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Anatole Portnoff – Canada Centennial Celebration


by Anatole E. Portnoff

Our celebration of the Canada Centennial concluded on December 24, 1967 with a memorable, even historical day in the life of the Holy Resurrection Church and the Russian Orthodox Society. The Most Rev. Ireney, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, visited our blessed city of Vancouver.

His Beatitude, accompanied by archdeacon Fr. Paul Samoilovich, was met at the airport by the rector Fr. Oleg Boldireff, ROS president Mr. A.E.Portnoff and several parishioners. Fortunately, the snow that fell the day before melted overnight, and the gentle sun turned the winter day into spring.

The church was fully lit, and Vladyka was satisfied with the beauty of the temple. Fr. Oleg held a prayer service in honor of the dear guest, and matushka invited all to breakfast. The Metropolitan looks vigorous and full of energy, despite his years. His high rank is obvious at first sight, yet he is notably simple and kind in dealing with people. He is an attentive listener, and in his presence one is at ease.

On Saturday Vladyka was greeted in church with bells. The choir, led by regent E. A. Andreyev, sang “It Is Truly Met”. Vladyka proceeded in the altar, and Vespers was celebrated. Fr. Apostolos, rector of the Greek church, participated. Our old friend Fr. Paul elevated the service with his beautiful voice. Afterwards the Ladies’ Auxiliary served tea in the upper hall, and Vladyka talked to his flock in a relaxed atmosphere.

On Sunday Vladyka was met in the church’s anteroom with bells, the warden Mr. S. A. Levlyuk presented bread-and-salt, and ROS president Mr. Portnoff said a greeting. The rector and the archdeacon met the Metropolitan in the church to the singing of  “It Is Truly Met”. A Pontifical service is always solemn and grand, but this one was special, for the Orthodox Christians and their Primate felt unity of prayer. The choir gave excellent renditions of familiar hymns by Bortnyansky, Archangelsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and other composers. Fr. Oleg said a deeply felt speech. Vladyka presented a gramota to the choir and regent Mr. Andreyev for their devoted service to the Church. He blessed the reader Mr. T. I. Nahorny for his devoted service.

After the Divine Liturgy all present were invited to a fasting lunch prepared by the Ladies Auxiliary. Many parishioners were present, in spite of it being Christmas Eve. The ROS president said a greeting speech. His Beatitude Ireney thanked everyone and said that he might visit Vancouver next year on his way to Alaska, to dedicate the new Archangel Michael Cathedral. After the lunch the people received his blessing, and our beloved Primate found a kind word for everyone. At 3 p.m. the Metropolitan and the archdeacon left for the airport and departed to Seattle for the Patronal feast of the St. Spiridon Church.

That was the solemn conclusion of our Canada Centennial Year, and it will last in our memories. May the Lord God grant our dear and deeply respected Primate the health and energy he needs in his great and important service to the Orthodox Christian Church on this continent.

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