Address by Protopriest George Larin on the golden jubilee of his pastoral service to the Church of Christ
From the Editors: On Sunday, December 8, 2019, Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY, hosted the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the priestly service of its Rector Emeritus, Mitred Protopriest George Larin. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York officiated at Divine Liturgy together with His Grace Bishop George of Canberra, Vicar of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, and His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese and Deputy Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. A host of clergymen participated in the service, which was attended by Fr George’s wife, Matushka Katherine Yurievna, his children and grandchildren, and his spiritual children. Due to a recent illness, Fr George himself was admitted to a local hospital a few days earlier, and this speech was read by his son, Ivan Georgievich Larin.
Yesterday, the feast day of Holy Great Martyr Catherine, marked the 50th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood by His Grace Bishop Laurus in Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY: present were Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy of blessed memory, his matushka Elena Alexeevna, Senior Sister of the Nyack parish, Olga Ivanovna Gerlakh, and my faithful lifelong companion, Catherine. I was not preparing to abandon my diaconal service to the Church, but at the request of Fr Seraphim, I agreed to become his pastoral helper.
St John of Shanghai would say that nothing in our lives happens by accident, but is an expression of Divine Providence. Remembering my life since my birth in Shanghai in 1934, I thank the Lord God Who had me born to Russian Orthodox parents, who reared their children in the teaching and traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.
My parents’ home was located not far from the Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God “Surety of Sinners,” where Vladyka John lived, and we would walk to Sunday and holiday services there. My brother and I served as acolytes in the altar during hierarchal services, and in the summer, when there was no school, I would love to go to the cathedral to talk to Vladyka after services. He always responded to my questions with patience and substance.
The hierarch, through his profound and perpetual prayers, instilled in my child’s soul a love for church and the necessity of obeying my parents.
Finding myself in Australia after a sojourn on the island of Tubabao, I made the acquaintance of Fr Rostislav Gan, who would lead youth discussions. At the time I continued to receive letters from Bishop John, but by then from Europe, in which the hierarch continued to remind me of the obligation to serve God.
All this brought me to the seminary. Enrolling in Holy Trinity Seminary, Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitsev) became my spiritual father, whom I knew from Shanghai. Hegumen Laurus, the future First Hierarch of our Church, was at the time the seminary’s Inspector.
Fr Constantine instructed me to beseech God to help find a life’s partner. In 1965, on the feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ, my fellow seminarian, now Protodeacon Victor Lochmatow, invited me to go to Syracuse to meet some “Moroccans” [daughters of Yuri Izmestieff, a Russian emigre from Morocco—Editors] among whom was Matushka Katya, whom you all know, who was to become my lifelong spouse.
In 1968, Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), appointed me deacon at Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY. My wife and I tried to fulfill our obligations to the best of our abilities.
My matushka and I would like to thank you all, beloved friends, for your love, attention and patience with us sinners. We would like to ask the forgiveness of all for any failures on our part: whether we disappointed or neglected you.
I wish to express special profound gratitude to His Grace Vladyka Nicholas for his fervent care for our parish during my illness, and for handing my rectorship over to my long-time faithful assistant and friend, Protopriest Elias Gorsky.
Your Eminence Vladyko! I thank you for your trusting my unworthiness during all my years of service in this holy temple.
In conclusion, my matushka and I ask you all, our dear friends, not to forget us sinners in your holy prayers. I pray to God that you all continue to support one another, our beloved parishioners, and that you feel at home here, sharing your joys and sorrows, and grant Fr Elias and Fr Andrei the same love and support you have always given me. May our parish continue to grow and flourish, may future generations find peace, consolation and support in all aspects of their lives, and most of all, love, for many, many years. May the Lord save you!