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A Pilgrimage to the Holy Resurrection Parish in Toronto - by Vadim Yarmolinets (Video)

A Pilgrimage to the Holy Resurrection Parish in Toronto

On November 18-19, with the blessing of His Eminence Vladyka Andronik, a group of pilgrims from New York’s St. Sergius and Holy Trinity Parishes visited the Holy Resurrection Parish in Toronto, which the Protopriest Fr. Nikita Grigoriev tends.

We left Valley Cottage, NY, at 6 am, because the trip would be a long one. Choir Director Mark Kotlaroff took the wheel of the mini-bus, Fr. Gregory Kotlaroff sat next to him, starting the trip with Morning Prayers. Niagara Falls was along the way and so we, of course, made a stop to admire the majestic spectacle.

We arrived in Toronto in time for the evening service, after which Fr. Nikita and his Matushka Joanna graciously welcomed us into their hospitable home, where we had dinner and listened to Fr. Nikita tell us of his recent trip to his homeland -- Chile. For many of us, it was a revelation. Until he was ten years old, Fr. Nikita lived in that distant Latin American country and still speaks Spanish very well. Fr. Nikita showed us a photo of the house where he spent his childhood and the school he attended, but most of his talk was devoted to his meetings with Mother Juliana. She adopted Orthodoxy as an Arab girl, grew up in the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church, and devoted her whole life to selfless service to the Church.

In the morning, we attended Divine Liturgy served by three priests: Fr. Gregory Kotlaroff, Fr. Nikita Grigoriev and Fr. Alexander Krivoshlikov from our other ROCA parish in Toronto. The choir under the direction of Mother Joanna was augmented by the guests, Mark Kotlaroff and Yuri Lukin and his daughters Ksenya and Sophia. They sang beautifully and it gave the service an especially festive atmosphere. The Liturgy was followed by a molieben to St. Met. Filaret the New Confessor.

After the service, a meal of delicious pelmeni was served, with many greetings exchanged and wishes expressed to see each other more often. Mark Kotlaroff said that it is visits like these that give church members of far-flung parishes an awareness that they are all part of the same Church. On behalf of the Holy Trinity Parish, we expressed our gratitude to the hosts for their warm welcome, and to the rector for his firm defense of the faith, for his courageous stand on principle, which allows the honor and dignity of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to be upheld.

The real surprise was the arrival of Metropolitan Moses of the Greek True Orthodox Church in the refectory, to which all present chanted, “Eis polla eti, Despota” – “For many years, Vladyka!” Yuri Lukin expressed his thanks to Vladyka for his support. Met. Moses has known Fr. Nikita for some time and they enjoy good neighborly relations, strengthened by trust and mutual respect.

Svetlana Kotlaroff spoke to the audience about the activities of the ROCA Assistance Fund, which she heads, and presented Fr. Nikita an amazing gift -- an icon of the Holy Resurrection, which was blessed on the day of the consecration of the Holy Resurrection Church in 1979. A church member, currently a parishioner of the Holy Trinity parish in Astoria, Vladimir Solntsev, once lived in Canada and attended the Holy Resurrection Church and passed the icon along as a gift.

We returned home from Canada accompanied by snow and wind. But it was warm and jolly in the bus. The group headed by Fr. Gregory exhibited their excellent musical talents, along with an inexhaustible knowledge of the Russian song repertoire. We recalled fondly the most vivid moments of the recent meeting. As for the Kotlaroffs, they deserve special thanks as first-class long distance drivers.

Vadim Yarmolinets