ORTHODOX ALASKA TO WELCOME PRIMATE IN AUGUST
TO: ALASKA MEDIA
FROM: ORTHODOX DIOCESE OF ALASKA
RE: METROPOLITAN JONAH TO VISIT
KUSKOKWIM, ANCHORAGE, KODIAK, SITKA
DATE: JULY 14, 2009
CONTACT: V.REV. MICHAEL OLEKSA, CHANCELLOR, DIOCESE OF ALASKA 646-4086 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The primate of the Orthodox Church in America will make his first visit to Alaska this summer. His Beatitude Metropolitan JONAH, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, will visit Alaska during the first part of August. He will be at the Kuskokwim Conference July 30 through Aug. 2; in Anchorage Aug. 3-6; the St. Herman Pilgrimage in Kodiak Aug. 7-9; and in Sitka Aug. 10-12. Metropolitan Jonah will be traveling with His Grace Bishop BENJAMIN, Bishop of San Francisco and the West, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Alaska.
The four destinations Kodiak, Sitka, the Bethel area and Anchorage represent a historic pilgrimage to strongholds of the Alaska Orthodox Christian faith. Alaska’s first Christian missionaries were Russian Orthodox monks from Valaam on the border of Finland and Russia, who arrived at Kodiak Island in 1794. One was the monk Herman, who was canonized in 1970 and is the subject of the annual St. Herman Pilgrimage to Spruce Island, enjoyed by hundreds of people each year. Sitka is the historic see of the Alaska Orthodox Christian Church, and the communities along the Kuskokwim River were evangelized St. Jacob Netsvetov, the first Aleut priest, 1844-1860. The Faith has grown to have a strong presence in Anchorage, where there are four OCA parishes.
Plans are being made for the hierarchs' Anchorage visit. Highlights include:
* Aug. 3: Alaska Native Heritage Center and St. Tikhon Church.
* Aug. 5: St. Nicholas, Eklutna and Vespers at St. John (Antiochian) Orthodox Church in Eagle River.
* Aug. 6: Divine Liturgy for the Transfiguration (New Calendar), 9 a.m. at St. Innocent Cathedral; Akathist, 6 p.m. at St. Alexis Church, followed by “Meet the Metropolitan” dinner at Coast International Inn. (Call 764-9027 for ticket information.)
KODIAK, ALASKA July 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Suzanne Bobo
ORTHODOX FAITHFUL TO MAKE PILGRIMAGE TO HONOR SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA
KODIAK ISLAND, ALASKA - Although no commercial airline takes passengers to Monk’s Lagoon on Spruce Island, and no roads carry vehicles there, hundreds of Christian pilgrims will flock to this remote Alaska wilderness on Saturday, August 8 to honor Saint Herman, one of the first Christian missionaries to serve the people of Alaska.
Some of the faithful will arrive in personal skiffs, others will climb aboard Kodiak-based fishing vessels piloted by volunteer skippers, still others will paddle roughly four hours to reach the island by kayak - all with the same mission: to commemorate North America’s first Orthodox Saint on the 39th anniversary of his canonization.
Staff and volunteers at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral in nearby Kodiak coordinate the annual event, which draws Orthodox and non-Orthodox visitors from across the world into the dense Spruce forest in which Saint Herman lived and prayed, struggled and performed miracles from 1808 until his death in 1837. Pilgrims have an opportunity to walk the paths Saint Herman walked, drink from a healing spring, venerate icons hung on the trunks of aged spruce trees and attend a hierarchical divine liturgy at the Saints Sergius and Herman of Valaam chapel built in 1895 on the site where the saint was buried.
The liturgy this year will be celebrated by Metropolitan JONAH, primate of the Orthodox Church in America. His Grace Bishop BENJAMIN, Bishop of the Diocese of the West and Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Alaska will also be attending pilgrimage events, and will celebrate the divine liturgy Saturday morning in Kodiak.
Following the liturgy on Spruce Island pilgrims will enjoy a picnic on the beach at Monk’s Lagoon, where they may silently meditate, take hikes or sit and watch the salmon jump in the cold Pacific waters of the Gulf of Alaska. Upon their return to Kodiak, pilgrims will enjoy a warm soup supper served at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak, compliments of the cathedral’s Saint Herman Sisterhood.
Other events offered during the weekend are educational talks and tours and an opportunity for pilgrims to pray quietly at the relics
of Saint Herman at the cathedral in Kodiak. Pilgrims may also attend the Saint Yakov Tea and an Akathist service to Saint Herman on Friday evening, a vigil service Saturday evening and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy Sunday morning followed by the Grand Banquet. A festival in the park Sunday evening will close the pilgrimage.
A monk of Valaam Monastery in the Russian North, Saint Herman came to Alaska in 1794 to serve the native Alutiiq people and Russian fur traders. A tireless laborer as a simple un-ordained monk, Saint Herman established the Orthodox Church in Kodiak, Alaska, defended the native people against arguably outrageous treatment by Russian colonial officials and cared for orphaned
children on Spruce Island. He lived out the last 30 years of his life on Spruce Island as a hermit. During this time he pioneered gardening, cared for those in need and worked many miracles of healing and protection. At his death a column of light was seen throughout the region rising from the forest to the heavens. Saint Herman of Alaska the Wonderworker was glorified by the Church on July 27(Old Calendar) / August 9, 1970 (new calendar). He is universally recognized as a Saint of the Orthodox Church and as the protector of the Church in North America.