Lights From the Carpathians
The Holy Spirit provides every gift: He inspires prophecy and perfects the priesthood;
He grants wisdom to the illiterate, makes simple fishermen become wise theologians,
and establishes perfect order in the assembly of the Church.
Therefore, O Comforter, equal in nature and majesty with the Father and the Son,
O Lord, glory to You!
- Vespers of Pentecost
Many modern advertisers promote their products by showing a before/after picture of a person who used their cleaning product, diet pills, etc. The point of the commercial or ad is to show results, that is, proof that the product “works”. The two Sundays after Pentecost are a meditation and a celebration of the impact of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men and women throughout history. It is in the lives of holy men and women – the Saints – that we see the fruit of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the reason why He was sent: for the sanctification and enlightenment of the faithful. The first Sunday after Pentecost is known as the Sunday of All Saints in which we honor all the known and unknown holy men and women throughout history who were sanctified by the descent Holy Spirit. The second Sunday after Pentecost is another Sunday of All Saints but more focused: it honors the holy men and women of a certain nation or region such as All Saints of Russia, All Saints of Mount Athos. In 2005, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory established within our Diocese the commemoration of All Saints of Carpatho-Rus on the second Sunday after Pentecost. The descent of the Holy Spirit has produced many fruits of holiness and virtue among the people of Carpatho-Russia, even within our own time until the present day. Along with the holy men and women of more ancient times such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Moses Uhryn there many modern examples of the work of the Holy Spirit:
St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre was one of the original Greek Catholic priests to arrive in America to minister to the Carpatho-Russian immigrants in the late 19th century. Finding rejection and ignorance from the Roman Catholic bishops, he embraced the Orthodox Faith in 1891 and began a ministry of freeing the Carpatho-Russians from the domination of Rome. He suffered lies, slander and violence as he ministered in the steel and mining towns of the United States. He presented himself to the Lord from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1909.
St. Maxym Sandovich served as a missionary priest among the Carpatho-Russians after his ordination in 1911. After less than a year of ministry, he was arrested by the Catholic Austro-Hungarian authorities spending two years in prison. Released in 1914, he continued his priestly ministry only to be arrested again within a few months. This time Father Maxym was dragged before a firing squad, his priestly cross ripped from around his neck and he received the crown of a martyr on August 6, 1914.
St. Gorazd Pavlik Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia who worked tirelessly to build up the Orthodox Faith in that nation and among the Carpatho-Russians. When the German Nazi governor Heydrich was assassinated in 1942 the assassins fled to the Orthodox Cathedral in Prague. Attempting to end the violence, Bishop Gorazd went to the Nazis and offered himself in exchange for the safety of his priests and his people. Bishop Gorazd was arrested, tortured and executed by a Nazi firing squad on September 4, 1942.
St. Alexis Kabalyuk of Khust, Apostle of Carpatho-Russia Missionary among the Carpatho-Russian Greek Catholics who desired to return to the Orthodox Faith eventually leading over 14,000 people into Orthodoxy. For his efforts, the Hungarian authorities arrested Father Alexis and sentenced him to four a half years in prison. When Tsar Nicholas II heard of the priest’s sufferings, he awarded him a gold pectoral cross for his confession of the Faith. Upon his release at the end of World War I, Father Alexis helped to establish the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox church. He presented himself to the Lord peacefully in 1947 and was glorified as a saint in 2001.
St. Job Kundria of Ugolka St. Job was a monk, abbot of the monastery in Mukachevo and later exiled by the Communist authorities to the remote village church in Malaya Ugolka. Here in the village church, Father Job faithfully served for 23 years, becoming known as a starets or elder as people flocked to him for advice and guidance. He was known to be clairvoyant and the worker of miracles. He died peacefully in 1985 and was glorified as a saint in 2007
Holy Saints of Carpatho-Rus, pray to God for us!
Along with these saints who have been officially recognized by the Church, there are many individuals whose light from the Holy Spirit burned brightly in the Carpathians but who have not yet been numbered among the Saints:
Other Righteous Lights
Joachim Vakarov This Carpatho-Russian peasant was arrested by the Hungarian authorities in 1904 when he and his fellow villagers of Iza returned to the Orthodox Faith. Sentenced to fourteen months in prison his land, home and livestock were auctioned to pay fines. After his release from prison, he and his family were destitute. Joachim was arrested again and this time tortured to death. Since no Orthodox priest could legally minister in Carpatho-Russia, the villagers conducted his funeral.
Abbess Nina Born with the name Juliana Prokop she embraced a life of prayer and fasting at a young age. In 1914 she and her companions were arrested, taken out in the middle of winter, stripped, drenched with water and beaten. She was arrested again in 1918 and this time beaten almost to the point of death, remaining unconscious for three days. Despite the torture, Juliana refused to renounced Orthodoxy or her monastic life. She later becoming the abbess and founder of the Convent of Lipcha and Abbess of the Convent of St. Nicholas in Mukachevo where she lies buried.
Father Theophan Sabov was the administrator of the Mukachovo-Presov Diocese, arrested by the Communists and executed by them in 1945.
Father Vasily Pronin A spiritual son of St. John Maximovitch while living in Serbia, he was a priest-monk who labored in various parishes in Carpatho-Rus. Clairvoyant elder and Spiritual Father of the Convent of St. Nicholas in Mukachevo. A highly educated and cultivated man who spoke 14 languages he was described as a pastor who “loved everyone, forgave everyone and warms the hearts of all with his spiritual father’s love. He died peacefully in 1997, having predicted the day of his death. He was buried in the cemetery at the Convent of St. Nicholas but his body has since been placed in a shrine inside the church where healings are said to occur.
Righteous men and women of Carpatho Rus: Vicnaja jemu pamjat! Eternal memory!
To this list of righteous men and women of Carpatho-Rus, can we hope and pray that one day the name of His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes Chornock can be added? Confessor of the Faith? He suffered much in his return to Orthodoxy: court cases, slander, lies, deprivation. Apostle? He led at least 30,000 people in their embrace of the Orthodox Faith. May his memory be eternal! Vicnaja jemu pamjat!
- Father Edward Pehanich