Voices from Russia

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Priest’s Best Friend: Orthodox Clerics Pose for Calendar with Their Cute Cats

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00 priests and cats 061215


A glossy way to discover more about love and religion… a new calendar, commissioned by a Russian Orthodox website, features 12 priests with their super-cute cats. It’s an unprecedented way to represent Russian clerics, who aren’t usually open to such informal presentation. Ksenia Luchenko, a journalist at the Orthodox website Pravmir, who came up with of the idea, told AFP:

That’s why we did it ourselves. We’re don’t have links to the official Church. It’s all their own cats… we staged nothing. It was whoever had a cat and was ready to pose for a photo.

Many priests later asked the author why they weren’t part of the shoot. Luchenko told the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Seeing the result, some called and asked us, ‘Why didn’t you invite me? I have a cat like this!’” The official reaction from the Orthodox Church came from top spokesman Archpriest V A Chaplin, the head of the MP Synodal Department for the Coordination of Church and Society (OVTsO), who said, “It wasn’t a great sin, but I wouldn’t hang such a calendar on my wall”. Even the public had mixed reactions… a majority said that the calendar was sweet, but some said, “Nothing can help these priests, even cats!”

6 December 2015




Finally, we got the calendar Поп + Кот (“Priest (slang) and Cat”) from the printers! Put this on your wall for 2016! Twelve months, so, we have 12 priests with their housecats or cats. We combined the idea of the Alaverdy Calendario Romano (with handsome Catholic priests) and Calendar i Gatti di Roma (with cats of Rome). Here’s our dream team who worked on the calendar:

  • Photographer: Anna Galperina
  • Coordinator: Кsеniya Luchenko
  • Design: Aleksei Chekal
  • Editor: Sergei Chapnin
  • Production: Аleksаndrа Akmayeva

We want to give a big thanks to the Christian Artist Artel Artos (http://artos.name). So far, it’s only on offer for sale at the Pokrovsky Gates Cultural Centre (at the Primus Store, 27 Pokrovka Street p. 1) or you can contact me.

The Priests and Their Cats:

  • January: Archpriest Oleg Batov and Cat Apelsin (Orange (fruit))
  • February: Archpriest Pyotr Dynnikov and Cats Angola and Vasik
  • March: Archpriest Viktor Grigorenko and Cat Motya
  • April: Priest Sergei Kruglov and Cat Shurik
  • May: Hieromonk Grigori Pobozhin and Cat Koshka (“cat”)
  • June: Priest Yevgeny Nevodin and Cat Irs
  • July: Archpriest Pavel Velikanov and Cat Rys (Lynx)
  • August: Priest Dimitri Kuzmichyov and Cat Maks
  • September: Archpriest Aleksandr Strizhak and Cat Lyamurka
  • October: Hieromonk Feodorit Senchukov and Cat Mona
  • November: Archpriest Lev Shikhlyarov and Cat Selestina
  • December: Archpriest Vyacheslav Perevezentsyov and Cat Bonya

2 December 2015

Xenia Loutchenko




In a rare venture into popular culture, Russian Orthodox priests posed as models for a glossy 2016 calendar, cuddling their pet cats. The calendar put together by an Orthodox news website has 12 smiling priests in dark robes relaxing with their cats… sitting side-by-side on the sofa, or having the pet sprawled on their chest, or draped round their shoulders. One of the creators, who came up with the idea, Ksenia Luchenko, a journalist at the Pravmir website said:

It’s the first calendar to depict priests in such a way. However, the Church isn’t usually open to such an informal depiction of its clerics. That’s why we did it ourselves. We’re don’t have links to the official Church.

Religious-themed calendars usually just depict holy icons. Luchenko said of the casting process for the calendar:

It’s all their own cats… we staged nothing. It was whoever had a cat and was ready to pose for a photo.

Nevertheless, Luchenko conceded that the cat-owning priests in the charming black-and-white shots by Anna Galperina turned out to be “nice-looking”. The Russian Orthodox Church doesn’t officially endorse the calendar. Senior Church spokesman Archpriest V A Chaplin, the head of the MP Synodal Department for the Coordination of Church and Society (OVTsO), told Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio, “it isn’t a great sin, but I wouldn’t hang such a calendar on my wall”. However, it has won praise from the media, with the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda writing, “The priests are kind and twinkly, and the cats are cute and fluffy”. Even Russian Cosmopolitan magazine covered the calendar. Luchenko added:

Not all priests agreed to do it. Not everyone wants that kind of publicity. Our calendar Поп + Кот (“Priest (slang) and Cat”) grew out of a photography book project showing Russian priests in their everyday lives. By chance, we had a photo of a priest with a cat, so, I thought, “Why not do a series?” It was only after we completed the calendar that the team realised they had a Roman Catholic competitor… an unofficial calendar published in Rome every year featuring handsome priests called the Calendario Romano. Our calendar had an initial print run of 1,000 copies, but that looks likely to increase. Several churches ordered them to sell in their shops.

The creators also plan a presentation with some of their priest-models later this month, to raise funds for an animal shelter.

