Moscow Conference Honors Alaskan saint
- Moscow Conference Honors Alaskan saint
By Mike Rostad
Special to the Kodiak Daily Mirror
Fr. Paisius DeLucia, dean of St. Innocent�s Academy, is part of an Alaska contingent that headed to Russia this week to participate in a symposium celebrating the 210th anniversary of the birth of John Veniaminov, who later was canonized as St. Innocent, namesake of the Kodiak Academy .
DeLucia was accompanied by Russian-born student Simeon Bakis, who will act as translator.
The commemoration, to be held in Moscow Dec. 3-9, is also part of the 375th anniversary of the joining of Yakutia with Russia . In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Yakutia was recognized in Moscow as the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation . The people of Yakutia are of Mongolian and Turkish origin.
The gathering in Moscow will be attended by professors and academicians who will read research papers on Veniaminov�s life. DeLucia, who was asked to attend because of his role as head of the academy, also will make a presentation.
Planners of the symposium said it promises to offer spiritual depth and high art, DeLucia said.
The late anthropologist and University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Lydia Black had hoped to attend the conference and that DeLucia would go as well.
�She was very clear that she wanted me to go to this. I never really could imagine that I would be going and her I am,� DeLucia said. �It will be a big honor to speak at the symposium. I�m grateful to be invited, and for the opportunity to represent Kodiak and our Orthodox academy and its program for youth at risk.
At a reception hosted by the Moscow Patriarch Aleksey II of the Christ the Savior Cathedral, DeLucia will present the hierarch with a Kodiak gift, a diorama, or three-dimensional icon of Saints Innocent and Herman prepared by academy student and iconographer Innocent Damiano.
Damiano used moss, driftwood, and pebbles from the beach for the piece
�It�s a real Alaskan icon,� DeLucia said.
Their Russian hosts have invited the Alaska guests to go on excursions, visit monasteries and theological institutes. They will also go to the place where Veniaminov�s relics are housed.
This will be DeLucia�s first trip to Russia .
�I�ve always dreamed of going there,� he said.
He also noted that when local dance instructor and Russian immigrant Alexandr Savinov heard about the upcoming trip, �he made a commitment to come every morning to teach me Russian.�
DeLucia is looking forward to not only sharing his own thoughts on St. Innocent, but learning more about him through the presentations in Moscow .
Veniaminov was born in Anginskoye in the province of Irkutsk . When he was 26 he traveled with his wife, son and brother to Unalaska where he began his mission.
Veniaminov built churches, translated the Gospels and hymns into Native languages and expanded his mission into surrounding islands. He served in Sitka before returning to St. Petersburg to report on his work. When his wife died, Veniaminov became a monk. He eventually was elevated to Archbishop of Irkutsk and Metropolitan of Moscow. He died in 1879.
Veniaminov is �considered one of the greatest missionaries of all time,� DeLucia said.
His commitment was to bring Christ to the people and use every creative loving and intelligent means to serve them, even going so far as creating a written alphabet in order to communicate the salvation of Jesus Christ to the Natives whom he loved very much.�
�He was the educator�s educator; he had many skills from ministry to building. He was an inventor, craftsman par excellence and man of fearless integrity, known to travel unremittingly through storms to minister to his far-flung flock�
�After a long life of labor in a hard climate and now exhausted and nearly blind in old age, St. Innocent took up the biggest and heaviest task for Christ of his entire life, with all the faith, hope, love and enthusiasm, which he had shown in every previous task,� DeLucia said.
�This resolve, love and zeal for the Lord is what I wish to emulate and for students to emulate as well.�
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