Conference Goes to Fort Ross
June 30, the participants of the Youth Conference departed for the
southernmost point of the Russian Empire, on the American continent:
Protopriest Yaroslav Belikoff gave a speech on the spiritual legacy
of the Western American Diocese.
noted that despite the fact that the Western American Diocese is
fairly new, it still has a wide spectrum of saints, though few in
number: an saint equal-to-the-apostles, a bishop-martyr, a bishop
saint, a martyr, a saint, a saint-in-poverty.
The first Orthodox
clergymen arriving in America in 1794 were the Valaam monks. Among
them was Saint Juvenaly, martyred in the depths of Alaska in 1796
while preaching the Word of God among the natives. Another saint
of the era was St. Herman of Alaska (+ 1836).
From the life
of St. Herman, we learn of the martyric death of St. Peter the Aleut.
He was baptized in Alaska. Working for the Russian-American Company,
Martyr Peter was taken captive by the Spanish in Southern California.
The Jesuits tried to force him to accept a Roman Catholic baptism,
but the martyr firmly stated that he was already baptized, showing
them the cross he wore around his neck. The Jesuits did not relent,
and began torturing him, chopping off his toes one by one, then
his fingers. Peter staunchly refused to betray his faith, and died
from the loss of blood (1815).
In 1823, Priest
John Veniaminov came to Alaska, the future Metropolitan of Moscow
(+1869). His stunning labors are described in many books. In 1839,
following the death of his wife, he entered monkhood, was consecrated
bishop and sent to America. Thus he became the first Orthodox bishop
in the New World. For his preaching among the natives, he was placed
among the ranks of the saints as an Equal-to-the-Apostles.
Tikhon (Belyavin), Patriarch of Moscow, was Bishop of Alaska and
Aleut from 1898 to 1900 (residing in Sitka), and then Bishop of
North America (residing in New York) from 1900 to 1907.
Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, was the only saint of
the Western American Diocese.
briefly noted Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, who can be called
a confessor: he was sentenced to 8 years in a concentration camp,
but was able to flee from the Solovetsk camp. Arriving in San Francisco,
Fr. Michael laid the foundations for the glorification of the Holy
New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
Yaroslav told of Hieromonk Seraphim Rose. Fr. Seraphim is valued
for his varied life before his conversion to Orthodoxy. By the age
of 14, he had already been a Baptist and a Methodist, after which
he turned away from faith in God completely, became and agnostic,
seriously studied Buddhism and Chinese philosophy. He was also a
good example of the broadly popular American consumerist culture
in the worst sense of the word. Thanks to all this "baggage,"
in accepting Orthodoxy, Fr. Seraphim was able to understand the
depth of tragedy of contemporary mankind, which, thanks to globalism,
is found in every corner of the world. Fr. Seraphim left a wealthy
legacy of writings, and he has helped many understand themselves
better, understand contemporary society and find within themselves,
most importantly, faith in God in precisely the way the Lord Himself
teaches us, through His Church.