Funeral and Burial of Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff


On November 30, His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland officiated at the funerary liturgy for Protodeacon Nikolai along with 8 priests and 4 deacons at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco, followed by the funeral, participants of which were Protopriest Alexei Poluektov, Protopriest Stefan Pavlenko, Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Protopriest George Kurtow, Protopriest Mark Gomez, Protopriest John Ocana, Protopriest Sergei Kotar, Protopriest Alexei Kotar, Protopriest Paul Volmensky, Priest Peter Shashkoff, Priest Serafim Gan, Hieromonk Tryphon, Hieromonk Juvenaly and Hieromonk James also served, joined by Archdeacon Andronik, Protodeacon Alexander Kochergin, Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis and Deacon Dimitry Jakimowicz and many other subdeacons and altar boys. Singing at the right-hand kliros was Protodeacon Vitaly Sabelnik, who served together with Protodeacon Nikolai for many years. Representatives of several Local Churches also prayed at the Cathedral.

Reading the prayer of absolution over the reposed Protodeacon Nikolai, Bishop Peter turned to the worshipers, who gathered in great numbers, delivering a sermon in which he told of the life of Fr Protodeacon and of the love that St John (Maximovich, +1966) had for this humble servant of the altar, whom he had ordained in 1963, when Deacon Nikolai was only 21.

The Cathedral choir sang beautifully under the direction of V.V. Krassovsky. The most touching moments of the funerary services were the singing of A Mercy of Peace (the "Funerary" version by Arkhangelsky, which Protodeacon Nikolai always loved), Give rest, o our Savior, Thou, alone art Immortal, the funerary augmented litany by Arkhangelsky and the antiphonal version of the troparia and sticheras by the hierarchal choir and the clergy during the funeral.

The burial was performed at the Serbian Cemetery in Colma, where many Russian people were buried who ended their earthly days in California.

Then all went to the large hall of SS Cyril and Methodius High School at the Cathedral, where the Sisterhood organized a commemorative trapeza, which was held in a warm atmosphere, for here, all the priests, headed by Bishop Peter, shared their kind, good and edifying remembrances of Protodeacon Nikolai. The fathers recalled the profound faith of Protodeacon Nikolai, his pious service, his prayerfulness, his thunderous voice, physical strength, his self-sacrificing nature, his kindness, humor and intellectual curiosity. One of the clergymen recalled how Protodeacon Nikolai could not read the Passion Gospels easily—that he would always pause, tears flowing, especially when he reached the part of Peter's triple renunciation. The father of Protodeacon Nikolai spoke at the trapeza, as well as his godmother, who remembered his childhood; Reader V.V. Krassovsky spoke a few kind, warm words on behalf of the choir singers and relatives of the reposed, and P.N. Lukianov, the nephew of Bishop Peter, on behalf of the altar servants, remembered a few instances which bore witness to the kindness of Protodeacon Nikolai, who was always eager to help people.

In conclusion, Bishop Peter shared his memory of something that happened to an Orthodox pilgrim from New York who came to San Francisco for Pascha. During the booming intonation of Protodeacon Nikolai of the Paschal Gospel during the early-morning Paschal liturgy at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," she suddenly felt that the earth trembled. The service, and especially the reading of Protodeacon Nikolai, who was always elated during Pascha, had a great effect on the woman. It turned out later that there was an actual earthquake then, which she read about the following morning in the newspaper. Tremors are, of course, a common occurrence in San Francisco. Vladyka Peter then called upon everyone to pray with love and gratitude for the repose of Fr Protodeacon, who did so much good for the Church and for mankind. In leaving us, he leaves behind his light, his kind example of service to God and men, which we should emulate and which should inspire and strengthen us on our path to God.

The following evening, on the ninth day of the death of Protodeacon Nikolai, Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America conducted a pannikhida in the Cathedral along with Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Protopriest Mark Gomez and Protopriest Sergei Kotar, Priest Serafim Gan and Hieromonk James, along with Archdeacon Andronik, Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis and Deacon Dimitry Jakimowicz. Archbishop Kyrill had been in the Holy Land on church affairs and so could not officiate at the funeral and see Protodeacon Nikolai off to the "destination of the whole world."

We offer our readers photographs of the funeral and burial of Protodeacon Nikolai taken by the Senior Clergyman of the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," Protopriest Peter Perekrestov.