Difference between revisions of "Montréal QC Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Sobor 1907"
|Line 1,123:||Line 1,123:|
[http://archbishop-of-ottawa.org/messenger/Com1992-4.3-4.pdf 'Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul Offers 85 Years of Orthodox Witness in Montreal' in "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Autumn, 1992)], p. 4.
[http://archbishop-of-ottawa.org/messenger/Com1992-4.3-4.pdf 'Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul Offers 85 Years of Orthodox Witness in Montreal' in "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Autumn, 1992)], p. 4.
[http://archbishop-of-ottawa.org/messenger/Com2008-1.19-1.pdf 'The Mother of Orthodoxy in Canada : Sts Peter and Paul, Montréal
[http://archbishop-of-ottawa.org/messenger/Com2008-1.19-1.pdf 'The Mother of Orthodoxy in Canada : Sts Peter and Paul, Montréal Celebrates 100th Anniversary' in "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Winter, 2007/2008)], pp. 3-5.
Celebrates 100th Anniversary' in "Canadian Orthodox Messenger" (Winter, 2007/2008)], pp. 3-5.
[http://www.royalhistorian.com/how-a-romanov-duke-popularized-skiing-in-quebecs-laurentian-mountains/ Article about the Duke and Duchess de Leuchtenberg]
[http://www.royalhistorian.com/how-a-romanov-duke-popularized-skiing-in-quebecs-laurentian-mountains/ Article about the Duke and Duchess de Leuchtenberg]
Revision as of 17:08, 16 November 2017
Montréal, QC, Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Sobor, 1907
The Montréal region was inhabited for several thousand years before Europeans arrived in what is now Canada. Jaques Cartier visited Hochelaga in 1535, and Samuel de Champlain later established a trading-post in 1611 as New France was being developed. By 1642, the site was known as Forteresse Ville-Marie, and Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve began active colonisation. On 17 May, 1642, the settlement was officially founded. In 2017, the city celebrated the 375th anniversary of the founding. There were many discouraging attacks by indigenous peoples, but the colonists persisted. It was 1705 when the name Montréal began to be used.
The City of Montréal began in part as a military garrison of the French army, and the garrison served in part to protect the colonists. After the British conquest in 1759, and even more after the American Revolution of 1776, it was developed as a British garrison town. Montréal was incorporated as a city in 1832. The city continued to grow, and the military garrison steadily became less needed.
Saint Luke’s Anglican Church at Champlain and Dorchester Streets was built in 1854 and expanded in 1864. It was closed in 1924. This was a few blocks northeast of the British Garrison complex of buildings, and quite close to the eastern boundary of Montréal. This parish served in part as one of the British garrison churches for a time. By the 20th century, the region around this building had become increasingly Francophone, despite the fact that until well after World War II the English language still generally dominated. It was because of this factor that when Russian-speaking immigrants began to arrive, they generally learnt English before they learnt French.
The arrival of immigrants who spoke Russian and Ukrainian began already at the end of the 19th century. Although at that time Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the primary port of entry to Canada, and Montréal, Québec, a secondary immigration port, Montréal was nevertheless a main stopping-place for the multitudes who began to move into western Canada. Some of these persons stopped and stayed in Montréal. This explains why the early-arriving parishioners and founders of the parish were largely from the areas of Galicia and Bukovina (which at that time were mostly in the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).
It was the Syrian-Antiochians who established the first Orthodox Christian parish in Montréal (Saint Nicholas), and the Slavic immigrants would therefore worship with them. However, the language difference remained an obstacle. As their numbers increased, so did their desire to form a community which would be able to worship with the language, customs and melodies to which they were accustomed.
By this time, the City of Montréal was already becoming a true “metropolis”. This is a word which does not necessarily imply size, but rather a purpose. The word “metropolis” is made up in origin of 2 Greek words for “mother” and for “city”. This is the rôle which the city has lived out in Canadian history, both in New France and in pre-and post-Confederation Canada. However, in many ways the parish which was to be established in this city fulfilled a similar function towards the very many parishes that were being established across the rest of Canada to her west, to her east, and to her north.
Founding the parish
a request by the Russian Orthodox colony in Montreal, headed by Nikolai Berngardovich, before His Eminence Archbishop Tikhon to send one of the missionaries there to serve a Divine Liturgy in Montreal, to confess and communicate Russian people. Earlier in his rare visits to New York, during a meeting with Vladyka, Nikolai Berngardovich repeatedly reported on the growth of Russian business in Canada and the growing need to have an Orthodox church and a priest there.
Father Alexander had been to Montréal previously on brief visits to the developing community of Russian-speakers there. In addition, Father Alexander wrote in his journal that later, at the invitation of Nikolai Berngardovich Struve, the local Russian Consul in New York,
I illuminated his newborn baby by Christian baptism, and called him Nikolai after his father. In the hospitable house of the host, I then met his family, as well as several Russians, his acquaintances. As far as I remember, there were visiting people who were on business, and they did not belong to the category of settled inhabitants of Montreal. A group of Russian emigrants who settled in Montreal, then, was not yet determined with accuracy.
Father Alexander was able to foresee what an important influence on the rest of Canada a stable community in Montréal would be. He was also acutely aware of the pernicious effects of the “Seraphimite” schism (led by Seraphim Ustvolsky, the so-called “Metropolitan Seraphim”), and he understood that a properly organised leadership of the Canadian parishes (along with proper canonical organisation) could minimise the damage caused by such persons, self-proclaimed clerics (even in Montréal), who confuse, divide and mislead.
Father Alexander was also acutely aware of the importance of helping newly-arriving immigrants from Western Ukraine. There, many people had lived in a society in which the Orthodox Christian believers had been forced (since the Union of Brest in 1596) to live as Uniats in the Roman Catholic Church. Arriving in Canada, they were finding themselves in a somewhat confusing situation. Many wished to return to the Orthodox Church.
Father Alexander had also previously been sent to Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, to meet with Orthodox Christian believers there about the possible establishment of a community or communities in the Maritimes. Nothing was to develop there until somewhat later.
Mr. Nikolai B Struve encouraged Archbishop Tikhon (Belavin) that under his authority the request of Orthodox Russian-speaking people who lived unattended in Montréal be fulfilled and that a priest would arrive. A Sunday was chosen (a week before the Passion of Christ) for the day of the Divine Liturgy, since on other days hardly anyone would be able to attend. The consent of Vladyka Tikhon was joyfully greeted by the Russian-speaking Montréal colony. In order to facilitate the service, liturgical books and music books were sent ahead to the community, which was eager to organise the place and the correct serving of this Divine Liturgy on the part of the people.
First Divine Liturgy ; establishing the Brotherhood
It was in March, 1906 (near the time of the Feast of Saint Patrick), that the first Divine Liturgy was served in the Slavonic language by Father Hotovitzky in the Antiochian Temple of Saint Nicholas. This Syrian community had been established in Montréal in 1905 by Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny). At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Brotherhood was established. This brotherhood was instrumental in the formal and legal establishment of the parish and in gathering both the people and the necessary financial resources to support both a priest and regular services.
Priest Theophan Buketov
As a result of this first official visit, the Priest Theophan Buketov was sent from New York City to serve the community.
In the autumn of 1907, the parish of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul was established through the leadership of the Priest Theophan Buketov. The first temporary hall, which was blessed in 1907, was in the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood of "Old Montréal". It was in a small building on rue Soulanges (which also had a pool-hall in the basement). However, Father Feofan was transferred back to the USA already in 1908.
During the following 8 years, there was a steady development and gathering of necessary resources in order to proceed to the next step. However, this period was also one of economic straits. There were many priests (12 in the first 20 years) who were sent to serve the parish in the early years. Furthermore, neither the diocese nor the parishes in Canada received more than token financial support from the Russian Orthodox Church (those in the USA received much more), and likewise from the central office of the diocese in New York. Priests were easily enticed away from Canada to the USA for a better income. The parish itself was taking on the heavy responsibility of building a Temple and maintaining it. The result of the difficult environment was that the debt was increasing rapidly.
In 1913, the Priest Vladimir Sakovich arrived in the parish, and there began a period of stress between the parish committee, and the priest and the bishop. The stress was caused by a disagreement about how much authority the priest might have in the parish. For a time, the parish committee locked out the priest, and services had to be held elsewhere. The resolution came in 1915 with the incorporation. Likely, such a situation could arise at that earlier time, because there was not yet any local legal framework to regulate Orthodox Christian parish life. When the then Bishop Tikhon in 1902 attempted to incorporate the bishop and the diocese in the Canadian Parliament, the opposition of Roman Catholic and Protestant MPs delayed the third reading so that the bill died with the end of that session of Parliament. Vladyka was able to achieve incorporation only in the Northwest Territories in 1903. It was written that the fact that Vladyka Tikhon was a citizen of the Russian Empire had been one reason for resisting the incorporation. In Québec, this legislation had no force, and a separate act had to pass through the Québec National Assembly which would properly incorporate the parish. The legislation of 1915 provided the necessary framework for the proper governance of the parish and for the proper resolution of disagreements.
In 1915 (after the beginning of World War I), the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul was officially incorporated and registered with the Province of Québec. In the same year, with the blessing of Bishop Alexander (Nemolovsky), the Priest Vladimir Sakovich began “winter seminary” classes in Montréal. These were classes offered in the evenings to men who were interested in preparing for ordination.
In 1916, the newly-built Temple on rue Cartier Street (which is 1 block east of Papineau Street and 2 blocks east of Champlain Street) was sanctified by Bishop Alexander (Nemolovsky). It was in this year that Canada had received its first resident bishop (Bishop Alexander), and that the parishes in Canada were blessed to constitute a Vicar-Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Mission in North America.
Nevertheless, the debt that was accumulating had reached $13,848.00 by 1917, which included $1,000.00 owed to the priest. This was a period of great stress. Under similar circumstances, other parishes elsewhere had to declare bankruptcy.
Olga Lawes Melnikoff wrote about this first period of immigration, in which people left all sorts of privation abroad in order to seek a better life here :
Their struggle to adjust and make a living in the new country was very real. A friend, whose father came here before the Revolution of 1917, reported that he and others like himself could only put a few pennies on the collection plate on a Sunday. Their efforts to feed and clothe their children, unassisted by any government handouts, was a constant burden; employment was not easy to come by for those who knew neither English or French. Families were often separated for years, while the husbands, arriving first, tried to save enough money to bring out their wives, and sometimes small children, from the old country. It was these people who first formed our church and to whom we owe so much for their vision and determination, and for carrying the burden of financing the church year after year. I knew their children as contemporaries, and I heard much about their difficult early lives and the sacrifices made by their parents.
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, followed by the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918 and then a civil war initiated the departure from their homes of multitudes of refugees. It was as a result of this catastrophe that many persons began to arrive in Montréal who were from territories of the former Russian Empire in which Russian was spoken more than other languages or dialects.
In 1923, there arrived from Constantinople 300 immigrants, who were refugees from the Bolshevik Revolution, and who had managed to escape there from Russia, towards the south, and across the Black Sea. In the same year, Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky), the Administrator of the Russian Metropolia, made his first visit to Montréal.
In 1924, Metropolitan Platon assigned the Priest Sergei Snegirev to serve as the rector of the parish.
The Lawes family
In 1925, the Albert Lawes family (the Russian transliteration of which name is "Looz" to make the same sounds in Russian), and in particular Catherine Semyonovna, arrived in Montréal. From then, they served in the parish throughout their whole lives, and they were later described as being an “extraordinarily positive phenomenon” in the parish.
