Archpastoral Epistle on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Consecration of St. Barbara’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Edmonton.

Your Eminence, Vladyka Archbishop Mark!

Dear Fathers, brothers and sisters!

Distinguished guests!

I sincerely welcome all of you, participants in today’s celebration in honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Consecration of our Cathedral!

The first Orthodox Church in Edmonton was actually a chapel dedicated to St. Barbara. It appeared in 1902 thanks to the sincere missionary efforts of Father Jacob Korchinsky  and by the blessing of St. Tikhon, the future Patriarch of Moscow. It was located in Father Korchinsky’s home. On July 19, 1941, Father Korchinsky, who was eighty years old, was shot to death in Odessa by the atheists for being a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is my hope that he will be glorified as a priest martyr.

In 1908, a wooden church was built which stood for a half century. It was consecrated by the well-known Canadian Orthodox missionary Father Arseny (Chakhovtsev) who died in 1945 as an archbishop.

On June 15, 1956, the church board and parishioners began construction of a new bigger seven-domed structure. The dynamic leader of the construction was the rector Father John Margitich (+9.03.1991). He was newly-appointed on May 23, 1956. The cathedral was consecrated according to the archpastoral rite with the placing of the Holy Relics of St. Barbara into the altar table by the Patriarchal Exarch Metropolitan Boris (Vik) of North America and the Aleutians and by Archbishop Panteleimon (Rudyk) of Edmonton and Canada. The consecration took place on Sunday, July 31, 1960.

I would like to remind you how the consecration of a church takes place. It’s interesting that in Slavonic, a consecration of a church is called “the renewal”. This is tied to the idea that nothing in the world is, in actuality, new without God’s blessing. When we consecrate a church, we also consecrate the world, which from the moment of creation, was the first church. We make it new. When we consecrate a church and serve in it, our souls become saintly. Then God begins to live in our cleansed new souls as if in a real church.

In a consecration there are three significant conditions. Firstly, a consecration is performed only by a bishop, or in an extraordinary situation, with a bishop’s blessing. Secondly, before the consecration of the whole church, the bishop consecrates the altar table, which is the main place in a church. Thirdly, the bishop places the holy relics into the altar table. These three parts of the consecration remind us that for the salvation of our souls, we should first of all, respect our Patriarch, our bishop, and in general, the hierarchy as we do Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. We should endeavour to commune of the Mysteries of Christ, which are consecrated on the altar as the true Body and Blood of the Lord, and thus be united with our Savior. We also should respect the Saints as our senior friends and strive toward godliness.

Today, St. Barbara’s Cathedral is the spiritual center of the Patriarchal parishes in Canada, their spiritual heart. From it, all our parishes and churches obtain God’s grace and power. Without this cathedral, the history of the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Canada would be quite different. As history shows, all of our church life in Canada and of Orthodoxy itself, is a great gift of the Russian Orthodox Church. Christ extends His hand to us through the Hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. Thanks to the support of the Russian Church, at the end of the nineteenth century, many Rusins in Canada returned to Holy Orthodoxy. Now with love, patience, willingness, and most importantly, with dedication to the Mother Church, their grandchildren hold the sacred faith of their ancestors.

I ask His Eminence Archbishop Mark to extend our sincere gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kyril for his continuing patriarchal prayers, his concern for us, and for his blessing to have you head this celebration here in far-off Canada.

Your Eminence! You have made no small effort in visiting distant Canada to see the present condition of that inheritance, which, more than one hundred years ago, was established by the Rusin pioneers, who arrived here from the Slavic lands of Eastern Europe. On behalf of all the participants of this celebration, I would like to thank you, dear Vladyka Mark, for joining us in these summer days as we celebrate this event. With you, we strengthen our spiritual unity with the Russian Orthodox Church. We wish you and those who accompany you, good health, spiritual and physical strength, and God’s help in your service to the Church for many years!

I also thank the Church board, brotherhood, sisterhood, and all parishioners for their prayers, donations and efforts in organizing the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Consecration of our Cathedral.

I prayerfully wish all participants of this celebration, the clergy of the Patriarchal parishes and their parishioners, success in their spiritual life. I wish our guests many good years. I also wish that our cathedral will always remain beautiful and that during services, it will be filled with people who have come to pray. May the Lord’s Blessing be with you all! Thank you for your attention.

Iov, Bishop of Kashira,

Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada