In Memory of Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis (1970-2015)

On October 2, 2015, Protodeacon Nicholas Archdeacon Triantafillidis (1970-2015), a cleric of the Cathedral of Our Lady "Joy of All Who Sorrow" (Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) in San Francisco, died in the capital of California, Sacramento, after a long illness. He was born on October 24, 1970, in San Francisco to an Orthodox Christian family. His father, George, hailed from the Pontian Greeks, settling in California from China (through Brazil), where his father's family had fled to after the Bolshevik Revolution.

They spoke Russian at home, where the traditional Russian way of life reigned. Since childhood, Nicholas walked to church, where he served as an altar boy. His first spiritual guide was the cathedral�s Protopriest Nicholas Dombrowski. Nicholas� grandparents on his mother�s side, Dimitry and Galina Gumenyuk, lived very modestly, but saved money to send their grandchildren on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. As a result, as a boy, Nicholas was able to visit Jerusalem twice, in 1982 and 1983, together with the spiritual father of their family, Archimandrite Mitrofan (Manuilov).

Serving at the Cathedral of San Francisco in those years was the legendary Protodeacon Nikolai Porshnikoff, ordained by Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker, and was his spiritual son. He had heroic strength, a powerful voice, and extraordinary kindness, as well as a reverent love for worship. The parish loved him, and admired his service at the altar. He was the ideal cleric for young Nicholas Triantafillidis. In 1989, young Nicholas enrolled at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, NY, and in 1990, was dedicated to a reader. Two years later, he moved to Australia and married Nadezhda Boikova. On the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of the same year, Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev) of Western America and San Francisco ordained Nicholas a deacon in the San Francisco cathedral. Nicholas then returned to Australia, where he served as the Archbishop's Church in Croydon, NSW.

Father Nicholas was the organizer of the first music conferences of the Australian diocese, in 1995 and 1997. There he studied singing under Sergey Fedorovich Baygildin, a soloist at the cathedral and a leading tenor at the Sydney Opera House. Soon he moved to a new level of deacon ministry, in SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in Strathfield.

In 2003, Father Nicholas became protodeacon. His talent and hard work were prized in his profession as an expert in information technology, despite the fact that he had no higher education in this field. In 2004, a large American company invited him to work in San Francisco, and he and his wife Nadia and their three children, Anastasia, Anthony and Terenty, moved permanently to California. Since that time, Fr Nicholas served at the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" and also participated in the Bishops' choir and St John Men's Choir, which toured and recorded CDs. He immediately supported the process of restoring the unity within the Russian Church.

He organized the creative opening of the IV All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Council which adopted the historic decision to overcome the 90-year-old division in the Russian Church. In May 2007, the Protodeacon Nicholas, as part of a large delegation of clergy and laity of the Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR, went to Moscow to attend the ceremony of the signing the Act of Canonical Communion in the first joint service of representatives of the two parts of the Russian Church. He would never forget that Liturgy, on the feast day of the Ascension of the Lord in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, where he served for the first time on Russian soil and His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II.

After returning to California, he hung numerous photos of Patriarch Alexy II and other protodeacons he met in Russia, taken against the background of Russian churches. The impressions of Moscow and the people he met gave him great inspired Fr Nicholas, who increasingly lived and breathed Russia and its Church.

In 2010, for his zealous and devout service to the Church, the Synod of Bishops awarded Protodeacon Nicholas the right to wear the kamilavka. The following year, the cathedral assigned Father Nicholas and his wife to operate its store. Thanks to new acquaintances in Russia, Fr Nicholas brought in new icons and books, and revenues increased doubled, then tripled. Fr Nicholas also developed the first website of the Cathedral, which posted parish news and a schedule of services, but also to submit commemorative slips for services at the holy relics of St John, to order oil blessed over the relics.

Nicholas was a model husband and father. The family always attended church services together; his daughter Anastasia recalls that missing a Saturday night service or Liturgy was unthinkable. She and her mother sang in the choir, and her brothers were with their father at the altar. Their father taught them to come to services early; he always told the children: "It is not God who should welcome us, we are to welcome Him!"

A special place in the ministry of Protodeacon Nicholas was the Rite of Orthodoxy, especially since this was a favorite service of his predecessor and mentor, Fr Nicholas Porshnikoff. The younger Nicholas often listened to the recording of the elder Fr Nicholas and tried to emulate his solemn and penetrating style.

In May of last year, Fr Nicholas was diagnosed with incurable cancer. The doctors warned him that he would not live more than a year. From that moment on, Fr Nicholas began to prepare to leave this life. He bought for himself, his wife and parents cemetery plots, he designed the family monument and ordered it. In the summer, he and his youngest son first visited Mt Athos to pray at the Iberian and Vsetsaritsa Icons of the Theotokos, and then the whole family went to St Petersburg to pray to Blessed Xenia and to Moscow to venerate Blessed Matrona. During this trip, he served almost daily. At Mt Athos, he met the rector of the Russian Orthodox Church in Venice, Protopriest Alexy Yastrebov, who recalled that Fr Nicholas� face was solemn and bright.

Upon his return to California, Fr Nicholas did not miss a single opportunity to serve in the Cathedral of San Francisco, but the drive took two hours, and his health deteriorated. Thousands of people in America, Australia, Russia and Greece prayed for his health and recovery, but the disease took its toll. Fr Nicholas did not resist the will of God, did not complain or question why. On the contrary, those around him drew strength and faith from him.

In September, Fr Nicholas decided to make a thorough renovation of the church store. He developed the project, ordered everything necessary, and not only personally supervised the work, but actively participated in it. Then he went on a second pilgrimage to Greece and Mt Athos. After returning home, his health rapidly deteriorated. He once told me that the hardest things for him were not being able to serve and the coming separation from his family, but otherwise he was ready to transition to another life and is not afraid of death. Soon he was in the hospital. On October 2, surrounded by his wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters with their families, he partook of the Mysteries of Christ administered by Protopriest Paul Volmensky, the Rector of Ascension Church in Sacramento. A few minutes later, Fr Nicholas gave his soul to the Lord. He was 44 years old.

The funeral service for the newly-departed Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis was performed by His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America and His Grace Bishop Theodosius of Seattle along with a host of clergy and the huge gathering of people. Fr Nicholas was buried at the Serbian Cemetery of San Francisco, near the grave of his mentor, Fr Nikolai Porshnikoff. A couple of days before his death, he was informed that the monument was ready and installed in the cemetery.

Today, on the fortieth day of his death, this monument was consecrated. Requiem over the grave was performed by clergy from America, Moscow, Australia, and Mexico.

Memory eternal to the kind, reverent and gentle servant of the Church of Christ, Protodeacon Nicholas Triantafillidis!

Protopriest Peter Perekrestov



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