Catherine Semyonovna’s daughter, Olga, made these comments :
The original parish increased in numbers to the point where this present church was bought from the Anglican community in 1924 to better accommodate the members — a real act of faith in the future and a determination to hold on to a rich tradition. My own parents arrived in Montreal in 1925, from Russia via England. My mother, Ekaterina Semyonovna Lawes, was from Archangel in northern Russia. In her youth, Father John of Krondstadt visited Archangel from his home base in Saint Petersburg. Addressing a crowd of people, he pointed to my mother, then a girl of nine, and said : ‘You will do a lot for the church’. The words were prophetic, or maybe my mother felt it was her duty to live up to them, but from the time of her arrival in the summer of 1925 until her death in 1978, she made our church her greatest responsibility after her family.
Indeed, it was a leap of faith on the part of the parishioners to take the next steps. Parishioners were willing to work and to help, but financial resources were meagre, and the financial economy of the parish was precarious.
In 1925, the Priest Sergei Snegirev negotiated the purchase of Saint Luke’s Anglican Church on the corner of Dorchester and Champlain Streets for $25,000.00. Soon thereafter, there was a solemn procession of clergy and parishioners from the first Temple to the second Temple. Then the new building was sanctified by Metropolitan Platon.
Then, in 1927, there was a disturbance in the heart of the parish with regard to the so-called Karlovy Vary Movement.
In 1928, Oleg Vladimirovitch Rodomar Vukotitch was transferred from Chatham, Ontario, to Montréal, Québec, where he worked at the introduction of the Ford “Model A” automobile. Then, in 1930, he became Assistant Regional Manager for the Chrysler Corporation for Eastern Canada. He and his family continued to live in Montréal, and he worked for Chrysler until 1942. At that time, Oleg was loaned to the Canadian Federal Government as Ration Administrator. It was during these many years in Montréal that he was deeply involved in the life of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, in diocesan life, and also in the administration of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America (later The Orthodox Church in America). He served for a time as the parish council president, and he eventually became the choir-director of the cathedral. He was much loved. His daughter Katherine wrote that thereafter he was truly happy only when he was in this city.
Years of the Great Depression
On 25 September, 1929, the “Saint George the Victorious Russian Brotherhood of Mutual Assistance” was founded in the parish. This brotherhood has continued its life and service until the present day.
In 1930, Father Arkady Piotrovsky, who cared much about the future of the parish, established a Youth Club. However, after he fell asleep in the Lord, the club did not manage to continue.
In 1932, under the guidance of Catherine Semyonovna Lawes, aid was organised for children in Russia. She was aware that there were at least 20,000 needy children in Russia at the time.
In 1933, Professor Babkin (a parishioner) read a series of lectures in the church hall, entitled “Life and Death”. Catherine S Lawes commented that the lecture was only from the physiological point of view. Evenings were also arranged for resting, along with refreshments and dances.
Founding the Saint Catherine Sisterhood
On 6 December, 1934, Archimandrite Inna (Kibikov), who served in the parish until 1936, blessed the foundation of the Sisterhood of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine. The following words are recollections of Catherine Lawes’ daughter Olga :
She [Catherine] started the Saint Catherine Sisterhood in 1934 when she was 39 years old, and devoted over 30 years of her life to being its President. My father, an Englishman by birth but who spoke Russian fluently as a result of spending five years in Russia, fully supported her endeavours. I distinctly remember my mother preparing her speeches for the Sisterhood (whose membership at one point reached 100) by reading her notes out loud in our living room, starting with the familiar ‘Dorogiye Syostri’ ‘Dear Sisters’. I suspect she planted the fear of God in them with her strong delivery. When she returned home after meetings, I remember her lying on the sofa with a damp cloth on her forehead and taking a few drops of ‘valerianka!’ Committee meetings were less taxing and occurred regularly with the participation of Matushka Piotrowsky, T S Jacob, A S Mitianin, L L Getopan as a nucleus, joined by others such as J Orlow, E Pimenoff, and Mrs. Demidovich at various times. They planned fundraising activities to help pay the church mortgage and other expenses by way of concerts, bazaars, ‘yolkas’ [Christmas celebrations involving a decorated spruce tree - ed.] and ‘blini’, [yeast crepes with savoury foods eaten before Great Lent begins - ed.] coffees, etc., much as today. The Sisters wore colourful sarafans when serving their traditional dinners or at concerts, as the choir members often do today. Often at the concerts, my mother played on a very rickety piano, and Madame Archer sang folk songs in a throaty voice that had everyone yearning for the old country. Besides raising money, the Sisters supported each other in sickness and other difficult moments in their lives.
Mme. Olga L Melnikoff also recalled the active service of the Saint George Brotherhood in the parish. The brotherhood admitted women to membership. The group likewise raised funds for the parish, helped those in need, and served a dinner to the parishioners on the Sunday after Pascha. These primary purposes are still maintained.
In 1935, there was a New Year’s Ball organised in the parish hall. It was surprisingly well-attended and the festivities lasted into the early morning. Mme. Lawes commented that because of the amounts that were now able to be contributed to the parish committee, the financial situation of the parish was improving.
Pushkin Russian Library (combining several in one)
In 1937, the parish celebrated the centennial anniversary of Alexander S Pushkin with various events, lectures and concerts. In addition, the parish organised the Pushkin Russian Library in the parish. Besides receiving contributions from parishioners, the new library combined the previous “Russian National Association” and the “Russian Progressive Society” libraries. Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
In 1937, a Pushkin centenary celebration was held in the church hall with mainly local parish talent, an event that was celebrated again at the hundred and fiftieth anniversary at Victoria Hall, Westmount in 1987. In the earlier event, a speech on Pushkin was given by Prof. Babkin, excerpts from Pushkin’s works were dramatized, operatic arias were presented. In a Montreal newspaper of the time the following appears : ‘The singing, whether of the cathedral choir, under N I Koursky, or of the soloists, was of outstanding simplicity and beauty. The Duchess of Leuchtenberg was much admired in Liza’s aria from “Pique Dame” and the street song from “The Mermaid” and the duets in which she and Nina Arbousoff sang were warmly appreciated by the audience. Mr. Rodomar and George Youmatoff were excellent in numbers from “Pique Dame” and “Eugene Onegin”’.
Mme. Melikoff also wrote that during these years, general meetings of the parish could sometimes be stormy with very loud exchanges of opinions :
Learning how to run democratic meetings with parliamentary procedure did not come all at once. But I recall, when I became a member, that Mr. A B Jarcovsky’s loud shouts of ‘ti-sheh’ ! (‘qui-et’!) were very effective !
She also contributed comments from a newspaper review of the choir in 1937 :
In an unidentified review in a Montreal newspaper of a concert our choir gave at the Church of Saint James the Apostle around 1937 the reviewer writes : ‘The discipline of this choir is astonishing. One never thinks of individual voices but only of the ensemble. Mr. Koursky has so disciplined his singers that they respond to him as one voice. Moreover the singing is absolutely Russian in character and the choir makes its hearers realize how great a part language and culture plays in musical art’.
Visit of Metropolitan Theophilus, 1938
On 5-7 November, 1938, Metropolitan Theophilus (Pashkovsky) visited the parish for the first time.
World War II
In 1939, World War II began. Its effects on the parish were similar to those on parishes all across the country. Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
The second World War, starting in 1939, brought many changes to our parish life. These naturally stemmed from the many changes going on in the country-at-large – the appearance of military uniforms, food rationing, fundraising for war-torn countries, including the U.S.S.R., an ally in the war, though generally perceived as an ideological enemy. In the thirties and forties our choir, first under N I Koursky, then under O W Rodomar, gave concerts to raise funds both for our church and for various wartime causes, and in doing so expanded connections with the larger community of our city. Newspaper clippings were quick with praise at the quality of our choir. My two sisters, Irina and Nina, were choir members and took part in concerts in various venues in Montreal – Tudor Hall at Ogilvy’s, various Protestant churches, and in Ottawa where they sang for ‘Aid to Russia’. The choir women wore attractive, medium-blue velvet tunics, as shown in photos of the period. Mary (Harris) and Jenny (Karas) Boichuk, still known in our parish, were among those early choristers, though they were barely in their teens ; our recent Sisterhood president, Olga Lambutsky, was also a chorister for many years.
She added about the war years (during part of which her family was in Washington DC) :
During the war years (1939 to 1945) the tone of our society-at-large became inevitably more serious, being concentrated on the war effort. Though we were spared any fighting on our soil, many of our fathers, sons, and brothers were volunteering in Europe. There were threatening German submarines in the Saint Lawrence River that had to be challenged. An unprepared Canada had much to catch up to become an effective military partner of the Allies. In this uneasy atmosphere, our parish continued its regular activities : parish school on Saturdays ; money-raising social events ; the library growing under A B Jarcovsky’s initiative ; annual banquets ; lectures given by prominent parishioners such as Prof. B A Babkin, a physiologist who had worked with Pavlov in Saint Petersburg and was now at McGill University.
In 1941, after having received many requests from the parish, Metropolitan Theophilus assigned Archimandrite Anthony (Tereschenko) to serve as the rector of the parish, and he was transferred from Winnipeg, Manitoba, for this reason.
In 1942, the Russian section of the Canadian Red Cross was organised in order to raise funds for Russia (a Canadian ally at that time during World War II). The choir sang in many churches and prestigious halls in order to help to raise the needed funds.
On 19 December, 1946, the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America (which was meeting in Chicago) elected Archimandrite Anthony (Tereschenko) to be the Bishop of Montréal. The parish was elevated to the dignity of a cathedral. The purpose of this ordination was to enable him to provide the needed spiritual care to the whole of Eastern Canada.
On 29-30 March, 1947, Archimandrite Anthony was named and ordained to the Holy Episcopate. He was assigned to be the Bishop of Montréal and Eastern Canada.
However, on 27 September, 1947, Bishop Anthony (Tereschenko) unexpectedly and suddenly fell asleep in the Lord in a Montréal hospital. He reposed on the Feast-day of the Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross.
He was not only a director of our choir for a number of years, but for me he was the heart and soul of our church community. With his fierce enthusiasms and intimate knowledge of church history and church affairs, with a tenor voice and a kind heart, he was passionately involved in all aspects of church life from local to North American. He was also well known to the Montreal Community as a successful business leader, in time becoming president of Philips Industries in Toronto after his wartime position as head of Canada’s ration administration. In 1945 he was named an Officer of the British Empire for his war work. His move to Toronto after the war was a severe loss to our parish.
After the repose of Vladyka Anthony, for some months and into 1948, the parish was without a priest. On his own initiative, Protodeacon Paul Hetman served the “Obednitsa” (“Typica”) for the parishioners on Sundays, and he also preached homilies.
Protodeacon Paul Hetman (Getman)
Mme. Lawes Melikoff commented about the post-war changes :
The end of the war brought a surge of movement of dislocated people in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, which resulted in many coming to Canada, and ultimately to our city and parish. Some newcomers came from other Orthodox jurisdictions in Europe and chose to continue in them. At the end of the 40s and throughout the 50s, large numbers of immigrants arrived and immeasurably enriched our parish life.
In March, 1948, with the blessing of Metropolitan Vladimir, the Archpriest Oleg Boldireff, together with Matushka Natalia and their children, emigrated to Canada. (Father Boldireff was a descendant of a Don Cossack family.) In Canada, he was assigned to serve as the rector of the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Montréal, Québec. He had previously been assigned to the Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky (rue Daru) in Paris, France. He fulfilled his responsibilities in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul for 15 years. During this time, he served as the dean of Québec and Ontario. Further, during these years, he was instrumental in founding churches in Québec City, Val d’Or, Rouyn-Noranda, and Rawdon, Québec, and in Ottawa, Ontario. These foundations were associated with the very many Russian-speaking immigrants who had begun to live in these areas.
