Voices from Russia

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Memorial Prayer for Slain Moscow Priest Fr Daniil Sysoev

In Moscow, all during the day, at the modest church where Fr Daniil Sysoev served as rector, people bring bouquets of flowers. His funeral service and burial are due on Monday. Current plans have Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias serving at least part of the ceremony. Fr Daniil’s father, who is the rector of another Moscow parish, will serve memorial prayers for his son.

An unknown assailant, who burst into his church, shot Fr Daniil Sysoev dead. Fr Daniil was a well-known Orthodox missionary and rector of St Thomas church in Moscow, which is located on the south side of Moscow. Investigators are very cautious and guarded in their statements regarding the motives behind the murder. However, one possible scenario already exists, and the main motive in it is the missionary work of the priest.

In connection with this tragic death, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill issued a statement in which he called this brutal murder a challenge to God’s Commandments. When he served liturgy, the First Hierarch of the MP said prayers for the repose of the departed priest Daniil. He said, “Every priest, every hierarch, and, especially, the patriarch must be clearly and, perhaps, especially aware of what constitutes his ministry. Fr Daniil Sysoev was aware of his duty. This way was filled with risks, not from everyone who came his way, of course, but, he left himself vulnerable. However, any honest confession of faith is recognition of this”.

Vladimir Legoida, the Director of the Information Department of the MP said, “Fr Daniil was a zealous pastor, who laboured in the field of education and who gave himself to the service of God and mankind. Many Orthodox Christians flocked to him with love, seeking spiritual guidance, inspiration in the faith, and teaching on the right path to take in life”.

Today, the little church that the deceased priest pastored is a sea of flowers. A bouquet of red, white, and purple roses marks the place near the altar where he fell. Next to this are a dozen vases with flowers. There are bouquets at the entrance to the church. Friday night, there was a Pannikhida, and, all day Saturday, the parishioners took turns reading the Psalms. Many could barely hold back their tears. The voice of the chanter sometimes broke down. Amongst the mourners, you saw people of many different nationalities. Russians knew that the late Fr Daniil was a lively and vigorous preacher of Christianity. When he became rector of the parish, he instituted weekly enquirers’ meetings with those who wish to be baptised, as well as starting a course of Bible classes. It seemed that Fr Daniil engaged constantly in hot and open debates with Muslims, with Old Ritualists, and with sectarians. He helped people to believe that they could find a cure for their maladies; he dissuaded many from abortion, and helped many to kick an addiction to alcohol.

Near the church, vendors in tents sell bouquets to the assembled mourners queued up outside. More and more people continue to come to answer the call of their heart and soul.

23 November 2009

Aleksei Chernichenko

Voice of Russia World Service



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