WESTERN EUROPEAN DIOCESE: 17 October 2023
Protection of the Mother of God Church in Zurich celebrates its 90th anniversary
On 14 October, 2023, the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, celebrations dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Pokrov Parish took place in Zurich, Switzerland. The celebrations were headed by the Ruling Bishop of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, who all-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the patronal feast of the Zurich parish. Concelebrating with His Grace were the rector of the parish, Archpriest Peter Sturm, Priest Pavel Golinsky, Priest Vladimir Svystun, and Archpriest Viktor Yatsenko from the Kyiv Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Other guests in holy orders prayed during the Liturgy, and at the anniversary reception that followed the Divine Services, clergy and laity of the Holy Resurrection Church (Diocese of Korsun), other Orthodox jurisdictions in Zurich took part as honoured guests.
Vladyka Irenei began his sermon on the Feast with the following words: "Today we celebrate the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of this parish and its testimony to the mercy of God and His Mother in the God-saved city of Zurich. This is an important and wonderful event. It is a source of happiness and joy, for for the better part of a century the clergy and the faithful have laboured here together to pray to God, to live a true Christian life, and to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to the people."
At the end of the service, on the occasion of the anniversary celebrations, the Bishop especially emphasised the works of the venerable father-rector of the Parish, Archpriest Peter Sturm (81 years old), who is the oldest active clergyman of the Diocese, and the Starosta of the Parish, Maria Nikolaevna Bankul (93 years old), the oldest active Starosta of our Diocese. Together, for more than half a century, they have been connected in their service to the ancient Orthodox community of Zurich, which, under its modest arches has united in prayer not only numerous representatives of the Russian diaspora, but also local Greeks, Romanians, Serbs and other Orthodox people who receive spiritual joy in this holy place. As a sign of gratitude for the many years of care by priests from Zurich, Priest Pavel Golinsky of the St Nicholas Parish in Basel (which in earlier years had been served by the priest in Zurich) presented an icon of St Nicholas the Wonderworker as a gift to the Pokrov Church.
On the occasion of the anniversary, the Pokrov Parish was awarded a Hierarchical Gramota (commendation), which states the following: ‘Granted to the Very Reverend Archpriest Peter Sturm, the Reverend Priest Vladimir Svystun, the Starosta, Parish Council, Sisterhood, Choir and the Pious Believers of the Parish of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos in the God-protected city of Zurich in Switzerland:
‘On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the parish, which we celebrate on this Festal Day of the Protection of the Mother of God, and in recognition of the pious works and deeds that they have carried out over many years, preserving the traditions of their forebears in ensuring the continuity of worship and prayer in this holy temple; and in gratitude for the selfless service of all who have led and continue to lead this Parish in piety and the fear of God, and in cultivating the spirit of love that reigns among the faithful of this place. May Almighty God, through the prayers of His Most Pure Mother, abundantly bless His servants and continue to send down His immeasurable Grace to the faithful of this Parish, preserving its clergy, servers and all the faithful unto many and blessed years!’
After the service, a festal banquet and concert took place, bringing together parishioners and guests of the church — not only from all corners of German-speaking Switzerland, but also from the adjacent territories of Liechtenstein, Germany and Austria, who for decades were spiritually nourished in the Holy Protection parish. At the banquet there were toasts from His Grace, the Rector, the Starosta and the guests of honour, during which words of gratitude were offered to the Lord God, who blessed the glorious 90-year existence of this Orthodox beacon of faith in the most populous city of the Swiss Confederation, and confidence was expressed in early planning for the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the Zurich Church of the Holy Intercession. The meal and fruitful communication between clergy and laity were adorned by the magnificent singing of the parish children’s choir, as well as a small concert of classical music.