The 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.

"Then 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 and peace."

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.

A participant