Reflection from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon: “Christ is in our midst! I recently returned from a visit to the Diocese of Alaska, where I participated in the Annual Saint Herman Pilgrimage to Spruce Island. [Read more below…]
Christ is in our midst!
I recently returned from a visit to the Diocese of Alaska, where I participated in the Annual Saint Herman Pilgrimage to Spruce Island. That event was a blessed one, with many pilgrims travelling from all over the world to come and pray before the relics of the humble monk who became the first to be glorified as a saint in our North American lands. As we prepare ourselves for the celebrations in 2020 of the 50th Anniversary of his canonization and the 50th Anniversary of our Autocephaly, I would encourage everyone to consider making a pilgrimage to the original diocese of the Orthodox Church in America.
While I was in Alaska, I also had the blessing to travel—by very small plane—to Saint Paul Island, the largest of the Pribilof Islands on the Bering Sea.. There is only one post office, one store and one church – the one Church is the Orthodox parish of St Peter and Paul. It was wonderful to see a vibrant and faithful community of Orthodox believers on this remote island, which most Americans might know from the television show, “America’s Deadliest Catch” which is filmed in the waters around St Paul Island.
My delegation, which included Archbishop David, the diocesan bishop, was greeted simply yet warmly at the small airport with beautiful singing by the choir and over 50 people who had gathered to welcome us (even bringing along a red carpet for the bishops). Later that evening, Vespers was celebrated and singing could be heard in Slavonic, English, and Unangan (the Aleut language).
It was remarkable, and truly inspiring, to find an Orthodox community on this small island of 400 people, and especially to see the wonderful and natural integration of many cultures (Aleut, Russian, and North American) all within the context of a believing Orthodox community in the middle of the sea. Even though they are isolated, one could sense a strong feeling of family and unity there, and for us who live in the modern world of luxury and easy communication, it is a powerful lesson in basic Christian living.