5 December 2015



Sunday, 29 November 2015

29 November 2015. Cabinet Vox Pop on Priests and the Internet



One the Cabinet sounded off on priests and the internet:

I totally agree with you. Priests must follow a higher standard, and the stuff you see from some of them on public blogs, Facebook posts, and a variety of internet places is appalling. They seem to forget they represent an important authoritative voice of the Church, which is way more important than their personal quirky ideas, feelings, and dumb-ass opinions. It’s not like they’re in some inconsequential secular job; they’re in the business of salvation, theirs and ours. What can be more important than that? However, their opinions seem more like a Charlie Brown cartoon.

I’d go further… I’d say that some of the rubbish that you see from “conservative” priests is downright demonic and false. It’s time for the bishops to step in and do some ass-kickin’… just sayin’…


Saturday, 28 November 2015

28 November 2015. Metropolitan Joseph… You Need to Talk to Your Convert Priests on Proper Public Posting on the Internet

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An archpriest sent me this… something that he saw on the internet on Facebook, posted by an AOCANA konvertsy priest:

Being made ​​fun of by Herman Hyperdox is indeed cool, but being a perennial source of ranting by certain quarters of the Actually Hyperdox may well propel me into canonisation. I’m hoping that someone will soon start a blog wholly dedicated to hating me. I’m A little envious of Rod Dreher in that regard.

My source asked me not to name the offender, so, I won’t. However, I do daresay that Metropolitan Joseph has to talk to convert priests under 40-years-old on proper internet posting in public. My interlocutor made it clear that the snippet quoted above would have (barely) passed muster if posted on a private clergy forum or as a FB Personal Message. I quite agree. As another archpriest told me, years ago:

As a laywoman, you can speak your mind. I’m a priest, so, I have to be diplomatic.

Priests have a standard that they have to live by… that’s the way it is. Priests don’t have the same latitude and freedom as laypeople have, for good reason. If a priest posts something in public, it involves the whole Church, for a priest is, after all, an official spokesman of the Church. There’s far too much loose talk on the internet by konvertsy clergy… they say all manner of foolish and ignorant rubbish, none of which reflects the real position of the Church. Again… laypeople can say and write things that priests cannot… indeed, the bar is even higher for monastics (Igumen Tryphon is a good exemplar… I don’t always agree with him, but he follows the unwritten code to the letter), and higher still for bishops.

My advice to you is the same that I always give… don’t look for answers on the internet… go to the Liturgy… that’s the only place that you can encounter God (in the normal course of events). Sadly, we have priests who aren’t being the exemplars that they should be…


Monday, 11 May 2015

Archimandrite Illya Barna Dies at Age 96 (Most Senior MP Cleric in the USA)

00 Archimandrite Illya Barna. 11.05.15


Early Friday morning, 8 May, the most-senior cleric of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and pastor emeritus of St Michael the Archangel parish in Redford MI, Archimandrite Illya Barna died at the age of 96. Fr Illya was born Michael Barna on 2 July 1918 to a family dedicated to service in the Church. In World War II, he served in the US Navy in the Pacific on the battleship USS Colorado. He received three battle stars for engagements in the battles of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam.

He became a candidate for Holy Orders beginning in 1946, when he returned from military service, being tonsured a reader and ordained Sub-deacon in St Nicholas parish, Reading PA by Archbishop Adam Phillipovsky.  He continued his ecclesiastical studies at St Nicholas Cathedral in New York NY for four years.  On 1 July 1950, Archbishop Adam ordained him to the Diaconate at St Nicholas Cathedral in New York; the next day, 2 July, Archbishop Adam ordained him to the Holy Priesthood, and assigned as assistant priest to his father, Archimandrite Ignatius Barna, at St Nicholas parish, Reading PA.

On 17 December 1966, Metropolitan John Wendland appointed Fr Michael as rector of St Nicholas parish in Reading upon his father’s retirement.  The following month, 6 January 1967, Metropolitan John assigned him as rector of St Michael the Archangel parish, Philadelphia PA.  On 29 January 1969, Fr Michael and his family took up permanent residence in Philadelphia and continued to serve St Michael parish for another 5½ years until his appointment to St Michael parish, Redford MI on 31 August1975, by then-Bishop Job Tyvoniuk. Fr Michael received almost every distinction bestowed to a clergyman.  On Bright Friday, 2012, after his wife’s death, Fr Michael took monastic vows and received tonsure with the name Illya in honour of Prophet St Elias by His Eminence Archbishop Yustinian Ovchinnikov. The next day, during Divine Liturgy, with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, Archbishop Justinian elevated Hieromonk Illya to the rank of Archimandrite.

Divine Services for the Departed:

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Visitation: 16.00-21.00

Pannikhida: 19.30

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Visitation: 16.00-21.00

Burial Service: 19.00

Friday, 15 May 2015

Divine Liturgy: 09.00

Followed by memorial meal in St Michael Parish Hall

All times are Central Daylight Time



26355 West Chicago Road

Redford MI 48239

Link to contact rector by e-mail here

Telephone: (313) 937 2120

8 May 2015

Patriarchal Parishes in the USA/Moscow Patriarchate


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