Archbishop Gabriel’s visitation to the Church of All Saints in Calgary

11 April 2013

On March 28-31 His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel visited the Parish of All Saints of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Calgary. His Eminence led the Sacrament of Holy Unction, in which, beside him, took part His Grace Bishop Iov, The Administrator of the Patriarch Parishes in Canada, and also the reverend priors of the Church of All Saints and The Church of John Chrysostom in Calgary: archpriest father Peter Shashkov, priest father Svyatoslav Dubanenko, as well as the reverend prior of the Church of the Holy Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God in Lethbridge – priest father Antony.
An unbelievable amount of people gathered for this Service; our hierarchs and priests were anointing everybody with a special oil mixed with wine and were bestowing on the praying people their episcopal and priest’s blessings. It seemed also that all heavenly angels came down unseen to the small church of All Saints in order to worship God with us… Many people were holding candles; many were standing on their knees, praying and crying at the same time. How many souls received true relief and consolation in that evening! How many people, while leaving after the service, were carrying in their hearts the fortified faith and love to God! How many faces were full with God’s light! How touching it was to hear the words of love addressed to the old friends and absolutely strange or hardly known people! It is indeed that “The Light of Christ enlightens everyone!”
After the Sacrament of Anointing with Holy Oil everybody was experiencing something close to the sense of flight: when one wants to be kind to others and do only good deeds, because the soul of a person at this time is ruled with the Holy Spirit that secretly descends into it. This elevating feeling was multiplied also by the realization that the Service that we were attending, was also an outstanding historical event: for the 80 years of the existence of our Parish it was the first time when the two hierarchs were serving a Divine Service in it together, and beside His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel was standing His Grace Bishop Iov, the Administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in Canada. This unusual Service was very warm and reciprocally friendly.
In the following two days of his visit His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel also headed two Hierarchal Divine Liturgies at the Church of All Saints: on Saturday and Sunday mornings. On Saturday the Memorial Service- the Universal “Panikhida”- took place as well, because the 29th of March was also the so-called “Parent’s Saturday”, on which we commemorate those that have already reposed.… On that Service not only the relatives and friends of our parishioners were remembered, but also those white Kazaks that perished during the period of red terror in Russia after the bolshevik revolution. Coincidently, on the very same day the recently organized Kazak Society in Calgary was celebrating their Name-day: the Day of their Heavenly Protector- Saint Alexis, the Man of God.
On Sunday the parishioners of the Church of All Saints prepared a special feast-“trapeza”- for Vladika Gabriel. His Eminence thanked everybody in His Speech for the care and efforts to make his visit a memorable event; His Eminence also expressed hope that the parishes of the Western Canada, and of our Province of Alberta in particular, will gradually be filled with the newly come immigrants from Russia and from the countries that recently became independent from Russia, but where the percentage of the Russian population is still very high. Vladika also noted that if the number of the parishioners of the two Russian Churches in Calgary increases dramatically in the future, we can consider the possibility of which people in our city have recently been dreaming of: building a new and bigger Russian Orthodox Church or a Cathedral. His Eminence also announced that at the beginning of June we may expect the arrival to Calgary the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, and in September, possibly, – the arrival of another Miracle-working Icon of the Mother of God from Russia, which is called the “Softener of Evil Hearts.“
After the lunch, Vladika Gabriel spent some time talking with the families of the clergy of the Church of All Saints, with the active parishioners and the members of the Parish council and the Sisterhood, as well as the teachers of the Sunday school. His Eminence had for everybody a kind and encouraging word, paid attention to everybody’s problems, and bestowed on everyone his Archbishop’s blessing. He knew many of the parishioners of the Church of All Saints from his previous visits to Calgary and gave his blessing to many of them for either singing in the choir, or painting icons, or studying in Jordanville Seminary.
The Archdeacon father Alexander, who was accompanying His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel in the trip, also took part in all Services and, according to the tradition that he started on his previous visits in our Church, he, while standing on the ambo, was conducting the singing of the two main prayers, sung during the Divine Liturgy by everyone: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…” and “Our Father…”
It was sad that the time of the visit of His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel passed so quickly; everybody wished Vladika could stay longer, for it is a boundless blessing to be under the direct Archbishop’s benediction, and everybody clearly sensed that… The parishioners of the Church of All Saints will be eagerly waiting for the next visit of our ruling Hierarch.

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