimandrite Ambrose said: I, the youngest of you, stand before you spiritually naked. I confess my weakness before you, the keepers of the purity of Orthodoxy in the Russian land. You, witnesses of the holy Faith, witnesses of the Truth, have borne both sorrows and constriction, persecutions and sufferings, slander and mockery, torments and illnesses. You have been wanderers and exile, of whom the whole world is not worthy
MONASTIC TONSURES IN SUZDAL
(Vertograd-Inform, Suzdal St. Petersburg)
During the Great Fast some monastic tonsures were performed in Suzdal. On March 30 / April 12, 2000, on the day of the commemoration of St. John of the Ladder, after the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Bishop Theodore of Borisovsk and Sannino carried out five monastic tonsures on inhabitants of the community of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Novice Helen, the cell-attendant of Schema-Abbess Euthymia, was tonsured as a rassophor nun with the name Ludmilla. Four already elderly Catacomb rassophor nuns were tonsured into the mantia: nun Patapia received the name Priscilla, nun Catherine became Nun Ebbula, nun Claudia became nun Matron, and the blind nun Photina was name Theophania at her tonsure.
On the next day, March 31 / April 13, in the evening after Mattins on the eve of the day of St. Mary of Egypt and St. Euthymius of Suzdal, Bishop Theodore tonsured into the mantia two clergy of the St. Petersburg community of holy New Nun-Martyr Great Princess Elizabeth, which joined the Russian Orthodox (Autonomous) Church in September, 1999. The priest Basil Lourie received the name Gregory in tonsure, in honour of St. Gregory the Theologian, while Hierodeacon Theodosius (Areskin) was name Theophan in honour of the confessor St. Theophan the Branded, the writer of canons. At the present time Fathers Gregory and Theophan are serving two St. Petersburg communities, the second of which arose on the base of the Centre for Orthodox Enlightenment, the teachers and students of which left the Moscow Patriarchate at the beginning of 1999 and joined the ROAC in the summer of the same year.
A NEW ABBESS FOR THE SUZDAL CONVENT OF ST. JOHN OF SHANGHAI
In September, 1999 Archbishop Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir appointed Schema-nun Euthymia to the post of superior of the convent of St. John of Shanghai. She took the place of Schema-abbess Joanna, who had reposed in the Lord. The declaration of Mother Euthymias appointment as abbess and the handing to her of the staff of office took place on Sunday, September 19, 1999.
The new schema-abbess was born in Voronezh, and has been spiritually fed throughout her life in communities of the Catacomb Church. During the Soviet persecutions their pastors Archimandrite Hilarion (43 years in exile +1964), Hieroschemamonk Ambrose and Hieromonk Ignatius were sent to the camps. The faithful sent them in their places of exile packages with confessions and received from them the Holy Gifts, which Matushka Schema-abbess Thaisia distributed to those for whom they were intended. In the middle of the 1960s the pastors were freed and returned to Voronezh. The last of them, Fr. Ignaty, died in 1972; he was buried by Protopriest Michael Rozhdestvensky, whom he had got to know in exile. Fr. Michael began to look after the Voronezh catacomb communities, commemorating the name of Metropolitan Philaret, First-Hierarch of the ROCA, in the Divine services. After the death of Fr. Michael (+1988) the Voronezh catacomb communities of the True Orthodox Christians remained without pastoral care. In 1990 Voronezh was visited by Bishop Lazarus (Zhurbenko), who directed them to the city of Suzdal. In the same year about 50 people visited Suzdal and entered into communion with the Free Russian Orthodox Church.
After the sad events of 1994-95 and the break between the ROCA and the FROC, only Schema-abbess Euthymia remained loyal to the FROC, and in 1997 she moved and took up permanent residence in Suzdal.
