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DIOCESE OF GENEVA AND WESTERN EUROPE: November 11, 2008
The 60th Anniversary of the Priesthood of Protopriest Vladimir Ignaste

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the priesthood of Mitred Protopriest Vladimir Ignaste, Rector of Holy Trinity Church in Bern, Switzerland. At the present time, only three priests in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia have served in the harvest-fields of the Church for more than 60 years—and now our Fr Vladimir is among them, whom we warmly congratulate!

Fr Vladimir was born in Estonia on July 27, 1926. He was reared in the Church since childhood: Batiushka recounts how he would play by reenacting divine services.

The life of the future priest was determined early in his life. On October 19, 1947, Bishop Isidor (Bogoyavlensky, +1949) of Tallin and Estonia ordained him to the rank of deacon, and on July 25, 1948, to the priesthood. Fr Vladimir served in Tallin, first at the Church of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God of Kazan, then for many years at the Cathedral of St Alexander Nevsky. The young priest received a great deal of spiritual guidance from Protopriest Michael Ridiger (+1962), the father of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, who was also a close friend of Fr Vladimir's during this period.

In 1967, Fr Vladimir arrived in Switzerland with a delegation from Russia as part of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches. He was then received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and in 1969, appointed Rector of Holy Trinity Parish in Bern, replacing the retiring Archimandrite Peter (Proskurnikov, +1973). Ever since then, Fr Vladimir has headed that parish, and in recent years he has also ministered to the churches Lausanne, Vevey and Basel when there were pastoral vacancies.

On November 2, 2008, the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God visited Holy Trinity Church for the second time in a year. The Icon is now traveling throughout the parishes of the Western European Diocese. His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe officiated at Divine Liturgy, joined in the service by Fr Vladimir, Protopriest Emilian Pochinka and Protodeacon Peter Figurek. During the minor entrance, Vladyka Michael read the Synodal ukase on the award to Fr Vladimir of the right to serve Divine Liturgy with the Royal Doors open until "Holy things to the holy." After the service, Fr Vladimir was given a copy of the Kursk-Root Icon in memory of his anniversary and of the visit of the Icon to his parish.

God willing, next year the 40th anniversary of Fr Vladimir's rectorship of the Bern Church will be celebrated. God grant Fr Vladimir many years of service to the Holy Church!