In 1948, the Canadian Tolstoy Foundation (named after the writer Leo N Tolstoy) was organised in order to help the many people now immigrating from Europe. This organisation was a branch of the American Tolstoy Foundation.
In the early summer of 1949, Bishop John (Shahovskoy) arrived in Montréal. In June, he and Father Oleg Boldireff went to the dock to meet the Grand Duchess Olga Aleksandrovna (sister of Tsar Nicholas II), who was arriving from Denmark with her family to live in Canada. During World War II, the Grand Duchess Olga Aleksandrovna and her family had been in considerable danger while they were in Denmark. After they completed their necessary paper-work, the family proceeded to Toronto, Ontario, where they settled. Bishop John remained for a time in Canada, but he was required to return to New York in order to fulfil other responsibilities.
Priest Alexander Feokhari, Priest Fyodor Ustutchenkov, Deacon Peter Svetlovsky and others with Metropolitan Vladimir (Tikhonitsky), Liège, 1949
In 1950, the Canadian diocese was again without a bishop present.
In 1950, Prince Serge and Lubov Troubetzkoy settled in Montréal, where Serge worked for a major agricultural machinery firm. Upon arrival in Montréal, they quickly became active parishioners in the cathedral parish. They proved to be useful in a multitude of ways, and they were constantly present at the services. Luba faithfully attended weekly Lenten services, and she sang the bass line in her peculiar low voice. At the same time, they both served the diocese. A few years after their arrival, Serge Grigorievitch was elected to the parish council as one of the assistant wardens of the cathedral. Soon after moving to Montréal, Mr. Troubetzkoy purchased a farm in the Laurentian Mountains (about a 2-hour drive to the north of Montréal), on the shore of Lac Labelle. There, next to the home of his family, he also established a domestic chapel in the name of Saint Sergius of Radonezh. This move soon opened a way for several other families to purchase summer homes near to the Troubetzkoy family.
In 1950, the Holy Trinity Church in Québec City was founded as a mission from Montréal. It was established by Russian-speaking immigrants who lived in the city, and clergy travelled from Montréal with increasing frequency in order to serve this community.
In 1951, Bishop John (Garklavs) of Detroit, Michigan, visited Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral with the Wonder-working Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, which he had brought with him from Riga, Latvia. At the second visit to Montréal of this icon, Deacon Daniel Hayduk (who had lost his sight) received healing.
By this time, many changes had begun to be felt in the parish, much as a result of the pastoral ability of Father Oleg Boldireff. Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
Father Oleg was instrumental in welcoming new parishioners and his enthusiasm was contagious. He knew how to get people involved. Generally a reluctant public speaker, he persuaded me to give a lecture to the ‘New Canadians’, as they came to be known, on the history of Canada, in Russian no less. Also he had me teaching English to a small group of newcomers in my home. Many of the ‘New Canadians’ arrived on year-long domestic work contracts and received no governmental handouts; as well, they had to accept a life-style that was foreign to them. Most were highly educated and brought a new impulse to our parish life. Before they came, our parish was decreasing in size through intermarriage and a reduced flow of new blood.
Mme. Melikoff also reflected on other changes that were occurring, which were similar to the experience of other parishes in Canada at the time :
In the late forties, our young people were operating in English for the most part, and for that reason became interested in affiliating themselves with a North American group called the Federated Russian Orthodox Clubs of America, known as F.R.O.C., or simply the ‘R’ Club. We operated for about four or five years with up to twenty-five members, including Charles and Vera Olshevsky and four members of the Boichuk family. We even had an Upper New York State Convention here in Montreal. Our goal was to keep our Orthodox faith alive through social fellowship and shared experiences in the English language. Ultimately we had to fold up when it became clear that the newcomers did not feel a need to join us. Our legacy to the church was the baptismal font which we bought with the residue of our funds. The new youth were more inclined to join the Scouts led by Father Boldireff. Some, old and new, were attracted to the dance classes that the noted ballet dancer, Ludmila Chiraev, introduced to Montreal. Her company ultimately became Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and her legacy lives on. Among the newcomers we welcomed in the fifties and who are still largely with us today were the Koshits — Marina (Kartashov) and her sister, Elena (Lebedeff), the Vinogradovs, the Kaminskys, the Mogiljanskys, the Woinowsky-Kriegers, the Slivitzkys, the Levtchuks, the Feoharis, the Cholmskys, the Rumins, the Miklachevskys, the Gribovskys, the Klimoffs (one brother a musician, the other an artist who contributed some icons and most of the paintings in the church hall), and George Kouchougoura (our present starosta) to name only a nucleus of new contributors to our parish life. But always there remained our old faithful parishioners such as Mr. A I Homych, who was a reader for many years and who trained a new generation to be readers, often by giving lessons over the telephone.
In 1952, the parish organised a branch of “Russian Intelligence” for the youth. Also in this year, on the initiative of Father M Zarbatani (the oldest Orthodox priest in Montréal), the “Commonwealth of Orthodox Clergy” was organised in the city. This organisation included the rector of the cathedral and the rectors of the Greek, Romanian, and 2 Antiochian parishes. Further, in this year (in addition to Rawdon), Father Oleg Boldireff organised communities in Québec City and in Ottawa, Ontario.
In 1952, Deacon Peter Grigorievitch and Matushka Nadezda Svetlovsky voyaged by ship from Paris to Canada, and they arrived in Montréal (under the sponsorship of someone in Montréal). They had been invited by Father Boldireff, and they were transferred with the blessing of Archbishop Vladimir (Tikhonitsy). After they settled, Father Peter and Matushka Nadezhda continued the service of vestment-making which they had begun in Paris. During the time of his service in Montréal, Deacon Peter was elevated to the dignity of protodeacon. However, in 1958, with an immigration invitation and affidavit from Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich), the Svetlovskys moved to the village of Sea Cliff on Long Island, New York.
In 1953, Boris V Orlov and Mr. Randles (along with the Archpriest Oleg Boldireff) organised the Saint George the Victorious Russian Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Within the parish, the Tolstoy Foundation was transformed into the “Russian-Canadian Orthodox Foundation for Assistance in Education”.
In addition, Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
To help the difficult situation of many refugees here and abroad, some of our church members, along with a member from Saint Nicholas Church, formed a organization to help displaced persons living in camps in Europe — by advancing passage money to Canada, and generally offering aid to immigrants where needed. In 1948, under the initiative of the Duchess Catherine of Leuchtenberg, a branch of the Tolstoy Foundation of New York was started here under the name of the Canadian Tolstoy Foundation Inc. I remember when Alexandra Tolstoy, the daughter of Leo Tolstoy, came here to help set up the organization. She was a tall, impressive lady of strong character. The meeting was held in our house as my parents were involved in the formation of the new group, my father becoming its first chairman, the Duchess, first president. A few members of the Montreal English community were invited to be members of the Board. First off, letters were written to Quebec, and a grant of $25,000 was received to get started. On the first Board were the Duke and Duchess of Leuchtenberg ; Mr. A B Jarcovsky ; Prince S G Troubetzkoy ; A P Apraxine ; B A Hesketh ; O W Rodomar ; my parents and several members from the English-speaking community. By including English members on the Board, one can see that the Russians here leaned more toward the English community then than now. This was before the changes brought on by the ‘Quiet Revolution’ of the 70s, when French became the official language of Quebec, when, among other requirements, immigrants’ choices for schools were redirected in favour of French. In 1953, the Committee felt that current needs of our New Canadians would be better served with a local organization and decided it was time to replace the Tolstoy Foundation with an organization to be called the Canadian Russian Orthodox Foundation Inc., or C R O F I for short. They proceeded with more or less the same Board of Directors. Their goal was to help newcomers by granting interest-free loans for the purpose of furthering their education or meeting exceptional family needs. Over time, the borrowed moneys were repaid almost 100%, a most impressive achievement for the Russian community ! In all, according to the records I have, the Canadian Russian Orthodox Foundation, together with the Canadian Tolstoy Foundation, gave loans amounting to over $127,000.00 for education, immigration, and medical care to 422 persons, and relief and subsidies of over $20,000.00. It received in addition to the Government grant of $25,000.00, $14,800.00 in donations, and nearly $2,000.00 in membership fees. A true example of community effort.
The Duke and Duchess of Leuchtenberg were Dmitri Gheorghievitch de Leuchtenberg (1898–1972), and Catherine Arapova (1900–1991), and they had married in 1921. Duke Dmitri's younger brother Constantin lived in Ottawa.
On 20 April, 1955 (the 3rd day of Pascha), Protodeacon Paul Hetman fell asleep in the Lord. He had received the Holy Gifts on Great and Holy Saturday.
In 1955, the "Société de bienfaisance Saint-Jean de Kronstadt" ("Saint John of Kronstadt Charitable Society") had its formal beginnings.
During the summer of 1956, with the help of some parishioners, and especially the architect Mr. George Levtchouk, Father Oleg Boldireff erected a small chapel in the family’s garden in Rawdon for the use of his family and for the local community. The Chapel of Saint Seraphim of Sarov was sanctified by Archbishop Nikon (de Grève). Serving together with him were the Archpriest Oleg Boldireff and Protodeacon Peter Svetlovsky of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
In the fifties, Father Oleg inaugurated a chapel on his property in Rawdon. Later it was moved to the site of a property bought in 1961 by my parents for the creation of a Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Rawdon, under the aegis of our Cathedral. For many years, a busload or carloads of Montrealers have come to Rawdon to celebrate the Chapel’s feast day in August.
The wife of Mr. Levtchouk, Maria (born Vakselyte), became a central personality in the future life of the Rawdon community, until her repose in Christ in 2015. She was a co-founder in 1988 of the “Multi-Ethnic Centre” there.
Beginning in 1957, on the property in Rawdon of the cathedral’s Lawes family, every summer, a children’s camp was arranged by the parish for several weeks. This camp continued to function for 16 years, and the children who had the opportunity to participate seem to have had positive experiences and established good friendships which have lasted throughout their lives. About this, Olga Lawes Melikoff added :
A developing need among the new parishioners was for a supervised summer vacation spot for their children while the parents worked in the hot city. C R O F I met the need by inaugurating a children’s camp, first in Val David, then a year or two later, on a property in Rawdon, bought for the purpose by my parents. It became the camp’s permanent home for the next sixteen years. Parents were charged or not, according to their ability to pay ; in return, the children, up to 45 in number, spent from two to six weeks in a Russian ambience, returning home with a store of memories to treasure — of huge campfires, swimming in the small lake, walks to Darwin Falls, singsongs and prayers in Russian. The older campers would hike to Saint Seraphim Chapel, newly built in Rawdon. Elena Adamovna Youskevich, A A Kaminsky’s mother, was the camp director throughout the whole period ; she was an educator who had attended the exclusive Smolny Institute in Saint Petersburg in her youth. Father Oleg Boldireff took an interest in the camp, and I believe all or most of his five sons were campers at one time or another. My own family of three sons spent every summer at the camp while my parents and I lived in a cottage on the camp grounds.
On 25 October, 1957, the Cathedral Parish of Saints Peter and Paul celebrated its 50th anniversary. The celebration was led by Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich), who arrived in Montréal especially for this occasion.
