GERMAN DIOCESE: June 22, 2004

In Memory of Priest Andrei Trufanov
From the Editors: On Bright Week, the rector of the Russian Church in Bari, Priest Andrei Trufanov, died unexpectedly. His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain sent the following item to the Synodal website, written by his spiritual son:

Christ is Risen!

On the night of the Resurrection of Christ, on Bright Monday, Priest Andrei Trufanov died at the age of 44. He died of a heart attack. He is now at peace. This terrible news shook us to our foundations. The mind refuses to accept it.

On Resurrection Sunday, I spoke with him on the phone, unfortunately, only briefly: he had just served liturgy and was preparing for the feast. On Bright Tuesday, we were already in Bari. On the way there, we read from the Gospel and the Paschal canon in turn. It was impossible to change anything. The acceptance of his bright death grew, and of the time of the presentation of his soul to the Lord God.

Not everyone—no, not by far—earns the mercy of dying on Pascha. The feeling of utter loss faded away. We wished to bid farewell to him and to support his Matushka, Marina.

Fr. Andrei was in church. He lay in the coffin in his white Paschal priestly vestments. His face, according to tradition, was covered. Sometime later, our ruling Bishop Ambroise of Vevey and Protodeacon Peter Figurek arrived. Vespers was performed. Fr. Alexander Zaitsev, who traveled with us, concelebrated with Vladyka Ambroise.

On the following morning, at 7 am, liturgy began. The funeral of a priest necessarily begins with a liturgy. Following this is the funeral service itself. There were many parishioners and friends in attendance. His Italian friends assumed all the earthly arrangements and helped the family of Fr. Andrei every way possible. During all services, as always, Fr. Andrei's family participated. The eldest son, Igor (19 years old), read the Gospel, Matushka read and sang. At about 10 o'clock they departed for the cemetery. We followed the coffin and sang the Paschal sticherion, which Fr. Andrei loved greatly. After a brief funerary litany, the burial commenced. Fr. Andrei was buried in the cemetery of the old city, which is no more than one kilometer, as the crow flies, from the basilica of St. Nicholas.

The matushka and several other women had organized a trapeza, which immediately followed, and we remembered our batiushka. Fr. Andrei was always a strict, but loving pastor. He was first of all demanding of himself and those closest to him and thus showed us an example of constant and uncompromising struggle with our sin. We remembered how we first met him, a future priest, over 10 years ago. Fr. Andrei was first a parishioner in the Berlin parish, then a reader, ordained by His Eminence Archbishop Mark into the priesthood, and finally became our parish priest. In Berlin, he had three children: Ekaterina (12 years old), Simeon (7 years old), Elena (6 years old). Fr. Andrei was a remarkable icon painter. He painted icons and plashchanitsy with great piety, in the ancient Russian style. Our parish was left with a great number of his icons. He also painted antimensia upon which the bishops and priests of our Church now serve.

Four years ago, His Grace Bishop Ambroise accepted Fr. Andrei into the ranks of the clergy of his diocese and appointed him to Bari, where Fr. Andrei labored with success while enduring many temptations. Pilgrims visiting Bari always speak of him with warmth, mentioning his love for work and of his staid Orthodox spirit.

Bishop Ambroise of Vevey blessed Matushka Marina and her children to remain living at the church and to help the new priest during services. On the following day, we gathered to venerate the relics of St. Nicholas. The reliquary is protected by a gate, which can only be opened by a steward in the presence of the rector. We had gone there many times with Fr. Andrei, but now we are left orphaned, and despite our repeated requests, we were not allowed in. We were talking amongst ourselves, saying that we were just with our batiushka, that everything was alright. Suddenly, a Catholic prelate came in and ordered the steward to open the gates and let us in.

We all suffered a terrible loss, the Lord called to Himself our beloved priest, brother, friend, but he gave us a fervent supplicator before God, an intercessor who prays for us great sinners, in heaven.

Give rest, O God, unto Your servant Priest Andrei overlooking all his offenses, willing and unwilling, and grant him the Kingdom of Heaven.

Igor Metzger
Parish of the Protection of the Mother of God, BerlinBy the ukase of the Synod of Bishops, a plate collection is to be made to benefit the family of the reposed Fr. Andrei Trufanov.

Igor Metzger sent the letter of Fr. Andrei's matushka addressed to a priest: "For all who remember our batiushka, Fr. Andrei, to commemorate him with a kind word and to pray for his repose." Here is the letter:

"As per your request, I wished to write to you a few details of the death of my husband, Fr. Andrei. During Passion Week, Fr. Andrei performed all the services: on Great Thursday, Liturgy and the reading of the 12 Gospels, on Friday, the bringing out of the plashchanitsa and matins. On Pascha, there was a procession of the cross, but he did not serve liturgy at night, but on Sunday at 10 am, at the request of the parishioners. His sermon was not joyful, not a Paschal one—it was sad and strict—on repentance, as were all his sermons. After the services we all participated in the feast, everything was as usual, but he was somewhat sad. That evening he blessed us all and went to his room, and the next morning I already found him dead; as the doctors said, from a heart attack.

Bishop Ambroise performed his funeral, he was buried in Bari on Wednesday, April 14th. We followed the coffin and sang his favorite Paschal canon. When we lived in Berlin, during Bright Week he sang right on the street as loud as he could, and passers-by looked at him in bewilderment.

This is the greatest loss for us, but for everything, glory to our Lord! It was God's will that he served here as a priest next to the relics of St. Nicholas, there were many sorrows and tribulations, but he endured everything and confessed the Truth. Maybe the Lord replaced physical suffering with spiritual suffering during his final days. You read his journal, and you know that he endured all, preaching the Word of God. He accepted all insults (he was accused of being possessed and of being insane) close to heart, and I, in my feebleness, sometimes tried to convince him otherwise, but he would reply: "I am a priest, the Lord will ask me what I did for the preaching of the Gospel, and even if one person in a hundred will become closer to the Lord, that would mean I did not struggle for naught."

And indeed, people write that their lives changed from the time that they came to know Fr. Andrei. I thank the Lord that He allowed me to be with such a talented, righteous, uncompromising person, a man of the greatest faith in our Lord Jesus Christ—almost 25 years—he left four children behind. They loved him greatly and now see him in dreams, younger and joyful (in red shoes, as my six-year-old daughter tells me). Even now, they are joyful, knowing that Papa is with the Lord, praying for us."

Matushka Marina Trufanova thanks everyone for the donations already received and prays for all the donors.