200th Anniversary of the founding of Fort Ross celebrated

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Ft. Ross
Fort Ross chapel provides backdrop for open-air Anniversary Hierarchical Liturgy.

On Saturday, August 25, 2012, hierarchs, clergy and faithful from the Orthodox Church in America, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and the Moscow Patriarchate came together at the historic Fort Ross site here to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Russian military outpost.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), head of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, concelebrated the Hierarchical Liturgy with His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York (ROCOR). Also serving were His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West (OCA); His Eminence, Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada (ROCOR); His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk (MP); His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland (ROCOR); and His Grace, Bishop Theodosius of Seattle (ROCOR). Also in attendance were His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) and His Grace, Bishop Daniel of Dragovitsa (Bulgarian Patriarchate). Many clergy from the OCA, MP, and ROCOR churches served, with many faithful and pilgrims attending in prayer from all over the country and abroad.

The Metropolitans were greeted at 9:30 AM and presided over a beautiful open-air Liturgy under a tent set up in the middle of the fort. Two choirs sang the responses—one in English from Saint Seraphim Church (OCA), Santa Rosa, CA, led by Nicholas Custer, and one in Slavonic from Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral (ROCOR) in San Francisco.

After the Liturgy, there was a cross procession around the fort, followed by a procession to the cemetery where a panikhida was sung for the souls of those Russians, Aleuts, and native Kushaya buried there.

Finally, fellowship was enjoyed by all within the walls of the fort, where traditional Russian song and dance troupes performed and a banquet was held for the celebrating clergy.

Standing in the heart of what is today Sonoma County, California, Fort Ross was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America between 1812 to 1842.  It has been the subject of archaeological investigation and is a national historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and the centerpiece of the state’s Fort Ross State Historic Park.

A gallery of photos may be accessed on the web site of the OCA Diocese of the West at http://www.dowoca.org/public/sv/gallery.php?ssid=81.

Two days later, on August 27 and 28, Archbishop Benjamin served at San Francisco’s Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, the Joy of All Who Sorrow (ROCOR) on Geary Ave. for the Great Feast of Dormition (Old Calendar). Also serving at the Vigil were His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR); His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah (OCA); His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill (ROCOR); His Eminence, Archbishop Justinian (MP); and His Grace, Bishop Theodosius (ROCOR). The next day His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokalamsk (MP) served at the Liturgy as well.

Afterwards a formal banquet was served to all the hierarchs, clergy, and VIPs on the cathedral grounds.

A gallery of photos may be accessed on the web site of the OCA Diocese of the West at http://www.dowoca.org/public/sv/gallery.php?ssid=83.