On 2 October, 1960, the parish celebrated the 25th anniversary of the priestly ministry of the Archpriest Oleg Boldireff, and at the same time the silver wedding-anniversary of his mother. The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on this day was led by Archbishop Ireney (Bekish) of Boston. He had recently returned from serving the Church of Japan. While he was serving as the Bishop of Boston, he also temporarily administered the Archdiocese of Canada. Deacon George Pokrovsky was ordained to the Holy Priesthood during the service.
It was during this decade that Mr. Alexander I Chomicz arrived in Montréal. He was mentioned by Mrs. Melikoff amongst the earlier arrivals in her comments about the 1950s, and she spelt his name “Homich” (this itself is expressive of the great variety of spellings in English of non-English names). His thoroughly Orthodox Christian example of how to live our lives was passed on simply by his way of life, much more than by any words. He had a profound and positive effect on many others because he simply lived the life of one who loves Christ. He, who was constantly and lovingly attending services and serving as a reader, selflessly and carefully taught a new generation of readers how to read in Slavonic and how to understand the order of services. One may say that he lived in the manner of the exhortation of Saint Herman of Alaska : “From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us love God above all else and do His Holy will”.
In 1961, Peter Alexandrovitch Feokhari, the son of Father Alexander Feokhari, was ordained by Archbishop Ireney (Bekish) to the Holy Diaconate in the cathedral.
In December, 1961, ostensibly for health reasons due to the harsh climate of Canada, Bishop Anatoly returned to Greece.
About the 1950s and 1960s, Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
In Montreal, our parish expanded rapidly in the fifties and sixties, with new needs, new developments. Seating in the church had been tried and rejected. The original iconostas was replaced with the existing, more traditionally artistic one. It was an interesting time — lectures were given by exceptional speakers such as Father Alexander Schmemann from New York ; small theatre groups performed ; the choir continued to blossom under A A Kaminsky as new young voices joined the older members.
On 12 January, 1962, the Lesser Sobor of Bishops in the USA submitted a written report about the attitude of the Church Council towards Bishop Anatoly, since the next Great Council of Bishops (which would make a final decision regarding Vladyka Anatoly) would be convened in the coming March.
In March, 1962, Bishop Anatoly was officially released from the Canadian diocese. After that, he briefly returned to Canada to lead the diocese again on 7 July. During that month, he blessed the Cemetery Cross in the cemetery in Rawdon. Then, on 20 July, 1962, Bishop Anatoly left Canada finally and forever, and he went back to Greece. Archbishop Ireney (Bekish) was assigned to serve as the administrator of the diocese.
Cemetery Cross at Rawdon
Kuzma (Kosma) Varfolomeevich Kostychenko
In 1962, a long-time parishioner who had arrived in Canada from Constantinople in 1922, Kuzma (Kosma) Varfolomeevich Kostychenko, fell asleep in the Lord. In his last will, he directed about $75,000.00 to the parish. As a result, the new parish hall was named in his honour. This was not only because of his contribution but also because of his personal way of life.
During his lifetime, very few people knew him. He was neither a public, nor political, nor a church figure. He was a most ordinary immigrant, a hard working Christian. Every Sunday, at exactly 11 o’clock, you could always see him in the same place, in a modest corner of Saint Petro-Pavlovsky Cathedral. Immediately after the church service, he somehow disappeared unnoticed - until the next Sunday. Always alone, he never complained to anyone, he did not turn to anyone for advice and help. For many years, without a well-paid speciality, he managed to acquire a small, dilapidated house with a piece of land for his modest labour savings. Already sick, he lived for many years in the basement behind the stove, in a small, semi-dark room. Feeling the approach of death Kuzma Varfolomeevich as an Orthodox Christian made his confession and he received the Holy Mysteries. In the presence and on the advice of the Archpriest Oleg Boldyrev and the head of the parish council, G P Maksimyuk, Kuzma Varfolomeevich made his will and wrote over all his property to Saint Petro-Pavlovsky cathedral. This generous donor did not continue in this life, and his old house is demolished. But the memory of Kuzma Varfolomeevich will always live in the hearts of the parishioners of the cathedral. The new parish hall bears the name of the late Kuzma Varfolomeevich Kostyuchenko. Eternal memory to him ! Later, it was decided to write an icon of the Holy Martyrs and Unmercenearies Cosmas and Damian in memory of Kozma Kostyuchenko. Now this icon is in the right side-chapel.
In 1962, the Archpriest Oleg Boldireff announced that there would now be served 2 Divine Liturgies every second Sunday. There would be an early Divine Liturgy served in the English language, and it would begin at 0900 hours.
In the early 1960s, Mr. S G Troubetzkoy was elected to the archdiocesan council. It was in these positions that he played a significant rôle in facilitating the transfer of the archdiocesan see from Toronto back to Montréal (after Bishop Nikon was transferred to serve in Japan). Sergei Grigorievitch was also active in the expansion of the cathedral building in Montréal. He additionally assisted Bishop Sylvester in his immigration from France and his resettlement in Canada. With the restructuring of the governance of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America (called “the Metropolia” for short) in the time of Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich), Serge also became the Canadian Archdiocese’s first lay representative (from 1964 to 1971) to the Metropolitan Council of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America (“the Metropolia”), later to be known as “The Orthodox Church in America”. During this period, it was also customary that either the clergy or lay vice-chairman of the All-American Church Sobor would necessarily be from the Archdiocese of Canada. As a result, Mr. Troubetzkoy served as lay vice-chairman of the All-American Sobor in 1963. At the 1967 Sobor, he was again nominated to be vice-chairman ; but he declined this nomination in favour of another Canadian delegate.
On 12 October, 1962, Prince Sergey G Troubetskoy reported to the parish council about his attending the opening of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary at its new site in Crestwood, Yonkers, New York. He also shared information that a decision had been made to assign Bishop Sylvester (Haruns) to the Archdiocese of Canada.
In 1962, it was decided to commission in memory of Kuzma Kostuchenko the writing of an icon of the Holy Unmercenary Martyrs Cosmas and Damian. This icon was afterwards placed in the right-side chapel.
In 1963, the parish made a decision to use the funds it had acquired in order to build a new parish house with offices, a library, a second priest’s apartment and a new parish hall. A construction committee was appointed for the purpose of constructing the new building. It was led by the Starosta Gregory P Maksymiuk, together with G I Vinogradov and J D Olsufiev.
On 9 October, 1963, Bishop Sylvester (Haruns) was officially assigned by Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) to be the Bishop of Montréal and Canada, and he arrived to participate in a meeting of the parish council. About the significance of this event, Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
A most fortunate arrival to our parish was that of Archbishop Sylvester in 1963, and during his ‘reign’ we experienced an era of peace and stability. He had an aura that commanded respect. At first, rather shy and retiring, one felt his inner strength. He led by example rather than any sort of coercion. Because of my mother’s role in the parish, Vladyka soon became a friend of our family, both in Rawdon and in the city, and was often our guest, at which times he shared his stories punctuated by his quiet sense of humour. I never remember him saying ‘You should do thus and so’, neither in his sermons nor in conversations, which is rather amazing, considering his position. Rather, he quietly and with great dignity officiated and preached the gospel message, and further occupied himself with the administration of the church and his charities. He led by example. Vladyka had a particular love of children, as well as young people, as exemplified by treating his altar boys to a pizza lunch once a year. He paid much attention to Christmas celebrations, trimming the tree in the church hall by himself and, over the course of the year, buying presents for all the parishioners. Eventually volunteers helped him in this task. Vladyka was especially interested in the spiritual problems of Russians in the U.S.S.R. and corresponded with spiritual leaders there and sent them religious books. This activity led to the expansion of the John of Krondstadt Charity Fund as parishioners were encouraged to participate. We would meet around Vladyka’s table after church to discuss what he was doing and what could further be done. When it became possible to send parcels to the U.S.S.R., goods started to replace books, and members dug in to help prepare parcels. Two parishioners, namely Ludmila Kruchinina and Natalia Iliesco, almost single-handedly, collected, packed, and prepared for sending tons of clothing and toys for Russia. These were sent off with the cooperation of Aeroflot and the help of Vladimir Slivitzky, a Vice-President of Air Canada and a distinguished member of our parish. More recently, money has replaced the sending of goods at the request of the recipients. After Vladyka had to leave his post and retire to Rawdon for health reasons, where he subsequently died in 2000. Marina Kartashov ably continued his Charity Fund, and now it has passed into the hands of Galina Mikoutskaia- Tomberg, a member of our newest wave of newcomers from Russia. Money is sent twice a year directly to special priests for distribution to the needy, and especially to orphans.
Vladyka Sylvester immediately found himself in the midst of a construction project. The following 2 translated letters demonstrate the importance of the project, as Metropolitan Leonty (Turkevich) and Bishop Sylvester (Haruns) encouraged the parishioners to contribute both their funds and their labour. From Metropolitan Leonty :
With a heartfelt and prayerful greeting, we welcome an important church event in the Canadian Diocese, consisting in the fact that you, the loving worshippers in the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Montréal, are starting to build for the parish with a new hall and a permanent residence for the ruling bishop. This intention fully corresponds to our plan, according to which the Council of Bishops elected the oldest and prestigious parish in Montréal for the establishment of a permanent residence in it, worthy of the high dignity of the Orthodox Bishop of the rich and vast Canadian country. We remind you, brothers and sisters, that the residence of the ruling bishop is not only an administrative centre for the administration of the diocese, but rather, it is much more. The cathedral, headed by the bishop, is primarily a basic place for the liturgical and prayerful and blessed life of the entire diocese. Therefore, in the cathedral, everything should be done decently and in accordance with good order (see 1 Corinthians 14:40), so that each parish may have an example before it, as it should be to give praise to the Lord God. Then, the cathedral with the diocesan bishop is a centre of religious enlightenment, teaching and edification, for the bishop holds a model of sound teaching received from the apostles (see 2 Timothy 1:13). Finally, the cathedral and the ruling bishop are the source of inspired appeals to the flock for Christian charity and good deeds ; for, as a body without a spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead (see James 2:26). This is the significance of the cathedral, headed by the diocesan bishop. We know that it is difficult for you alone to build a residence for the cathedral bishop, but the diocese is a living organism made up of all the parishes of this region. Therefore, we, in the duty of the First Hierarch, are eager to appeal to you all, rectors of parishes, church committees, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, youth clubs and all the beloved children of the Canadian Diocese : Provide friendly and quick help to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Montréal in its construction of a residence for the ruling Canadian bishop. The Lord himself, at the interessions of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, who organised the first seats for the bishops at the dawn of Christianity, will reward you for every sacrifice made with love for construction in the Montréal parish. May God’s blessing be with you all to the glory of His Holy Church and to the salvation of the souls of each one of you.
From Bishop Sylvester :
We are starting to build a new church house. In the new building there will be : a second parish hall, a room for our library, an apartment for the church sexton, an apartment for the second priest, and a space for the ruling Canadian bishop. For a long time the parish has been thinking about this building, it is necessary at our arrival. With God’s help, with the blessing of our High Priest and Father, the Highly Esteemed Metropolitan Leonty, we started this work ! The construction of this one can be successfully completed only with the combined friendly sacrifices of all in this work. And I appeal to all members of our parish, to all those who pray in our cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul : sacrificially support the construction of a new parish house. We need general help, and we need the sacrificial contributions of each of you. Do it. The hand of the giver does not lack. If we all do our bit, then by the beginning of October this year we will have a new parish house. May the Grace and mercy of God rest on each one who offers !
On 4 January, 1963, the Priestmonk Antony (Abramovic) was presented to the committee as the second priest.
