SYNOD OF BISHOPS: November 23, 2005


The celebration of Protodeacon Eugene Burbelo's 50 th year of clerical service at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign


On November 20, 2005, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus officiated at Divine Liturgy at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York. At the service, His Eminence, in accordance with the decision of the Synod of Bishops, elevated Protodeacon Eugene to the rank of archdeacon. At the end of Divine Liturgy, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff read this gramata (decree of blessing) from the Synod of Bishops:

"Please accept from the members of the Synod of Bishops this greeting, filled with love for you, on the fiftieth anniversary of your glorious deaconal service. You are one of the few clergymen of our Church who were ordained by the hands of Metropolitan Anastassy of blessed memory. For this reason, many clergymen of our Holy Church look upon you as the link between our glorious past and the bright hopes for the future of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

"One of the roles of the deacon is to safeguard the prayer of the priest performing Divine Liturgy. In looking upon your service, we see that you managed this task splendidly and always prayed on such a profound level that it drew your concelebrators and worshipers in the church closer to the spirit of service to God.

"Highly esteeming your many years of service to the Holy Church, we express our thanks to you and invoke upon you God's blessing. In witness thereto we grant you this Gramata, with the appropriate signatures and bearing the Synodal seal, on this November 7/20, the year of Our Lord 2005."

At the end of service, the Synodal Sisterhood offered a magnificent trapeza meal, during which many warm addresses and words of congratulations were offered to Archdeacon Eugene. At its conclusion, he expressed thanks to all the participants of the celebration and shared some of his recollections of Metropolitan Anastassy of blessed memory, and of Archimandrite Gelasii (Maiborod, +1994). The latter had told him, during the reign of Metropolitan Anastassy, that "You will serve four First Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia." His words proved true .

Archdeacon Eugene began his clerical service under Metropolitan Anastassy. The late Metropolitan Philaret of blessed memory awarded him the kamilavka for many years of devoted service at the Synodal Cathedral, and Archdeacon Eugene's 40 th anniversary as deacon was celebrated during the reign of Metropolitan Vitaly, which coincided with the 700 th anniversary of the discovery of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, which he has zealously served for fifty years now.

Before the 20 th century, the Local Orthodox Churches only elevated monks to the ranks of archdeacon. But with the reestablishment of the Patriarchy in Russia, the title of archdeacon was applied to the eldest protodeacon serving alongside the Patriarch regardless of his familial circumstances. This custom was established by St Tikhon, Patriarch of All Russia the Confessor, who elevated the renowned Muscovite Protodeacon Konstantin Vasilievich Rozov to this rank, who was a family man. This event was recorded in the lay press. The magazine Moskovskii listok [Moscow Bulletin], in its "Church News" section of January 18, 1918, published this note under "Elevation to the rank of archdeacon": "In accordance with the proposal of Patriarch Tikhon, Protodeacon KV Rozov of the Great Uspensky Cathedral is elevated to the rank of archdeacon..." After the death of Protopriest Rozov (1874-1923), a special commission was established, charged with finding a replacement for him. Protodeacon Mikhail Lebedev of St Petersburg's Kazan Cathedral, who was likewise not a monk, was invited to Moscow.   He accepted the offer and briefly served with the Patriarch, but was soon afterwards executed by shooting. During the period between 1918 and now, there was not a single patriarchal archdeacon who was a monk. From 1925 until 1943, there was neither a patriarch nor an archdeacon. The following individuals were elevated to the rank of archdeacon beginning in 1943:

1) Archdeacon Georgii Karpovich Antonenko (1879-1958)

2) Archdeacon Sergii Pavolovich Turikov (1885-1964)

3) Archdeacon Vladimir Dmitrievich Prokimnov (1890-1973)

4) Archdeacon Andrei Stepanovich Gavshev (1936-1998)

5) Archdeacon Andrei Lazarevich Mazur ( род . 1926 г .)

It is worth noting another detail of Moscow's church life. The elevation or non-elevation to the rank of archdeacon depended not so much on the vocal or liturgical expertise of the protodeacon, but also to a great degree on his good name among the people. So Archdeacon Sergii Pavlovich Turikov did not serve directly under Patriarch Alexy I, but was elevated to this rank for his irreproachable service, that is, for his personal virtues. There is another, opposite, example. When a replacement was sought for Archdeacon Konstantin Rozov, the natural candidate was Protodeacon MK Kholmogorov. After Rozov, he had no competition. His personal life was ideal. Yet there was a moment when, together with his parish rector and other clergymen of the church where he served, Protodeacon Mikhail found himself within the Living Church schism. Despite his repentance, and the personal forgiveness of Patriarch Tikhon, who accepted him in his service, the stain on his record remained. He never became an archdeacon, and the title went to Protodeacon Mikhail Lebedev.

Protodeacon Eugene Burbelo spent a half-century serving under four First Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. That is why the Synod of Bishops, following the practice and tradition of the Local Russian Orthodox Church established a century ago, decreed to elevate him to the rank of archdeacon.

Early last year, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus offered Protodeacon Eugene the opportunity to accompany him on his first official visit to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. When the delegation arrived in the city of Kursk, Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Kursk and Rylsk, during his greeting of Metropolitan Laurus at the main cathedral of Kursk, said in conclusion: "We know that a Protodeacon is accompanying Your Eminence who served the Church and the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God for almost 50 years, and we give him this gift of an orarion."

"I serve at the Synodal Cathedral in New York, where the miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God resides," said Protodeacon Eugene to the Kursk press. "I have served for 49 years now, and today Vladyka Yuvenaly gave me this orarion, which was very touching. I thanked him and said that this gift is a great honor for me. Healings occur from the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. Usually, during services, this icon is held in a special frame, and at night it is taken to the bishop's residence. The Icon often travels throughout the dioceses of the Russian Church Abroad. I had the honor of twice escorting the icon during Metropolitan Anastassy's trips to California. He always demanded that at least two people accompany it at all times" ( Kurskiye eparkhialniye vedomosti , [Kursk Diocesan News], No 7, 2004).