Voices from Russia

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage at St Tikhon Monastery Begins

St Tikhon's 05.12


The sweet smell of incense and the harmony of male voices filled the St Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery church, as Russian Orthodox priests and bishops welcomed visitors to the small religious community in rural Wayne County. The pilgrimage draws people from all over the country who come to visit the monastery to pray, ask for mercy and healing, and venerate the icons and relics of Russian saints. This year marks the 110th pilgrimage. Julia Voytovich and two of her friends drove all the way from Lublin WI. Though the three wanted to see the pilgrimage again for the first time in several years, a main reason for their visit was to surprise Mrs Voytovich’s son, Steven Voytovich, who in August started a position as dean of the seminary. She didn’t tell him she was making the trip. Voytovich told his mother, “I was very surprised. Thank you for making such a long drive”.

The monastery is also home to a theological seminary. The pilgrimage includes a commencement ceremony for the 15 graduating students. One of those graduating is Fr Ignatius Gauvain. Originally from Minnesota, Father Gauvain moved into a house owned by the monastery and worked in information technology to support himself and his wife as he studied theology. He said, “I have desire to use those skills in a ministerial way”.

History runs deep at St Tikhon, the oldest Russian Orthodox monastery in the USA. However, the people who live and work there have also embraced modernity in some ways. The monastery’s bookstore features a coffee shop, local ice cream, and free Wi-Fi. Inside the church, tradition reigns. The clergy sang Vespers and Matins asking God for mercy and blessings. Pilgrims knelt and kissed the icons of St Anna, St. Tikhon, and the Resurrection. Bishop Michael Dahulich of New York and New Jersey said, “The purpose of these icons is (the saints’) wishes for us… that we would come closer to Christ”. The clergy expect around 1,000 pilgrims on Monday, when there’ll be an anointing ceremony at the monastery bell tower. Veneration of the Wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God of Taylor will also be Monday.

For the full schedule click here.

For more on the monastery click here (it’s NOT in the English language Wikipedia… the konvertsy and SVS are too lazy, I guess).

24 May 2014

Brendan Gibbons

Scranton Times-Tribune


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