KURSK: March 17, 2008
To His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, Chief Deputy of the President of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR
Your Eminence, Venerable Vladyko!
It is with sorrow in our hearts that we learned of the untimely death of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, who is so dear to the Kursk land.
We share the grief over the great loss which the hierarchs, clergymen and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia have suffered with the repose of your First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus. His earthly path ended suddenly, and we now pray together with the clergy at Znamensky Cathedral that he is crowned with peace in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Only a few weeks have passed since the Lord enabled me to pray together with Metropolitan Laurus at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, and then to meet with Vladyka at St Daniel Monastery, discuss the possibility of the visit to Kursk of the Miracle-working Kursk Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign," which first appeared here. We will always preserve the warmth of this meeting in our memories, his attentiveness and wisdom, his Christian humility and monastic simplicity. The Kursk Diocese was spiritually close to Metropolitan Laurus and we shared a bond of brotherly love and cooperation.
The blessedly-reposed Metropolitan Laurus was a faithful son of the Russian Church and of the Church Abroad, having devoted himself from his youth to serving God. Love for Holy Orthodoxy, rare talent and great love for work accompanied His Eminence throughout his earthly sojourn. Everyone knows of the love the late Vladyka had for the rites of divine service, for preaching the word of God, his tireless care for the preparation of educated pastors devoted to the Church, his publishing work, his fatherly attitude for the clergy and laity, his care for the youth, the preservation of traditional moral values and patristic roots to the benefit of his flock and for the strengthening of the spiritual foundations of the Russian diaspora.
The Lord deemed it fitting for His Eminence to productively labor for the restoration of ecclesiastical unity, and the main fruit of his service as the head of the Church Abroad became the reestablishment of canonical unity of the Local Russian Church.
Knowing of the life and the indefatigable labors of the late Primate for the benefit of the Church of Russia and the people of God, we pray that the Lord establish his bright soul in the abode of the holy saints of God. Eternal, blessed memory to him!
We are with you in spirit, as I bid farewell to Your Eminence Vladyka Laurus with the final kiss!
With love in the Lord,
The City of Kursk