Author Church People Clergy and Monastics Deacon Andrei Psarev

Priest Rodion Aragon

Fr. Rodion is on the left. On the right is General Augusto Pinochet and Archimandirte Veniamin. Fr Veniamin was ordained a hierodeacon in 1943 in Zhytomyr and is still, therefore, the oldest clergyman of the ROCOR, if not of the entire Russian Church. In 2001, he did not recognize the election of Metropolitan Laurus while continuing to commemorate his diocesan hierarch Bishop Alexander at services; when he passed away in 2005, Fr. Veniamin became acephalous. Only this year did he join the deposed ROCOR Bishop Agathangel of Odessa, who claimed to represent "the historical ROCOR."

Multifacated Russian Church Abroad

Priest Rodion Aragon passed away on this day in 2010.

On December 14, I wrote about Archimandrite Aleksei Chernai’s work in the South African Republic. Many right-wing regimes like that in South Africa were adamantly anti-communist and, therefore, provided safe havens for those fleeing from Bolshevik oppression. However, this stability would come with a price tag: turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in countries like Paraguay, Argentina, or Chile.

In the 1973 military coup, General Augusto Pinochet likely prevented Chile from becoming another Marxist regime, toppling the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. Fr. Rodion’s parents fled the country with their seven-year-old son. The future Father, Rodion, grew up in Costa Rica and went to study music at Moscow Conservatory. There, he met his future Matushka Elena. In the mid-1980s, they came to live in Costa Rica.

In the 1990s, one of the White Russian emigres, Nicholas Zakharoff, moved to Costa Rica from San Francisco. (Before moving to the US, he also had lived in France, Argentina, and Paraguay.) He founded a Russian Orthodox community in Costa Rica. Archpriest Daniel McKenzie (HTOS Class of 1989) began to visit Costa Rica regularly from Miami. In 2004, he baptized the future Father Rodion, and his wife, Elena. They began raising funds for building a church. In 2008, Rodion Aragon, his wife, and a son came to Jordanville to study at Holy Trinity Seminary. In December of the same year, Bishop George (Schaefer) of Mayfield ordained him a deacon, and in January 2009, Vladyka George ordained him a presbyter at Jordanville.

I remember Fr. Rodion as kind, cheerful, and thoughtful. In 2009, he came back to Costa Rica. In November of the same year, a cancer was detected in his stomach. It was too late for surgery. This last month became the most spiritually focused time of his life: when he could not serve the liturgy, he served molebens sitting and praying a lot, especially at night. The church he was building was completed in 2014.

I hope Fr. Rodion’s story proves that, despite having a soft spot for authoritarian anti-communist regimes, the ROCOR cannot be just reduced to the status of a right-wing religious organization. It is a church preserving Christian Orthodoxy, but there is room for people with various backgrounds as it should be in the Church.



Hierodeacon Theophylact, “Poseschenie obshchiny RPTsZ v Kosta-Rike,” [Visiting ROCOR Community in Costa-Rica], Pravoslavnia Rus’ 12 (1997).

Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Obshchina [Russian Orthodox Community]

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