On 10 April, 1963, the Priest Cyril Fotiev was presented as the new pastor of the cathedral parish.
Constructing the new parish house
On 19 April, 1964, the foundation of the new building (designed by the architect Suchich) was sanctified at the serving of the moleben before beginning any sort of work.
On 29 June, 1964, the Archpriest Alexander Mirochnitchenko (who had been serving primarily in Québec City) fell asleep in the Lord.
On 12 August, 1964, the parish committee accepted the Priest Mikhail Milonov to serve as the second priest in the parish. His responsibilities were then to serve primarily in Rawdon and in Québec City.
On 4 October, 1964, the new building between the Temple and the home of the rector was sanctified. The Archpriest Alexander Schmemann of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in New York was invited for the occasion.
Entrance to the new building through the garden
On 14 October, 1964, the parish celebrated the 81st birthday of Deacon Daniel Hayduk of the parish.
At some time not long after this, the publication of the “Parish News” began to be disseminated amongst other parishes throughout Canada. It was published on the printing equipment that Vladyka Sylvester established in a room of his apartment in the new building. It contained not only news of the cathedral parish, but also news about various parishes in Canada. It was published both in Russian and in English.
In 1966, the parish constructed a cemetery chapel in the Rawdon cemetery, in the name of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. The project was directed by Starosta A A Kaminski. It was sanctified by Archbishop Sylvester in the presence of very many priests, parishioners, and guests.
Canadian Centennial anniversary
In 1967, on the centennial anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, through the efforts of Mr. B Orlov, a monument designed by the engineer H Skorodinsky was built in Rawdon. The monument commemorates all the Russian soldiers who fell in the First and Second World Wars.
On 12 April, 1968, the parishioners were greatly saddened when Protodeacon Peter Feokhari (the head of the parish school) became seriously ill and fell asleep in the Lord just before Passion Week.
On 1 June, 1968, the Archpriest George M Benigsen was assigned by Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish) of New York to serve as the pastor of the cathedral parish.
Later, Elizabeth S Troubetskoy (Saika) wrote about this period of time at the cathedral :
I cherish very much the memory of the Kaminskis. A A K was my teacher and mentor and taught me all about choir directing. I started at 16 with my first English liturgy at Sts Peter and Paul. This was of course, way before the Tkachuks transferred to Montréal. We had a small core of teenage singers. A couple of years later, we continued meeting at McGill. There were Tim Katsikas, Alexis Vinogradov, Elizabeth Vinogradov, ‘Mimi’ Kishkovsky, ‘Luke’ Richard Rochon (the now Archbishop Iriney) and others. We gathered at Divinity Hall for Lenten prayers led by Alexis and joined lunch time services at the Cardinal Newman House, attending, not partaking of, the Catholic Eucharist. We were a dynamic group to say the least. We sang a Vespers Service at the late Metropolitan Vitaly’s ‘skete’, at the Greek Cathedral with the then Father Sotirios and elsewhere...And so it was ! For a while I took over the choir at Sts Peter and Paul during Father Benigsen’s tenure. A A K had retreated for that time, coming back after I left and married. Archbishop Sylvestre taught me the ‘Ustav’ and how to read in Slavonic. Elena Adamovna was quite a personality who lived for the church and was our eternal “psalomshchik” (psalm-reader). She would remain unmoved whenever an exasperated Kaminski tried to rush her along on Holy Thursday evening during the seemingly interminable readings of the antiphons and troparions. He was an exemplary son to her and kept her with him and the family to the very end. I think that almost everyone would give out a silent, patient sigh when it came to whenever Elena Adamovna did start to read.
In 1969, Elizabeth Sergeievna Troubetskoy left Montréal, and Matushka Helen Benigsen took up the responsibility of leading the choir. During her short time in the cathedral, she established a youth choir which sang in addition to the main choir.
In 1969, there was a great danger of a split in the parish because of misunderstandings of the negotiations between the “Metropolia” and the Moscow Patriarchate about the granting of autocephaly to the North American Church. Father George Benigsen was able to explain the situation and to reassure the faithful that there was no schism in this action, but rather a return to a properly canonical relationship. Very few persons therefore left the parish in 1970 when the Tomos of Autocephaly was given, because there had been adequate preparation. Elizabeth S Troubetskoy Saika remembered :
Indeed I do recall Fr. George explaining the issue very calmly. The transition was quite smooth perhaps in part because the parish was quite fond of Archbishop Sylvestre, who guided the church through this period. Everyone was aware of his negative political views towards the Soviet Union and the activity of the underground network with which he was actively involved. The sentiment was that if Archb. Sylvestre ‘can do it’ so could we all.
On 31 March, 1970, Eucharistic Communion was restored between the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America and the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America was given autocephaly by the Moscow Patriarchate, and it was given the new name “The Orthodox Church in America”. This event was accompanied by various disturbances throughout Canada, since not everyone was prepared to return to Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Moscow at this time. Thus, the lines of difference between The Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia were quite sharply drawn.
In the summer of 1970, the Archpriest George and Matushka Helen Benigsen were transferred away from the cathedral parish and they were assigned to the Church of Saint Nicholas in Saratoga, California.
In 1970, Sergei G and Luba A Troubetzkoy retired and moved to Syosset, New York (where the OCA chancery is situated). Although they necessarily left the parish at the time, their personal connexions remained alive. When Mr. Troubetzkoy became the archivist of the OCA (and he was nick-named “Mr. T”), in due course he took as his apprentice and successor a son of the parish of Saints Peter and Paul, Alexis Pavlovitch Liberovsky. He is the son of Mrs. Elena Lebedeff, and the nephew of Mrs. Marina Kartashov.
In 1972, the Saint John of Kronstadt Charitable Society at the cathedral sent books from parishioners and paid for food parcels sent from Paris to the families of prisoners.
In 1973, the Priest John I Tkachuk and Matushka Mary were transferred from the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Buffalo, New York, to serve in the cathedral. Father John served as the pastor of the cathedral parish. He became active in developing the use of the English language in the parish.
In 1974, the Russian Student Christian Movement sent 35,484 books to the USSR ; a considerable number of parcels with food and medicines ; and financial assistance to believers and families of prisoners.
In 1974, Alexander Kaminski and Peter Ostrovsky built a bell-house at Rawdon for the bells for the Temple which had been received from the Canadian National Railway (CNR), and from the cathedral parish.
On 19 November, 1974, after a long illness, a self-sacrificing parishioner , who was both a public figure and a faithful toiler, Alexander Borisovich Zharkovsky (also spelt “Jarkovsky”), fell asleep in the Lord.
In 1975, the Russian writer, Alexandr Solzhenitzyn visited Montréal, and he spent the whole of Passion week and the Feast of Holy Pascha with the cathedral parish of Saints Peter and Paul. He had been considering whether he might live in Canada ; but he ultimately chose Cavendish, Vermont, instead. Olga Lawes Melikoff recalled those days :
In 1975, I remember the excitement in our parish at the arrival of a celebrated guest — Alexander Solzhenitsyn — who had been expelled from the Soviet Union and came directly to visit his friend through correspondence, Vladyka Sylvester, in Montreal. He spent the midnight Easter service in our Altar, while we strained to catch a glimpse of him. During the Easter breakfast in the church hall, my mother was seated next to him. She admitted that she found making small talk with him not at all easy — a formidable guest he was. Solzhenitsyn considered making Canada his home, but realizing the greater possibility of finding source material in the USA, such as in the Library of Congress in Washington, he settled with his family in Cavendish, Vermont.
Subdeacon Gregory Maksymiuk ; Alexandr Solzhenytsyn ; Archbishop Sylvester ; Archimandrite Antoniy (1975)
In 1976, there was a temporary chapel established at the Summer Olympic Games in Montréal. These games were likely the first in Olympic history which “served” the Orthodox Christian participants and attendees.
In 1977, the Hieromonk Gregory (Papazian) moved his log chapel from the Eastern Townships to the Rawdon Cemetery, where he then continued to live a monastic life.
From 25-28 October, 1977, the 5th All-American Church Council was convened in Montréal. At this council, after the retirement of Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish), Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) was elected as the next Metropolitan of The Orthodox Church of America.
Bishops of the Holy Synod of The Orthodox Church in America, 1977, with Metropolitan Theodosius
Formation of the Mission of the Sign of the Theotokos
In 1978, the Archpriest John Tkachuk, his family, and some other parish families left the cathedral parish in order to found the new parish of the Sign of the Theotokos in Montréal. About this event, Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
In the seventies a group of English parishioners led by Father John Tkachuk held services in English in our church. Unfortunately, misunderstandings developed about their relationship to the membership-at-large, and Vladyka Sylvester gave them permission to start their own mission. This came soon after a North American church sobor was held in Montreal in 1977, when a new Metropolitan was elected and when the English parishioners played an important role in the celebrations. In time, their move resulted in a viable English parish under the name of the Sign of the Theotokos, which in 2006 celebrated its 25th Anniversary under Father John Tkachuk. [It was] A loss to our church, but filling a need for Orthodox services in English in the city.
In the 1970s, Mrs. Catherine Lawes retired from her responsibility as the “Elder Sister” of Saint Catherine’s Sisterhood. Her daughter wrote :
The Sisterhood continued its activities under new presidents when my mother retired in the seventies. It was first led by Mrs. Timasheff, Zinaida Melnyk and, more recently, Olga Lambutsky, a longtime member of our parish. On her recent resignation, it passed on to Camille Gribovsky. Efforts are being made to expand the membership among the newest arrivals and to accommodate the Sisterhood to the ever-growing changes in the parish.
During many of the years of his archpastoral service, Archbishop Sylvester had been the bishop responsible for caring for the Australian parishes of the OCA. He travelled to that country several times, and he was both loved and remembered fondly there for many years after he relinquished that responsibility. Vladyka Sylvester also was given many other important responsibilities on behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Church. He was frequently absent in the USA for this reason. Towards the end of the life of Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish), Vladyka Sylvester was serving as the Administrator of The Orthodox Church in America.
In 1981, on the initiative of Protodeacon Gregory Maxymiuk (a post-war immigrant who came from Pochaiv, Ukraine, and who was often in the Lavra there) and with the support of A A Kaminski and the cathedral council, in Rawdon, a small house across from the cemetery Temple was bought , and informally called the “Bishop’s Datcha”.
On 1 July, 1981, Vladyka Sylvester decided to give way to a new generation in the administration of the diocese, and he asked for and received the blessing to retire from active episcopal service. Meanwhile, he continued to be active pastorally exclusively in the cathedral parish.
In 1984, Igumen Cyril (Bulashevitch) was transferred from Vancouver, British Columbia, and he was assigned to the cathedral parish in Montréal. Here, he served as second priest under Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns). He took up residence in one of the small apartments in the adjoining cathedral precincts, and he served as the main pastor under Vladyka Sylvester’s direction. Igumen Cyril was a very meek and a very kind person and he loved the parishioners.
In 1987, the Starosta Peter Ostrovsky (a speciality contractor for the construction of houses) attached the “Bishop Sylvester Hall” to the “Bishop’s Datcha”.
In 1987, the Mitred Archpriest Oleg Boldireff retired, and he moved to Rawdon in the following year. He was blessed by Archbishop Sylvester to serve in Rawdon all year round.
Alexis Pavlovitch Liberovsky
In 1988, Alexis Pavlovitch Liberovsky was assigned to serve as the Archivist of the Orthodox Church in America, and he has continued in this rôle ever since. He currently also serves as Director of the Office of History and Archives, Secretary of the OCA Canonisation Commission, Recording Secretary of the Metropolitan Council, Secretary of the OCA Archives Advisory Committee and member of the Statute Revision Task Force.
