Restoration of an Old Tradition
In the 1950's, on Bright Week of the Orthodox Pascha of the Lord,
the hierarchy of the Canadian Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia was traditionally invited to a special reception
at the Mayor's Residence of Montreal, where the Ruling Bishop gave
his host a red egg symbolizing the Resurrection of the Lord. This
tradition of the Cathedral City of the Canadian Diocese, which,
as is known, dates back to the times of the Apostles, was unfortunately
abandoned in the second half of last century, and for almost 50
years was forgotten.
During the preparations for the 75th anniversary of St Nicholas
Cathedral in Montreal, one of its veteran parishioners, Petr Pavlovich
Paganuzzi, discovered an old black-and-white photograph recording
such a ceremony of the awarding of an egg to the Mayor at the time
by Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk) of blessed memory. This photograph
probably dated back to Pascha 1955.
At the banquet reception held in December 2004, Mrs Elene Photopoulos,
a long-time parishioner of St Nicholas Cathedral, Head of the Municipal
Council of Mont-Royal, gave the visiting Metropolitan Laurus a Mayoral
Decree and proposed that this good tradition of Paschal receptions
be restored, for which the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia gave his blessing.
we await you on Pascha with a red egg!" said Mrs. Photopoulos.
Through her efforts, a Paschal reception was held at the Mayor's
Residence in Montreal on Bright Friday, which this year fell on
the feast day of St George the Great Martyr. Mayor Gerald D Tremblay
of Montreal was given a red egg on behalf of His Grace Bishop Gabriel,
Administrator of the Eastern Canadian Diocese, by the Deputy Rector
of St Nicholas Cathedral, Protopriest George Lagodich. A basket
with the traditional Paschal foods, prepared by Senior Sister OI
Safoniuk, was presented by young parishioner Katya Matenina, wearing
traditional Russian costume. Mrs Photopoulos was given a similar
basket from 8-year-old altar boy Andriusha Filippov. Paschal keepsakes
were given to the gracious hosts by Mr Paganuzzi, who issued a few
words of thanks. A letter from His Grace Bishop Gabriel was given
to the Mayor by Fr George, in which His Grace recounted the history
of this fine tradition, once again restored after a fifty year hiatus.
Bishop Gabriel thanked the Mayor of Montreal on his own behalf and
that of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, calling Montreal the pearl
of Quebec and of all Canada, expressing thanks for the invitation
and also the hope that next Pascha he would be able to personally
attend this celebration.
In his reply, Mayor Gerald D Tremblay expressed satisfaction that
the Russian Orthodox community of Montreal, as represented by the
parishioners of St Nicholas Cathedral, came to the Mayoral Residence
"to share with us the most joyful holiday minutes. We all,"
added Mayor Tremblay, "strive towards love, and seek justice
Fr George Lagodich, handing Mayor Tremblay His Grace's letter, pointed
out that during the period captured in the old photograph, young
people of Russian descent strove to meld into the local culture
and society as quickly as possible, to submerge themselves into
the "melting pot." Today our young parishioners try to
preserve the faith, language and traditions of their forefathers,
while at the same time preserving their existence as an integral
part of the entire community of Canada.
Also attending the Mayor's reception were Priest Michael Metni of
St Nicholas Cathedral and his wife, Matushka Alexandra; YuI Miloslavsky,
Secretary of Bishop Gabriel in His Grace's duties as Administrator
of Eastern Canada; a founder of the parish, IS Platonov, old and
new parishioners NT and MV Lagodich, PA Zaikov, GF Konstantinov,
O and A Romar, PA Matenin, A Filippova and Junior Director of the
Cathedral Choir I Dublshtein.
A final note: the Mayor of Montreal became so interested in the
history of St Nicholas Parish in particular and of our Church Abroad
in general, listening to accounts of Russian Orthodox Paschal traditions,
the secrets of coloring and decorating Paschal eggs, the preparation
of kuliches, and was so rapt in his conversation with the littlest
of his guests, 4-year-old Dima Filippov, that the reception, scheduled
to last thirty minutes, lasted for over an hour.