From the Editors: The International Church History Conference “The Legacy of Mt Athos and Traditions of Hesychasm in the History and Culture of Ukraine” is being held in Odessa, Ukraine, on July 20, 2019, held on the territory of the former Athonite metochion of St Elias Skete (now the Odessa St Ilya Monastery), scheduled to coincide with the 170th anniversary of the birth and 25th anniversary of the glorification of St Gabriel of Athon the Odessa Wonder-worker, as reported by afon.org.ua.
The organizers of the event are Odessa St Ilya Monastery, the International Institute of the Athonite Legacy and "Christian Odessa" Museum.
Representing the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will be Protopriest Serafim Gan, who will speak on the topic: “On the Efforts of Bishop Laurus (Shkurla) to Preserve St Elias Skete on Mt Athos in the Latter Years of Archimandrite Nikolai (Piven).”
July 20, 2019
To His Eminence AGAFANGEL,
Your Eminence, Vladyko,
Brother Archpastors, Reverend Fathers, Brothers and Sisters:
I am genuinely glad to greet the organizers and participants of this international ecclesiastical conference, which coincides with the 170th anniversary of the birth of St Gabriel of Elias Skete of Mt Athos, Miracle-worker of Odessa, who was always esteemed by the archpastors, clergymen and laity of the Russian Church Abroad, thanks to the the emigres from Odessa and St Elias Skete on Mt Athos. One such followers was Archimandrite Nektary (Chernobyl, +2000), the spiritual child of St Varsonofy, New Confessor of Kherson, former prisoner of Solovetsk, who in the 1940’s brought the monastic brethren of the publishing concern of St Job, Abbot and Miracle-worker of Pochaev, to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. In the 1960’s, Fr Nektary was temporarily sent to St Elias Skete to help the elder Archimandrite Nikolai (Piven, +1973), the last Russian abbot of that monastery. He performed the entire daily cycle of services there and established a garden which fed not only the skete’s brethren but other monastics and pilgrims to the Holy Mountain.
Today it is especially heartwarming to remember and prayerfully commemorate the reposed emigres like Fr Nektary who nurtured their love for Odessa, the Russian part of Mt Athos and its ascetics.
On today’s day of commemoration of St Gabriel, I prayerfully wish for all the participants of the solemn divine services and jubilee celebrations, to His Eminence Vladyka Agafangel, my brother archpastors, clergy and flock of the Odessa Diocese, as you ponder this person’s character and piously bow before his un-corrupt relics, that your inner strength is bolstered and that God grant His many mercies for the worthy carrying out of service to God and mankind in today’s difficult times.
Our thoughts and prayers are with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onouphry, with Your Eminence and the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the sole Church of Christ on the territory of Ukraine!
Beseeching your holy prayers, I remain steadfast in the love of the Lord,