From the Editors: On Monday, January 21, 2013, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Grace Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, celebrated Divine Liturgy and the funeral of Protopriest Alexey Ohotin in Annunciation Church in Flushing, NY. He was joined in the services by clergymen of churches directly under the authority of the President of the Synod of Bishops and of the Eastern American Diocese. After the reading of the sixth canon, Priest Alexandre Antchoutine, Rector of Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY, and the son-in-law of the late Fr Alexey, read the following eulogy, published on the official website of the Eastern American Diocese. The burial was performed at Novo-Diveevo Cemetery in Nanuet, NY, and was followed by a memorial luncheon prepared by the Sisterhood of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY, headed by Catherine Larin, at Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy Memorial Hall.
A Monarchist, an Emigre, a True Pastor
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Beloved Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters:
We are gathered here today to bid a final farewell to and part ways with a good shepherd, a true pastor, the rector of this church – Archpriest Alexey Ohotin, whom by His grace the Lord made a presbyter of His Church almost 53 years ago, of which more than 40 years Fr Alexey spent as rector of this church in particular – the Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God. Fr Alexey’s entire life was spent under the protection of the Mother of God. As a seminarian, Fr Alexey often helped escort the Kursk Root Icon on its travels. When it was time for Fr Alexey to marry, by God’s grace, the Theotokos was present at his wedding, in the same Icon before us today [the funeral was held in the presence of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God – ed.] And after the wedding, instead of a reception, instead of greeting their guests, Fr Alexey and his matushka took the Icon to the Synod of Bishops. And so from that time onward, the Mother of God has kept under her protection our beloved Batushka, blessing him with her pure image.
Fr Alexey is a page out of the history of our beloved Russian Church Abroad – a page that, sadly, is receding at an ever-quickening pace into the annals of that history. Fr Alexey was a monarchist; Fr Alexey was a true emigre – a true member of the Russian Diaspora; Fr Alexey was a true pastor. He is one of few – if not the last – of the priests ordained by the ever-memorable Metropolitan Anastassy [Gribanovsky – ed.], the second First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. From that time on, Fr Alexey served God selflessly, served as he was taught by the fathers of our Russian Church Abroad. Fr Alexey proceeded down the priestly path knowing that he might very well suffer; knowing that this was a weighty cross; knowing that he sought neither gain, nor benefit for himself. He loved God the way we hear in the Beatitudes, the way we hear in the Gospel reading: with all his heart and with all his soul. Fr Alexey brought up his family the same way, raised all of his children thusly, and now they all serve Christ’s Church. Fr Alexey became a spiritual advisor for many priests here today, and trained an entire array of Russian Diaspora priests and deacons who now serve Christ’s Church. Fr Alexey was a spiritual advisor to many, and instructed our younger generation. For over 40 years he worked in Camp NORR, bringing up boy scouts and girl scouts, who became priests, matushkas, servants of the Church, and simply good, true Christians.
Fr Alexey was very direct, and his directness wasn’t always to everyone’s liking, but he was never gruff. Fr Alexey was direct in his actions, and never sly. He never flattered anyone, never kowtowed before anyone, but he loved everyone very much. He loved to serve – that was all he wanted, was to serve at God’s Altar. He wanted to pass along this love to everyone, this unselfish service to Christ’s Church, which we all, I hope, will inherit from Fr Alexey. The Lord so loved His chosen, that He gave him a terrible illness – cancer – that for the last year of his life, through his physical suffering, Fr Alexey might cleanse his soul all the more, by extension cleansing us, his whole spiritual family.
One week before his repose, Fr Alexey was found worthy to once again be visited by the Mother of God in her wonderworking Icon, which came to him in the hospital. He prayed before her, confessed his sins, and communed his last six days in a row. Then, wilting away, slipping away before their very eyes, Fr Alexey was found worthy of a blessed, true repose, surrounded by his family. Batushka’s final words were, "Our Father, Who art…" and his son and daughter had to finish the prayer for him. After this , Fr Alexey blessedly reposed in the Lord.
His final testament was this (before his death he spoke it to his grandchildren, and to all of us): observe two commandments – just two – and you will be saved.
Love one another and forgive one another . Forgive every sin . All of our intrigues, all of our selfishness, and all of the things we do to hurt one another are irrelevant. Forgive them. The second is this – perform acts of charity, because through your charity the Lord will forgive your many sins.
Before his death, the Lord gave Fr Alexey an opportunity to see and feel the love of God in a way we could only dream of. Papa tried to pass along to us, express to us how much the Lord loves us, how close He is to each of us. But, of course, in our sinfulness, we could not understand this. And so, let us remember, brothers and sisters, his selfless love toward everyone, the firmness of his character, his unshakeable character, but also his love for God – a love we can only strive to emulate. Let us know now that we have one more prayerful intercessor in the Heavens in the person of our beloved Batushka, Fr Alexey.
The friends and relatives of the late Fr Alexey ask that any donations be made in his memory to the Clergy Welfare Fund of the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (for "Clergy" at http://fundforassistance.org/donate.html), or the Russian Children's Welfare Society at http://rcws.org/.