PASTORAL JOURNEYS OF BISHOP THEODORE OF BORISOVKS AND SANINO
On the eve of the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, October 13, 1999, his Grace Bishop Theodore of Borisovsk and Sanino, accompanied by the priest Fr. Constantine Koretsky, arrived in the St. Elizabeth convent, Boroditsk, Tula province. Vladyka was met by Abbess Sophia and the sisters. The sisters of the convent keep a coenobitic monastic rule; their spiritual life is concentrated on a punctual carrying-out of the 24-hour cycle of Divine services, the unsleeping Psalter, the reading of akathists and patristic literature. The community is also visited by laypeople who have broken communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.
In his sermon on the feast of the Protecting Veil Vladyka Theodore reminded the assembled believers that the Mother of God hastens to help when Christians preserve the true faith, for for the sake of true Orthodoxy the mercy of God preserves His confessors. When the Greek kingdom betrayed Orthodoxy and accepted the unia with the Catholic heretics, in vain did the inhabitants of Constantinople, which was besieged by enemies, seek refuge in the Vlachernae church where the miracle of the Protecting Veil had taken place, and in other churches of the city: the Mother of God did not reveal her protection, and the betrayal of Orthodoxy brought with it the destruction and enslavement of the kingdom. And insofar as we, said Bishop Theodore, have departed from the open churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, glittering with gold, for the sake of acquiring true Orthodoxy, we must be especially vigilant. We shall immediately be overwhelmed by the vengeance of the prince of the demons just as St. Seraphim experienced in his ascetic life, when he bore on his back the traces of the blow he received from the evil spirit for his prayers for the deliverance of a soul of a man which had defiled itself in sins. Vladyka called on those assemble to keep the memory of the reposed spiritual father of the community, Igumen Nicholas (Potapkin), who laboured greatly for the holy community. Vladyka told the believers about one of Fr. Nicholas exploits, when for three years he did not sleep on a bed, but slept sitting on a stool. He emphasised that Fr. Nicholas, having a premonition of his death, was making special preparations for his passing into eternity, which was unexpected for all (Igumen Nicholas died from a heart attack on June 12/25, 1999, at the age of 42).
His Grace Bishop Theodore called on the believers to preserve not only external piety in their way of life, but also to strengthen the spiritual foundations of their church of the heart, learning the truths of the holy faith, so that no craftinesses of the enemy of the race of man might draw into the nets of temptation from the church of the evildoers.
On October 15 Vladyka Theodore visited the city of Ephremov, where he was waited for by believers who had asembled in the flat of Nun Pelagia. The majority of the assembled worshippers received communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. In a conversation M. Pelagia told the story of her long life and the reasons why she became convinced that there is no Orthodoxy in the MP. Bishop Theodore visited the city cemetery, where at the request of the believers he served a litia for the reposed. On the same day Vladyka returned to the community of St. Elizabeth, where he had a conversation with matushka abbess and the sisters, and in the second half of the day he set off for Suzdal.
From December 1 to 16 Bishop Theodore visited the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church in the Ukraine and south of Russia.
During his visit to the Ukraine Bishop Theodore had a meeting with his Grace Bishop Hilarion of Sukhodolsk, a vicar of the Suzdal diocese. The conversation touched on major aspects of the parish life of the ROAC in the Ukraine, education and pastoral direction.
In view of Vladyka Hilarions illness, at his request Vladyka Theodore arrived in the city of Sukhdolsk on the eve of the feast of the Entrance into the temple of the Most Holy Theotokos in order to celebrate Divine services. His Grace Bishop Theodore was met at the gates of the newly constructed church of holy blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg by the superior, Igumen Gerontius (Rydenko) and Monk James (Antonov). The festal services were celebrated according to the hierarchical rite and continued for three days in Sukhodolsk, being crowned with the consecration of the altar and church in honour of Blessed Xenia. The church with its original architecture was finished inside and out. There is a bell-tower with seven bells, a monastery block and trapeza in the courtyard. In a sermon after the consecration of the church Vladyka Theodore called on the believers not only to keep the visible traditions of everyday life, but also actively to study the foundations of Orthodoxy, so as not to become like the Pharisees who boasted of their showy piety but in fact turned out to be betrayers of the Son of God.
