Numerous hierarchs, clergy, and faithful gathered in Alaska to celebrate the feast of the canonization of Saint Herman of Alaska (August 9).
On August 7, 2022 at Saint Innocent Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Anchorage, AK His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West presided at the celebration of the hierarchical divine liturgy. Concelebrating with him were His Grace Bishop Alexei of Sitka and Alaska and His Grace Bishop Daniel of Chicago and the Midwest. Also serving were Archpriest Daniel Charles, Archpriest Michael Oleksa, Priest Alexander Koranda, and Priest Peter Kamilos. At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Bishop Alexei offered his greetings to the visiting hierarchs and all those gathered. Bishop Daniel likewise greeted the faithful and gave icons of Saint Tikhon of Moscow and Saint John of Chicago.
Following the Liturgy, there was a meal before the hierarchs and various clergy from across the Diocese of Alaska traveled to Kodiak Island. While on Kodiak, Bishop Alexei served an Akathist to Saint Herman of Alaska before his relics at Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Following the service, Bishop Alexei offered welcome and encouraged everyone to reflect on the lessons contained in Saint Herman’s akathist hymn. Bishop Daniel then anointed the faithful with oil from the lamp over Saint Herman’s relics.
On August 8, at the invitation of His Grace Bishop Alexei, His Grace Bishop Daniel presided at the celebration of the hierarchical divine liturgy. Concelebrating with him were His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin and His Grace Bishop Alexei. Also serving were Priest Alexander Koranada, Priest Justin Matthew, and other local priests of the Diocese of Alaska.
Bishop Alexei offered the homily on becoming “childlike” as followers of Christ are taught in the holy scriptures, to be quick to love, to forgive, to move on from trouble, and is eager to show Christian care to the stranger. He went on to encourage us to be like children with the simple faith that carries out the salvific work of the gospel and to seek the prayers of Saint Herman of Alaska for help in this endeavor.
At the conclusion of the service, Bishop Daniel offered his words of thanks to Bishop Alexei and presented the cathedral with a gift of new chalice covers. After the divine liturgy, the clergy and faithful gathered for a banquet hosted by the Afognak Corporation on Near Island.
That evening, Bishop Alexei served the All-Night Vigil at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral where the faithful venerated the body of Saint Herman and were anointed with oil from the lamp over his relics during the singing of the canon. Notably, the magnification to Saint Herman was sung in Yupik in addition to English and Church Slavonic.
On August 9th the clergy and faithful traveled by boat from Kodiak to Spruce Island. After venerating the icons at arrival, the hierarchs were followed by the pilgrims along the path maintained by faithful from the village of Ouzinkie, themselves descendants of orphans cared for by Saint Herman.
His Grace Bishop Alexei then presided at the celebration of the hierarchical divine liturgy. Concelebrating with him were His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin and His Grace Bishop Daniel. His Eminence offered the homily where he spoke about how the Church knows when a person is sanctified and what a saint is. He spoke further on how the Church looks for the fruit of the Holy Spirit written in Saint Paul’s epistle to the Galatians (Gal. 5:22-23) and how such fruit is produced in the lives of the saints.
The faithful at the liturgy were made up of those from the village of Ouzinkie, other Alaskans, and those from around the world. During the service, for the first time in recent memory, the liturgy was sung with traditional Alaskan music in Yupik, Tlingit, and Church Slavonic.
Following the liturgy, the clergy and faithful left the chapel and enjoyed a picnic prepared by the faithful of the village of Ouzinkie.