Alexis Liberovsky was born in Montréal, Québec, where he was raised in a Russian-speaking home. His family attended Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where, from an early age, Alexis was active as an acolyte, reader and subdeacon. Following graduation from Loyola High School in Montréal, Mr Liberovsky enrolled at the renowned Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, France, where he would later serve as president of the student body. Having defended his thesis on the history of the Orthodox Church in Canada, written in Russian, he received a Licentiate (M.Div.) degree from the Institut Saint-Serge in 1982. After pursuing further studies, focussed on church history, at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood (Yonkers), New York, he was hired as OCA Archivist in 1988. He received initial archival training at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and more recently at the Saints Cyril and Methodius Graduate and Doctoral School of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Moscow State History and Archives Institute of the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU) and the State Archives of the Russian Federation.
In 1992, the choir-director Alexander Alexandrovich Kaminski (who had served in this capacity for about 40 years for the benefit of the parish) resigned from this responsibility because of his poor health.
In 1993 (after “Perestroika”), the Saint John of Kronstadt Charitable Society sent a considerable amount of humanitarian aid to Russia.
In 1993, Tatiana K Slivitsky retired from the management of the Pushkin Library. The parishioner Mrs. Elena Lebedev was willing to help, but she asked that the cathedral council manage the library.
In 1993, a new roof was installed on the Temple and repairs in the parish house were undertaken at the cost of $28,000.00.
In 1993, there were changes from the Government of Québec concerning the registration of baptisms, weddings and burials. Prior to this, a special book was issued for registering these throughout the year. Now it was decided to record only marriages.
In 1993, the sexton’s room was provided for the accommodation of the library.
In 1994, for health reasons, and having arrived at the “age limit”, Archbishop Sylvester asked permission from the ruling bishop Seraphim (Storheim) to retire from active pastoral service. This was blessed. At the same time, he was also blessed to serve as the rector of the community in Rawdon. The cathedral committee, however, requested that Vladyka Sylvester remain active as the rector of the cathedral throughout 1994. This was blessed. Vladyka Sylvester also requested of the committee permission to remain in his apartment until the end of his days. In gratitude, he would donate $50,000.00 to $60,000.00 to the parish, and also his large personal library. This was accepted by the committee. Vladyka Sylvester remained for many years afterwards in his apartment at the cathedral, and he attended and participated in the services in accordance with his strength. Vladyka also spent time in the summer in Rawdon in accordance with his health.
In 1994, the Priest Nikolai Nikolaev served in the parish for some time during that year.
From 1 October, 1994 until 10 January, 1995, the Archpriest Alexander Janovski from Seattle, Washington, was temporarily assigned to serve as the pastor of the parish. He had already more than 30 years of experience. He was then confirmed as the rector of the parish, and Archbishop Sylvester was regarded as the Emeritus Rector of the cathedral parish.
In January, 1995, Archimandrite Cyril (Bulashevitch), who had served the parish for 11 years, retired from active service because of poor health.
In 1995, a repair of the walls in the Temple was undertaken. Glueing new materials and repainting, the installation of ceiling fans, and the replacement of the carpet in the Altar led to some other unforeseen repairs, which brought the cost to $41,878.00.
On 14 November, 1997, the Mitred Archpriest Oleg Boldireff fell asleep in the Lord. The concelebrating clergy at the Order for the Burial of a Priest and at the Memorial Divine Liturgy were Archpriest Alexander Janowski, Archimandrite Cyril (Bulashevitch), Archpriest Nicolas Boldireff, Higoumène Irénée (Rochon), Hiéromoine Marc (Pierre), Hiéromoine Cyrille (Bradette), and the Priest Nikolai Nikolaev. The Archpriest John Tkachuk was also present. After the services in Montréal, the body of Father Oleg Bolidreff was taken to the Russian Cemetery (now named for Saint Seraphim) in Rawdon, and it was interred there.
On 4 December, 1998, Archimandrite Cyril (Bulashevitch) fell asleep in the Lord in Montréal after a lengthy illness. On Sunday, 6 December, 1998, after the Divine Liturgy at Saints Peter and Paul's Cathedral, a panikhida was served for Archimandrite Cyril in the presence of many parishioners.
On Monday, 7 December, 1998, there was served a Memorial Divine Liturgy by Bishop Seraphim, assisted by the Archpriests Alexander Janowski (rector) and John Tkachuk (chancellor), the priest Nicolai Nicolaev and the priest-monk Cyrille (Bradette), and by Protodeacon Gregory Maksymiuk. The Order of the Burial of a Priest followed the Divine Liturgy. A large choir sang beautifully and compunctionately under the leadership of Michael A Woinowsky-Krieger. Afterwards, the body of Archimandrite Cyril was taken directly to Rawdon, Québec, and interred in the Saint Seraphim Cemetery.
On 18 May, 2000, Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) fell asleep in the Lord. The parish lost their “beloved and respected Vladyka and spiritual authority”. Vladyka Sylvester had received Holy Communion and was anointed just 2 days before his repose. According to his wishes, his funeral was served according to the rite for monastics at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Montréal. Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada concelebrated the funeral with 10 priests. After the services, Vladyka Sylvester’s body was interred in the Rawdon cemetery in a special place prepared for him. The period during which Vladyka Sylvester served in this parish has been called the “golden age” of the parish.
On 11 December, 2001, Mr. A I Chomicz fell asleep in the Lord. This event was keenly felt by the older parishioners in particular, and by the many who had been taught by him.
In 2001, the “Parish Newsletter” began to be published on the internet.
On 20 October, 2002, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) visited the cathedral parish after a 25-year absence. This visit followed his retirement in July, 2002. It had been his desire to return to the Temple in which he had been elected to the primacy of the OCA 25 years previously, and the visit was for him a great joy. Amongst other blessings, he brought and gave to the parish the Relics of Saint Tikhon (Belavin) of Moscow ; of Saint Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn ; of Saint Herman of Alaska ; of the Great New-Martyr Elizabeth of Russia.
Visit of Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor)
Greeting Olga Lambutsky and parishioners at dinner.
On 31 July, 2005, the Archpriest Anatoliy Mel’nyk was released from his responsibility as Rector of Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and he was transferred to the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Montréal, Québec. He arrived with his wife Iryna and their 2 children Iuliania and Hlib (Gleb). Matushka Iryna and Iuliania soon became active in the choir, and Hlib in serving in the Altar and participating in youth activities. Before long, Iuliania moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where she entered the course for choir directors at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy, where she met her future husband, Vasili Tsaritsyn. After they both graduated, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate, and afterwards to the Holy Priesthood. Then Hlib (Gleb) Melnyk also went to the Saint Petersburg Academy to study. There, he met his future wife, Ioana. He was married, and in due time he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate and then to the Holy Priesthood. Matushka Iryna also became responsible for the administration of the Cemetery of Saint Seraphim in Rawdon.
100th anniversary of the cathedral parish
On 20-21 October 2007, the cathedral parish of Saints Peter and Paul celebrated its centenary of service in the City of Montréal, Québec, and in the Archdiocese of Canada. These hundred years have demonstrated the maternal rôle of this parish in Canada. The following description is condensed from an article by Mother Sophia (Zion).
On Saturday afternoon, Archbshop Seraphim began the festal services with a blessing of the Church Museum in the basement hall, which includes vestments, 2 mitres, and other articles belonging to Archbishop Sylvester. People had travelled from all over the country to attend this historic weekend. In the hall, the parish rector, Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk, explained in Russian and English the history of the parish. This was followed by a short piano and vocal concert. Meanwhile, the faithful gathered in the Temple, where they venerated the Icon of the Theotokos of Port Arthur, and awaited the arrival of the First Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Herman (Swaiko).
Metropolitan Herman arrived with his retinue and received the traditional greeting of bread and salt at the church door. By this time there were nearly 300 persons gathered inside the Temple. Serving with Metropolitan Herman at the Vigil were Archbishop Seraphim, Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk, Archpriest Alexander Janowski, Archpriest John Jillions, Archpriest Nicolas Boldireff, Igumen Irénée (Rochon), Hieromonk Basile (Paradis), and Archdeacon Alexei Klimachev (from New York). During Matins, Metropolitan Herman anointed all the faithful with oil, the little children amongst them bringing a smile to his face. An agapé (à la fourchette) bustling with lively conversation and a vast array of delicacies followed.
The Primatial Divine Liturgy began on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Nearly 400 people were in attendance. Serving with Metropolitan Herman were Archbishop Seraphim, Bishop Job (Smakouz) (Moscow Patriarchate), Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk, Archpriest Alexander Janowski, Archpriest Nicolas Boldireff, Hieromonk Basile (Paradis), Archdeacon Alexei Klimachev, Deacon Gregory Scratch, and also subdeacons, readers, and servers from all over Canada. The choir sang in Slavonic, the Epistle was read first in English and then in Slavonic by the deacon and a reader, and the Gospel was read in Slavonic by Archdeacon Alexei. Bishop Job gave the homily in Russian. At the end of the Liturgy, the sun came out just in time for the great festal procession. It was an exceedingly long one, with every person present participating. As the clergy and faithful processed around the church, at each of the 4 sides the hierarchs sprinkled everyone with holy water. Then at the front door, Metropolitan Herman read the Gospel in English. A beautiful new mosaic icon of Sts Peter and Paul above this door, as well as a new plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of the parish, were blessed. Before everyone re-entered the temple, the photographers had them gather near the clergy on the steps for a picture.
Following the veneration of the Cross, the hierarchs and many other dignitaries and special guests proceeded to the nearby "Restaurant La Mer", where an elaborate banquet had been prepared. With a Powerpoint presentation on the 100th anniversary, and lovely Russian music playing in the background, all the hierarchs and many long-standing members of the community gave inspirational speeches. The metropolitan spoke about the importance of continuing to preserve Saints Peter and Paul Sobor, and described also how touched he was by a couple who had approached him, and talked about meeting him many years ago in Montréal. Archbishop Seraphim explained how Saints Peter and Paul, the oldest Russian Orthodox Church in Québec, and the third oldest urban Orthodox parish in Canada, is also “the mother of our diocesan life in Canada”. He also stated that “Montréal is the heart of Canada”. Bishop Job gave a speech in Russian, and many congratulatory letters were read, including ones from the Governor-General and the Prime Minister. (In November, Saints Peter and Paul Sobor produced a special commemorative book, which included photographs from the 100th anniversary celebrations, and the letters of congratulations.) Pewter medals were awarded, first to the hierarchs, and then to many prominent members of the community, and finally to a greatly surprised Father Anatoliy and his Matushka, Irina. During the awards ceremony, some very stirring marching music was played and the guests applauded again and again.
Amongst the many wonders of this church is a bust, in the garden, of Alexander Pushkin, for whom the Church Library is named.
Father Anatoliy and Matushka Iryna Melnyk after 30 years of priestly service
On 1 November, 2009, the Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk, retaining all his other duties, was assigned to serve as the Interim Dean of Québec, and the Maritimes.
On 1 March, 2014, the Mitred Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk was assigned to serve as the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada.
On 13 July, 2016, the Mitred Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk marked 30 years of service in the Church from the time of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood.
Repose of Matushka Natalia Boldireff
On 12 December, 2005, Matushka Natalia Boldireff fell asleep in the Lord. After the funeral services, her body was interred beside that of her husband in the cemetery in Rawdon. She had continued to live in Rawdon since her widowhood, mostly in a seniors’ apartment facility.
