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Cathedral Cleric Delivers An Icon of St John (Maximovich) to St Panteleimon Monastery in Odessa, Ukraine
On Sunday, March 7, 2010, Protopriest Yaroslav Belikov, a cleric of our Cathedral, gave an icon containing a portion of the relics of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco to St Panteleimon Monastery in Odessa, Ukraine. At the end of Divine Liturgy, the Prior of the monastery, Archimandrite Arkady, along with a host of clergymen, brought the icon out of the altar to the middle of the church, and, placing it next to the life-giving Cross, performed a moleben.
At the end of the moleben, Archimandrite Arkady introduced Fr Yaroslav and invited him to say a few words. Fr Yaroslav spoke about the special character of our times, when the saint lived and showed us an example of a Christian approach to modern problems. It doesn't matter where one lives: at every time, and in any place, one must take his cross and follow Christ, which our great exiled saint showed us.
The worshipers, venerating the icon, sensed a great deal of spiritual consolation, and received paper copies of the icon of St John.
After the trapeza, Fr Yaroslav visited the Sunday school and spoke with the children. He told them about the temptations of the computer and internet: "It is actually not the computer, nor internet, or other material things, can be either good or evil. Everything depends on how the person uses them, what a person's attitude towards them is. Temptations stem from how we use these remarkable technologies, we can fail to notice how quickly time flies, and we are left with little time for that which is more important: prayer, contemplation of the Divine, real (and not virtual) relationships with our neighbor, our studies, etc. So do not be cross with your parents when they don't let you use the computer."
Parents in attendance asked questions about Orthodox life abroad. Fr Yaroslav talked about Sts Cyrill and Methodius Russian High School and of St John's Orthodox Academy. The children were interested in our students here who strive to lead an Orthodox way of life in non-Orthodox surroundings.
On Tuesday, March 9, His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa and Izmailovsk received Archimandrite Arkady and Fr Yaroslav at his residence. At the end of their meeting, Metropolitan Agafangel gave Fr Yaroslav an icon of the Host of the Saints of Odessa to bring to the Cathedral in San Francisco as a gift.
St Panteleimon Monastery was founded in the 19th century as a "podvorie" [affiliate] of the Mt Athos St Panteleimon Monastery, in order to help Russian pilgrims make their way to the Holy Land and Mt Athos. In Odessa, the pilgrims needed to stay for a few days, sometimes for more than a week, in order to obtain needed documentation for travel abroad, and they departed from Odessa by ship. On the return trip, pilgrims were able to rest here before continuing home.
After the Revolution, in 1923, the St Panteleimon podvorie, as was the case with the affiliates of other Athos monasteries and most of the churches of Odessa, was closed and confiscated by the Bolsheviks. St Panteleimon Church was divided by walls into three parts. The central part was turned into a planetarium, and the two smaller sections, a theater and auditorium. The frescoes were barbarically desecrated by the atheists, as were the icons and other sacramental icons.
From 1993, property began to be returned to the Church. In 1996, the former podvorie was transformed into a monastery, which now numbers 20 monks. Before the Revolution, the entire block belonged to the podvorie , but the new monastery only received a small portion of all the real estate. Thanks to the efforts of Fr Arkady, the monastery received the closer buildings, a strict monastic regimen was restored, and other charitable and educational efforts initiated on site.
The transfer of a portion of the relics of St John to St Panteleimon Monastery in Odessa is yet one more thread organically binding the fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Fatherland and in the diaspora, both near and far. Now the faithful of San Francisco, a major city in California, are closer to the faihful of an equally large city of southern Ukraine.