Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Archpriest Alvian and Matushka Helen Smirensky Died on Sunday… Вечная память!

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Archpriest Alvian and Matushka Helen Smirensky died on Sunday morning in adjoining beds at Albany Medical Center within hours of each other. They had been married for 59 years. Alvian and Helen met and married in New York NY while Helen attended Barnard College and Alvian attended St Vladimir Seminary.

Alvian Nikolayevich Smirensky was born on 11 May 1929 in Harbin, China to Sofiya and Nikolai Smirensky. He attended elementary school in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. With conflict increasing between Japan and China, Alvian emigrated with his mother Sofiya in September 1939, settling in San Francisco CA. He graduated from St Ignatius High School in San Francisco in 1948 and later from the Merchant Marine Academy. He served as a naval officer in the Korean Conflict in 1951-54 on the destroyer USS John A. Bole. He retired from military service with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After service in Korea, he moved to New York NY to attended St Vladimir Seminary in 1954-57; he later completed a second master’s degree at SVS. He was ordained a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church on 13 September 1958. Fr Alvian served in the US Naval Reserve as a chaplain and as a parish priest in a number of locations, including Ss Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Meriden CT; Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Wayne NJ; St Basil Orthodox Church in Maplewood NY; St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Cohoes NY; and St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Albany NY. When Fr Alvian retired from parish service, the Church attached him to Holy Wisdom Temple, New Skete Monastery. Fr Alvian also served in NYS government, retiring in 1991 as Director of Information Services for the New York State and Local Retirement Systems.

Helen Mikhailovna Smirensky was born on 3 November 1933 in Prague, Czechoslovakia to Michael and Elizabeth Kefeli. Helen and her extended family lived in Prague through the German occupation and World War II. They left Prague prior to the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia and lived in a series of DP camps in Germany until November 1949, when, sponsored by the Tolstoy Foundation, she came to the USA with her family and settled in Nyack NY. Helen received an undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1957 majoring in Russian Regional Studies. Later in life, after many years of working in libraries, Helen completed her Master of Library Science degree in 1985 at SUNY Albany’s School of Library Science. She was a member of the Beta Phi Mu International Library and Information Studies Honor Society. She was a cataloguer at SUNY Albany and retired as a senior librarian from the New York State Library in 1996. She served as the New York State Library’s representative to the CONSER Operations Committee for a number of years.

The family would like to extend their deepest appreciation to the staff of the Emergency Department and the ICU at Albany Medical Center for their kindness and compassion in arranging for Helen and Alvian to be together during their last few hours.

The Funeral will begin at 1000 on Wednesday 13 December, followed by Divine Liturgy at 1100 at New Skete Monastery, 273 New Skete Lane, Cambridge NY. Burial will be at New Skete Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be in their memory to the National Health Law Program (www.healthlaw.org) or to New Skete Monasteries (www.newskete.org).

To offer condolences to the family, please visit www.gariepyfuneralhomes.com

Pannikhida was offered at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville NY today at 1230.

Please add Archpriest Alvian and Matushka Helen to your prayer rule… if you’re clergy, don’t forget to mention them during the liturgy during the canonical period.

ВЕЧНАЯ ПАМЯТЬ!

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

23 November 2017. A Light Goes Out in Our Musical Firmament… D A Khvorostovsky Passes at 55 From Brain Cancer

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Last year, Dmitri Aleksandrovich gave a moving performance of Журавли (Zhuravli: The White Cranes)… I find this the most appropriate piece to mark his passing. There’s also the gutsy original rendition by the late great M N Bernes (People’s Artist of the RSFSR).  Mark Naumovich’s version is much more stark and raw… listen to him… it’s à propos for such a day (he also died relatively young of cancer, at age 57). This was the last recording that Bernes made… many thought it his musing on his approaching death. That may be the same with the above performance, as it occurred one year after the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

D A Khvorostovsky was a People’s Artist of Russia. I D Kobzon (People’s Artist of the USSR) reported that his funeral will be 27 November at the Chaikovsky Zal of the Moscow Conservatoire. Dmitri Aleksandrovich wasn’t a believer… his ashes will lie in Novodevichy and in his Siberian home. However, we stand in respect before the mystery of death and wish the best for his family and friends, and express sincere and honest condolences at his passing (as did President Putin). Secular people simply aren’t religious believers (for a multitude of reasons, many grounded in actuality); we should respect them and their beliefs, without reserve. I bow before all of Dmitri Aleksandrovich’s loved ones and express my solidarity with their pain and my community with their grief.

ВЕЧНАЯ ЕМУ ПАМЯТЬ!

A light went out in our musical firmament… the whole world mourns…

BMD

Monday, 13 November 2017

13 November 2017. Mitred Archpriest Michael Margitich Died… Вечная ему память

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Sermon of St John Chrysostom for Easter. Santa Rosa CA USA 2012

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Fr Michael was one of the first Orthodox military chaplains in the US forces, serving in the US Air Force from 1954 to 1984, retiring at the rank of colonel. He was in the OCA. I always remind my readers (especially, the younger ones and newbies) that we pray for everyone at their passing, not only those whom we find pleasing. Fr Michael was one of the “good guys”…

Remember to pray always for the departed… we’re Christians; that’s what we do.

Вечная ему память

BMD

Thursday, 13 April 2017

13 April 2017. Remember the Departed Servant of God Vladimir… Вечная ему память

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I can’t say that I agreed overly much with Vladimir… he’d spent much of his life in the Belly of the Beast in the District and was a member of Potapov’s “party”. Yet, he was a man of good character, honour, and probity… unlike many in the District, he remained mostly clear of “Inside-the-Beltway-itis”.  You don’t have to agree with someone to pray for them (and our disagreements weren’t on basic matters… they were on political and historical questions). Indeed, it’s our Christian duty to pray for the sick, the poorly-off, those in harm’s way, and the dead. OUR DUTY. We’re Christians; that’s what we do.

I bow before Vladimir’s memory and give my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. His fortieth day is on 21 May 2017 (a Sunday). Have your priest say Pannikhida for him and commemorate him at the Proskomidi.

ВЕЧНАЯ ЕМУ ПАМЯТЬ

BMD

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