In June, 2006, the “Ataman Kaledin All Cossack Stanitsa” of Montréal erected a monument at the Rawdon cemetery which was dedicated to the 30,000 Cossacks who were tortured and killed in Soviet “gulags”.
In 2006, the 50th anniversary of the Chapel of Saint Seraphim of Sarov in Rawdon was celebrated. Olga Lawes Melikoff wrote :
2006, being the special occasion of the Chapel’s 50th anniversary, a large crowd of clergy and laity from near and far came to celebrate together, with a liturgy and banquet. In the early years, parish dinners took place outdoors. I remember the wasps vying for the food on our plates.
In 2007, Olga Lawes Melikoff also commented :
Vladyka’s illness in the 90s coincided with an historical development of great consequence to the world, and, eventually, to our community — that is, the fall of the Soviet Union. It has resulted in a third large wave of immigration to Canada. Again we see our numbers being replenished, and the Russian language and culture being reinforced in our midst. The future of the parish is now passing into their hands. For the first time. we have our priest, Father Anatoly Melnyk, and our choir director, Elena Ilvakhina coming directly from Russia and Ukraine, and not from the diaspora. We wish them well in our midst.
In October, 2011, the Archpriest John A Jillions accepted the responsibility of serving as the chancellor of The Orthodox Church in America.
Father John was born in Montréal in 1955 (he is a grandson of Mrs. Jacob), and he was baptised in this parish. In 1963, he moved with his family to the USA. Between 1968-1971, he lived in northern Connecticut. After attending McGill University in Montréal from 1973 to 1977, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In 1977, John Jillions was tonsured to be a reader by Archbishop Sylvester, and he then entered Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He graduated in 1980 with a Master of Divinity degree. After this, he worked as administrator of Saints Cosmas and Damian Adult Home on Staten Island in New York City. After marrying his wife, Denise Melligon, in 1979, John was ordained to the Holy Diaconate in 1981, and then to the Holy Priesthood in 1984. Father John then received a missionary assignment of three years to Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church, Brisbane, Australia, a parish then under the jurisdiction of The Orthodox Church in America. Before that time, Archbishop Sylvester had been the bishop responsible for caring for the Australian parishes of the OCA. After returning to the USA in 1987, Father John was assigned as priest at Holy Trinity Church in Rahway, New Jersey. During this time, he was simultaneously a USAF Reserve Chaplain (in the rank of captain) from 1990-1992, and he was the pastoral fieldwork supervisor for seminarians at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. In August 1994, he moved with his family of five to Greece, where he attended the University of Thessalonica, and he began his studies towards a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the New Testament (which he completed in 2002), while he was attached to Saint George Orthodox Church in Thessalonica. He then moved to England, where he was one of the founders of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, UK. Afterwards, he moved to Ottawa, Ontario, where he was assigned to be the Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral, and where he also taught at the Andrey Shyptytsky Institute at Saint Paul’s University. When he accepted the responsibility of serving as the chancellor of the OCA, it was recognised that Father John's ability to speak several languages well would be very beneficial. While fulfilling his responsibility as the chancellor of the OCA, Father John also teaches at Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. As has been the case with every priest who has accepted the responsibility of serving as the chancellor, some people are quite satisfied with his work, and others are quite dissatisfied. It was ever thus, as the saying goes.
On Friday, 27 September, 2013 an Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross at the cathedral. Concelebrating with Bishop Irénée (Rochon) of Québec City and Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada, was Bishop Mstislav (Diachina) of Tikhvin and Ladeinoye Polye (Saint-Petersburg diocese), in which diocese is the Dormition Monastery of Tikhvin. There rests the Wonder-working Icon of the Mother of God of Tikhvin. The secretary of the diocese of Tikhvin, Protopresbyter Alexander Laryn travelled together with Vladyka Mstislav on his first pilgrimage to Canada (at the invitation of Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). Also concelebrating with Bishop Irénée were Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA (and Rector of Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York) ; Bishop Job (Smakouz) of Kashira, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada ; the Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk (rector of the cathedral) ; the Protopresbyter Dimitriy Sever, Rector of the Patriarchial Parish in Ottawa ; the Priest Vasiliy Tsaritsyn of Montréal, and Protodeacon Nazari Polataiko.
After the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Mstislav expressed his gratitude to the clergy and parishioners for this communal service. Vladyka Mstislav presented a panagia to both Bishop Irénée and Bishop Job. On behalf of the Holy Trinity Mens’ Monastery in Russia, he also presented to the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul an icon of Saint Alexander of Svir, which Father Anatoliy accepted on behalf of the parish with much appreciation. Afterwards, there was a festive dinner for all the guests and the parishioners in the parish hall. During the dinner, Bishop Mstislav talked about his life, and about his trip to Canada. It was a surprise to learn that Bishop Mstislav is not a stranger to the Canadian clergy : he has known Bishop Job since childhood, and he was a schoolmate of Father Anatoliy when they were in seminary.
After the dinner, Bishop Mstislav left for Toronto to visit and serve in the Russian Orthodox Sobor of Christ the Saviour. The rector of this parish from 1941 until his death was Father John Diachina, who was a distant relative of Bishop Mstislav, and one of the most remarkable priests in North America.
Priests of the parish
Saint Alexander Hotovitzky 1906 Priest Theophan (Feofan) Buketov 1907-1908 (+1968) Priest Ivan Soroka 1908-1909 Priest Nn Afendik Priest Vladimir Iosifovich Sakovich 1914-1916 (+1931) Archpriest Mitrophan Poplavsky 1917 Priest Gegory Glebov Priest Arkady Alexandrovich Piotrovsky Priest Alexei Gromtsev (died in Montréal, buried at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery) Priest Peter Dubrovsky (rector of Lachine, served the parish when there was no rector) Priest Ivan Manchuk Priest Sergei Snegirev Archpriest Sergei Sviridov 1924-1928 (+1947) Archpriest Arkady A Pietrovsky 1928-1934 Archimandrite Inna (Kibikov) 1934-1936 Priest Ilia Klopotovsky 1936-1941 Archimandrite Anthony (Tereschenko) 1941-1947 (+1947 as Bishop of Montréal) Archpriest Oleg I Boldireff 1948-1963 Priest Alexander Feokhari 1951-1852 Second Priest Priest Joseph Homik 1962 Second Priest Archpriest Kirill B Fotiev 1964-1968 (+1990) Priest Michael Milonov 1965-1968 Archpriest George M Benigsen 1968-1970 Archimandrite Anthony (Abramovich) 1962-1996 Second Priest Priest Nicolas Boldireff 1971 Third Priest Priest Alexander Chernyshov 1972-1973 Third Priest Priest John Tkachuk 1973-1978 Priest Oleg Kirillov 1978-1984 Archimandrite Cyril (Bulashevitch) 1983-1998 (+1998) Priest Nikolai Nikolaev 1994 Second Priest Archpriest Alexander Janovski 1994-2005 Mitred Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk 2005- Priest Gleb (Hlib) Melnyk 2016- Second Priest
Protodeacon Paul Hetman (Getman) 1925-1955 Deacon Peter Feokhari 1961-1968 Protodeacon Peter Svetlovsky 1952-1958 Deacon Daniel Hayduk 1957-1964 Hierodeacon Gregory (Papazian) 1974-1977 Protodeacon Gregory Maksymiuk 1982-2001 (+2001) Deacon Dmitry Belyaykov 2012- Deacon Gleb Melnyk 2014-2016
Alexei Shovgeniuk 1907- Pavel Ignatievich Hetman 1913-1925 G V Gorlov 1925 Ilia Voronkov A Zhukov Nikolai Ivanovich Kursky -1932 Oleg Vladimirovitch Rodomar Vukotitch 1932-1945 G V Gorlov 1945-1952 Alexander Alexandrovich Kaminski 1953-1991 Elizabeth S Troubetskaya 1969 Matushka Helen Benigsen 1970 Mikhail Alexandrovich Woinovsky-Krieger 1991-2001 Elena Aleksandrovna Ilvakhina 2001-
Gubernik Kotovich Ivanov G F Pochinok (for 14 years) A A Krasondubsky C I Shchastny G F Nikityuk M I Khomenok D Basyuk I K Pimenov Oleg B Rodomar Vukotitch Gregory P Maksymiuk Alexander A Kaminski Nikolai Westphal Mikhail Alexandrovich Woinovsky-Krieger Yuri Mikhailovich Kuchugura
The Temple in autumn
Saint Catherine Sisterhood 1934
The Sisterhood of the Great-Martyr Catherine at Saints Peter and Paul cathedral in Montreal was founded on 6 December, 1934, by Archimandrite Inna (Kibikov, 1934-1936). A small group of Russian Orthodox women, presided over by Ekaterina Semyonovna Lawes, inspired by the idea of the need to organise a formal sisterhood, made the foundation of the sisterhood, and they appealed to all Russian-speaking women who love the Orthodox Church and who love and who wish to serve the Church, to join the sisterhood. The main goal of the sisterhood has been to take care of the beauty and beautification of the Temple, and to help needy Russian-speaking people. The number of members of the sisterhood began to increase rapidly, and by 1964, it already had 102 sisters. With the arrival in Montreal of Bishop Sylvester, the work of the sisterhood became even more interesting and intense.
With the increase in the number of members, the activities of the sisterhood also expanded. Various sections were created, in particular, to care for the sacristy and to raise funds. Over the years, the sisters sewed numerous vestments for priests and covers for the analoys. They also bought carpets and candle-stands. On all the 12 Great Feasts, the icon of the holiday is decorated with fresh flowers ; and on Great and Holy Friday, the Holy Shroud is adorned through the care of sisters. An economic commission takes care of purchasing table-cloths, dishes and other equipment for the parish hall. All the sisterhood initiatives, such as bazaars, concerts, etc., as well as all banquets and buffets at parish evening events, are arranged thanks to the donations and work of the sisters.
Caring for the decoration of the Temple, the sisterhood also makes an annual financial contribution to the parish committee for the needs of the Temple. During the many decades of the existence of the sisterhood, the total amount of contributions reaches many tens of thousands of dollars. The sisterhood also does not forget the sick sisters, and helps them in cases of illness.
The sisterhood’s charitable activity is also very significant. During the difficult years of World War II, the sisters helped the Canadian Red Cross, and provided substantial support to individuals in need. With the arrival of new Russian immigrants to Montreal, the need for help became even greater. The sisterhood tries to help, if possible, all those who turn to her, especially on the feast-days of the Nativity of Christ and Holy Pascha. On these holidays, the sisters donate towards local needs, and they also send small amounts to Europe to single, disadvantaged people. Twice a year, the sisterhood organises breakfast for all the congregation members : on Christmas Day, and on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women.
Saint George Brotherhood 1929
Perhaps the oldest parish organisation is the Brotherhood of the Holy Great Martyr and Victorious George. It was founded under the leadership of the Archpriest Arkady Piotrovsky on 25 October, 1929, after the acquisition of a new Temple. The brotherhood actively participated in the life of the parish. They collected donations and helped newcomers. At one time it even existed as a joint-stock company : it had its own flag, emblem and statute.
