Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

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



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.



Thursday, 20 March 2014

Metropolitan Philip Saliba of the AOCANA Dies at 83 of Sudden Heart Attack

00 Philip Saliba. One Off. 1931-2014. 19.03.14


The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, with great sadness, announces the passing unto life eternal of His Eminence the Most Reverend Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America. May his memory be eternal! Details are forthcoming.

19 March 2014


AOCANA official website



For years, most thought that Bishop Joseph al-Zehlaoui of Los Angeles and the West (godson of the previous Antiochian Patriarch, Ignatius Hazim) was the heir-apparent to Saliba. We’ll see, won’t we?

Philip Saliba was the most adroit ecclesial politician that ever walked in the USA and Canada. Of course, being a Saliba didn’t hurt. The Saliba clan is very rich and very powerful in the Middle East; they’re deep into business and politics. Philip inherited the family knack for survival in tough circumstances, and prospering whilst doing so. He was a bishop in the USA for nearly half a century, from 1966 to 2014, with no sign of senescence or feebleness. As I said, he was a magician in both PR and backroom politics. He was a “Teflon Don”… none of the many pratfalls of his lower clergy ever stuck to him. In short, he had luck, chutzpah, and instinct… and that’s all you need. He wasn’t a scholar or preacher… he wasn’t much of an exemplar. However, he did unify the two Antiochian archdioceses back in the 70s, and he’s kept an increasingly fractured and divided church together through his personal charisma, political skill, and sheer gall. Hell, most of us expected the old coot to reach the century mark, with unimpaired powers. In short, he was a major figure in American Orthodoxy… and his place in history is SECURE.

Вечная ему память!



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