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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Saturday, 25 November 2017

HH’s Condolences on the Recent Terrorist Attack on a Mosque in Egypt

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On 24 November 2017, terrorists attacked a Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed (North Sinai Governorate) in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt during Friday prayers. The extremists arrived at the mosque in cars, detonated an explosive device inside the building, and then shot people running out onto the street from the mosque. After ambulances appeared on the scene, they began to shoot at the doctors. As of 25 November, at least 300 people are dead and more than 100 injured, including many children. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias sent his condolences to the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and to the Head Mufti of Egypt.

His Excellency Abdul-Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

My Right Honourable President!

Accept my condolences in connection with the tragedy that occurred in the mosque near El Arish that claimed many human lives. This mayhem towards believers during prayers testifies that these extremists (who call themselves “Muslims”) had no real faith in the Most High. This fact exposes as myth the idea that terrorists protect Islam and fight for its purity. They use the most insidious and cruel means to intimidate people, to force them to fulfil their vicious will, to destroy the principles of good-neighbourliness and tolerance, which are important in creating a dignified and prosperous life in our modern society. In such circumstances, as never before, it’s important for believers in traditional religions to show solidarity and cohesion to uphold the ideals of goodness and justice in the modern world. I hope that the perpetrators of this attack won’t escape justice. In these sorrowful days, I wish the wounded a speedy recovery and that the relatives and friends of the dead will bravely overcome the grief that has saddened them. I wish strength and resolution to those who are working today to overcome the consequences of this event and I hope that all of the people of Egypt would show solidarity and determination in the fight against extremism.

With sincere sympathy,

+ KIRILL

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

24 November 2017

Patriarchia.ru

MP official website      

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5068979.html

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Sheikh Shauki Ibrahim Abd al-Karim Alam

The Supreme Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt  

Honoured Mufti!

With deep sorrow, I received the news of the terrorist attack on the Sinai Peninsula that killed and injured hundreds of innocent people. Please, accept my sincere condolences. The terrorists committed this terrible crime during Friday prayers in a mosque to try to disrupt peaceful life in your country and to spread panic and fear amongst the people. Clearly, this in itself shows that for extremists there’s nothing sacred, and their beliefs have nothing in common with the values and norms of Islam. My conviction is that such actions won’t achieve their goals and that criminals won’t intimidate peaceful people who want to build the life of their society on the solid foundation of good-neighbourliness and mutual understanding with people confessing other traditional religions. I ask you to convey my words of consolation and support to the relatives and friends of the dead and injured. I wish to you, and to all the people of Egypt, courage and strength in confronting evil and violence.

With condolences,

+ KIRILL

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

25 November 2017

Patriarchia.ru      

MP official website

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5069520.html

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

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

14 November 2017. They All Had Faces… They All Had Names…

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It’s been 16 years since the death of my beloved grandmother, Valentina Alekseyevna Arno (1921-2001), whom I wrote about many times, including here.

+Вечная ей память!

She was born in 1921 in a family of Swiss descent (the family had become Orthodox in the 19th-century and was fully-Russified by the turn of the 20th-century). This young village schoolteacher went to the front during the VOV to liberate Europe, from which, many years earlier, her great-grandfather Stefan Arno had come to a prosperous Russian Empire. She took part in the liberation of Byelorussia, served in Poland, and ended the war in Berlin, where she wrote the four Russian letters of her French surname on the wall of the Reichstag.

13 November 2017

Mikhail Tyurenkov

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