In Memory of Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff

The history of the Russian Orthodox Church, in her rituals, offers an especially grand figure: the Russian Orthodox protodeacon of the hierarchal service.

Russian writers before the revolution tried to colorfully paint the pious image of these servants of the Church of God, who, with their thunderous voices delivering the holy truths of the Gospels and the inspired appeals of the litanies, shook the very walls of the temple of God.

The great Russian writer N.S. Leskov, in his work "Soboryane" incarnated in Russian literature the unforgettable image of Deacon Akhilla, drawing together a pious appearance and soul, Christian faith and humility and a kind heart responsive to all those in sorrow.

The history of the Russian Orthodox Church inscribed in her pages before the revolution the finest examples of "Christ's deacons," the famous Protodeacons Rozov, Malinin, Bystrov and Zdikhovsky.

In Irkutsk, Eastern Siberia, live the memories of the protodeacons known throughout all of Siberia—Slovtsovskii, Evtifeev, Zapletaev, Troitskii and Ivanov, and from the city of Vladivostok in the Far East: Ostrovidov, Plaksin and Kut'rev.

Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff intones the great prokeimenon during the great Paschal vespers at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco. Behind him is Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000) of blessed memory

To this glorious family of protodeacons belongs the now-reposed Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff, who began his service to the Church in Harbin, China, at the church of the "House of Mercy," where he was the staff-bearer of Metropolitan Nestor (Anisimov, +1962). At the beginning of the 1960's, the future Protodeacon Nikolai studied at the seminary of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, where, wishing to emulate St Seraphim of Sarov, secretly prayed upon a rock in his cell. They only learned of this after his departure from the seminary, when several seminarians who were preparing to move in to his room had to remove an enormous rock, which Nikolai, possessing great physical strength, brought into his cell himself. At the wedding of the future protodeacon, performed by the clergy of the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco, St John (Maximovich, +1966), though he did not serve, at the appropriate moment, kissed the altar table, emerged through the royal doors, approached the groom and bride in his minor episcopal vestments and mantle, and, placing upon their heads the crowns, read the sacramental prayers of matrimony: "Lord our God, with glory and honor I wed." In 1963, he was ordained by St John into the deaconate in the Cathedral. Many long-time parishioners remember how the young Deacon Nikolai wept when he greeted the coffin of St John when it arrived in San Francisco from Seattle, where the man of God suddenly died while accompanying the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God on its travels.

His pious appearance, the powerful and magnificent, cathedral-filling voice of the reposed gives us the right to include him in the Pleiades of the aforementioned protodeacons, the servants of the altar of God. In the person of the reposed, a worthy representative of the sacred ranks of the deaconate departed, whose voice imparted solemnity in prayer; in his person also, an Orthodox Christian of deep faith departed, too. For me, as a former altar boy, it was always a joy to hold the service book for Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000) of blessed memory while he served, the deaconate being led by the pious Fr Protodeacon Nikolai. My heart was warmed by their piety and prayerfulness, the profound faith and humility with which they served divine liturgy. Protodeacon Nikolai's knowledge of books always struck me; he loved history and especially the history of our Russian Church.

Despite his sickness, which had prevented him from serving for several years, Protodeacon Nikolai bore his cross without grumbling, finding consolation in his submissiveness to the will of God, and in prayer. May this obedience to God's will strengthen and unite us in prayer for the repose of his soul. May God grant the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal peace to the newly-departed Protodeacon Nikolai!

Priest S.G.