Find by Year/Month

Find by Category


By Anatole Efimovich Portnoff

Your Beatitude, Dear Vladyko Theodosius, our merciful father! Highly respected Archpastors and Pastors: Esteemed ladies and gentlemen!

Towards the beginning of the twentieth century, 86 years ago, a six year old boy named Tolya – serving as an acolyte to His Eminence Methodius, Archbishop of Chelyabinsk and Orienburg, Metropolitan of all Siberia, in the Holy Trinity Cathedral – never imagined that 86 years later, at the end of the twentieth century, he would be thousands upon thousands of kilometers away from his dear homeland-Orthodox Mother Russia-in the God-protected country of Canada, specifically in the beautiful city of Vancouver, where now, as a ninety-two year old elder, he is enabled by God’s mercy to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our beloved Holy Resurrection Church. Beneath the spiritual protection of the holy temple, I have spent 74 years of my life.

We Russian refugees worked very hard to erect and maintain God’s Churches on this continent, but the greatest praise and honor is due to both past and present Russian American and Canadian priests. In very difficult circumstances the priests in the past laid the foundations of the Orthodox faith. Transplanted from Russia to a foreign land, today’s priests continue with distinction and wisdom to be at the head of this holy work.

Seventy-five years ago, an impoverished gray-haired elderly man Archimandrite Antonin (Pokrovsky) who became later Archbishop of San Francisco – by the miraculous providence of God arrived in Vancouver with no money and no English. One of the Russian immigrants helped him find a little house, which had no heat but at least had light and a gas stove in the kitchen. On the front of the building, he hung a little sign, which bore the inscription in Russian, “Holy Resurrection Russian Greek Catholic Church”. This Russian Apostle, as the Canadian inhabitants of Vancouver called him, was the first to light a little candle of the Orthodox faith in British Columbia. And this little candle now burns bright with its flame for 75 years. This is the case, not in a little house, but in a beautiful large Sobor. Honor, praise, the Kingdom of Heaven and memory eternal to all the departed Russian priests who without thought of their own reward served the good of the Orthodox faith and also to all the parishioners of whatever background, who under very difficult circumstances worked for this holy Church.

Years went by, and the Russian Orthodox Church in America and Canada, ceasing being Russian and having received Autocephaly from the Mother Church of Russia, became the self-governing Orthodox Church in America (and Canada). I will not hide the fact that Russian people easily assimilate in a foreign environment. The older generations are dying, and from the young generations only a small percentage remains Russian, and an even smaller percentage remains Orthodox. For this reason, glory is to the Lord God, that on our North American continent today, we find many centers of Orthodoxy.

When in the mid-1970s, our primate Metropolitan Iriney fell ill, All-American Council was held in Montreal to elect a new Metropolitan of all America and Canada. Made up of both clergy and laity, the council spent several days in prayer and deliberations before electing – as seemed good to the Holy Spirit His Grace, the Right Rev. Theodosius, Bishop of Pittsburgh to be the new head of our Church.

Almost unknown to us in Canada, he was a born American, and rather young Vladika, the son of Little-Russian immigrants. To many he seemed an odd choice for the primacy of the Church, because there were other bishops that had greater seniority. We did not realize then that this was the work of God’s providence – the Russian Orthodox Metropolia having received Autocephaly, entered into a new stage of life, and thus needed a new kind of leader.

The Lord God Himself to the most important and most difficult office in North American Orthodoxy chose his Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius. Full of deep faith, energy, intelligence, abounding in love – he also possesses an outstanding organizational talent. I am not mistaken in saying that Metropolitan Theodosius has raised Orthodoxy in America and Canada to new heights. Accept from me – an old man – Vladyko, praise honor, and a profound prostration! Then I would joyously shout aloud: “Axios! Axios! Axios!”

Your Beatitude: may the Lord God grant you good health, and may He preserve you for many years! “Eispolla eti, Despota”.

Comments are closed.