Very Reverend Father Michael Fourik
Fr.Michael Fourik was born in the Trans-Carpathia Region of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1956. In 1976 he enrolled in the Moscow Seminary, located in the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, in the city of Sergiev Posad near Moscow. Upon completing the four-year program, Michael Fourik was enrolled in the Moscow Theological Academy, where he studied for another four years. He wrote his postgraduate thesis on the subject of church archeology – about the church of the Holy Trinity in Nikitniki, in Moscow. The Learned Council recommended him for the doctoral program, in which Michael Fourik was enrolled from 1984 to 1987 and wrote a book about the history and the contemporary situation of the Patriarchal parishes in Hungary. At the same time in 1984-1988 he worked at the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. He also conducted a choir at the Church of “Znamenie” in Moscow.
In May 1987 the future priest was married; matushka Yelena is a teacher of English. On August 5 of the same year he was ordained a deacon, and on August 25, the Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos, he was ordained by the Metropolitan Sergius in Odessa to the priesthood. For one year Fr. Michael served in Moscow in the Transfiguration Church in Bogorodskoye, and in August 1988 he was sent to Canada to serve the Patriarchal parishes in Alberta. For 11 years he nourished those 13 rural parishes. His sons Nestor and Cyril were born in Canada; daughter Anastasia was born earlier in Moscow. In the summer of 1999 Fr. Michael, elevated by that time to the dignity of archpriest, petitioned the Patriarch to allow him to enter the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America; the request was granted, and the transition took place in October 1999.
This is in the words of Fr. Michael himself:
The move was prompted first of all by my acquaintance with Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, who invited me several times to the Archdiocesan Councils that took place in Alberta. These meetings convinced me that the OCA is indeed the Church that will preserve the Orthodox faith in Canada. Vladyka Seraphim works very hard, and his labours give hope that Church life in the Archdiocese will grow livelier. All clergy and parishioners are called upon to help this cause. Vladyka Seraphim is a model spiritual guide. People must look to their priests and bishops for spiritual leadership. Fr. Andrew was an example for all; I pray to God that He strengthen me, that I may serve the parish as diligently as my predecessor did. I trust that with God’s help, with the assistance of Fr. Andrew and the parishioners, we will find ways to ensure spiritual growth in the parish, to enliven Church life. We need to strengthen the church choir, recruit new singers, because church singing is very important, it plays a very big role in an Orthodox worship. When church singing is beautiful and harmonious, it helps people pray instead of distracting them. I thank matushka Henriette, may God grant her strength to continue directing the choir. I thank Fr. Andrew for his diligent labors, God grant that he continues to serve here for many years to come.
In order to develop spiritual life, we may have lectures on different topics, such as the lives of Saints, that people may have knowledge of the models of saintly living; as well as theological and historical topics, the Old and the New Testaments. I hear of plans to organize a youth group in the parish – this is very good, it will involve many people to participate more actively in church life.
It gladdens me that there are so many Russian-speaking parishioners here together with Canadians. I am used to Russian customs, so I’m glad to have found such a parish, so close to my heart. The church itself reminds me of the temples of Moscow, I feel myself as if in Russia when I enter the church – this is dear to me. Yet it is my pastoral wish to serve the Orthodox faith on the Canadian land, serving equally the needs of Canadians and Russians.
I wish for mutual understanding, that we have as few misunderstandings as possible that we all strive for peaceful life. I exhort the parishioners to come to church as often as possible, to be mindful of their church’s needs, for it is for our benefit and salvation.