The visit of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel to Calgary for Celebration of the Patronal Feast of the Saint John Chrysostom church

2 December 2013

Form the 22d to the 24th of November His Eminence Archbishop of Montreal and Canada Gabriel visited Calgary, honouring with His presence the celebration of the Patronal Feast of the new parish, that was organized in Alberta 4 years ago due to the efforts of its priest – Father Svyatoslav Doubanenko. By the Grace of God, this parish had grown so suddenly, and started to attract people (the majority of which are the recent immigrants from Russia and the countries that belonged to Russia in the past) so quickly, that soon after its organization came forth the possibility to talk about acquiring its own church building… Then the local God-Loving Catholics donated to our new Orthodox parish the building of their old Church, but not right away… This building for a long time stayed chattered and empty, periodically attracting only homeless, while its surroundings seemed more like a scrapyard than the ground belonging to a Christian parish… Our parishioners noticed that the 100-year old church, by many of its architectural features, rather reminds an Orthodox, than a Catholic temple… The parish of Father Svyatoslav asked a permission to restore this historical building for conducting Christian Orthodox Services there temporarily. When the representatives of the Catholic community in Calgary saw how well Russians restored the God’s temple, they were deeply touched and decided to present it to Father Svyuatoslav’s parish as a gift. They officially “sold” the building for a symbolical sum of a couple of dollars…
Miracles do happen in this world – and not somewhere far away, but right in front of our eyes… Undoubtedly, the wonder of acquiring a proper building by a new parish happened because of the Celestial Providence and according to God’s Sacred Will, but also as a Divine answer to the Holy prayers of those, who were asking God for this church and this congregation… It is important to note that this is the only parish of the world-wide Russian Orthodox Church Abroad that has as its Divine Patron and a Protector Saint John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople. This name was given to the new parish by His Eminence the Archbishop of Montreal and Canada Vladika Gabriel, and since that time for already 4 years Saint John Chrysostom, the Church Hierarch and a famous religious writer, who is also known as one of the Holy Fathers of Orthodoxy, and whose memory we celebrated on the 24 of November, has been blessing and protecting the city of Calgary…
His Eminence Vladika Gabriel headed both Vesper Service on Saturday, November the 23d, and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, November the 24th. The celebration of the Patron of the Parish Feast started a little earlier this year ( transferred from the 26th of the same month) in order to let as many people as possible to participate in it… Providentially, it coincided with another great Feast – the Celebration of the Day of The Montreal Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God- the main sacred object in our Montreal and Canadian Diocese ( Celebrated on November the 24th). That is why at the end of the Liturgy the second icon was placed beside the main church icon of Saint John Chrysostom in the very middle of the temple. It was the copy of the Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Mother of God, belonging to the prior of another Calgary church – of All Saint, archpriest Peter Shashkov, who, as a good neighbor, brought it to the Saint John Chrysostom’s church’s celebration. After the Divine Liturgy special short prayers –moleben-was offered to Our Lady and the Mother of God in front of this icon.
The new church was shining with cleanliness and beauty, all decorated with flowers , and – as somebody noted – reminded a small painted wooden box, for inside it is all paneled with wood… It was a special delight to see many icons, some of which were made by Father Svyatoslav’s parishioners themselves. For its short 4-year old history the parish had already raised their own icon-painter- the servant of God- Alla Kireeva, who now, having received the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel, organizes in Calgary an icon-painting shop and a school of icon–painting… The choir, conducted by its organizer and a constant regent Matushka Natalia Savitskaya, was singing splendidly in a wonderful, old-Russian manner…
Three priests- Father Peter Shashkov, Father Svyatoslav Doubanenko and Father Victor Kramarenko were co-celebrating to His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel. Father Victor is a new priest of our Diocese, who, according to the Blessing of His Eminence Vladika Gabriel, just recently moved to Canada from Ukraine. For many years he belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy, serving there as a deacon, but on the 4th of November of this year in Edmonton he was ordained into priesthood by His Grace Vladika Iov ,The Bishop of Kashira and the administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in Canada. Archpriest George Primak, who now is retired, also was present among the clergy on that Service. Father George for many years had been the prior of the Church of All Saints and the only priest in our city. He became a spiritual guide and a spiritual father for many and many of the parishioners of the Russian Church of All Saints… It might be rightly stated that 5 – 10 years ago all spiritual life of the city was concentrated around this old and faithful servant of God.