Late in the evening of December 6 Vladyka Theodore arrived in the village of Sovetka, Neklinovsky region, Rostov province, where there is the podvorye of the Suzdal Diocesan Administration with the church of the holy leaders of the apostles Peter and Paul. On December 7 his Grace Bishop Theodore celebrated the Divine Liturgy together with the dean of the Stavropol district, Protopriest George Novakovsky, the superior of the church, Priest Alexis Legostaev and Priest Alexander Smitchenko. Vladyka noted that during the last two years the church had become more spacious and beautiful through the addition of a side alter and some inner reconstruction. No small credit for this was due to the clergy and church servers, especially the warden Alexander Fedosov, and to the donors and well-wishers of the church the married couple Victor and Alla Karpenko and other parishioners.
On December 8 Vladyka Theodore served Vespers and Mattins in the church of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God in Otradnaya stanitsa, Krasnodar region, in the place where Vladyka was born and grew up. He was met by his fellow countrymen, the superior of the church, Protopriest Nicholas Khirnij, the servers of the church and many parishioners who have known Vladyka for many years. On the next day the Divine Liturgy was celebrated, and in the evening the All-night Vigil for the feast of the icon of the Mother of God of the Sign.
On December 10 his Grace Bishop Theodore celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the village of Yankul, Kursavsky region, Stavropol district, together with several clergy from the Deanery of the Stavropol district of the ROAC. The church is a fairly spacious refurbishing of what used to house a kindergarten. On the same day Vladyka departed for the city of Zheleznovodsk.
On December 11 and 12 Bishop Theodore celebrated the All-night Vigil, the Liturgy, Vespers and an akathist to the holy First-Called Apostle Andrew (on the eve of his feast) in the church of holy equal-to-the-apostles Princess Olga in the city of Zheleznovodsk. Also participating in the services were the dean of the district, Fr. George Novakovsky, the superior of the church, Protopriest Roman Novakovsky, Priest Anastasius Skalsky, Protodeacon Demetrius and subdeacons. Through the labours of the clergy, church servers and parishioners the church continues to increase in beauty: the old frescoes have been renewed and a new one has appeared in the narthex.
On December 16 Bishop Theodore departed for Suzdal.
A PASTORAL JOURNEY OF BISHOP SERAPHIM OF SUKHUMI AND ABKHAZIA
From December 24 to 30, 1999 Bishop Seraphim of Sukhumi and Abkhazia continued his pastoral trip through the catacomb parishes of Voronezh and Tula. Vladyka was accompanied by Priest Constantine and Abbess Euthymia.
In Voronezh Vladyka Seraphim gave communion to 35 catacomb Christians nuns and laypeople who have never gone to the Soviet church and who were at first looked after by Protopriest Michael (Rozhdestvensky), and then by Russian priests of the ROCA.
At the present time the Voronezh community of the ROCA is served by Hieromonk Euthymius (one of Archbishop Laurus clergy) and Priest John (one of Archbishop Lazarus clergy), and as a whole the attitude of the members of this community to the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is negative. The believers who have joined the jurisdiction of the Greek Old Calendarist Matthewite Synod also avoided meeting M. Euthymia and the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church.
In Tula Vladyka Seraphim visited the catacomb monastery in the name of the holy Princess Elizabeth led by Abbess Sophia, and also about five catacomb communities in Tula province. Vladyka served two Divine Liturgies in house churches, performed needs and carried out exorcisms.
AN ATTEMPT TO SEIZE A CHURCH OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX AUTONOMOUS CHURCH IN ZHELEZNOVODSK
On December 7/20, 1999, with the blessing of the local bishop of the MP, Metropolitan Gideon (Dokukin) of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, the Cossacks of the city of Zheleznovodsk tried to seize the church of the holy equal-to-the-apostles Princess Olga, which belongs to the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, and transfer it to the MP. Not long before this, on November 15/28, 1999, after a prayer service in the Protecting Veil church of the MP, Metropolitan Gideon had openly called on the Cossacks themselves to work out and resolve the question under which jurisdiction the clergy and parishioners of the church of St. Olga should be.