Today, this ecclesiastical organisation has somewhat lost its legal status, but it continues active parish activity as before. These include : decorating the Temple for the holidays ; making minor repairs ; baking bread ; offering audiovisual presentations ; organising lotteries, dinners, barbeques, and other events. They are all parts of the hard work of the parish brotherhood. The brotherhood has many plans to involve as many parishioners as possible (especially from amongst the youth) in the activities to strengthen the parish and to help the spread of Orthodoxy. These include : the creation of an Orthodox audio and video library ; the organisation of pilgrimage trips to holy places ; offering other assistance to the cathedral
The Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox parish school functions every Sunday, after the Divine Liturgy, at 12:30 p.m. The lessons, which introduce children to the basics of the Orthodox Christian Faith, are conducted in the lower hall. The range of interest is very broad : the Holy Scriptures ; the history of Christianity ; the spread of Orthodoxy ; the lives of saints ; history ; geography ; literature. The lessons are held in the form of a story-conversation, where children’s questions are very much welcomed, and an exchange of views is deemed to be necessary.
During the year, children participate in various concerts, and they prepare thematic performances. In the summer, the vast majority of children, pupils of the parish school, go to the children’s Orthodox camp. Under the guidance of Father Anatoliy, they learn to communicate ; they begin to understand what is Orthodoxy, what it means to be an Orthodox Christian.
Alexander Pushkin Library (1915/1923/1936)
In 2017, the leader of the library management is Elena Lebedeff-Koshits.
Directories which may be viewed on the internet include : Basic (fiction, magazines) ; Religious and philosophical ; Detective ; Fantasy ; Biographical ; Children’s literature.
The library is open on Sundays from 12:00 to 14:00 hours.
The registration/subscription conditions include the following : The reader can be any resident of Montréal and the suburbs. It is not necessary to be a member of the parish or a parishioner of this parish. When a persons subscribes to the library, a security deposit of $20.00 is charged (which is returned upon discharge from the library, in the absence of arrears). Subscription to the library requires showing proof of identity. The monthly fee is $4.00 (the fee is not charged if the reader is recorded in the library, but at the moment does not have books on hand, for example, during holidays, business trips, etc.). At the same time, no more than 3 books (not counting children’s) are issued for a maximum period of 3 weeks. The library awaits all the lovers of reading !
The library itself is an inheritance inherited by all the parishioners and their friends. Since the beginning of the 20th century, there has been a large, real library of Russian-language literature in Montréal with a huge collection of excellent books — Russian pre-revolutionary, emigrant, sometimes unique publications, Soviet and translated literature. It was first located in a building adjacent to the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul — the house of Kuzma Kostuchenko.
Many compatriots mistakenly believe that the library at the church is either a library of exclusively religious literature, or that it exists only for the parishioners of the Temple. However, the volume and content of the book collection go beyond the ordinary church library, which makes it truly unique. The library operates for the entire Russian-speaking population of Montréal. Those who work in the library do so only on a voluntary basis, although there is a cost for the use of library services ($4.00 per month). This money of our readers goes to buy and repair books. In addition, a $20.00 deposit is taken, which is necessarily returned upon discharge from the library. This is due to the fact that some readers, alas, disappeared along with the books, sometimes valuable, and their telephones were already answered by non-Russian voices and uninformed people. With the introduction of a "security deposit", this is much less common.
The library doors are open to all Russian-speaking readers, regardless of their nationality or religion. This reflects the very atmosphere of tolerance of the Russian Orthodox community at the cathedral, where Russians, Jews, Kazakhs, and Anglo- and French-Canadian people sometimes sit together at the carnival.
The Russian library was not always under the roof of the church building. Its history goes back to the origins of Russian emigration in Canada. In 1915, a group of immigrants from Russia founded the Russian-Slavic Society in Montréal. With the goal of creating a Russian library, the board of the society, with the assistance of the Russian consul, appealed to the head of the city of Moscow for help in this noble cause. The Moscow City Administration responded to this request by sending a few hundred books.
In 1923, a large group of Russian emigrants arrived in Montréal from Constantinople, most of them participants of the White Movement. Soon, they founded the Russian National Society and with it a library, which consisted mainly of books by emigrant publishers.
At the end of 1936 in Montréal, as in all centres of the Russian diaspora, the Pushkin Committee was set up to organise literary and musical concerts, performances and lectures, thus marking the centenary of the death of the great poet. It was decided to donate all the net income from the evenings and lectures towards the creation of the Pushkin Library, as a modest monument from the Russian colony to the poet.
By the end of 1936, it was clearly determined that the social life of natives of Russia, mainly charitable and cultural, began to focus on Russian Orthodox churches. And with the gradual dying of the Russian-Slavic and Russian national societies, their board decided to transfer both existing libraries to the Pushkin library, which was sheltered by the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Thus, from the 3 library collections, the present library, which retained the name Pushkin, arose. By the end of 1937, it numbered as many as 1,000 books. The head of the library was Alexander Borisovich Zharkovsky. Considering the library as his child, he treated her jealously and faithfully.
The library played a great role in the life of Russian emigration after World War II, when so-called “displaced persons” began to arrive in Canada in large numbers from the camps of destroyed Europe. At that time, to emigrate to Canada was possible only under the contract, i.e., under the condition that during the first year, the displaced person would work as a lumberjack, shepherd, labourer or miner in the far north of the country ; that women would work in hospitals, as servants in families, etc.
A B Zharkovsky worked towards enabling people to work in Montréal, and helping young people in schools and universities ; but he gave the lion’s share of love and sacrifice to the library. The Pushkin library became for immigrants a place from where help came in all manners, and, most importantly, moral and spiritual support. That is why in the Pushkin Library to this day hangs a portrait of her first director.
Of course, the library has become cramped, since the library collection is constantly growing. It now has more than 7,000 volumes. In this collection, there are books of Russian classics, Soviet writers, literature of the Russian emigration from the beginning of the century to our days, as well as translated literature (from ancient masterpieces to modern detectives and fiction). There are “easy reading” books for those who are looking for reading not related to the everyday difficult emigrant problems, and there are serious scientific philosophical, historical, literary works. Undoubtedly, there is a large section of Orthodox Christian religious literature in this collection.
The children’s library collection includes all the best Russian and Soviet children’s writers : from Pushkin, Tolstoy and Prishvin to Marshak, Mikhalkov, Barto, and Gaidar. And, of course, there is also children’s literature translated from other languages into Russian. Therefore, our children can get acquainted with Carlson and Alice, in the Russian language.
People often bring a gift to the library, especially children’s books. Sometimes, we are given entire libraries of several dozen volumes. The library has no subsidies, and with great joy and gratitude any most modest gift is accepted. Because of this, and because of the continuing interest of parishioners and others, the library is able to preserve and to replenish the wealth inherited by the present parishioners, and after them their descendants. This has resulted in a remarkable, unique book collection which includes some very rare editions.
Charity Fund of Saint John of Kronstadt
The Charitable Society of the Holy and Righteous John of Kronstadt is part of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the oldest Russian-speaking parish in Eastern Canada, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007. The founders of the cathedral were the Archpriest (Saint) Alexander Hotovitsky (who was glorified as a Saint in 1994) and the Archpriest Feofan Buketov.
The history of this society begins with the arrival in Canada of Bishop (later Archbishop) Sylvester (Haruns). Vladyka Sylvester, being an active participant in the RSHD (Russian Student Christian Movement), had for many years engaged in the support of Orthodox Christian believers in the USSR. He continued this activity in Montréal. Gradually, around him, a group of assistants from amongst the parishioners organised themselves, and then formed the Charitable Society of our Holy Righteous Father, Saint John of Kronstadt.
The society was engaged in sending religious literature to Russia, in helping needy Russian emigré families everywhere, as well as families of prisoners and persons persecuted by the godless powers in the USSR. Annually, the Charity Society collected thousands of dollars for the above purposes. Therefore, for the Christmas holiday, the society traditionally sent a “Christmas present” to the needy, and also to some institutions : the Russian military invalids (Paris) ; the Holy Protection Convent (France) ; the Literary Fund (New York) ; the Children’s Society (New York) ; the Holy Land ; the Elderly Home (New York), and others. In 1980, the society was able to provide assistance of $10,567.00, and in 1981, $17,527.00. Every year during Great Lent, Vladyka Sylvester conducted talks about “The Life of Believers in Soviet Russia”, in which he told about the trials and difficulties in an atheistic country under a godless regime.
In his address to the Orthodox people in 1972, Vladyka Sylvester wrote :
As everyone knows, for more than 50 years in Russia they do not publish books of religious content. The demand for such books is extremely large ... ... We need money ... to buy books ... for parcels and monetary aid to believers and families (especially children) of prisoners ... We need to satisfy fully this spiritual hunger and thirst of our brothers by faith ... Think about it.
The situation in the lands of the former USSR has changed greatly, but there remain many needs to be met. Although publishing has multiplied in these regions, poverty has also grown. There are many orphans who need Christian care. There are many elderly who are in danger of homelessness, or who have become homeless. There are similar needs amongst the émigrés in other countries.
Pascha Midnight 2017
Parishioners and Archbishop Irénée (Rochon) on 2017 Altar Feast-day
This parish uses the Church Slavonic language, and also the Russian, French and English languages.
This parish follows the Old (Julian) Calendar.
The Altar Feast-day of this parish is the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, 12 July/29 June.
The second priest of the parish is the Priest Gleb (Hlib) Melnyk
The deacon of the parish is the Deacon Dmitry Belyaykov.
Mitred Archpriest Anatoliy Melnyk
1175, rue de Champlain
Telephone : 514-522-2801
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
La Cathedrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul
Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Sobor
1151, rue de Champlain
E-mail : email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone : 514-522-2801
Warden/Starosta : George Koutchougoura
Treasurer : Edouard Tomberg
Secretary : Nicolas Rumin
By car :
Approaching the cathedral from the south and on the bridge, take the exit to the right (and keep right) for Avenue de Lorimier south. Continue south on de Lorimier to Boulevard Réné-Lévesque and turn right (west). The cathedral is 4 blocks to the west, at the corner of Rue de Champlain.
The cathedral is often approached by car from the west on the Autoroute Ville Marie (which is Avenue Viger to the east). This autoroute becomes an express way just before Papineau Avenue (no turns). To reach the cathedral, exit the autoroute after leaving the underground tunnel at the exit for Rue Notre Dame Est and Papineau. Keep left and after Rue Panet, turn left (north) at the traffic lights on Avenue Paineau. Cross over Viger and keep to the left. At the traffic lights on Boulevard Réné-Lévesque, turn left. The cathedral is on the corner immediately afterwards at the end of the first block, on Rue de Champlain.
The cathedral may be approached from the north on Avenue Papineau. After Boulevard de Maisonneuve, keep to the right and turn right (west) on Boulevard Réné-Lévesque. The cathedral is at the end of the first block.
The cathedral may be approached from the west along Rue Sainte-Catherine. Turn right (south) on Rue de Champlain. Pass Rue Sainte-Rose. The cathedral is at the end of the next block, on the left.
Parking can be difficult to find on the streets.
By public transit :
There is bus service on Sainte-Catherine Street, on Papineau Avenue, and on Boulevard René-Lévesque.
There is a Metro stop on the Green Line at Cartier Street and Boulevard de Maisonneuve. This is 5 blocks northeast from the cathedral. Métro : Papineau Langues.
Contact the Société de Transport de Montréal.
Mailing Address :
La Cathedrale Orthodoxe Russe St-Pierre et St-Paul
Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Sobor
1175, rue de Champlain
Parish history (in Russian)
Additional information :
Kukushkin, Vadim, “From Peasants to Labourers : Ukrainian and Belarusan Immigration from the Russian Empire to Canada” (Montréal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, October, 2007). ISBN : 9780773532670.
100th Anniversary of the Alexander Poushkin Library in Montreal (Special reference to Aleksander Borisovitch Zharkovsky.)
Boris P Sidney film about church singing (in Russian)