Protodeacon Vassiliy Milonov ( Pokrov’s Church- memorial in Ottawa, Ontario), deacon Dmitry Grigoryev and deacon George Miscu ( The church of All Saints, Calgary, Alberta) and deacon Alexander Savitsky (The church of Saint John Chrysostom)also took place in the Divine Liturgy. During reading The Hours, Vladika Gabriel ordained with a hypo-deacon status the former reader of the Church of Saint John Chrysostom, Father Eugene Prokhin. On the same Liturgy on Sunday the 24th, His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel awarded the prior of Saint John Chrysostom’s church, Father Svyatoslav, with a golden Cross for all efforts and hard work performed by him for the formation of a new parish and restoration of the old church building. Vladika also conferred the right of wearing a coif to the newly ordained priest Victor Kramarenko for his long-term service to the Russian Orthodox Church as a deacon.
The Church that was celebrating its Names Day is small, but the worshippers on those Services were numerous: beside its own parishioners, the other two churches (the Church of All Saints in Calgary and a recently formed parish of Saint George in Red Deer) came to share the joy of their neighbor.
I was looking at the people and saw brightened faces that reflected both spiritual joy and, at the same time, the solemnity of the moment. Everybody became especially attentive when Vladika Gabriel started to preach. He reminded, first of all, of what a great enlightener was Saint John, the Archbishop of Constantinople, who is also known as “Chrysostom” ( or “ Gold-Speaking ”) and to whom we are obliged for having the text of the Divine Liturgy, which is served in our Orthodox Church most often during the year. Vladika mentioned that he was really glad to see more and more new parishioners that are now filling our churches, and not only coming to God themselves, but also bringing to Christ their own children. His Eminence underlined that only the Church and belonging to the Church can save our children from the influence of the godless world that is lying in sins and evilness… In his sermon Vladika summoned to start conducting catechistical and educational missionary work by telling other people about Orthodox Faith and bringing those who had not yet come to the Church themselves, to Faith, but first and foremost of all, to continue fighting for the souls of our own children.
With this purpose Vladika Gabriel blessed the program of various catechistic and cultural- educational events and projects. Among them is the regular organization of Christmas and Easter concerts and staged performances for our youth ( similar to those that have been for many years organized by the parishioners of the Church of All Saints), organization of the parish school with The Law of God, taught as the main subject ( similar to the school that was organized in this year on the basis of the previously existing Sunday school, by the efforts of Father Peter and Matushka Nina Shashkov and with the help of the parishioners-volunteers of the Church of All Saints). The Parish of Father Svyatoslav stepped forward with another- and truly grandiose initiative: to build a Christian Orthodox cultural Center, where they are planning to open a kindergarten for Russian kids, the rotary house for the Russian retied immigrants, an icon-painting shop and the refectory for the Church of Saint John Chrysostom – just to name a few…
In his preaching His Eminence Vladika Gabriel reminded also about the history of The Montreal Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God and its perpetual Keeper – memorable brother Jose Munoz Cortez (+1997). The majority of our old parishioners and the priests of the Canadian Diocese knew Brother Jose very well, and many times witnessed the Miracle of Myrrh-Streaming … Let us remember that everything is possible for God, Our Lord, and, therefore, let us hope that once in Calgary, as well as in other places in Canada, new Orthodox Churches and temples will grow – the churches that will gather under their protection more and more Russian people, as well as people of any other nations, for Orthodoxy since its origin has always been multi-cultured. The same process of returning people to the Church now is going on with a tremendous speed in Russia!
The Patron Day Feast in the Church of Saint John Chrysostom in Calgary ended by a wonderful winter picnic with shish –kebob, Russian famously know soup “rossolnik” and many baking goods, with which hard-working parishioners entertained our Ruling Hierarch and multiple clergy, as well as other dear guests, who came to share the joy of the Patron Day’s celebration.

Participant of the Feast.

Photo Album:

Church Service