Remarks of Metropolitan Tikhon at the Conclusion of the Office of Burial for Archbishop David

Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
December 1, 2020

This evening to offer hymns of departure to our brother and concelebrant in the Holy Mysteries, the newly-fallen asleep Archbishop David, who now lies surrounded by his brother bishops, his fellow clergy, and his beloved family and friends. Truly, the Lord himself, who glorified his life upon the earth, now makes glorious his departure from this life and his entrance among the saints, to be numbered with all those who from all the ages have been well-pleasing in God’s sight (prayer after the second Gospel). 

He is surrounded by his fellow-laborers in the vineyard, the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, as well as his brother and friend, His Grace, Bishop Thomas, of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic, who brings with him the condolences His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph and the entire Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.

Archbishop David is also surrounded by his brother priests and deacons who shared their ministry with him, both as a long-serving deacon in the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania, and as a faithful priest in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, where he served as District Dean and was very active in the promotion of the clergy brotherhood and offering his services on the diocesan level.

At heart, Archbishop David was a teacher, always finding ways to offer guidance to his flock but always acknowledging the importance of learning in his own life. Whether pursuing his own higher education, teaching at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, or leading his flock as a bishop in Alaska, he truly made his own the words of the psalmist: Teach me, O Lord the way of Thy statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep Thy law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it (118:33-35).

Regardless of the context of his pastoral ministry he always maintained and gave forth a heartfelt delight in the life-giving commandments and the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was consistent in this attitude whether serving as a deacon, as a priest, or as bishop. With the same spirit, he remained a faithful husband to his wife, Matushka Katherine, during their life together and a devoted father to his children, Nicholas, Michael, Seth, and Kyra, their spouses and families, and reserving an especial love for, and devotion to, his grandchildren, whom he would make a point of visiting as frequently as he could without neglecting his pastoral responsibilities in the distant lands of Alaska.

To the sorrow of the loss of their mother thirteen years ago is now added the sorrow of the departure of their father and grandfather. And yet, Archbishop David would most certainly want them all to heed the words of the prayers from this evening’s service, offered for them and for all of us who share in their mourning: O Lord of Hosts, Who art the consolation of the afflicted, the comfort of those who mourn, and the support of all those who are fainthearted: Comfort, through Thy lovingkindness, those who are distressed with weeping for him who has fallen asleep, and heal every pain that weighs on their hearts (Prayer after the third Gospel).

Archbishop David was always quick to offer that same consolation and comfort to others. He was especially attentive to this paternal love and oversight for the clergy, monastics, and faithful of the Diocese of Alaska. Although his episcopal ministry there was shorter than any of us would have hoped for, there is no denying the very real and concrete impact that he had, not only in bringing stability to the diocese after a period of difficulties, but in further attending to the spiritual and physical health of the clergy, the faithful, and the patrimony and history of the Orthodox Church in America which is so clearly manifest in the oldest diocese of our Church.

As he prepared for the end of his earthly sojourn, Archbishop David made clear his intention to be buried at the Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, the monastery of his repentance, where lies his beloved wife, Karen. For various reasons related to covid precautions, it was decided to hold the funeral services here, in one of the parishes of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania.

On behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, especially those concelebrating this evening, His Eminence Archbishop Michael, and His Grace Bishop Alexis, together with all the bishops of the Assembly, represented this evening by His Grace Bishop Thomas, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the newly-departed Archbishop David and lift up the prayer that we heard this evening: We beseech Thee, receive the soul of Thy servant, and grant him rest in the bosom of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and give him the crown of Thy righteousness, the portion of the saved, in the glory of Thine elect. And for those things, which in this world he accomplished for Thy Name’s sake, may he receive a rich reward in the mansions of the saints; through the grace and bounties and love toward mankind of Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Prayer after the first Gospel).