St. Herman of Alaska Begins Anniversary Celebration with Akafist Service
On Friday September 22, 2023, the Hierarchs, Clergy and Faithful began the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church, Glen Mills, PA. with the Akafist Service to St. Herman of Alaska, our heavenly patron. His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania with His Grace, Bishop Irenej of the Eastern Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church and His Grace, Bishop Alexis of Sitka and Alaska, celebrated the Akafist assisted by 16 priests and 2 deacons from various Orthodox jurisdictions.
The Akafist was celebrated in front of the many relics of St. Herman including the first icon brought by the ever memorable Archbishop Paul of Finland to the 1970 canonization as well as St. Herman’s moccasin and belt. The highlight at the conclusion of the Akafist was the arrival of two treasured antique icons including the Mother of God of Nicea and the Brailovsky-Pochaevskya Mother of God from the Convent near Vinnitsya, Ukraine.
Following the service, His Grace Bishop Alexis of Sitka and Alaska gave a powerpoint presentation on the Alaskan Church, past present and future, explaining the often turbulent history and significant challenges that the Church faces even to the present day. His Grace entreated the faithful to give generously so that the Alaskan clergy may be enabled with sufficient compensation to continue the work of St. Herman amongst the native peoples of Alaska. Many present immediately responded to his requests.
Following His Grace’s presentation, Robin Joy (Innokentia) Welman from Fort Ross, California gave a wonderfully personal talk on her recent trip to Irkutsk, Siberia, where through Father John Perich and Subdeacon John Pusey, she was able to present two exact copies of the Gospel of St. Matthew translated by St. Innocent (Veniaminov) into Fox Island Aleut/Slavonic and the full gospel from Unanalaska, where he served and built the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension. She also explained that the gospels were blessed by Metropolitan Maximillian of Irkutsk on the relics housed in the Church in Anga where St. Innocent was born. Following her journey to Siberia, Innokentia Welman visited the Trinity St. Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad where she again presented two copies of the Gospels to the Abbot of the Holy Monastery upon which the Abbot blessed the gospels over the relics of our beloved St. Innocent of America.
Also present for the special presentation was the esteemed Mitred Archpriest Nicholas Molodyko-Harris, founder of the St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage Alaska and missionary for many years amongst the people of Alaska. Father John spoke of when Father Nicholas was appointed to Alaska by then Bishop Theodosius (Lazor) arriving to Anchorage on September 7, 1967 to begin his work in establishing a much needed church in Alaska’s largest city. It was also Father Nicholas Harris who brought Father John Perich to Alaska while a student at St. Tikhon’s Seminary to care for the St. Nicholas Church in the Athabaskan Village of Eklutna, Alaska, for several summers.
Following these presentations, everyone was invited into the Church Memorial Hall for a splendid dinner with a variety of foods from Alaska, Russia and Ukraine.