SAN FRANCISCO: December 3, 2009
The 30th Anniversary of the Death of Protopriest Nikolai Dombrovsky
is Remembered At Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral
On Saturday, December 5, 2009, the anniversary of the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II, Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco. Afterwards, a pannikhida will be performed for the late Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and for Protopriest Nikolai Dombrovsky, who died on this day 30 years ago.
Father Nikolai died on the day of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most-Holy Mother of God, the holiday of churchliness and piety. Fr Nikolai's entire life was tied to the Church: from seminary and the Theology Department of Warsaw University to his first parishes in Poland, Polesje, then in Warsaw, then in the diaspora: in Austria (Vienna and Salzburg), South America (Chile) and finally in the USA (San Francisco), where he arrived with his family in 1953. It was here that the unburied talents of this pastoral servant reached their peak. He took over and completed the task of the eminent pastor, Protopresbyter Michael Polsky (the famous author of the book on the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia): he finished the construction of the new "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Cathedral. A great deal was endured by this priest at that time, and he showed so much humility! How all-forgiving he was to everyone, to those who hurt him and to those close to him. One can say with confidence that this gained for him much-deserved love, recognition and honor. As one parishioner noted in the pages of Russkaya zhizn' [Russian Life]: "May the grand new cathedral be a worthy memorial to our dear father, who until his final days gave his all; he did not relent, he did not give up, he did not compromise. May everyone kneel before the grave of the loyal, most-worthy Mitred Protopriest Nikolai—those who loved and respected him and those who gave him sorrow, those who knew him and those who did not, for in this grave lies a loyal son of the Orthodox Church, a devoted child of the Russian people and a great man, before whom every self-respecting person can kneel! May he abide in the Kingdom of Heaven in eternal peace!" (December 1979).
Protopriest Nikolai Dombrowsky was born in Krementz, Volynia guberniya, on March 26th, 1911, the son of Simeon and Maria, nee Fursuk. In 1933, he graduated Krementz Theological Seminary, and in 1937, the Theological Department of Warsaw University. Upon graduation, by a resolution of Archbishop Alexander of Polessk of December 15th, 1937, he was appointed as a clergyman of the Polessk Diocese to the town of Lopatin in the First Deanery of Pinsk.
The future Fr Nikolai married Vera Georgievna Erogina at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Warsaw in the beginning of 1938. On January 18th, 1938, Bishop Simon of Ostrog ordained him to the deaconate in Pinsk Cathedral, and the following day, on the Epiphany, he was ordained into the priesthood. On November 12, 1938, he was transferred to be second priest in the city of Luninetz, and also appointed a teacher of church law in the municipal high school. On December 6th, 1938, Fr Nikolai was appointed rector in a church in Lemeshevich of the First Deanery of Pinsk. On January 2, 1939, on the Nativity of the Lord, Fr Nikolai was awarded the nabedrennik and skufia. On February 8th, 1939, he was made Assistant Dean of the First Deanery. On June 1st, 1939, he took the exam for his Master's Degree at the Theology Department of Warsaw University. On Pascha, 1940, he was awarded the kamilavka. On September 21, 1942, on the Nativity of the Mother of God, the feast day of the Lemeshevich church, he was granted the gold pectoral cross.
On March 2, 1943, he was appointed second priest of Brest-Litovsk Cathedral. Two months later, by his own request, Fr Nikolai returned to his old parish in Lemeshevic.
On September 7, 1943, a resolution was made to appoint Fr Nikolai as the regional missionary of the Pinsk Missionary Region. Military actions forced him to leave Polessk Diocese on March 22, 1944, with the permission of the Ruling Bishop, and move to Warsaw, where by ukase of the Metropolitan of Warsaw of May 13, 1944, he was assigned to the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Passions of Christ in that city.
Finding himself a refugee in Vienna, by resolution of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Berlin and Germany of October 25, 1944, Fr Nikolai was permitted to serve in the churches of the German Diocese. From April 1946 until June 1948, he was a clergyman of the Austrian Diocese as a priest in church communities in Gmunden and the surrounding area: Bad Ischl, Goisern, Bad Aussee, then at the Russian camp in Kufstein, and from May 1947, at the house church in the labor camp in Salzburg. In the 1947-48 school year, he was a teacher of canon law at the Russian gymnasium in Parsch camp in Salzburg. On May 31, 1947, on the Pentecost, he was elevated to the rank of protopriest by Archbishop Stephan of Austria (+1965). On September 11, 1948, Archbishop Theodosius included him in his Brazilian Diocese and appointed him second priest at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Santiago, Chile. On August 11, 1952, he was awarded the palitsa by decree of the Synod of Bishops. In April 1953, he was appointed Secretary of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Chile and Paraguay. In September 1953, he was transferred to San Francisco, where he was made priest of "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Cathedral. In 1956, he was given the ornamented cross.
In 1972, Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000) of Western America and San Francisco wrote to the Synod of Bishops: "I respectfully request the awarding of the mitre to the clergyman of the Cathedral of the Most-Holy Mother of God 'Joy of All Who Sorrow' in San Francisco, Protopriest Nikolai Dombrowsky, for his excellent, earnest service at the Cathedral, combined with his various pastoral duties, the teaching of church law at the High School of SS Cyril and Methodius, his visits to children's camps, the execution of his responsibilities as Diocesan Treasurer, and for his previous work of raising money for the Cathedral's construction. It is especially desirable to grant this award on the 100th anniversary of the bishop's see in San Fransciso." The Synod of Bishops granted this request "for services rendered as according to His Eminence."
Fr Nikolai died on December 5, 1979.
Eternal memory to Fr Nikolai, and for us, God's help on our path to Him.