Metropolitan Gideon himself already a long time ago expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that representatives of the American Church abroad are in a barbaric manner seizing Orthodox churches. In his address to the attamans of the Union of Cossacks of Russia, the All-great Kuban, Tersk and Stavropol Cossack armies, which was published in the newspaper Kavkazkaya Zdravnitsa on August 10, 1999, the metropolitan complained that with the permission and even the active support of the Cossacks schismatics cast out of the Russian Orthodox Church have seized churches in Zheleznovodsk, Zelenchuk stanitsa, and the village of Kursavka. All this, said M. Gideon, has taken place before the eyes of the Cossacks, with their permission and even with their help In the village of Zelenchuk the former ataman N. Lyashenko helped the schismatic Bojko to built an alternative church, and this in the very complicated situation prevailing in Karachaevo-Cherkesia, when Russian people especially need unity . It is not evident that the Cossacks have supported and defended Orthodoxy from the attacks of the schismatics. At best our brother-Cossacks have taken up a position of onlookers, although not only the Church canons, but even contemporary secular legislation recognises the actions of the schismatics to be contrary to law It has been bitter and humiliating for me, the spiritual father of the Caucasus, a native Cossack whitened with grey hair, to see how the Cossacks of the end of the 20th century are covering themselves with shame. They allow the self-styled bishop V. Rusantov from Suzdal, who exists on subsidies from America and from where he receives orders, a man excommunicated from the church by a Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, to appoint his men in the Cossack stanitsas Emphasising that the Cossacks, not recognising clergy and Vladyka Metropolitan, are going against Orthodoxy hand in glove with the betrayers of the Church and Russia, Metropolitan Gideon declared to the Cossacks: If you proclaim yourselves the heirs and continuers of the Cossack traditions, you must try to see that only our mother the Russian Orthodox Church should be present in your regions, and give a fitting rebuff to the schismatics and sectarians. May the Lord help you in this.
And lo! The Cossacks finally decided to act in accordance with the blessing of the metropolitan. At seven in the morning on December 20, they arrived at the home of the superior of the church of St. Olga, Fr. Roman Novakovsky, and declared that in accordance with the blessing of M. Gideon he and the other clergy are not allowed to the Divine services, and that there is nothing for them to do in the church since it is surrounded. By this time the territory around the church had been occupied by about 45 Cossacks, who had previously placed a guard at the entrance and watchmen at the telephone and the bell-tower. Nun Irina (Volokhova) and Reader Sergius Gubaev, who had been keeping watching over the church that night, were held under guard for 40 minutes. They were not allowed to the telephone and were not given the opportunity of speaking to the clergy. The Cossacks crudely and boldly pushed away the women of the parish who tried to go up to the bells and ring for the people to gather together.
When the dean, Protopriest George Novakovsky, arrived at the church, he was kept outside the fence for about 10 minutes, after which they kindly deigned to allow him onto the territory of the church. Fr. Anatolius Novakovsky, who had passed through the fence through a side gate, was met with the words: Who failed to stop this scoundrel? Fr. Roman had copies of the keys and was able to enter the baptismal church. There he shut himself in the office and rang the police and the procurators, asking them to reestablish order. Then he went out and told the Cossacks that a representative of the city procurator was heading for the church at that moment. After this declaration the Cossacks beat a retreat.
The clergy and parishioners of the church of St. Olga wrote a declaration to the procurator, which was signed by the witnesses of the illegal actions of the Cossacks, 31 people. On meeting the procurator, Fr. George and Fr. Roman asked him to evaluate the incident from a legal point of view. The city procurator informed the General procurator of the Stavropol district about what had happened.
Fr. Roman made a report about all that had happened to his Eminence Archbishop Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir.
On the whole such a clumsily handled seizure of the church inspires us with the hope that the Cossacks and the population of the city nevertheless sympathise with the schismatics.