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A Hierarch With a Big Heart

Vladyka Lavr taught Canon Law (in the photo) before he passed it down to me in 2003.

A Hierarch With a Big Heart

Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, passed away on this day in 2008. I write here about the significance of Vladyka Lavr in my life.

I knew Metropolitan Laurus (Vladyka Lavr) since 1990 when I came to the Seminary in Jordanville. In March of 1991, Priestmonk Ignatii (Trepachko), the editor of the Monastery’s bi-weekly journal Pravoslavanaia Rusʹ, passed away, and Vladyka Lavr appointed me to help him prepare materials for the Monastery’s periodicals.

While I was still in the USSR, I began sending my pilgrimage reports to Pravoslavnaia Rusʹ. Now, the “obedience” of an editor was a Godsend. Toward the end of my studies at the seminary, probably in the summer of 1994, Vladyka Lavr offered me to stay and continue my work. I was relieved because I could not figure out what to do next. Understandably, this “stability” came with a price tag. Having worked for ten years as an editor of the Monastery’s Russian language periodicals, I realized that I was neither a monk nor a family man, and with the blessing of Vladyka Lavr, I enrolled in St. Vladimir’s Seminary. In the fall of 2001, I voluntarily resigned as the editor of Pravoslavnaia Rusʹ.

While the 1990s were a time of polemics, this century has become one of scholarship, and I hope this continues to remain the case. Vladyka Lavr was a crucial part of this journey into academia, as well. When I graduated from the seminary in the summer of 1995, he announced that I would be teaching the following fall. While I had never wanted to teach, it has now become part of my identity.

In 2003, I got married. It was moving to receive a letter from Vladyka. I remember visiting his office only a short time afterward. He looked at me and said, “I see you want to be independent.” He did not say this disapprovingly but in a matter-of-fact manner. Vladyka Lavr had noticed a lot but would tell little. This quality speaks volumes about his personality. I hope we will meet again. May his memory be eternal!

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